KUNZ PLUS Smoothing Plane No. 4
Description also valid for Kunz Plus no. 3, no. 5, and no. 6
The new smoothing plane, KUNZ PLUS #4 covers completely new ground for the German toolmaker, in terms of design, quality and aesthetics. This is clear even at first glance: the iron is shorter than we are used to seeing with similar smoothing planes. An advantage of the short iron is that the end does not stick up, allowing easier access to the setting knobs, and generally keeping it out of the way of your hands.
Naturally, the first thing about the KUNZ PLUS #4 that strikes the eye is the beautiful, oiled wood handle and knob, made from locally-sourced cherry wood. The handle has good ergonomics and fits easily into your hand. The front knob is both beefy and low-profile, adding to the plane's generally fine touch and good control.
The plane after removing the top plate. The bolt to secure the plate and tension it against the chipbreaker is simply threaded through the top end, allowing one to fix it easily in place and avoiding the pitfalls of other systems. If you click on the photo, you can see more easily how it works.
The plane after removing the chipbreaker and the iron. Now you can see the screws for setting the iron laterally and regulating the depth of cut. This screw has a differential thread. The thicker top is M8 x 1 and the lower, thinner thread is M6 x .75 -- both being relatively fine. When adjusting the iron, only the difference between the two threadings comes into play. This design provides a very solid and yet sensitive iron adjustment.
The plane after removing the frog. The frog can be taken out by loosening the two lower screws (see photo above). You can clearly see the finely machined rails and the matching rabbets in the base of the frog, which guarantees exact and true movement. This eliminates the need to adjust the frog laterally, as it can only move forward or backward.
When replacing the frog, one does not tighten the screws as firmly as you are accustomed to. You will see the reason in the next photo.
The frog moves to adjust the width of the KUNZ PLUS #4's mouth. A tiny gap is left for very fine work taking very thin shavings, while the frog is shifted back for rougher work taking thicker splinters. In other older designs, one had to loosen several screws and then laboriously re-align the frog. Here though all is done by turning one Allen screw without having to remove the frog. To do this use the special Allen wrench provided as it is made long enough to reach down between the adjustment knob and the handle.
The plane, the first such from KUNZ, is finished to a standard where it is possible to do good work with it right out of the box. But we nevertheless recommend a little tuning with a 6000 grit stone, or better yet an 8000. This will take the plane to another level.
Here is some supplemental information about the structure of the frog, iron, chip breaker and flap. The chipbreaker and the flap are always secured in the same position. The chipbreaker can be adjusted easily depending on the iron length and the desired distance from the edge. Illustration of the iron, chipbreaker with screw, and flap with screw.
One of the best features of this fine plane is that Kunz has improved the well-known Norris system to adjust the iron. In the left picture you see the Kunz and in the right you see a Veritas plane. With the Kunz plane, one moves the lever in the direction one wants the iron to move, while with the traditional system on the Veritas, the iron moves in the opposite direction.
While it is a bit subjective, depending on what you are used to, we find it more intuitive and natural when the blade follows the hand movement, as opposed to going in the other direction.