tips for tapping the MakerSlide

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tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by fishtoprecords » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:05 am

I'm currently working on tapping the M5 holes in the MakerSlide for my S2. Short version: it takes a long time and its fairly easy to do it wrong and break a tap.

I've seen in other threads folks talking about power tapping using a normal electric drill. This scares me, as most folks have straight flute taps -- they are not designed to be power driven. If you want to power tap, you really want a spiral fluted tap.

I decided to use manual power to turn the tap, but mount a "spring loaded tap guide" in my drill press. ... 07_s00_i00
I clamp the MakerSlide in my vise, use the tap guide to hold the tap vertical, and turn the tap by hand.

It really doesn't take that long, maybe 90 seconds per hole. Plus a minute or two to get the MakerSlide setup in the vise.

I am interested in how other folks approached this.

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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by chomdh » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:40 am

I was not comfortable tapping the holes with a power drill so I did them all by hand. I used wd40 which helped. I'd say I spent 1 hour to do all 18 holes. No vice or special tools, and they came out plenty straight. Just some compressed air to blow out the aluminum shavings from the makerslide and the tap.
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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by cvoinescu » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:00 pm

I would say don't use a power drill with a regular, straight-flute hand tap. Many of those are terribly easy to break. I do use a portable drill/driver, but only with spiral flute taps.
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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by mmorlan62 » Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:29 pm

Hmm. We're tapping aluminum here, not tool steel. I had zero problems tapping the rails with my power drill, straight flute or no.


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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by MeanderBolt » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:29 pm

I will add another vote for not using a drill. You have to be able to 'feel' how it is going. Yes it takes a while, yes it is somewhat of a pain. But we all got through it. More, if you are going to do this as a hobby, you will have to be okay with things taking a while.
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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by twforeman » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:42 pm

I used a tap handle and Tap Magic tapping fluid.

I took it slow and had no issues.

Buy a bottle of Tap Magic, it's not expensive and will last forever. :)
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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by Prototypical » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:01 am

I used some 3-in-1 oil and a Ryobi One+ 18-Volt Drill which allowed me to control the speed and torque used. Power tap your rails, you'll get on with your project so much quicker it'll make your head spin. Although people say "a little goes a long way" with the oil, use more than you think you need and it'll go like buddah.
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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by Ing Chao » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:05 am

I've probably tapped thousands of threads during the course of building light sabers for staged combat and I'd have to concur with the above advice of using some sort of lubricant on the tap- I use motor oil.

But on the use of a drill I have to disagree. If you've never used a tap before, DO NOT USE A DRILL!
I'd like to add that your tap should have a tapered tip like this:
It'll help making a straight tap MUCH easier. Also, when you insert the tap, twist it about one full turn- you'll feel it tighten up- that's the swarf (shavings) from the piece being tapped getting caught in the tap's threads. Back the tap out completely and blow it off or wipe it clean. Re-lube it and place the tap back in. For every 3/4 to 1 clockwise turn of the tap, turn the tap counterclockwise 1/2 turn. This will allow the swarf to go into the slots that run along the tap's shaft. Continue this until the thread you've created is at least as deep as the bolt you are going to insert into it. If the hole being threaded is as deep as the tap's length, remove the tap after you've tapped about 3/4's of the taps length, clean it re-lube and reinsert it. This will help keep the swarf from being caught between the tap and the material being tapped and stripping your workpiece. After you remove the tap, blow out the newly tapped hole with compressed air if possible, clean your tap, re-lube (again) and run it through the workpiece again.

Using a drill increases your chances of getting swarf caught in your threads AND it's very easy to overtap and strip your workpiece!

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but after all the taps I've done, these steps result in some really nice taps that are worth the effort!
Maybe it's just me, but a good clean tap is something of an OCD for me! :lol:
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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by cvoinescu » Mon Feb 10, 2014 1:55 am

I agree that, if you haven't tapped aluminium before, you should not tap with a drill -- stick to hand tapping. I think I did about 50-60 holes by hand with a regular tap (almost identical to Ing Chao's) and about ten more with my new spiral tap before I got the feel of it and switched to the drill.
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Re: tips for tapping the MakerSlide

Post by fishtoprecords » Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:54 am

There are three separate types of taps in the machining world. Or, rather, three with straight flutes, and lots more specialized ones.
  • * tapered tap
    * plug tap
    * bottom tap
Most of your hardware store taps are tapered just like @ing showed. They have about 7 threads in the taper part before they get to full depth.

A plug tap has less of a taper, maybe 4 or so. They are easier to get crooked, but can tap closer to the bottom of a blind hole.

A bottom tap has very little taper, its designed to make the threads go to the bottom of a blind hole, after you have done most of the threads with a plug or tapered tap.

For the MakerSlide, you really want a tapered tap.

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