This is a well-made, comprehensive set for the pro or home shop. The case is well thought-out as well.
Click image to enlarge

KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set

Threading tools for the pro or home shop

Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 2-24-2011

Having a set of threading taps and dies in your shop adds another level of flexibility that can enhance your projects. Being able to create threads where needed as well as re cutting damaged or contaminated threads can save the day and in the process make life in the shop easier. The KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set shown in this review brings lots of flexibility at a very reasonable price. Plus, this KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set showcases some labor/frustration-saving innovation that makes cutting threads in confined areas much easier and way less frustrating. KD also offers a similar tap and die set with all of the same tools but in metric sizes under part number KD 3886. The metric version includes taps and dies for Metric sizes 3 through 12 mm.

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) set shown here comes with hexagon dies and taps in the following sizes – 4-40 NC taper, 6-32 NC taper, 8-32 NC taper, 10-24 NC taper, 12-24 NC taper, ¼-20 NC taper, 5/16-18 NC taper, 3/8-16 NC plug, 7/16- 14 NC plug, ½ - 13 NC plug, 10-32 NF taper, ¼-28 NF taper, 5/16-24 NF taper, 3/8-24 NF plug, 7/16-20 NF plug, ½-20 NF plug, 1/8-27 NPT pipe.

The Basics

 The KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set includes 17 taps and 17 dies (in the sizes listed above), a tap and die ratcheting “T” wrench, small and medium tap adapters, a die adapter, a sliding “T” handle for the adapters, a thread gauge and a hex wrench.

The set comes in a fitted carry case with molded positions for all of the components. The spaces for the taps and dies are labeled which makes it very easy to determine what is missing. The case also does a very good job of protecting and organizing the entire set.

Trick Handle

The case has markings (left) that make it very obvious what part is missing. The taps and dies (right) are well-made and cut cleanly.
Click images to enlarge

If we only had to cut threads in the wide-open spaces there would be no need for this innovative “T”-handle. However, in the real world things are routinely complicated by obstructions and confined spaces. But now the KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set comes with a ratcheting T-wrench that drives the dies and tap adapters.

The ratcheting T-wrench has a forward and reverse selector lever just as found on common ratchets. The inner mechanism is fine-toothed which means that handle movement as small as a 5-degrees engages the next tooth! That will be very handy in a small space.

The ratcheting feature of the T-wrench also eliminates the old hand-over-hand technique that was commonly used when space was not an issue. The hand-over-hand technique was not only labor intensive but made it easier to run a tap in crooked. With the ratcheting feature you never have to lift a hand off of the T-wrench and that makes it easier to stay aligned with the hole being tapped. When working in the open you get to decide what a comfortable arc is. I initially thought that this ratcheting idea might be more hype than substance but after using it I see that it really is very nice to use tight spaces or not!

This “T” wrench accepts the included die and tap holders that click into the “T”-handle just as a socket clicks onto a ratchet. This system is tool-free, secure and easy to separate when you are done. This ball detent retention makes changing tooling faster and easier, plus we don’t have to worry about gripping mechanism of the older t-handles loosening up.

In the Shop

The tap and die adapters (left) click in and out of the "T"-handle easily. The "T"-handle itself (right) is nicely made, comfortable and very easy to use.
Click images to enlarge

All of the pieces in the KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set are well made and work very well. The taps and dies are sharp and with common sense use create smooth, accurate threads. A handy card is included that lists the proper drill sizes for each thread size. They also include a thread gauge to help identify existing threads.

The “T”-wrench really is very nice to use in part because of the comfortable ergonomic shape to the handles. The top and bottom of each handle also has a rubber-like insert that gives a nice grip. This “T”-wrench is all steel and has a feel of heft of it.

The ratchet at the center of the “T”-wrench operates very smoothly and its fine-tooth mechanism allows you to make progress with surprisingly little movement. The literature say 5-degrees but it almost seems like less travel is actually needed. The ratchet housing accepts the components easily with no slop or fighting to get them back out again when the job is done.

In use the ratchet feature is nice to have even when space is not an issue. Being able to ratchet the handle rather than turn it hand-over-hand just feels better and is faster but it has another benefit. Because you never have to remove hour hands it is much easier to keep a tap or die working straight on the piece being threaded. That not only means cleaner threads it mean fewer broken taps or ruined work pieces. Both are impressive time and frustration savers.

I spent some time looking over potential thread-needy things in my shop and discovered that the range of sizes included in the KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set actually covers my needs and then some. There is always the chance of needing a specialized tap or die but I expect that those needs will be infrequent if they happen at all. For building projects the selection of available threads in this kit lets you select a good fastener size for the job.

Conclusions

Video Tour

If you are working with metal a tap and die set is in your future. The KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set is well made and thoughtfully filled out to handle the majority of threading tasks in most shops. I have used several of the thread sizes quite a bit during this evaluation in both steel and cast iron and the taps and dies cut easily the whole time.

This is a nicely designed set that makes more sense than trying to piece a set together on your own. With a street price of about $110.00 (2-22-2011) the KD 40-piece Gearwrench Tap & Die Set won’t break the bank either.

Click Here to visit the KD Tools web site.

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