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Tungsten steel taps and dies.

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Andrew Tinsley02/09/2018 16:32:50
1180 forum posts

I was idly looking at taps and dies on Ebay and noticed that a fair number of cheap sets claimed to be tungsten steel. Is this some form of Chinese hype or is there really an intermediate type of steel between HSS and carbon for taps and dies?

Andrew.

clogs02/09/2018 16:41:33
578 forum posts
12 photos

probably a new kinda cheese.......

only buy HSS, even the Chinese versions are better than the carbon sort...

Andrew Tinsley02/09/2018 16:55:08
1180 forum posts

I never said that I would buy them! I usually buy carbon taps and dies from Tracey, unless it is a well used size when I buy HSS.

I actually find that The Tracy tools carbon taps are sharper than say a Presto HSS tap. I do realise that they won't stay that way for long with a lot of use.

Andrew

SillyOldDuffer02/09/2018 17:31:13
Moderator
6330 forum posts
1389 photos
Posted by Andrew Tinsley on 02/09/2018 16:32:50:

I was idly looking at taps and dies on Ebay and noticed that a fair number of cheap sets claimed to be tungsten steel. Is this some form of Chinese hype or is there really an intermediate type of steel between HSS and carbon for taps and dies?

Andrew.

It's a real thing, or rather a family of alloys. In short:

  • The first HSS was a Tungsten Steel. Later alloys also containing Cobalt, Chromium, Molybdenum and Vanadium were found to provide even better combinations of heat resistance and hardness. There are at least 40 'High Speed Steel' alloys with properties that can be used to fine tune production, but many of them have been nudged into history by carbides and nitrides etc.
  • Although Tungsten steel is inferior to modern HSS in a production setting, it's good for hand taps because it's tougher & less brittle than other types, and is somewhat cheaper.

As always, simple descriptions like 'HSS' or 'Tungsten Steel' are often pretty meaningless. If it really matters you need to see a proper specification. Brand names and broad generalisations are often abused by salesmen or misunderstood by customers. But it's likely that Chinese Tungsten Steel taps will outperform Carbon Steel taps, and they may be much better value used manually than much more expensive HSS types.

Dave

Ed Duffner02/09/2018 18:04:47
810 forum posts
91 photos

I've seen some of the TiN (Titanium Nitride) coated tools advertised as titanium.

Ed.

MW02/09/2018 18:26:35
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2051 forum posts
51 photos

I have personally found that even the el cheapo, carbon steel taps/dies are excellent from tracy's tools. Definitely a good supplier of that kind of stuff.

The teeth seem very sharp, a cut above the set variety. 

Michael W

Edited By Michael-w on 02/09/2018 18:27:25

Mick B102/09/2018 19:19:55
1729 forum posts
91 photos
I've found the tungsten steel tap and die sets from Machine Mart are good for all normal use and serve well for years.
John Rudd02/09/2018 20:22:36
1396 forum posts
6 photos
Posted by Mick B1 on 02/09/2018 19:19:55:
I've found the tungsten steel tap and die sets from Machine Mart are good for all normal use and serve well for years.

I have three sets of their t' n' d's...Metric/UNF\UNC etc...served me well, although I managed to break an M12 die....It is undersized for the job at an Inch in diameter...

My BA set is from Tracy tools, another set from RDG as well as ME sizes from them too...Then I have the odd HSS sizes gifted to me...

Bill Phinn02/09/2018 23:04:10
371 forum posts
70 photos

Toolstation's 40 piece Silverline tap and die set, currently priced at £34.84, is described as "made from tungsten steel". I bought a set chiefly because it contains taps and dies of two different pitches for each size, and it struck me the set might be useful for that reason.

I've also got the Aldi set, which was £14 when I bought it a few years ago. I think that one is just carbon steel. The first holes I ever tapped were with the Aldi set - 8 blind M3 holes in mild steel about 10mm deep. Fortunately I tapped all the holes successfully even though the only tap supplied was a taper tap.

I think the taps and dies in both sets are serviceable but I don't think the same can be said for the supplied tap and die wrenches, which seem nearer in consistency to cheese than metal. Fortunately there are plenty of better wrenches to be had for not much second hand.

Rik Shaw03/09/2018 09:24:09
avatar
1365 forum posts
373 photos

I bought an unused 45 piece "tungsten steel" tap and die set made by HILKA from the boot a fortnight ago for a fiver. I have only used the 8mm tap once in a lump of MS by hand and it threaded the hole as well as a DORMER HSS would have. However, I would not expect it to stay as sharp for as long as a top quality HSS version.

Rik

Russell Eberhardt03/09/2018 13:26:57
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2600 forum posts
85 photos

Most of my taps and dies are carbon steel including some Dormer branded ones. I never use them at high speed, and thus high temperature, so see no need to pay extra for high speed steel. Most of mine have lasted 50 years and many were not new even then.

It has been said that carbon steel holds a better edge than HSS but I can't say I've noticed the difference.

Russell

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