German Wood-threading Tools

german_threader_IMG_0438

After struggling with the inexpensive wood-threading tools from China and Taiwan, I have been looking for a better way to tap and thread hardwoods.

I purchased the Big Threader by Beall Tool Co. a couple years ago to try it out. It works brilliantly, but you need a router to power it. And setting the cut is fussy to get the results you want. It’s a lot like a router-powered dovetail jig in that once you get it set up, it’s brilliant. But the setup is a pain when you want to make one or two threaded rods.

While interviewing Jennie Alexander last May, she showed me her German tap and wood threader, a tool she has had for many years and worked perfectly. I’d seen this threader on the Dieter Schmid web site many times before, but the price was too high for me to take a gamble on it.

But after talking to Jennie at length, I bucked up and put the 28mm (approximately 1-1/8”) kit in my shopping cart (see all the sizes here). My rationale? I’d already spent $300 on non-functioning wood-threading kits, perhaps I should have just bought this German one at the outset.

Dieter Schmid has a lot of customers in North America, so shipping was fast and easy. I had the tool in about two weeks.

The threader and tap are extremely well made. And after experimenting with it a lot this winter, I can recommend it for those who can afford it. It makes crisp threads with little effort. Here are some helpful details if you follow me down this path.

The tool is metric, and while you can get away with Imperial tooling, you’ll be better off switching your brain to metric for this operation.

The wooden dowel should be 28mm or slightly undersized for the male threads. I turned my dowels from straight-grain maple to 1.10”, which slipped right into the threader with no wobble. This makes for crisp threads.

The nice thing about the threader is it makes threads with a square tip – not triangular. These square, acme-like threads are more durable. The downside to the threader is that it leaves a 1-1/2” long area of a handle unthreaded, as you can see in the photo above. This is caused by the long collar of the threader. The long collar improves the accuracy of the tool, so it’s a trade-off.

The tap works with a 23mm-diameter hole. I recommend buying a 23mm Forstner instead of using 1-1/8”. You can buy these on eBay for less than $10. The tap cuts cleanly in both hardwoods and harder soft woods, such as yellow pine.

My only caveat to the tap is I recommend chamfering the entry hole or the leading cutter of the tap can, on occasion, splinter the work.

One last detail about the tools: Jennie recommends using tallow on the cutter and I second that recommendation. The tallow makes the job easier and prevents chips from jamming into the V-cutter, which will spoil the dowel.

So I’m happy to report that my search for a good wood-threading kit is over. It was an expensive journey, but I now have an excellent working tool that doesn’t require a router.

— Christopher Schwarz

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24 Responses to German Wood-threading Tools

  1. knewconcepts says:

    Dieter Schmid is an excellent house! Top notch products and service. I have been doing business with them for several years, and I have been delighted with them. My involvement with them?…They distribute the Knew Concepts line of saws for woodworkers.

    Lee (the saw guy)

  2. toolnut says:

    How long is the tap? (Curious as to the max thickness of a piece of wood I could use.)
    Thanks.
    PS You forgot your customary link to your tool purchase disclaimer. 😉

  3. waltamb says:

    Thanks Chris, It has we do for some reason resist buying the right product for some faster, cheaper, or perceive more accurate method.

    If we have to drive one nail, or drill one hole and cut one small board, then a lower cost throw away tool does the job. If however we do quality work repeatedly, then a premium tool works out as a better decision.

    When we cannot justify the purchase ourselves, then why not speak with other woodworkers in your area who might want to share the cost by having you do some pieces for them?

    This is why I believe in Cooperative workshops. Everyone gets a bench space, share lumber storage and Larger tools. Then if one person does some specialty you all can share the work.

  4. wb8nbs says:

    Inch and a half unthreaded…. can you run the part into the other side of the die to get a little more?

    • momist says:

      That was my thought – once you have threaded to the limit, turn the tool round to thread the rest of the piece.

      • think they only thread in one direction.

      • toolnut says:

        If you click the link above for different sizes, when you get to the Dieter Schmidt webpage, under the pic of the tool, there is a link to see pictures of threads made with the tool. The last one made from walnut, goes to the hub, so I’m guessing you could just flip the tool around.

    • waltamb says:

      From what I understand about threading item up to the shoulder of the work, you would have to modify the die so that the shoulder can reach the edge of the V cutter.

      Chris, is something like that in the instructions from this Maker?

  5. kendewitt608 says:

    And once again you have a found a tool that I may not need but WANT !
    When it comes to these tool tips Chris you are almost like a drug dealer [mean that in a nice way].
    Ever since I bought the “pocketweez’ splinter puller I have not had a splinter in my hand.

  6. I have looked at these for so long and just wasn’t sure I wanted to pony up the money and not be satisfied. Great review. Thanks.

    >

  7. In the picture, the threads on the right look perfect, while those on the left look slightly chipped/cracked. Is this a light issue or is there an another explanation for this?

  8. woodworkerme says:

    I use the good old two handle wooden threader. I have a 1/2, 3/4 and a 1 1/8 I use them a fare amount . they were not cheap in any way but not as much as the one you got. and if you take off the starter guide you can run it within a 1/2 in. of the handle. I do how ever keep the cutter scary sharp.

  9. If America would just switch over to the metric system that’d be great…Then Canada could go full metric.

  10. Nick Webb says:

    Chris, I think you meant 1.10″ rather than .110″.

  11. Looks very nice, but for the price I’d rather go with Benchcrafted hardware instead of making my own. Might be worth it to those trying to stay very traditional.

  12. Chris
    The tool is excellent. Bought it at Woodcraft Supply over 40 years ago. After a lot of use it works like new. The collar is no problem. When it stops you shy of a handle back the threader off, remove the collar and carefully continue threading. I have done this time after time and the threader without the collar works well. With no collar, you will still be shy a short distance-the distance between the threader face and the cutter. On my threader (which is stamped 7/8″) the threader without the collar stops short of the handle by about 3/16″. No big problem. When turning the handle and thread rod, right below the handle I turn a 3/16 ” wide flat bottom groove down to the thread’s base diameter. The handle now seats upon tapped stock. For most applications the groove is no problem. Chris, how wide would the groove be with your larger threader?

    I am afraid the groove is the best we can do short of tapping the handle. You can not thread from the other end. It is already threaded. To thread you must enter the tool and meet the cutter right off.

    I take the collar off so often I tapped the tool’s collar face and secured the collar by a slotted head bolt. And, there is another reason for easy collar removal. The collar is the perfect gauge when turning thread stock.

    Put a good coat of tallow all over the stock. Enough tallow will end up in the tool. Tallow is lard. I have heard that lard without additives will do. i have not tried it. If you use tallow, rend it at least three maybe four times. The cutter’s tool steel must be free of of anything but fat. The vendor suggests soaking stock in water for a period of time before threading. Turned wet stock will shrink and the wet cutter may rust. I am not going to try it.

    Certainly expense is a concern. This is a very reliable tool that among other things is always available to make, upon demand, numerous holding devices of wood that are no threat to your work, your tools or you.

    Jennie

    • Ha!

      Jennie you are right about removing the collar. Mine did not come with instructions, and I didn’t think you could remove the collar’s nut without the knife falling out. But an 8mm wrench took the collar right off and there is a second nut inside holding the knife. Tricky Germans!

      I threaded the rest of the shafts down to the handles. Thanks for the tip.

  13. John Koten says:

    I appreciate your sensitivity about recommending high priced tools. But I encourage you to continue drawing attention to tool makers like Holtey, Sauer, Nelson and others who strive to attain the highest level of craftsmanship. These folks are doing amazing things and deserve all the support they can get. Being their advocate is something to be proud of.

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