Tailstock Die Holder
Die holder side view with 1/8-40 die Die holder front view Die holder cutting threads Completed fasteners

   For previous projects requiring threaded features, my choice was to either splice in commercial threads (from bolts or threaded rod) or set up my lathe for thread-cutting. The former is often inaccurate and the latter is always time-consuming, so I decided to make a die holder to produce high-quality threads quickly and accurately. This holder is designed to be used in the tailstock of my lathe, enabling me to alternate between threading and other operations without making any major adjustments. This is a common requirement for many turned objects, but is especially necessary for making fasteners such as bolts and screws.

   The die holder is made from a 3 inch length of 1-3/8 inch steel rod, and has sockets on the ends to hold 13/16 and 1 inch dies, which are each retained by two set-screws. It has a central bore, which was drilled and reamed to 0.501 of an inch; this gives it a slip fit over a half-inch bar, which is tapered on its other end to fit the lathe tailstock. This bar keeps the holder properly aligned as it is pulled onto the workpiece, and the bore gives the threaded object somewhere to go after being pulled through the die. Finally, the holder has two flats milled on opposite sides to allow it to be turned by a wrench, which is useful for larger diameter dies.

   The holder works very well, and reduces the time required to cut small threads from 10 minutes to 10 seconds. This has made it practical for me to begin making my own bolts and screws for projects, to avoid the cheap hardware store aesthetic that commercial fasteners tend to introduce. Two examples of homemade fasteners can be seen at the top right of the page: a 1/8-40 flat-head screw made from brass, and a 3/8-16 square-head bolt made from steel. Both were effortless to manufacture, to the extent that this process could easily become part of my normal workflow in future projects.