Taps are tools used by engineers for creating a female thread inside a hole. The tap is inserted into a special wrench and turned whilst cutting oil is used to lubricate the tap.
When forming a brand new thread in a blind hole, it is usually a three-stage process.
- Firstly a taper tap is used. This tap has a pronounced taper to the cutting edges, ensuring that the first cut is less aggressive.
- After the taper tap comes a second tap. This also has a tapered edge, but not as pronounced as the taper tap. This slight taper helps align the tap when it is first introduced to the hole.
- The third and final stage is carried out with a bottoming tap, often referred to as plug tap. Bottoming taps have hardly any taper and a continuous cutting edge.
When cutting shallow female threads, it may be possible to skip the third stage and just use the taper or second taps.
If tapping into a soft material it is possible to cut the thread with only a second tap.