Scale model cockpit FPV

cool scale cockpit video

Funny Zoo Snap

man enjoys elephant My wife noticed this in the family archives.

RC Nitro motorcycle racing

rc motorcycle Motorcycle racing in Lilliput.

Manned RC Multicopter

manned multicopter
Here’s an RC multicopter big enough to ride on!

Make: Talk 004

make: Talk 004
I had a fun time talking to Mark Frauenfelder in episode 4 of his new podcast, Make: Talk!

One Man Basement Band

one man band
I feel like I could be getting more mileage out of my right foot.


liberty vintage motorcycles An Etsy portrait. Thanks, Danny.

Tequila Sleeve

tequila the champs
Champs sleeve

Wolf-Stelzer Book Lamp

Book Lamp
My friend Tess just made the cover of ReadyMade with her cool lamp design.

Tree Stump Bug

Can this be for real? The design is so awesomely Thunderbirds. Via

The Nothing Box

nothing box


Thunderbirds are go
Are Go!

Command Center

command center
Sweet assemblage spaceship’s bridge.

Four Drano’s

Watch the sink slowly, all but disappear from the design .

Toothpaste Aerosol

toothpaste aerosol
Aerosol toothpaste

Thread cutting for beginners

tap and die

I‘ve always wanted to be a Machinist. For a while, I even subscribed to The Home Shop Machinist magazine, an uber-dorky niche mag aimed at the people who like to retreat to their basement machine shops to make things out of metal. There I learned to lust for a Bridgeport Mill, an Atlas Lathe, and a rotary table.

It’s probably for the best that I never bought any of those machines. Although the idea of being able to manufacture my own model internal combustion engines is an appealing one, getting into the machine-shop hobby is for folks with more available free time and money than I have right now.

But there is one machinist-like thing that I do from time to time, and that is to whip out the old tap and die set and cut some threads! If you have never threaded anything before, you should really try it soon, it is incredibly satisfying, and quite easy to do.

tap and die

Most recently, I found myself wanting to install an oil temperature gauge in my car, which required that I create a place to install the sending unit.

tap and die

It turns out that the oil filter fitting on my engine came with an un-used boss in the casting. This spot was used in some applications, not in others so I chose this spot to drill and tap a recepticle for the temp sensor.

Drill the hole

The first thing to do if you desire a threaded hole, is to drill a hole. The hole should be just under-sized, so that you don’t have to remove too much metal while cutting, but you want to have enough there to form the threads. Most taps will come with a spec telling you what size hole to drill

tap and die

Cut some threads

The thread-cutting tap is essentially a tapered bolt, made from hard tool steel, which has multiple longitudinal flutes, that provide cutting edges. To cut your threads, all you have to do is thread the tool into the hole. Tap sets will come with a special T-handle that you use to turn the tool with by hand. I didn’t have one large enough for this particular tap, so I just turned it with a wrench. As the tap goes in, it cuts deeper and deeper until finally, youv’e got threads.

tap and die

You need to use some oil to keep things going smoothly. I’ve found that light machine oil works well for steel, while WD-40 does a good job with aluminum.

tap and die

Like I said, this is an immensely satisfying activity, you really should try it.

tap and die

tap and die

tap and die

Next time, I’ll break out the dies, and make some bolts, just like grandpa used to make.

7 Responses to “Thread cutting for beginners”

  1. Geoffrey Says:

    So, as a long time VW owner, I have long subscribed to the oil temperature is better or rather a useful adjunct to oil pressure readings.
    So why does your gauge holder only have water temp/oil pressure and cylinder head temp. I would have taken oil temp over cylinder head temp in a water cooled vehicle any day.

  2. Steve Says:

    Geoff -

    I assume that you mean air-cooled (which is really “oil-cooled”) VW, in which case Yes, oil temp is a very important thing to keep an eye on. Analogous to coolant temperature in a water-cooled engine.

    As it turns out, I did indeed ditch the CHT in favor of oil temperature.


  3. Eli Says:

    I applaud you for a project well executed, and would share only that I like to turn the tap BACK a bit every so often, to keep the new threads and tap cutters free of burr.

  4. Mike Says:

    Which VDO sensor did you go with here? Can’t make out the number I’m about to do the same to feed the oil temp gauge in my new gauge cluster. Great site btw, is serving as motivation do get my own MS-II project going. thanks, Mike

  5. Taufiqul Islam Pius Says:

    Dear Sir:

    Please offer us of following Thread Cutting Tap.

    M22 X 2.5 GH4 3FLT T20 H
    M22 X 2.5 GH4 3FLT T24 H
    M22 X 2.5 GH8 5FLT T24 H
    M22 X 2.5 GH9 5FLT T24 H
    M24 X 3.0 GH4 3FLT T24 H

    Thanks with best regards.

    Taufiqul Islam Pius
    Managing Director
    Khondoker Group Company Inc.
    152/4 Green Road, Panthapath
    Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh
    PSTN: +8802.9144756, Fax: +8802.8153174
    GSM: +88.0154.335811, ICQ: 432657695
    Instant Messenger (any) ID: khonodkergroup
    Corporate E-mail: karukaj@gononet.com

  6. Larry Perkins Says:

    Thanks for the clear, correct advice in “Thread-cutting For Beginners”, which concentrated on tapping metal.

    Unfortunately, you stopped before you broke out the dies.

    I cannot find a source that explains the correct sizes of blank rod stock for using dies to make studs, etc.

    I have tried to work it out from tap drill and tap size charts, which are easily found, but I can’t get it right.

    Any advice?

    Thanks, Larry

  7. Jack Dinan Says:

    In Thread-cutting for Beginners, you promised to break out the dies and show us how to chase a thread. I, like Larry Perkins, would like to see a table of blank rod diameters for this. Did you ever post the die article?