« Back

A beginner’s guide to tapping

September 1, 2020 4:57 pm


Tapping is a highly efficient and easily mastered manufacturing process. It provides effective and economical threading through high cutting speeds, reduced downtime and better tool life.

Image Credit

Tapping involves cutting a thread in a hole so that a cap screw or bolt can be threaded through it. It can also be used to make a thread on nuts.

It can be carried out by hand or on a lathe using a power feed. Either way, the proper sized tap drill must be used to drill the hole. At the end, it must be chamferred.

Image Credit

Good Practice

Use a Tap Guide

These are a core element in producing a usable, straight tap if you are manually aligning a tap. A 90-degree tap guide will produce a far more accurate result than sight alone. When using a lathe or mill, the tap is naturally already aligned and centred.

Use Oil

Oil is critical when you are drilling on tapping machines. It stops the tapping machines bits from squealing, cleans out any chips, ensures that the cut is smooth and prevents the stock and drill from overheating.


Pecking is a useful method to ensure that bits stay at a reasonable temperature and therefore don’t break when you use them to drill or tap. It involves drilling only part of the way through a part and retracting it to remove chips and allow the piece to cool.

Common practice is to rotate a handle for a full turn, then back the other way for a half turn. When the bit or tap is out, you can take out as many chips as possible, then add oil between the drill or tap and the piece you’re working on.

Hand Tapping

1. Choose a drill size.
2. Add chamfer to the hole if necessary.
3. Get a tap guide.
4. Tap the block.
5. Complete the tap.

Tapping using a lathe

1. Mount the workpiece in the chuck.
2. Face and center the drill.
3. Identify the proper tap drill for the tap you are using. For example, ¼ – 20 unc uses a #7 drill.
4. Set lathe to the right speed and drill using the tap to the required depth. Use plenty of cutting fluid.
5. Use a very slow spindle speed as the piece will rotate (40 to 60 rpm), along with plenty of cutting fluid.
6. Chamfer the hole’s edge..

« Back