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What is a Taper Tap?

By Keith Koons
Updated May 17, 2024
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A taper tap is a narrow cutting instrument that is used to produce a threaded hole in metallic, wooden, or plastic surfaces so that a type of screw or bolt can later be placed within the pierced object. The design of a tapered tap begins at a narrow point and gradually increases is size to allow for smooth, gradual cutting. It is common for a taper tap to have anywhere between eight and 10 threaded sections to maximize effectiveness against even very tough components like alloy steel or iron.

This cutting motion is normally conducted by hand or with the assistance of a hand tool to ensure a balanced and accurate precision throughout the process. Once completed, the drilled surface is often followed up with an intermediate or bottoming tap to increase the total circumference of the threaded hole being created. One of the more common tools used in conjunction with a taper tap is a T wrench since it allows a uniform pressure to be distributed across the surface while adding the much-needed torque to keep the cut precise.

Taper taps are commonly used by construction workers and general contractors when the use of power tools is prohibited or otherwise unavailable. Others prefer them because the process ensures that a completely uniform section will be cut where other methods may falter. This method has been popular since the early 1800s, when laborers would create a taper tap on the job site that was suitable for the task at hand. Although more conventional methods are readily available, the tapered tap is still used by professionals across the globe.

One of the downsides of operating a taper tap is the requirement to frequently counter-turn the device in order to allow a chance for the inner shavings to be removed. This process must be repeated frequently to release as much tension as possible to ensure that a symmetrical hole is created, but each time the tapered pipe tap is expelled, it also increases the chances for error. For this reason alone, many novices are instructed to instead use a machine tool that provides enough torque to eliminate the need for frequent counter syncing throughout the project. Nevertheless, a taper tap can usually be found within almost any skilled craftsman’s toolbox, and it often succeeds when more common conventional methods fail.

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