Mac Tools TD117COMBOS – Tap and Die Set

If you do any serious automotive, restoration, or general repair work and you need a Tap & Die set. Like anything else, you can spend anywhere from $25 on a budget set, to a couple thousand or more on a professional machinist set, it’s really about what you need to do with them. If you’re a guy that taps a hand full of holes in a year, a budget set will probably suit you just fine, but if you’re in a professional, or even a hobby environment where threading is all part of the job on a regular basis, you’re going to want something a little more robust.

If that sounds like you, Mac Tools has just the set you’re looking for. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, specialty tool sets are one area where Mac really excels and the TD117COMBOS is no exception.

 

Overview

MAC TD 1

As the name should foretell, the TD117COMBOS is a 117 piece set which is an updated version of the previous 117 piece TDPLUS set. The primary updates to the COMBOS set are as follows:

All new, heavy duty, case with removable tray.

Upgraded canvas drill bit/extractor pouch (TDPLus was vinyl)

Mac stamping on every T&D (TDPlus had sizing only)

Molded sizes in the case for each T&D to speed up tool identification.

You can check out Mac’s promo video HERE 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the previous set, let’s talk about this one. I’m not about to bore you with each individual size and thread pitch, but the contents break down like this:

34 Taps (16 SAE, 16 Metric, 2 Pipe threads) ranging from 4-40 to 1/2″ and 3mm to 12mm in course and fine thread

34 Dies(16 SAE, 16 Metric, 2 Pipe threads) ranging from 4-40 to 1/2″ and 3mm to 12mm in course and fine thread

36 Piece HSS drill bit set which includes every bit needed for any of the included taps

5 Piece spiral extractor set

3 Tap Wrenches

2 Die Stocks

2 Thread Pitch Gauges

1 Mini Screwdriver

 

First Impressions

Right away you notice the the quality feel of the set. From the full polish die stocks to the shiny HSS drill bits, everything has a hefty feel to it. Everything is well laid out. The updates to this set really give it a user friendly nature. Whether you’re grabbing 1 piece for a quick repair or laying the whole set out on your cart for a bigger job, it’s easy to navigate.

Mac TD 2

 

The Finer Details

This set has a lot of positives going for it. Good quality, great selection, and while it may sound trivial, the drill bit set that comes with this thing is really the icing on the cake. I say this for 2 reasons. A: They are really nice bits, and B: It includes both letter and number bits, neither of which I had any of prior to getting this set. We’ve all been there. You’re trying to tap a hole and your chart calls for a # or L bit, you don’t have either. Now you’re scouring the internet looking for the fractional equivalent because your local shops don’t stock either. Not anymore! This is an entirely self contained set, so if you have the tap, you also have the right bit. This set get at least an extra 20 style points just for that.

Mac TD 3

The 5 piece extractor set is a nice touch on the set. I didn’t really need any more extractors, but I like the fact that they’re there as it adds to the “self-contained” appeal of the set.

Mac TD 4

If you’re familiar with T&D’s you know that they are made of either carbon steel or HSS. Carbon is for general purpose use threading and re-threading in common metals, while HSS is much harder and is needed for hardened steel. These are what Mac calls “High Performance Steel”. I won’t pretend to know what that means, so this is purely speculation, but my experience with T&D’s leads me to believe that the cheap sets like you find at Harbor Freight are the lower grade steel with a carbon content of less than .25%, while good carbon T&D’s such as these have a carbon content of somewhere closer to .50%. They aren’t HSS and aren’t going to be the choice for a pro machinist, but they are way better quality than the cheap sets, do not dull after a hand full of uses, and at around $450, they’re half the price of a comparable HSS set. Whatever they’re made of, they are nice quality and theres a good selection of them.

Mac TD 5

The COO listed for this set varies. T&D’s are USA, drill bits are Brazil, tap wrenches and die stocks are Taiwan, and if I correctly recall, the case is the only component made in China.

 

Critiques

Part of my job as a tool writer is to inform the reader of any problems with the tool and offer constructive criticism to the manufacturer to help them improve future products. There is nothing wrong with this set. It’s good quality, of ample size, and generally pretty awesome, but I do have a couple of critiques. While the case is a drastic improvement over the TDPlus set, it’s big. At 16″ L, 11″ W, and around 4″ thick, it takes a deep toolbox drawer to  house it. For some users that may not be an issue at all, but seeing how I had my T&D’s in a medium deep top chest drawer, it required some re-arranging. Now, you can’t house a set this size in cigar box, but there is some potential for added versatility.

The Die tray is removable and would easily fit in my old medium top drawer, but the Tap storage is embedded into the case. Why not have the tap tray removable just like the Die tray? This would allow the user to A: keep taps or dies (whichever he/she uses more) on top to speed up the job (I use taps WAY more that dies) , or B: discard the outer case altogether and simply place the trays in a smaller drawer. It’s a small critique, but it would go along way toward improving the versatility of the set, especially if you use taps more as they are currently confined to the bottom of the case.

Mac TD 6

My only other critique is the cheap, generic, mini-screwdriver, included in the set. It’s not an issue, and it’s sufficient for it’s purpose, but how cool would it be if that were a mini-Macsimizer or MacGrip driver? OK, I’m being petty, but it would be cool. I would also implore Mac to consider adding left handed drill bits to compliment the 5 extractors. They work wonders on a broken bolt and often remove it without even having to use the extractor.

Mac TD 7

 

Final Thoughts

All things considered, the TD117COMBOS is a great set. It has all the most common sizes and thread pitches, it’s well laid out, and the quality is great too. I love the self-contained functionality of it as well. If you have the TDPlus set, you’re not going to run out and buy this one just for the updates, but if you’re buying a set for the first time or simply looking to upgrade a lesser set, this one is certainly worth a look. The Mac retail site lists it @ $449. The set is pretty new, so 1st person retail data is limited,  but I suspicion it could be had cheaper on the truck, especially if you already have a relationship with a driver. If you don’t know a Mac driver, you can submit a request through their online inquiry system HERE, or give them a call @ 1-800-MAC-TOOL to get connected with the distributer nearest you.

Stay tuned to TIA for more from Mac Tools!

 

 

 

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Travis (Conductor562 on the Forums) is an Editor and Forum Administrator for Tools In Action. As a father of 4, he is an avid fixer off all things broken. He enjoys woodworking and restorations. While he enjoys all tools, he focuses primarily on hand tools. When he's not at work he can be found in his home shop working on something with lots of help from his 5 year apprentice Evan (aka Conductor Jr.).

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great set, no question; virtually everything you would need in a 1/2″ tap and die set to get started. I don’t believe it’s made by MAC, but rather is a variant of the 117-piece Irwin sets available. Snap-on, MATCO and others sell similar sets, with their logo on it. I think the main difference is that Snap-on’s have a screw adjuster on some of the dies, so you can make tighter- or looser-fitting threads (the small screwdriver is used for that, as well as locking the dies in the largest stock). You didn’t indicate if that was possible with this set; the photos show only non-adjustable dies. I have the Hansen/Irwin component sets with non-adjustable dies that were purchased over the years, so I recognized the die and tap handles (stocks) as being theirs.

    It’s probably more set than the average DIYer would need, and most of us would buy the component sets that make this up over time because of the cost. An auto technician might need this set right away, so it makes for easy, one-stop shopping. You could probably buy a set like this from Amazon for less; the advantage to the truck purchase is that you can get help from the seller about usage/capabilities, and faster warranty replacement should a piece break.

    The other thing is that the newer Irwin taps have a progressive design, which makes it easier to start new threads. That helps the occasional user start and keep his threads running straight. The trade-off is that you can’t go as deep in as you can with full, flat-bottomed taps that cut threads to the bottom of blind holes.

    Good article, though, as it introduces people to the notion of having a set of taps and dies on hand for those “uh-oh” moments, as well as planned-on threads that need to be cut in the course of a project.

  2. Great set to be sure but way to much for someone that on occasion needs to tap or re tap a thread or clean up a bolt. Love to have it though

  3. I thoroughly enjoy using my Gearwrench tap-and-die set, it’s beautiful to look at and awesome to use. Wasn’t cheap, but wasn’t too expensive, and it was worth it. When it comes to tap-and-die sets it’s nice to have a set that you know will work for a long time and isn’t made from crap materials. The Mac set looks very nice, and it’s cool that they included the drill bits. I generally guess at bit sizes, but it’d be really convenient to have a dedicated set for the taps. It’s easy to miss-guess and wind up having to drill again because the first hole was too small.

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