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I Forge Iron

old taps and dies


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A while back I posted in the "It followed me home" topic (my post was #2915) some old blacksmith tools I had gotten and it included the taps and dies shown in the photo.....well, I have been trying to find out more about them and I found photos of all 3 in the book "Blacksmith and Farriers Tools at Shelburne Museum" (a great reference) by H. R. Bradley Smith on pages 218 (the die) and 220 (the taps). According to the book, the die is simply called a "screw plate" and says that "...is usually used on small work." Kinda had that one figured out already but what I didn't realize about the taps (mainly because I hadn't looked that hard at them) is that they are right hand and left hand thread taps "for rough work and for the axles of wagon wheels. These taps are given a taper of 1/2 inch per foot of length,....so that the direction of rotation on both sides of the wagon wheel shall be in a direction to screw up the nuts and not to unscrew the nut , as would be the case if both ends of the axle were provided with right hand threads.:" Reckon I'm on my way to becoming a wheelwright.....

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The die stock is a style that was commercially made, and commonly shows up in early 1800's tool catalogs. However, those taps were not originally made for that die stock, and are much newer. The one with the squared off head is typical of early 20th century tools, also commercially made. While there are left and right hand thread on axle ends, the taps and die you have are much too small for most axles. I would use caution if you plan to use these tools. When these were made, wrought iron was the material to be threaded and it is much softer than A-36. They are only carbon steel, and will not hold up well if used on modern mild steel. Good collector's find. treat them well.

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