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Thread Cutting Tools for Wood by Diego de Assis

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Diego de Assis


To make threaded screws and nuts of wood a set of two tools is needed:

the die, for cutting external (male) threads, and the tap, for cutting internal (female) threads.

In Brazil manual tap and die sets are only available for metal or PVC tubing, which are not appropriate for use with wood. I have experimented with several alternatives, but none was satisfactory. With wood, dies made for metal leave fragile threads prone to breaking.

A common threaded nut can be made to work as a die, as shown on some videos available on the Internet, but they are not as practical as they might seem.


So I turned to old methods, and to the masters, including Roy Underhill, who, in addition to his fantastic videos, describes how to make these tools in his book The Woodwright's Workbook.

Another important source is André Roubo’s Le Menuisier Ébéniste, which was published in 1774 and has a perfect description of these thread cutters, along with a beautiful engraved illustration. [Plate 311-trans.]

And to understand the secrets of hardening and tempering metal parts I went to Alexander Weygers. His book The Complete Modern Blacksmith shows how to make metal both hard and strong, using simple and available techniques.

Following these and other references I describe in this article how to make manual tap and screwbox set as an inexpensive alternative, using scraps and available supplies, and as efficient as those made centuries ago.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.
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