Lepley handmade tap & die, Somerset County, Pennsylvania

Side view of large Lepley tap and die set.

Top view of Lepley blacksmith-made tap and die set.

Another top view of the tap & die set.

This hand-forged tap and die set was in the bucket with the 19th century Lepley gun parts that were found on the Southampton Township, Somerset County PA Lepley farm in the early 1970's. The end of the tap is flattened for a wrench, much like modern taps. This wrench flat does not match the wrench handle that was also part of the gunsmithing tools and parts that were found in the bucket.

The major thread diameter of the tap is approx. 0.3", and the die length is about 7-1/8". These items are made from a ferrous material.

I believe that, at the time it was made, the die may have been referred to as a "screw plate". For example, see the 1830 inventory of Fayette County gunsmith Peter White, which refers to "2 screw plates and 7 taps" (reproduced in the book "Gunsmiths of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties" by Wisker & Wisker). I have seen early examples of modern round dies referred to in sets as "screw plates". I have also seen advertisements for modern jeweler's screw plates where a single screw plate has a number of holes for threading various sizes of screws. Two older photos are also included below.

An older side view of the blacksmith-made tap and die set.

An older top view of the Lepley blacksmith-made tap & die set.

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