Tapping Threads Without Tapping Out
Threading and tapping wood by hand can be frustrating, even when you know what you are doing. Today, 11 students and I at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship built Moxon-style vises to prepare for a week of dovetailing and more dovetailing.
Of course, almost all of the students had some sort of problem with the tap or the thread box. I’ve done a few thousand rounds with these cursed beasts, so here are some things I do to make my life easier.
1. Buy the Benchcrafted hardware instead. OK, I’m kind of kidding. But I’m kind of not. I’ll let you decide.
2. Turn the posts that you hope to thread a wee bit undersized. If you are going to make 1-1/2”-diameter posts, turn them down to 1-7/16”. Life will be so much easier because the major diameter of the post won’t hit the bottom of the threaded hole. I know that people will line up to take a shot at me about this, but I’m not listening to you. I’m building a motorcycle in my head instead.
3. When you thread the post, thread it once. Then back the threadbox up to the top of the post. Do not take the threadbox off unless you want a firm spanking (and a cross-threaded post). Now spin the threadbox down the post again and this time push down hard-ish on the handle that holds the V-cutter. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Buy one of these torture devices and you’ll find out.
4. When you tap the hole, run the tap down as you normally would – don’t forget to back up occasionally to break the chip and clear the mouth. Remove the tap. Then start again. This time lean the tap into the end grain of the hole. This will help clear both end-grain walls of some excess wood.
5. Buy the Benchcrafted hardware after the little V-tool gets buggered up.
— Christopher Schwarz
P.S. I’m in Maine all week at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. Stop by the school If you can; it’s a swank operation. It’s open to the public with a nice gallery that shows the work of the instructors. I am also available to receive offerings of malted beverages.
P.P.S. For more on this topic, check out my video on adjusting and using a woodthreading set.