Taper | What Is It, How It Work, Types, and Uses

Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by assistant


In machinery, the concept of taper plays a crucial role in achieving precise and accurate machining results. The ability to accurately create tapers is essential in industries where precision and fitment are critical, enabling components to align correctly, ensuring structural stability, and facilitating smooth engagement between mating parts. By carefully manipulating cutting tools and adjusting machining parameters, machinists can achieve the desired taper dimensions, ensuring optimal performance and functionality of the machined components. In this article, we will take you through what is known about tapers in manufacturing.

What Is Taper?

Taper, in the context of machinery, refers to a gradual and controlled change in diameter or width over a specific length of a workpiece or tool. It involves the systematic removal of material to create a tapered shape that transitions smoothly from a larger dimension to a smaller one. Tapers are commonly utilized in machining processes such as turning, milling, and drilling to achieve various objectives, including creating conical shapes, chamfers, or tapered holes. They play a vital role in ensuring precise fitment of components, facilitating alignment, improving structural stability, and enabling smooth engagement between mating parts. The image below is an example of a tapered part:


How Does Taper Work?

Taper works by gradually reducing the diameter or width of a workpiece or tool over a specific length. In machining processes, such as turning, milling, or drilling, the machinist employs various techniques to achieve the desired taper.

In turning operations, a machinist adjusts the angle between the cutting tool and the rotating workpiece to gradually remove material and create the taper. By carefully controlling the tool’s feed rate and depth of cut, the machinist achieves a smooth transition from a larger diameter to a smaller one.

Similarly, in milling, specialized tools like tapered end mills or taper cutters are used. These tools have a gradually decreasing diameter, allowing them to remove material and create tapered slots, grooves, or cavities. The machinist determines the appropriate feed rates and cutting speeds to ensure accurate and controlled tapering.

For drilling tapered holes, machinists use drills with a taper design, such as a center drill or a counterbore. These drills have a gradually increasing diameter, enabling them to create conical holes as they penetrate the workpiece.

Achieving the desired taper requires careful calculation and adjustment of cutting parameters, such as feed rates, cutting speeds, and tool angles. Machinists rely on their expertise and knowledge of machining principles to accurately control the material removal process, ensuring precise and consistent taper dimensions.

It is important to note that machining parts that meet precision and accuracy requirements requires a professional and skilled machinist to carefully plan and make the necessary adjustments to achieve the desired part taper.

What Is the Purpose of Taper in Machining?

The purpose of taper in machining is multi-fold and serves several important functions. Firstly, tapers are employed to facilitate proper fitment and alignment of components. By gradually reducing the diameter or width, tapers ensure that mating parts engage smoothly and securely, enhancing the overall functionality and performance of the machined assembly.

Secondly, tapers contribute to structural stability by distributing forces and minimizing stress concentrations. The tapered shape helps prevent abrupt transitions or sharp edges that could lead to weak points or failure under load. Additionally, tapers aid in the efficient flow of fluids or gases within the machined part or assembly, promoting optimal circulation or sealing. Lastly, tapers can have aesthetic purposes, enhancing the visual appeal of machined components and contributing to the overall design aesthetics.

What Are the Different Types of Taper?

There are several different types of taper commonly used in various applications. Here are some of the main types:

1. Morse Taper

The Morse Taper is a popular type of taper used in machine tooling. It features a self-locking design that facilitates quick and secure tool changes. Morse Taper is denoted by a numerical system, such as MT1, MT2, MT3, etc., indicating different sizes.

2. CAT (V-Flange) Taper

CAT (or V-Flange) Taper is commonly used in machining centers and milling machines. It provides a strong and rigid connection between the tool holder and the machine spindle, ensuring accurate positioning and efficient power transmission.

3. R8 Taper

The R8 Taper is widely used in milling machines, especially in the United States. It offers a versatile and robust tool-holding solution, allowing for a wide range of tooling options and easy interchangeability.

4. NMTB (National Machine Tool Builders) Taper

NMTB Taper is used in milling machines and machining centers. It provides a reliable and accurate tool-holding system, ensuring repeatable positioning and stability during machining operations.

5. Pipe Thread Taper

Pipe threads, such as NPT (National Pipe Taper) or BSP (British Standard Pipe), utilize a tapered design. These tapers enable tight and leak-free connections between pipes and fittings in plumbing and piping systems.

6. Tool Holders with Tapered Shanks

Various tool holders, such as collets, end mill holders, and drill chucks, utilize tapered shanks. These tapers allow for secure and precise tool clamping, ensuring accurate positioning and efficient machining.

7. Conical Tapers

Conical tapers refer to gradual reductions in diameter or width along a conical surface. They are commonly used in applications like creating conical shapes, chamfers, or tapered holes in machining, woodworking, and other industries.

What Are the Different Types of Tools Used for Tapers?

There are several different types of tools used for creating tapers in machining operations. Here are some common examples:

1. Taper Turning Attachment

A taper-turning attachment is a device used in lathe operations to generate tapered shapes. It is typically attached to the lathe carriage and allows for the precise cutting of tapers by controlling the tool’s angle and feed rate.

2. Tapered End Mills

Tapered end mills are cutting tools with a gradually decreasing diameter. They are commonly used in milling operations to create tapered slots, grooves, or contours. Tapered end mills are available in various angles and sizes to suit different taper requirements.

3. Tapered Reamers

Tapered reamers are cutting tools used for enlarging and finishing tapered holes. They have a gradually increasing diameter and can be used manually or with a machine to achieve precise taper dimensions.

4. Tapered Drills

Tapered drills, such as center drills or counterbores, are used for creating tapered holes in drilling operations. These drills have a gradually increasing diameter, allowing for the gradual formation of conical holes.

5. Tapered Arbors

Tapered arbors are used for holding and mounting cutting tools or abrasive wheels in various machines. They provide a secure and accurate connection between the tool and the machine spindle, ensuring proper alignment and efficient power transmission.

6. Tapered Collets

Tapered Collets are used for clamping and holding workpieces or cutting tools in lathes, milling machines, or other machining equipment. They utilize a tapered design to provide a strong and reliable grip on the workpiece or tool.

7. Tapered Reamers and Taps

Tapered reamers and taps are tools used for creating threaded holes with a tapered design. They gradually cut and form threads that match the corresponding tapered screws or bolts.

What Is the Difference Between Taper and Taper Turning?

Taper refers to a gradual change in diameter or width over a specific length of a workpiece or tool. It is a general term that encompasses various applications and processes where tapers are utilized, such as turning, milling, drilling, and threading.

On the other hand, taper turning specifically refers to the process of creating a tapered shape on a cylindrical workpiece using a lathe. Taper turning involves cutting the workpiece with a turning tool while gradually adjusting the tool’s position to achieve the desired taper angle. It is a specialized operation performed on a lathe to produce precise and accurate tapers on cylindrical components.

Taper is a broader term that encompasses the concept of a gradual change in dimensions, while taper turning specifically refers to the process of creating tapers on cylindrical workpieces using a lathe.

What Is the Taper Ratio Formula and How Is It Calculated?

The taper ratio formula is used to calculate the taper ratio, which represents the rate of change in dimensions between the two ends of a taper. The formula for the taper ratio is:

Taper Ratio = (D2 – D1) / L


The taper ratio represents the rate of change in dimensions.
D2 is the diameter or width at the larger end of the taper.
D1 is the diameter or width at the smaller end of the taper.
L is the length of the taper.
By plugging in the values for D2, D1, and L into the formula, you can calculate the taper ratio, which provides a quantitative measure of the taper’s rate of change in dimensions. For example, the Taper Ratio is expressed as “TR”, if the larger diameter is 8″, the smaller diameter is 4″, and the length is 2″, you can substitute these values into the formula as follows:



This formula can be used for any unit of measure as long as the units are the same for all values.

Where Is Taper Used?

Tapers find widespread applications across various industries and disciplines. Here are some areas where taper is commonly used:

1. Manufacturing and Machining

Tapers are extensively utilized in manufacturing and machining processes. They are employed in turning, milling, drilling, and other machining operations to create conical shapes, chamfers, tapered holes, or mating surfaces. Industries such as automotive, aerospace, mold-making, and general manufacturing rely on tapers to achieve precise fitment, structural stability, and optimal performance of machined components.

2. Carpentry and Woodworking

In carpentry and woodworking, tapers are employed to create aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound designs. Tapered legs, edges, or profiles are commonly used in furniture-making, cabinetry, and construction to add visual appeal and enhance the overall design aesthetics.

3. Plumbing and Piping

Tapers are utilized in plumbing and piping systems to ensure leak-free connections. Tapered pipe threads, such as NPT (National Pipe Taper) or BSP (British Standard Pipe), are commonly used to create tight seals between pipes and fittings, preventing leaks and ensuring efficient fluid or gas flow.

4. Tooling and Tool Holders

Tapers are employed in tooling systems to provide secure and accurate tool positioning. For instance, in machine tool spindles, tapers like the Morse Taper or CAT (V-Flange) taper are used to hold cutting tools in place, ensuring precise alignment and minimizing runout.

5. Electrical and Electronic Connectors

Tapered connectors are used in electrical and electronic applications to ensure reliable and secure connections. Examples include coaxial connectors like BNC (Bayonet Neill–Concelman) or SMA (SubMiniature version A) connectors, which utilize tapered designs for proper mating and effective signal transmission.

Is Taper Only for Cylindrical Objects?

Taper is not limited to cylindrical objects; it can be applied to various shapes such as conical objects, rectangular prisms, or irregular shapes. Taper involves a gradual change in dimensions, either in diameter, width, or thickness, along the length of an object. Its purpose is to facilitate proper fitment, enhance structural stability, promote fluid flow, and improve aesthetics. Whether it’s tapered pipes, conical tools, or irregularly shaped objects, taper serves the same function of providing a gradual change in dimensions to achieve specific objectives in different applications.

Is Tapering Only for Design Purposes?

No, tapering is not solely for design purposes. While tapering is often used to achieve specific design objectives, such as enhancing aesthetics or improving fitment, it serves various functional purposes as well. Tapering can be employed to facilitate fluid flow by creating smooth transitions in pipes or conduits, reducing turbulence and pressure drop. It can also improve structural stability by distributing forces more evenly along the tapered object, preventing stress concentrations. Additionally, tapering can aid in assembly and disassembly processes, allowing for easier insertion or removal of components. Therefore, tapering serves both design and functional purposes, contributing to the overall performance and efficiency of various systems and objects.

Is a Lathe Machine Used for Tapering Materials?

Yes, a lathe machine is commonly used for tapering materials. Taper turning is a specific operation performed on a lathe to create tapered shapes on cylindrical workpieces. By adjusting the position of the cutting tool and controlling the feed rate, a lathe can gradually reduce the diameter of the workpiece, resulting in a tapered shape. This process is widely used in manufacturing to produce components such as machine tool parts, shafts, and pins that require tapered features for functionality and fitment.


This article introduces tapers, explains them, and discusses how they work and their different types. To learn more about tapers, please contact our team.

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