Anyone deal with Northern Tool?

ABTOMAT

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They're like a Harbor Freight that specializes in industrial and farm maintenance stuff. Usually low to middling quality Chinese tools for their store brands. Sometimes they have good prices on stuff from real companies.

I would never, ever buy a cheap no-name tap set. You're just asking for one to break or dull out in the middle of a job on Saturday night. The metal that goes into those things is like McDonalds secret sauce.
 

TheMechanic

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ABTOMAT said:
I would never, ever buy a cheap no-name tap set. You're just asking for one to break or dull out in the middle of a job on Saturday night. The metal that goes into those things is like McDonalds secret sauce.
That is the absolute truth!

Take it from someone who taps LOTS of small holes in tough material: if you want taps that are prone to breakage and difficult to use, buy one of their sets. If you don't, buy them separately so that you can choose the right characteristics.

What do I recommend? First, buy only HSS (high speed steel) taps - not "carbon steel", which are much more brittle and prone to breaking in a hole (this is a bad thing.) Carbon taps also wear rapidly; when I'm tapping steel, I can feel a carbon tap start to dull within just a few uses. As the tap dulls, the amount of force necessary to cut threads increases dramatically, which means that the risk of breakage skyrockets.

Second: Buy 2-flute taps, which are much stronger than the typical 4-flute variety, especially in the smaller sizes.

Third: if you are going to tap through holes (in other words, a hole that goes clear through a piece, as opposed to a blind hole that ends inside the item) buy spiral point taps. (These are NOT the same as spiral flute taps!) The spiral point taps shoot the chips out in front of the tap, making the typical "half turn forward, quarter turn back" routine to clear chips unnecessary. With a spiral point tap, cutting threads is about as fast and easy as screwing in lightbulb.

Fifth: Buy quality taps, but you don't have to overspend. I've found that Cleveland, Greenfield, and OSG are all good quality products; of them, Greenfield is my favorite. You can often find some or all of these on sale at the better tooling suppliers (Enco, J&L, Rutland, MSC.) J&L, in particular, runs a 25% or 35% off all taps promotion every couple of months, always on a Thursday or Friday.

Finally, make sure you have quality tap wrenches that hold the tap securely and squarely. As in many things, Starrett is the "gold standard", though the tap makers usually make top-quality wrenches as well.

Oh, and one last thing: a good cutting oil is a must!

Hope this helps!

-=[ Grant ]=-
 
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scott.cr

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ABTOMAT said:
I would never, ever buy a cheap no-name tap set.

I'll second. Northern Tool is good for some things, but for metal cutting tools I'd pass.

Since you're in the mood for mail order, get your taps from use-enco.com or mscdirect.com. They have the good stuff that machine shops use, and the prices are very reasonable, even compared to the cheap Chinese stuff. About a year ago I was working a temp job as QC manager at a machine shop (job shop) and we were getting daily deliveries from Enco.

Those two sites also have tap aligners, so that you drive the tap straight into the hole. Great to use if you don't have access to a drill press.
 

KC2IXE

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TheMechanic said:
That is the absolute truth!

...snip...
What do I recommend? First, buy only HSS (high speed steel) taps - not "carbon steel",

Hi Grant,
I'll agree - ONLY quality taps (I prefer OSG - but horses for courses).

That said - there is a time and place for carbon steel taps! Sometimes, if you are working on a piece that can NOT be replaced (and particularly blind holes) I'll use a BRAND NEW carbon steel tap, because if it DOES break, you can ususally use a center punch to shatter the old tap. If I owned or had access to a "tap burner" this would NOT be an issue
 

BIGIRON

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Northern is a great source for a lot of equipment and parts. Had nothing but good dealings with them. Haven't bought any tools, but I'd tend to agree with the foregoing about the tools. Can't beat HF for cheap.

Northern was the only place last year that could get me a 4cycle Husqvarna line trimmer.
 

Trashman

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I've bought from Northern Tool, before. No problems. They've got a HUGE catalog (printed), and I mean HUGE! They actually sell tractors!
 

jollytoker420

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My job needed a large size tap and die set. 1"-8NC is hard to find in a good set. I didn't want to buy all separate pieces, but wanted a decent set in a case. I finally found a reliable seller on ebay, who was just selling from a website and having it direct ship.

It was www.Homier.com Which is a lot like HF and NT both of which I have had good dealings in the past.

45pc. SAE $49.99

I bought it mainly for repairs, rethreading and chasing. I have used it 20+ times to tap cold rolled steel without any issues.

I heed the word of machinists' use only quality tools if you are using them for production or all day every day.
 

RCatR

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J&L has what I need in HSS for only a little bit more; and they have great pricing on ball endmills too

I'd better stop looking before I get too tempted to buy more than just a tap or two:devil:
 

modamag

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RCatR: Signup with use-enco.com & mscdirect.com
Enco will commonly have Cleveland Twist on sale. They're similar Vermont America, the stuff commonly found in OSH / HD / Lowes. Decent grade.
For a couple buck more MSC, frequently have monthly specials on some nice OSG & Greenfield.

I was able to build myself a complete set of plug & bottoming of OSG & Greenfield ranging from 4-40 to 3/8-16 for < $200. Most of the cost was for the bottoming TiCN.

Then if you still got couple extra bucks go for the matching carbide tapping drill bit.

I learned my lesson when I attempted to do a blind 1/4-20 1" with two sets of HF so call *Heat treated carbon steel* :sick2:
 
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