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Small Tap and Die Set


I was wondering if anyone could help me out. I started an online
body jewelry business and have talked to people that have
manufactured body jewelry and have said it was pretty easy to do. I
need to find a tap and die set that is very small, for maybe eyeglass
screw size, for .051-.062 stainless steel wire… i have checked the
local hardware store and everything they had was way too big… any
help would be appreciated… i am also looking for balling cups for
making Captive Bead Ring ends size 18-10g… thanks!

David Basile
Gen-X Jewelry

David, Small Parts Inc. may have what you are looking for. Phone
(800) 220-4242. Silverbear

Try your tool supplier, they may have watchmakers tap and die sets or
individual tap and dies you may need. They should also have what they
call screw plates.

Dear David, Hobby stores, the type that cater to model makers and
rocket launchers, should do the trick. If the cheap route doesn’t
work Reactive Metals will have what you are looking for.

Best Wishes,

Hi David, Frei and Borel 800-772-3456 have what you are looking for.
the taps and dies may take some getting used to. tell me how it goes.

Etienne Perret
Designing Colored Diamond Jewels
< >
20 Main St
Camden, Maine
USA 04843

David, Rio has a Colibri Tap and Die set that starts at .6mm and goes
up to 2mm. It costs about $99 but must be a high quality set. There
is another available, I think from Fargotstein’s, that goes from .6 to
1mm. The difference is it is made in India but only costs $10! I got
one of the latter and it works fine.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio where simple elegance IS
fine jewelry!

Hello David,

Have you tried MicroMark? They supply

modle railroad builders and I think have just what you need. I have
also bought lots of neat metal forming pliers, polishing compounds,
etc. from them. They have a really good sale catalog once a year and
I think it comes out pretty soon. Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Extension Associate
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681

David, You can purchase the tap and die sets you need from Small Parts
Inc. ask for a print catalog. I used to
have a body jewelry business where I hand fabricated every piece. This
was about 6 years ago right before it was widely mass produced.
Captive bead rings are simple to make yourself but when you get into
mechanisms like the barbells it gets a little more complicated.
Tapping a piece of surgical steel with a .051 tap is a lesson in
futility. It may take a major investment in equipment to produce
jewelry at a volume to make it profitable. Body jewelry is so
inexpensive to purchase wholesale now it’s very difficult to compete,
you may be better off reselling if it’s a monetary advantage you’re
after. Ball cups are available through almost any jewelry supply

I wish you luck with your business!

Amy O’Connell
Amy O’Connell Jewelry

For a tiny tap & die set I would go to a really good hooby shop that
carries a lot of model RR and model airplane parts & supplies. Good

Epaul Fischer
Gryphon Song Creations

I have ordered taps for body jewellery from McMaster-Carr Supply
Company. Some of the threads used in
comercial findings are american and some are metric (and often are
enough offsize to make measuring them a real joy). With a matched
tap/die set you can avoid this problem. Use a GOOD lubricant!


A flyer recently arrived from Fargotstein’s which had a tap and die
set for under $20. I can’t find the flyer right now, but you can call
them at 800.238.9226 or better, fax 800.622.6056 to request their
catalog and tools flyer, or just ask about the tap and die kit.

For better quality taps and dies, go to Reactive Metals Studio at
520.634.3434, Fax 520.634.6734, online at

While I’m giving up sources, another supplier to investigate is
Kassoy. They have lots of scales and microscopes and other high end,
diamond related, tools. One thing I get from them that I don’t find
elsewhere is pure alcohol. Call them at 800.4-KASSOY.

Riccardo Accurso
Ricco Gallery of Contemporary Art Jewelry
125 W German St /PO Box 883
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-0883

Contenti Supply (800-343-3364) has miniature tap and die sets used
for Jewelry. There is an Indian made Set(inexpensive, but not always
sharp) and there is a german made set( more money, But worth every
penny. I believe Elaine at Gesswein also caries them. Daniel Grandi model, molds , casting and finishing
for stores and designers in the trade.

Ok, I’ve purchased a couple of taps and dies, but haven’t a clue as
how to use them. Do I drill a hole and then insert the tap (small,
threaded part) to make the threads? I am pretty sure that the die is
the larger part into which I can put wire and get threads on the wire
by turning the die. Thanks for any advice!

Hi Fishbreath,

   Ok,  I've purchased a couple of taps and dies, but haven't a
clue as how to use them.  Do I drill a hole and then insert the tap
(small, threaded part) to make the threads?  I am pretty sure that
the die is the larger part into which I can put wire and get threads
on the wire by turning the die. 

There are several different screw thread systems & I don’t know which
you have. Here’s the info for the ‘preferred’ sizes of screws made to
the ‘Uniform Miniature Screw Standard’. It’s taken from the 'Tapping’
section of Machinery’s Handbook. The screw sizes are defined by 3
numbers followed by the letters UNM. For simplicity, I’ll omit the

Because the thickness of the metal being drilled has an affect on the
required hole size, 3 sets of minimum & maximum hole sizes are
listed. The 1st set is for material up to 2/3 the thickness of the
screw diameter (2/3D). Set 2 is for material 2/3 - 1 1 /2D. Set 3 is
for 1 1/2 - 3D.

Column 1 is the screw number, Col 2 & 3, set 1; col 4 & 5, set 2;
col 5 & 6, set 3. The numbers in columns 2 thru 6 are listed in mm.

0.30 .226-.240 .236-.254 .245-.264 0.40 .307-.324
.318-.340 .329-.351 0.50 .383-.402 .396-.422 .409-.435
0.60 .459-.482 .474-.504 .489-.519 0.80 .611-.640
.630-.668 .649-.687 1.00 .763-.798 .786-.832 .809-.855
1.20 .963-.998 .986-1.032 1.009-1.055

The standard drill numbers for these sizes are listed in the
following table. The sizes listed fall between the minimum & maximum
size. In 2 cases, 1 size drill is used for 2 holes.

0.30 #89 #88 #87 0.40 #82 #81 #80 0.50 1/64
#78 #78 0.60 #77 #77 #76 0,80 #73 #72
#71 1.00 #68 #67 #66 1.20 #62 #61 #59

When drilling holes of theses sizes, it’s best to use a drill press
(unless you’ve got a very steady hand) and very high speed.

Taps should be lubricated before beginning tapping. Use your burr
lub. Because taps are very hard steel or carbide, it’s brittle. Any
side to side bending motion is apt to break the tap. As a result it’s
best to mount the tap in a drill press or a tapping machine. Turn the
drill press by hand.


A catalog for “Small Parts, Inc.” appeared recently in my PO Box. Its
the “Engineering Findings Catalog 20” and its for model makers. It
has 10 pages of taps and dies, and the sizes seem to range down to
"000". I so far can’t figure out exactly what that is in mm, but this
outfit may be worth a call. Sales and customer service phone number
is 800-220-4242.

Dian Deevey

You drill a hole of the proper size (refer to machinery’s handbook,
or other source). Countersink/debur the hole a bit to help start the
tap. You usually mount the tap in a handle. put a little lube (either
wax or oil) on the tap and very gently start the tap into the hole.
Make sure you are perpendicular to the surface of the work! Every turn
or so back the tap up to break the chips. On very small taps, back off
at the least resistance, otherwise you will break the tap. Slow and
Steady wins the race. If the hole is blind (rather than through) you
will need to take into account that the chips are falling into the
bottom of the hole, and clear them out periodically. I assume the
holes you’re tapping won’t be that deep. The die is mounted in a
handle as well, but there’s less danger of breaking it.
@Felice_Luftschein_an is Felice Luftschein and Nicholas Carter. See the
Taig Lathe pages at

G’day R. Fishbre; I hope you haven’t tried to use them until you have
read this. Taps are dead easy to break! You MUST get a table of
tapping and clearance sizes for drills to show you the right drills
and taps to use. The hole for tapping should be the same as the
INSIDE depth of the thread. Bigger and the tap will not cut the
thread deep enough. Smaller and the tap will doubtless break. Each
size of tap should be available in three types; a tapered tap which
cuts threads slightly less deep, and to finish thread cutting properly
and is easier to insert and start. A ‘second’ or mid tap cuts the
thread the right depth and cleans up. The third tap is a bottoming
tap, and is used to cut the thread almost to the bottom of a blind
hole. The ‘second’ or mid tap is not absolutely necessary as long as
you do have the third (bottoming) tap with parallel sides. The
’second’ tap is necessary when the first tap has been used on a hard
metal. A clearance drill just allows the thread of a screw to slide
easily into the hole without needing to be turned. When drilling use
a lubricant; spit works well for small holes in soft metals like
sterling and gold. So does CRC or WD40. Don’t use too much pressure -
let the drill cut it’s way. Don’t spin the drill terribly fast, but
if you have to use a flexishaft or Dremel keep switching down the
speed, and lift the drill often. Keep the tap dead upright; don’t
waggle it about.

The rod/wire to be threaded with the DIE should be the OUTER diameter
of the thread. The table of tapping and clearance drills will provide
you with the right rod diameter for any given tap. For thin rods (up
to 3mm) hold them in a STATIONARY drill chuck whilst you do the
thread cutting. Use a lubricant for both tap and die. When fastening
two or more parts together with a bolt of any dimensions, only one
part should have a tapped thread and the other(s) should have
clearance holes. To make tiny silver or gold threaded bolts, melt the
end of the rod or wire to form a ball. Pickle. Place the rod/wire in
a stationary drill chuck to hold it tightly. Cut the screwdriver slot
with a Junior hacksaw blade or a very coarse jeweller’s saw, having
filed the head flat or as required for the design. The hole to
receive the screw in the part that meets the head should be
countersunk with a jeweller’s setting burr, or other suitable conical
or even round burr.

Orchid members know enough by now to be sure that any further
questions will be welcome. And R., if you need a tapping chart, ask
me, but include sizes of your taps. Cheers. Tap thrice and ask
for John. The door shall be opened unto you. – John Burgess;
@John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ