Drilling & Taping

Drilling and tapping are two distinct actions. Drilling refers to creating a smooth hole in a material with a drill and motor. Tapping is the action that creates a thread into the side of the hole.

There are numerous kinds of taps:

  • Bottoming taps are used to cut a thread to the bottom of a blind hole.
  • Taper taps are used to gradually thread a hole in a material that is difficult to cut or prone to breaking.
  • Plug taps are used in holes that go through the material and where there is room at the bottom of a blind hole.
  • Hand taps have straight flutes and are for general purpose projects with both blind and through holes.
  • Spiral flutes are used in blind holes when the threads need to be close to the bottom of the hole and are good at moving material out of the hole. There are numerous helix options, and the degree of the spiral needed for a project often depends on the type of material.
  • Spiral pointed taps are also called gun taps, according to NA Tool. These taps have the first few threads at a certain angle to push material forward toward the other end of the hole, which is effective for deep hole tapping.

How to decide which tap to use?

Not every tap is appropriate for every project. It’s clear from the many kinds of taps that factors such as width, depth and end point of the hole matter as well as the type of material.

Professionals will consider whether the hole stops at a certain depth or goes through the material, as that will change whether the tap used pulls material out of the hole or pushes it forward. Additionally, how far the thread must go into the hole will also help determine what kind of tap is needed.

Certain taps are more appropriate for certain materials. For instance, harder materials that need a spiral tap require a lower angle of thread to reduce the risk of breaking the thread or chipping when the tap is reversed and removed from the hole.

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