Tuesday , February 20 2018
Home > Shop Tips > The Basics of Metalworking Taps, Tapping Fluids, & Tap Handles

The Basics of Metalworking Taps, Tapping Fluids, & Tap Handles

I had a chance to sit down with Barry Young a while back and I asked him to talk about taps, tapping fluids, and tap handles. I wanted his overview to be as basic as possible so it would be beneficial to beginners, but I ended up learning a few things myself – especially about novel cutting fluids (part 2). I videotaped Barry’s commentary and divided it into 3 parts:

Part 1: Taps

Part 2: Tapping Fluids and Lubricants

Part 3: Tap Handles

Remember, I asked Barry to keep things simple so his commentary on taps and tapping fluids isn’t exhaustive. If you’d like to add something to the conversation (like your favorite tapping fluid) please do so by clicking the link below to join the forum discussion related to this post. 

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About Tyler

Tyler is a hobby machinist and 3D printing aficionado. He teaches computer programming and web development at Highline College near Seattle. Tyler founded Projects In Metal in 2008 because he was frustrated by the lack of free plans available for hobby machinists.

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  1. In the second (tapping fluids) video, Barry says something about “tin weight” oil or something. Is it “ten weight”? The canister that it comes in looks like those 3 in 1 oils that you can get at the convenience store. What exactly is it?


    I use WD40 on aluminum a lot for cutting and tapping. Organic compounds (lard, oils) work surprisingly well. Most of them smell great when they are machined. The only problem is you have to clean them up before they get rancid.

  2. Yep, 10-W oil. I think the 3-in-1 oil normally comes as a 10w oil, but I’m not sure if the bottle specifies that. The oil is sold everywhere in the US. Any hardware store will have it. Not sure about other countries – but Amazon sells it. If you get the black and red bottle you’ve got the right stuff. The container itself can be metal or plastic, but the color scheme (black and red) is what tells you if you’ve got the right oil. They sell some other oils – I think there was one in the image on the video. I haven’t used anything other than the black and red 3-in-1. It also makes for a great general purpose lubricant around the house.

    WD-40 is GREAT for aluminum. It keeps the chips from welding themselves to the tooling. I haven’t used any organic lubricants. But I’ve heard that bacon grease works well – and smells nice as you said. But I’ve avoided them because of the cleanup.