Complete Guide to Thread Taps: Types, Techniques, and Applications

Thread Tap

Thread taps are essential tools used in metalworking and manufacturing to create internal threads in holes. They come in various types, sizes, and materials to suit different applications. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different types of thread taps, their applications, and the best techniques for using them effectively.

Types of Thread Taps

Straight Flute Taps

Straight flute taps, also known as hand taps, have continuous flutes running the length of the Metric tap. They are suitable for general-purpose threading in softer materials like aluminium, brass, and mild steel.

Spiral Flute Taps

Spiral flute taps feature helical flutes, which help in evacuating chips and reducing friction during the threading process. These taps are ideal for threading deeper holes and work well with materials that tend to produce long chips, such as stainless steel.

Spiral Point Taps

Spiral point taps, also called gun taps, have a sharp point at the tip. They are specifically designed for through-hole threading and help efficiently push chips forward, making them suitable for high-production applications.

Pipe Taps

Pipe taps are designed with a tapered thread profile for threading pipes and pipe fittings. They are available in both straight and taper pipe tap varieties and follow national pipe thread (NPT) standards.

Selecting the Right Thread Tap

Material Considerations

Choose the tap material based on the workpiece material. High-speed steel (HSS) taps are suitable for most general-purpose applications, while cobalt or powdered metal taps offer better performance in tougher materials like stainless steel. For high-temperature alloys and exotic materials, consider using carbide taps.

Thread Standards

Select taps based on the required thread standard, such as Unified Thread Standard (UNC/UNF), Metric Thread Standard, or others. Ensure that the tap matches the thread pitch and diameter requirements of the workpiece.

Techniques for Using Thread Taps

Preparing the Workpiece

  • Drilling: Before tapping, drill a hole in the workpiece with a diameter slightly smaller than the major diameter of the thread to be cut. This ensures proper thread engagement and reduces the risk of tap breakage.
  • Chamfering: Chamfer the entrance of the drilled hole to ease the tap’s initial entry and prevent damage to the tap threads.

Tapping Process

  • Tapping Lubrication: Apply cutting fluid or tapping oil to the tap and workpiece to reduce friction, heat, and wear during the threading process.
  • Tap Alignment: Use a tap handle or tapping wrench to align the tap squarely with the hole axis, ensuring accurate and straight threads.

Applications of Thread Taps

Automotive Industry

Metric thread taps are extensively used in the automotive sector for creating threaded holes in engine blocks, transmission components, and various other parts.

Aerospace Industry

In the aerospace industry, thread taps are crucial for fabricating components that require precise and reliable threaded connections, such as aircraft engine parts.

Manufacturing and Fabrication

Thread taps play a vital role in general manufacturing and fabrication processes, ranging from consumer goods to heavy machinery production.


Thread taps are indispensable tools for creating internal threads in a wide range of materials and applications. By understanding the different types of taps, selecting the right one for the job, and employing proper tapping techniques, manufacturers and metalworkers can ensure efficient and accurate threading operations, resulting in high-quality products across various industries.