Broke tap off in hole ! AARRRGGGGG


January 1, 2003, 10:58 AM
Subject line says it all . SO now what ? How the heck am I gona get it out ? :confused: :banghead: :impaled:

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January 1, 2003, 11:47 AM
Wow - bummer. :(

Not sure what tap size, but in our tool shop at work there have been times that the only option was to have the tap removed by "pulse EDM" - were an electric spark is repeatedly shot straight down onto the broken tap until it is completely eroded.

It works well, but isn't something you'll find in someone's basement workroom.

January 1, 2003, 12:58 PM
I have some small tools that are a combination drill and ez out that are specifically designed to work on taps. I just can't remember the name of the company I got them from. Expensive, but they work.

Another way is to take the part and have it EDM'd to remove the tap.

You can try setting it up in a mill and using a carbide cutter to drill out the center of the tap and then pick away the threads. Make sure it's square, and you won't damage the original hole.

Putting a little liquid nitrogen into the hole and freezing it should make the tap fragile enough to break with a punch.

January 1, 2003, 04:02 PM
:( Sorry to hear of your broken tap, caveman. If you have a Dremel tool, you can use a Carbide, or Diamond "Dental" bur to cut it out. I get them from a local dentist. Ask your dentist for some used ones. You might be able to find the diamond type in a good hobby store, or good hardware store.
If your tap was plain carbon steel, you should be able to shatter it into pieces. High speed taps don't shatter as readily as plain carbon, in my experience. Never tried nitric acid, but it should eat the thing out, or at least loosen it up enough, to allow removal of a high speed steel tap. Best of luck to you. Joe:cool:

January 1, 2003, 04:20 PM
Absent the gunsmith tools to take out the tap (ie now thats its screwed take it to a gunsmith!!!) either mill it out or use the diamond bits on a Dremel..

Your chances of further screw ups are high unless you have the right equipment...

Badger Arms
January 1, 2003, 06:21 PM
I second the Dental Burr idea. You can usually go to the local dentist and ask them if you can "relieve" them of used burrs. I am in a unique position, I think, in that I used to remove stuck screws for a living (Air Force Mechanic). I've probably broken off over a hundred ez-outs in my time. These are harder, but more brittle so they break up a bit easier with the dental burr. I use compressed air or a magnet to remove the chips as I go. Good luck.

January 1, 2003, 08:27 PM
Ok fellas here is the deal . This was a 6.5 " blackhawk that I have taken down to 5" , recrowned , put in free paw and over sized cylinder latch . Also tightened the fit of the cylinder with a gas ring stretcher and was going to tap the front of the barrel to attach the front sight back on . Everything was going great until now . I knew this step would be tricky due to the fact that I am working with just simple hand tools but as I said taking my time and being patient everything was going good . I had originally decided to go with the screw and tap because I was reluctant to try silver soldering . Has anyone done any silver soldering ? I am now thinking this might be easer than removing the broken part of the tap but I have a few questions . Will the silver solder contaminate my bluing salts ? Will the heat from the salt bath remove the sight once it is soldered on ? Should I solder it on after I blue the gun and if so how do I keep the solder from going all over the place ? Sure I could have taken it to a gunsmith and had him do it but I am having fun with this project and am learning as I go . Nothing ventured nothing gained .

January 1, 2003, 09:32 PM
Ok, here goes.

The probable first tap removal method is to try shattering the tap with a sharp center punch, then pick the pieces out.
If that fails, I'd cut to the chase and take it to a pro, before you do irreparable damage.
In any event, you will have to get the tap out before trying something else.

Silver soldering the sight on is do-able. We're talking REAL silver solder (or silver BRAZING). When many people talk silver soldering today, they really mean the 3% silver BEARING soft solder. This is just soft solder with 3% silver content, that flows around 450 degrees.

Real silver solder is either silver or a more modern alloy that flows at ranges starting around 1100 degrees. These brazes are usually sold as low, medium, and high heat range solders. Silver braze is unaffected by bluing salts, and won't contaminate the bluing tank.
Since it flows at high temps, the parts won't come off in the tank, either from tank heat or chemical action.

Since the braze takes such high heat, the blue job will be destroyed, so it will have to be refinished after the sight is attached.

If you use a proper amount of braze, and proper technique, it won't run all over the work.

The only real danger is in overheating the barrel and damaging it. You will need a HOT torch, (usually NOT an ordinary propane unit), and if you're not careful you can overheat.

The best braze to use is the paste-type sold by Brownell's in the low heat range.

Before brazing, get the tap out. I'd then try to tap again, using a GOOD tap lube like Flute-Juice. This is the original mounting method, and the lowest risk method.

January 1, 2003, 10:34 PM
First, what size tap and how deep into the hole? If it is something above 0-80 (well above, say 4-40), it may be possible to slot the broken end and back it out. You may also be able to use a long pointed, very sharp punch and by tapping at a tangent angle to the tap, get it to back out. 'Nuff of that!

When you use small taps that have a high potential of screwing up expensive guns, (especially someone else's), use that dremel tool to grind a small groove around the tap, a bit above where the threads start. Now when you break that tap, it'll break above the threads and leave a little stub sticking out so you can remove it.

To keep silver solder from running all over, use a carbide lamp or acetylene torch to soot up the area, then carefully wipe away the soot from the area you want to solder. I belive you should strip all the blue finish off before soldering.

Lastly, if you don't have copies of Guy Lautard's books "The Machinist's Bedside Reader", Vols I,II,III, get 'em. They are great reading and contain these and other tips that can save you pain and agony, and a few $$$.

Nice town there Caveman, I've played your golf course. And go for it, it can be done and you can do it!

Seneca, MD

January 1, 2003, 10:59 PM
That's no fun. Been there, done that.

Another thing you can try is find a small precision screwdriver (hardened) and grind a slot in it. If it's a standard tap, the center is sort of an hour glass shape and you should be able to fit a flat blade screwdriver just to it goes into the hole. Cut a slot in the middle of the screwdriver blade so it resembles a small fork. If you're lucky, you can turn the remaining tap out. If not, the best solution is wire EDM.

This may sound kind of wierd, but my choice for a tap lubricant in most materials is Tap Magic. But, if I'm working with harder materials, I like to use Anti Sieze. It's a trick I learned from a salty old toolmaker. It works really well.


Badger Arms
January 1, 2003, 11:59 PM
In the end, barrels are cheap. Send the gun into Ruger and ask for a 5.5" barrel and they will install it professionally and cheap. I have heard bad things about Ruger's service in the past, but on every occasion I have dealt with them I have had absolutely no complaints. You could also consider just chopping the barrel back further, even to the point of having to shorten the ejector rod and housing if you have to go that far. I think that you can go down to 4" safely without too much fuss.

January 2, 2003, 01:51 AM
With the large base on the Ruger front sight you can do (soft) silver solder. If done carefully you might even be able to keep from reblueing. But if your going to reblue it's even easier.

As noted above the solder will flow at @ 450 degrees f. You can hot tank blue with this, but you must watch what you're doing. This is the same type of solder used to hold many shotgun barrels together, and it can fail if left too hot, too long.

You do realize that with the change in sight radius (shorter) there's a good chance that your old sight will be the wrong height?

January 2, 2003, 10:33 AM
If not, the best solution is wire EDM

Big_R, I think you mean pulse or conventional EDM. Wire won't work here! :)

January 2, 2003, 04:02 PM
Yes, Kevinch has the right solution. Check the yellow pages under "machine shops" and look for EDM specialists. If you're lucky, you'll encounter a shooter who will deal mercifully with you.

For general advice on tap applications, try a company called Jarvis, located on or near the East Coast. They solved my stainless steel tapping problems "on the spot" some years ago; their only charge was using their product, which performed exactly as they said it would.

January 2, 2003, 04:09 PM

Please email me at so I will remember to get back to you.

That said...

I did something similar last year while working on an old, POS boltgun (didn't want to pay a smith...too cheap...). Anyway, I found a tool that has little "fingers" that fit down inside the flutes of the tap. You can then turn the tap out like a screw. The tool was very cheap and worked like a charm. However, I can't remember the name of the company I bought it from or who makes it. It's at home, I'll get the info if you remind me. Heck, I'll even post a pic if I have time :)


Edited to add: I found the company that makes the tool, now I just need to find the place I ordered it from:

Edit #2: I think this is where I bought it:

January 2, 2003, 08:41 PM
jrhines : Thanks for the great tip on the notch in the tap . mtnbkr : Thank you for the great tool tip . I have one on the way for future possible use . Traveler : According to the Brownell catalog there are two front sites for the Blackhawk . One is for .45 and the other is all so I am assuming all meaning all calibers and all barrel lengths except for 45 . But you do bring up a good point and now that I have decided to go with the solder maybe I should temporarily glue it in place and fire it to make sure . Before I solder it on . I did manage to get the piece of tap out but the threads and the hole are the worse for it . Thankfully the sight will cover it . I have decided to so with the Hi-Force 44 solder with a melting point of 475 . I do not feel comfortable heating up the barrel much over 500 as I am concerned about changing the metal temper . That is why I had decided to go with the screw and tap in the first place . Jrhines : If you ever get down this way again look me up . I plan on seeing this project through to the end and appreciate you vote of confidence . I will be a couple of weeks before I am done as I only have the weekends to work on it . When its complete ill post pics here so you can see how it came out . Thanks for all the suggestions ... And if you have any more keep em coming .

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