A Definitive Guide On Types Of Taps For Threading

The taps are essential tools for industries in manufacturing, construction, plumbing, automotive and more which create accurate and clean threads on materials like metal, plastic and wood. The right type of tap is also important for effective professional threading. This ultimate guide will take you through the main types as well as niche taps needed for different materials or uses.

Hand taps

As their name suggests, hand taps are designed to be operated manually using a tap wrench or handle. Hand taps are characterized by high strength and durability since they cut threads through a combination of rotation and downward pressure. Their simple yet robust design makes them useful in industrial environments with low-scale threading activities such as hobbyists.

Hand taps perform better at controlling depth accurately so that users can avoid cross-threading problems, minimize instances of breaking the tool compared to other machine taps, and finally start threading properly. Therefore, if you need some general thread requirements on-site or within your workshop, it is advisable to get a decent set of hand taps for everyday use.

Machine taps

These are also called milling, production or gun taps and are optimized for application in high-speed, large-volume production situations. They have a shorter length than standard taps and are designed to be held securely in machine tool holders and spindles thereby eliminating vibration and runout for maximum threading accuracy and efficiency.

Machine taps are highly important in machine shops due to their ability to produce threaded components very fast, consistently, and with great accuracy. Although they do require specific types of tooling, machine taps deliver much higher outputs as compared to hand tapping. Some examples include making automotive transmission cases, engine parts, or consumer products among others.

Pipe taps

As the name indicates, these taps are specifically used for pipe thread cutting on pipes, fitting covers, and piping installations. These types of plugs come in standardized sizes that match common pipe dimensions within specific piping system standards.

Pipe taps vary such as NPT (National Pipe Taper) and NPTF (Dryseal) for North American piping systems or UN/UNF designs intended for metric pipes which can be different from each other with respect to their size especially when it comes to their diameters.


To get the work done easily for plumbers, pipe fitters and anyone else handling pipe assemblies, it is necessary to use special pipe taps that are made specifically for the pipes instead of using general-purpose taps. 

Taper taps

While most taps produce parallel straight threads from start to finish, taper taps gradually increase in diameter along their length. This results in angled or tapered threads that become narrower or wider depending on whether they start out small or big.

Taper taps serve several important functions; they create an initial thin lead to facilitate aligning the thread , this allows for a tight “self-sealing” fit as the threads come together and helps bond pipes or mechanical components securely .The angles further help prevent cross-threading problems.

Forming taps

Rather than shaving away material via conventional chips, forming taps basically molds and pushing aside the material through intense compressive forces. This cold forms the material into threads without any cutting edges, which is done through burnishing action.

Formation taps may not be able to cut threads in harder materials, but they offer a better quality thread, longer tool life, closer tolerances and better finishes than cutting taps of their allowed materials. This includes ammunition cartridge cases and optical components as well as precision medical devices.

More specialty taps 

Apart from this main category, there are several types of specialty and combination taps that exist for unique applications. 

  • The thread is formed until it contacts the bottom surface by Bottoming/Bundle taps.
  • Threads are made through a rolling action by Roll form taps.
  • Carbide taps are used for very hard, case-hardened materials.
  • Tapping drill combinations integrate a drill with a tap into one tool.
  • Gun taps let through-hole threading without plugging the hole exit.\


When it comes to high precision threading, using the appropriate tap for an application is absolutely critical. This not only guarantees proper fit, function and longevity but also prevents costly reworks, rejects or safety concerns resulting from incorrect or failed threads.

Whether cutting simple threads or tackling complex piping assemblies, having the right taps truly makes all the difference. With this definitive guide, designers, engineers, machinists, and tradespeople can make informed decisions to select the perfect tapping tools every time.


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