Questioning the Kunz #80 scraper

DSC_0214Someone asked me to try the Kunz blade in the Stanley #80. It fits fine and the blade thickness is about the same as Record and Stanley types too. In my view a scraper blade should not be less than 1mm otherwise they tend to flex. If you need to replace a blade consider buying a card scraper set made by Veritas or indeed any card scraper 1mm or thicker. The Veritas set has one scraper 1mm thick that yields two cabinet scraper blades when cut in half and this fits any #80 scraper. The set costs under £10 for four scrapers and the other three scrapers in the  set make better card scrapers than the thicker one. This makes it good value.

DSC_0216Here you can see why I grimaced at the downgraded securement for the blade. A bit pathetic side by side a Stanley. They do hold the blade though.DSC_0213

I used the Kunz blade in the Stanley for a while and it cut as well as any other and the edge retention was good so far, but a real test will take longer. I will finish out some sapele parts today and if it lasts through that then the steel is good. So far I am happy and the green is growing on me.

36 Comments

  1. Peter on 9 December 2015 at 8:12 am

    Whilst I appreciate that you haven’t actually said anything against the Kunz bench scraper in your article, Paul, I think it only fair to point out that you are talking about a £20 tool here. I have one myself and am aware of its limitations, as well as the amount of fettling that it needed to work smoothly. And, yes, the blade holding screws are cheap – as is the entire tool. But, once one has smoothed the base and sharpened the blade to task, the thing works far better than one might expect from a £20 tool. And the lurid green means that one never loses sight of it on the bench, as well. What more could one demand of a working tool?

    But, you are right. No one will ever (now, there’s a big word) collect a Kunz tool, unlike LN or LV offerings. Is that altogether a bad thing?

    So, if you live somewhere out of the reach of cheap LV tools and eBay is either not to your taste, or you need to get your hands on a tool quickly in order to put food onto your family table without taking the “eBay gamble”, you know that the Kunz works as well as you would need – albeit with a bit of elbow grease to get it working well. And that is what tools are for, surely? Working.

    • Paul Sellers on 9 December 2015 at 9:16 am

      I think I have been kind in this. It’s not a £20 tool but a £30 pound one. I think it does what the other scrapers do and that for a few pennies (and it may not even be that much) they could have a top notch tool. It didn’t really need more than five minutes to get it to work great. I think I did make that clear too. my allusion to colour was the box not the tool. I actually like the green too. I think my presenting the facts has indeed been very fair and very clear. I did say that the tool works as well as any other maker, that Kunz could corner the European market as the only European maker but that the setscrews are too small. I don’t think I said any part of it was cheap. Just that they cheapened an overtly good tool with lack of appropriate setscrews and bevelling the blade edges.

      • Peter on 9 December 2015 at 10:17 am

        Paul, the tool currently is being sold for €29 by both Dieter Schmid and by Dictum tools – this converts to £21 at today’s currency exchange rates.

        There is no need to become defensive when it is actually I that is defending a cheap, German-made tool that actually works as well as an expensive Veritas tool which costs $69 today, plus taxes, which you will have to pay on top of that. I do not include shipping because you will have that to pay on top of any purchase you make.

        It is not you that said the tool is cheap; it is I – which a good thing in the overcrowded market for very expensive tools today. Kunz have a long established tradition of making cheap tools that actually work, as opposed to the many not-so-cheap tools that come in glittering boxes that do nothing better in the working world than sell themselves very well to those that need to feel comfort in “buying the best that money can buy” in order to further their hobbies.

        You have long sung the praises of cheap tools being as good as expensive ones after expending a little energy in making them work – Aldi chisels immediately comes to my mind as one such product. Perhaps you might like to look of a £20 (for that is what it is) European-made tool to be something to devote some effort at showing how well it can be made to work with a little effort – even down to changing the cheese-head blade clamping screws if you so wish. Of course, in the real world we never actually need to remove the screws, do we – merely tighten and loosen them when blade changing/sharpening.

        As the old adage goes, “you pays your money and takes your choice” – which is life, I’m afraid. I merely highlight the fact that cheap is not necessarily bad – as you once used to do also.

  2. Nicolai on 9 December 2015 at 8:21 am

    Dear Paul Sellers,
    when I started hand-building electric guitars about two years ago, I went to Dieter Schmid’s shop to buy a Kunz spokeshave. They made it quite clear to me that it would not be anywhere near the quality of the Veritas, which they strongly recommended. But being a self-employed artist and musician with no money I was happy to buy the Kunz and it got me through the first neck-shaping. When I found an old one on the flea market (does not happen too often in Germany) I started using that, but the cheap Kunz still has a place in my heart, because it got me started.

    • Paul Sellers on 9 December 2015 at 9:09 am

      I have no problem with Kunz spokeshaves. In fact, the too tight throat opening on Veritas spokeshaves is a common problem and far too restricting. I often find myself ‘opening up’ too tight engineering to give high-end tools more ‘flex’ for versatility I as a producing craftsman need to do my work. That’s why in general I find myself reaching for tolerant tools and not the rigid engineer’s model they think we need. Wood river, Quang Sheng and all of these others that come in a little cheaper have followed the wrong standard. They should just loosen up a little.

      • Nicolai on 9 December 2015 at 11:33 am

        Problem is people (and thus companies) tend to think they can’t afford to loosen up. It is a big problem really.

        If course I know you tend to vote for non-high-end tools if they can be used. I was more just sharing a nice experience I had starting out.
        If it wasn’t for your videos, I don’t think I would have been able to find a start in working with wood in a way that doesn’t deafen me and doesn’t produce a lot of dust. I feel like you have been kind of apprenticing me, so thanks for passing on your experience!

  3. momist on 9 December 2015 at 9:34 am

    Thank you for this insight into the Kunz tool, and for responding to requests for more. Just one more thing we all appreciate from your writing.

  4. dpawson on 9 December 2015 at 11:02 am

    Paul, you mentioned sharpening the blade at 45 degrees? (I think). I use ‘card’ scrapers (bit rusty now but servicable) and wonder where the 45 comes from please? I see the blade is laid over – is that 45 in the opposite direction to the sharpened angle? A rough sketch would help if you have the time? I’ve not used a ‘handled’ scraper.

  5. delord on 9 December 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I already have a #80 scrapper so I shall not buy a Kunz but it’s exactly the kind of tool I like to find: Strong and simple, cheap and efficient. . Does it matters if you have to spend half an hour to make it work properly on a tool which will last a lifetime? Its price being the third of what you can buy elsewhere, it’s for sure the best paid 1/2 hour you’ll spend on your bench.

  6. Gordon on 9 December 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Possibly a dumb question (having only ever used card scrapers), but what is the purpose of these #80 style scrapers vs the cards?

    Obviously the card can get into tighter spots (and concave curves), and I assume the #80 will be more comfortable to hold for longer periods, but are there other differences (or reasons to use one over the other)?

  7. Jeremy on 9 December 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I feel everybody is missing Paul’s point. The companies have every chance to produce a product that’s right the first time. While I am just starting in the world of wood work, I do know marketing. I also know the meaning of products and completed operations. Most readers of this blog are all woodworkers or plan to be. If you delivered your product to my door that I needed to fettle to get to work….well I would teach you the meaning of “products and completed operations.” If I have to rebuild the tambour door to get it closed or flatten a table top before my lamp falls, I would not recommend you highly. I feel all Paul is saying is that manufacturers should take responsibility in their product without the need of recommendations or lawsuits. CEOs should use the product, ask their employees what they think, and read blogs such as this. Companies spend millions on market research firms when all they need to do is read a very experienced man’s blog. Save the research millions and pass the savings on to the customers.

    • Lee Haelters on 11 December 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Wow, Jeremy, well said! Lee

  8. Mike Bronosky on 9 December 2015 at 2:35 pm

    The sticker on that Stanley #80 truly gives me Sticker Shock! What has Paul Sellers succumb to, gee.

    Oh, where is the book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools due out last month?

    • stephen hughes on 17 December 2015 at 7:33 pm

      When one speaks from ignorance, it’s fast forgotten. Written down, the foolishness persists.
      That Stanley was likely made 30Yrs ago and the sticker put on then. Both Stanley and Record used to put those types of stickers on their tools (From the Sheffield works at least), so no shock in seeing them still there.
      In another section, Paul wrote that he is delaying his book so that he can make amendments, it will be published in the “New Year”. ( I guess the craftsman is more concerned with the best finish rather than rushing to get the piece to market for the quick sell)

      • Mike Bronosky on 17 December 2015 at 9:06 pm

        Having company name and model number as part of the steel casting is impressive. Using a plastic or coated paper sticker, not so impressive. A metal casting manufacture name and model number doesn’t make it a high quality cabinet scraper or plane. A plastic sticker doesn’t diminish from the quality.
        At the time I suppose Stanley and/or Record were only cutting cost of the labeling. Later they would continue cutting cost but this time in quality.
        Paul and I have never met and I have serious doubts that we will, I consider him a friend and have great respect for him and the very high quality of his craftsmanship and the items he makes. Seeing that sticker I had to kid him about it.
        I like so many other followers of his here, while yes we want the book, but we want it to be done right like I’m sure Paul insists on it being.
        Merry Christmas to Paul and all the other Merry Makers.

  9. SteveM on 9 December 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Here in the states the Kunz is $40 USD from Highland WW plus shipping. I purchased a Stanley #80 body from eBay for $10 and a new Lee Valley blade for $14. When I include shipping costs the total is about $31 and no fettling or gambling required.

    I’m perfectly happy with my cheaper and more work ready Stanley than I would be with a Kunz tool kit.

  10. James on 9 December 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Paul off the subject of the Kunz, but are you familiar with the Eclipse EWWQR7-NA Quick Release vice? Your opinion? Do you recommend a 7″, 9″, or 10″ vice of any kind? Thanks.

    • Paul Sellers on 9 December 2015 at 4:57 pm

      I have ordered one in for testing and will be posting when testing is done. It should be here in a few days and will have results pretty well straight away.

      • Christopher Mitchell on 10 December 2015 at 1:06 am

        Paul, I noticed on your vice on the masterclass site that you have plywood attached to the inside instead of a hardwood. Does that work better than say a piece of maple thats 1 1/2″ thick. I have Heavy duty vises but the stock slips down when Im trying to chop mortises and such. I just got a Record 52 1/2 in yesterday thats almost Brand new so Im excited about that but my other vises are Heavy Duty Morgans And Columbian. I watch you cut mortises in yours and it seems to hold just fine. Thanks Chris

        • Paul Sellers on 10 December 2015 at 4:30 am

          I do, and on all 20 benches too. It lasts longer than solid wood, doesn’t glaze to a shine and it grips well. It’s the grade of plywood they use on van floors that doesn’t fracture. I think it has phenolic resin in the outer surfaces and the grade is like a Finnish birch ply with many more layers than normal. I line one jaw, the moving one, with leather wrapped over the top edge, which grips perfectly and better than anything I have tried so far.

          • Christopher Mitchell on 10 December 2015 at 7:47 pm

            lol. So I guess that cheap foreign Birch that I purchased at the Orange store needs to be replaced uh? Van Floors? Oh Like a step Van with the box on the back. I thought they used Marine plywood
            . Did you get that over here are over there? I do have a problem getting the stock to stay put and there’s nothing more frustrating Drives me slap crazy.

            . I also noticed that the record is designed for thicker workbenches. The vintage Morgans and colombians would require a 4″ top to be notched at the bottom in order to get it flush within 1/8″ or so to the top.
            My bench top is a torsion box I made with 1/2″ Mdf squares on 5″ centers sandwiched between two sheets of 3/4″ Double laminated birch MDF so I didn’t account for the older vice cause I was goofy and didn’t look first .oops.lol.

            Tried using the drawer liner like you said ,helped some but I think its because my other vices are too low and Im losing some of my force of the cast plates.

            I tried making up for it with thick maple that is taller than the cast plates on the vice to get it up flush with the top of the bench..

            Anyway Thanks I’ll google the plywood your talking about and see if its available around here. and order me some leather from Highland or somewhere..

            Have a wonderful and safe Holiday season.
            Chris



          • Paul Sellers on 10 December 2015 at 8:31 pm

            It’s called buffalo board. Google it.



    • Mike Bronosky on 9 December 2015 at 5:59 pm

      Bought an Eclipse 7″ quick release vice two years ago from Woodcraft. Why Woodcraft, just happened to be in the store, they had a quick-release vice like I was wanting. The closest woodworking store to me is a 100 miles away. Getting it then was probably going to save me $15 shipping.

      I’m happy with the vice, would buy again and recommend buying.

      Don’t use the pop-up dog much if any. Have attached wooden faces on the jaws which could be drilled or mortised to drop a dog into when needed so while a nice feature, is not a must have and wouldn’t much more for.

  11. Jay on 10 December 2015 at 4:53 am

    Paul, do you (or anyone) happen to know if the Veritas replacement blade works in a Stanley 80? I’m a bit confused because Lee Valley also has a replacement blade specifically for the Stanley, but they appear to be the same width.

    Oddly enough, here in New Zealand a Veritas replacement blade is cheaper than a Kunz. (But the scraper itself sure isn’t!)

    • Paul Sellers on 10 December 2015 at 5:19 am

      Veritas are pragmatic. The produce replacement blades at a fair price without hiking up the price as do other makers and catalog dealers. I can’t say whether the fits change so just go of their specs.

  12. PATRICK MURPHY on 10 December 2015 at 8:18 am

    Hi Paul,

    On the subject of buying replacement blades for various tools, where do you get your replacement blades for your Stanley/Record/Woden/Sorby planes? The ones produced by Ron Hock, Ashley Iles and co. are all much thicker than you recommend. Is it a case of trawling eBay for new old stock?

    Regards
    Paddy

    • Paul Sellers on 10 December 2015 at 9:52 am

      No, they still make Stanley blades new, they fit Record. In the US you can buy replacement blades for Kunz and the Kunz scraper from Highland Woodworking.

  13. dpawson on 10 December 2015 at 10:05 am

    Paul, Would you explain why you sharpen these blades at 45 degrees please?

    • Paul Sellers on 10 December 2015 at 10:14 am

      Working on it. these things take a little time.

    • Lee Haelters on 11 December 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Dawson, my experience says that at 45 degrees, you knock over a much bigger hook with the burnisher, and my shavings can be much bigger than those I get with the card, it seems. Lee

  14. Keith on 10 December 2015 at 11:50 am

    agree with you Paul, but the issue isn’t new. Was in a local antique / junk store earlier. Picked up a stanley no 4. It felt much better in my hand, and the finish of the casting was so much better, than my 40 year old one. I do recall yhat the plastic handle of my No 4 cracked within a few years and I replaced it with a new wooden record one. I can see the differences in production quality, but what i can’t explain is why the older one feels so much better in my hand. All my other planes have been purchased second hand, somehow the no 4.5 feels so much better, i tend to pick this up first.

    I suspect that tool makers don’t use or consult users. Perhaps more people need to complain. Unfortunately this doesn’t just apply to tools. Perhaps we are to blame. I guess if someone bought the scrapper tried using it as is, then they would either give up and disgard it or try and fettle it. I wonder how many would try and do the latter.

    • Frank Niering on 12 September 2018 at 12:09 am

      The original handle of my 50-yr-old Record no.5 is a great fit for my hand, but I dropped the plane and the handle split horizontally half way down. Gloom. The new replacement handle was too fat and I never got on with it, so I mended the original handle and, despite the knowledge that the repair is there, I continue to take pleasure in handling this plane.

  15. Ray Huntley on 10 December 2015 at 11:55 pm

    I found a magazine story by Chris Gochnour about using a #80 cabinet scraper. He offered two techniques for sharpening the blade. One was to prepare the blade like a card scraper at 90 degrees. He turned two burrs in this method. However, he mentioned he preferred the 45 degree method. I plan to try it but wondering if anyone else has tried sharpening the #80 this way.

    • Paul Sellers on 11 December 2015 at 5:51 am

      That’s the way everyone sharpens it as far as I ever heard. I have never seen or heard of the square edge in an 80 I suppose because instructions from Record and Stanley are quite specific with the 45_degree angle. I have used various angles and found that you can vary considerably but the shallower the angle beyond 45 makes the edge weak and more fractious.

  16. Lee Haelters on 11 December 2015 at 2:48 pm

    My input: many years ago my introduction to woodworking was with the Record, leveling glued up table tops. They were the mainstay of Dan’s business, and he only had a 12″ planer. When I had filed the blade down to an ungrippable size, the only replacement I found locally was the Kunz blade. It clearly was softer and easier to raise the hook, but did not last as long as the Record. Back then, I averaged about three quarters of a top (both sides) before I needed to reburnish. What a pain to take out the blade, chuck it in a vise, stroke it, reset it and so on, but I appreciated the rest.

    Way many years after that, my shopmate Carl Mesrobian (trained at the North Bennet Street School) said “Don’t you know how to do this?” He never even took the blade out of the body, just stroked it on the flat side, turned it over in his hand, and with the tip of his burnisher (it was one of those pointy ones) just pushed the hook over again on the bevel. *slaps face and says “Duh!*

    While we’re on the subject of edges, in another shop a Swiss guy showed us how to flex the card scraper into an arc while burnishing over the hook on the concave edge. I had to resort to gripping with my hand while pushing the card against the bench with my hip. When it sprung back, and even flexed the other way during use, the edge seemed to be that much sharper. Lee

  17. Jay on 14 December 2015 at 1:37 am

    Paul, have you had a chance to put that Kunz blade through its paces on the sapele yet? Has your opinion (that this is a good replacement for the Stanley) stayed the same?

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