Cool Tool: The Tap Socket Makes Rebuilding Destroyed Bolt Threads Easier

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Screenshot: Don The Small Engine Doctor / YouTube (Other)

Over the past few weeks we’ve looked at automatic wire strippers for the perfect wire cut, the ChassisEAR to locate bad noises and the extension wrench that loosens bolts in tight areas. This week’s cool tool, the tap socket, can help you reconstruct destroyed threads or create new ones.

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This suggestion comes from reader Slow Joe Crow, who says that a tap socket will work when the usual tool, a T-handle tap, will not. Honestly, I didn’t even know that these existed.

Destroyed threaded holes can be a major annoyance to the DIY wrencher. In my experience, I sometimes find destroyed threads from cross-threaded or way over-tightened fasteners. Sometimes threaded holes also give up the ghost due to wear or if you’re in the Midwest, rust. It sucks doing all of the hard work to get a stuck bolt free, only to learn that the threads are too damaged to replace it.

One of the best solutions to this headache is a thread chaser/restorer, which you can rent from your local car parts store. Or you can use taps. Taps are tools that are shaped a little bit like screws, but with a more tapered nose and sharper “threads.” When inserted into a damaged bolt hole, or a newly drilled one, and then twisted, taps cut into the material and make fresh, new threads.

The tool used for this operation is often a T-handle tap wrench. It’s an excellent tool to repair damaged threads, but it has one problem: it requires a lot of space:

Illustration for article titled Cool Tool: The Tap Socket Makes Rebuilding Destroyed Bolt Threads Easier
Screenshot: Don The Small Engine Doctor / YouTube (Other)

This is fine if the thread you need to rebuild is out in the open but not so much when things are cramped.

That’s when you can pull out a socket tap. Socket taps can make new threads like a t-handle tap wrench but as it’s attached to a ratchet, you can use an extension to clear the tight area.

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The Don The Small Engine Doctor YouTube channel demonstrates how one of these tools work in a review:

This is another tool that won’t break the bank. Slow Joe Crow says that they found an Irwin Hanson tap socket at a Wilco farm store for $5. This deal doesn’t appear to be advertised online.

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A Lisle tap socket like the one featured in the video above runs about $50. Other brands of tap sockets appear to run as low as $20 at places like eBay or Amazon.

Do you know of a weird or unique but must-have tool that every wrencher should have? Do you want to see us put a type of tool to the test and see how it performs? Shoot me an email or drop it down in the comments!

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Loves all vehicles! Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...

DISCUSSION

frankencamry
FrankenCamry

But a 12 point socket fits square tap ends.

If it’s just chasing existing threads I’ve been doing that for ages. On new threads I wouldn’t risk a single handle approach though, too much possibility of tilt.