My first and last hand plane rehabilitation - Kunz #4 smoother

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by stefang posted 06-15-2016 07:52 PM 2277 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife and I stopped by our local thrift store which is run by a group of pensioned volunteers to donate some easy chairs that we were replacing. While there I noticed an old rusty Stanley type hand plane on display.

It turned out to be a Kunz which is lower priced German brand, which was a bit of a disappointment, but still it seemed pretty solid and the tote and knob were all in one piece. Looking at it closer, I found a crack on one side as you can see in the 2nd photo below, so I decided not to buy it.

This is the first used Stanley type plane I have found available for sale in the last 20 years so I went back and bought it thinking the crack might not be such a huge problem. I’ve been wanting to get a handplane for my son who lives in Sweden. He’s not a woodworker, but I did set up a nice shop for him there with a mini-lathe, my old 12” bandsaw, my old scrollsaw, a miter saw and a bunch of other woodworking tools I no longer needed. My motives weren’t entirely altruistic as I use the shop when we visit, usually to do some DIY around the house.

I couldn’t resist showing you what our thrift shop looks like. They have done a wonderful job displaying the merchandise (mostly furniture and accessories) and they keep it spotlessly clean too.
They don’t normally have any hand tools for sale.

I got to work and did the following steps:
  1. flattened the sole. It wasn’t too far off and I got the toe and the heel and the area at the front of the mouth at the same level. There was a lot of rust. I left some of areas with pitting because my goal was to get a working plane not a beautiful one. I also filed a little chamfer around all the edges.
  2. The sides were polished first using my dremel with sanding disks and then I flattened on the sanding board.
  3. Next up was the frogs mating surfaces with the body and the blade assembly. The top and bottom of the frog was first filed level and then flat sanded. The mating surface in the plane body was just filed flat. This work was pretty easy.
  4. The chip breaker and blade were de-rusted and flat sanded. The nose on the chip breaker was flat sanded on the bottom lip to eliminate any space between it and the blade. The blade was sharpened and honed and polished on the back. The back could still use a little more work as it was pretty badly pitted, but it will do for now.
  5. There was a lot more little details to de-rust. I use my Dremel wire brush for some of that work.
  6. I filled the crack with super glue. I think that will keep it stable. My first thought was to silver solder it, but I was worried about warpage from the heat and I haven’t done that kind of work for many years and I figure there was a good possibility that I would mess it up.

So that was the main work. I spent quite a few hours on it over the course of a few days. I still have to do some kind of finish on the tote and knob, probably shellac. I’ve now decided that in the future I will keep to woodworking and let the more metal worker inclined folks do the hand plane restorations! I’m guessing a more organized approach would probably make the job easier.

After finishing the rehab work (I won’t call it a restoration because it really isn’t) and getting the plane reassembled it was time to try it out and also to experiment a little with different frog and blade settings. After a fair bit of planing and adjustments I finally found the sweet spots.

The 3rd photo below shows a shaving from some pine. I couldn’t get it thinner than about 2/1000”, but I did get a full width shaving and I think thickness problem will improve with better polishing on the back of the blade.

The 4th photo below is a piece of oak that I squared up. It came out quite good.

I had intended to show you the results with some photos from my shop, but it’s such a mess I changed my mind.

The purpose of this blog is meant to show that anyone who is willing to use a little time and effort can get these old plane wrecks back to doing nice work and you don’t have to make it look like new, unless you are willing to do the extra work that is required. Thanks for reading.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

14 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23759 posts in 3711 days

#1 posted 06-15-2016 08:20 PM

Nice find, Mike, As long as the crack is not on the bottom, you should be okay. Some epoxy in the crack and then sanded down should make it solid and real smooth too!!

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#2 posted 06-15-2016 09:23 PM

Jim The crack does run to the center of the mouth. I sealed it with super glue and the plane performs just fine so I don’t think it will be an issue.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View johnhutchinson's profile


1243 posts in 2235 days

#3 posted 06-15-2016 09:34 PM

As always, Mike, your presentation is superb !!!

The plane thing—Where’s the power cord?—ain’t bad either. :-)

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Druid's profile


2161 posts in 3401 days

#4 posted 06-15-2016 11:09 PM

Good description Mike. If only you were closer, I’d be able to drop off a used plane that I just picked up for CDN$7, and you could demonstrate your skills on it?
But now I feel a bit more inclined to get going on it myself.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View CFrye's profile


10823 posts in 2446 days

#5 posted 06-16-2016 06:54 AM

Nicely done, Mike. Are you sure it’s your last? Planes have a way of multiplying and are addictive, ya know?
Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#6 posted 06-16-2016 10:07 AM

John It’s a plain plane.

John I found that salad oil was the best way to get my hands cleaned after they turned black from the nasty work. Just a tip in case you decide to give it a go.

Candy I’m sure. I didn’t enjoy the work and I have some real nice hand planes of my own and I can’t say I enjoyed the work enough to do it again. It was fun to get the old tool performing nicely though, so at least there was that satisfaction.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Brit's profile


7889 posts in 3448 days

#7 posted 06-16-2016 12:04 PM

I’m with you Mike. I don’t enjoy the process either, but I do enjoy using vintage tools after I’ve got them working again, especially the tools that you just can’t buy new today like hand saws.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View doubleDD's profile


8966 posts in 2649 days

#8 posted 06-16-2016 12:28 PM

Very nice job on cleaning it up Mike. Every once in a while you find that good tool that needs a little TLC. In your case you have given your son something he can use for a long time without breaking the bank. That makes plane sense.
At first I thought the picture of the thrift store was a restaurant you ate at. The thrift stores by me sure don’t look like that.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#9 posted 06-16-2016 12:32 PM

Andy You’re right, sometimes we just have to bite the bullet. We never get something for nothing. I have to admit that if I found a worthwhile subject to restore I would probably do it again as I hate to see fine old tools just wasting away. Why this love for inanimate objects, are we brainwashed?

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Brit's profile


7889 posts in 3448 days

#10 posted 06-16-2016 01:02 PM

Maybe Mike, I just know that I’d rather be working wood than rehabbing/restoring tools. I either do it because the tools are not available new anymore or I cannot justify the cost of comparable new ones. It is for this reason that I would never class myself as a collector of tools. The only exception is I Sorby Punch brand English mortise chisels. I first bought one off ebay, then another and then I just happened to trawl ebay when someone posted a set of five on a ‘Buy it Now’ that were different sizes to the two I already had, making a total of seven. A few weeks ago I bought two more (again sizes I didn’t already have) so now I have nine. I Sorby made ten sizes ranging from 1/8” to 9/16” in 1/16” increments and one at 3/4”. I have them all now except the 3/4” and I find that I’m forever trawling the interwebs now trying to find one. I don’t need ten mortise chisels, but somehow I can’t stop until the set is complete. I spent all last weekend restoring the 9/16” chisel and I still have the 5/8” to do. Then they will both get new beech handles and leather washers. You’d think they’d be easy to do, but they are a lot of work to do properly. I feel a display case is in my future. LOL.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3410 days

#11 posted 06-16-2016 01:18 PM

Thnx Mike. I picked up a few planes from an antique store a few months back. I hope to do something with them one of these days.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#12 posted 06-16-2016 01:22 PM

Those look really nice Andy and I know it is a lot of work. I would love to own a set of mortise chisels, but the new ones are way too costly and I can’t find any used tools where I live. The Kunz plane is the exception.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#13 posted 06-16-2016 05:11 PM

Roger prepare to get your hands really grimy. I purposely didn’t photograph my process for the blog since it was probably the messiest work anyone has seen.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View kiefer's profile


5713 posts in 3273 days

#14 posted 06-17-2016 04:03 AM

Nice restore and putting it to use again .
I was just at an auction and there where a lot of planes of all types but these prices that they went for are staggering so I came home with nothing and will keep on building my own .


-- Kiefer

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics