Kwong Sing & Co

Tools and Trade From Across the Sea

Established in Glen Innes in 1886, Kwong Sing & Co was more than a store — it was a sensory experience. Visitors were met with the clatter of horse-drawn carts, the aroma of sawdust on wooden floors, the soft chime of tonic bottles and coins against shop counters.

The emporium supplied everything from medicines and groceries to furniture making and farm goods, supporting the community’s diverse needs. Established by Wong Chee in 1886, the store initially traded with Chinese farm workers and miners, it soon became a pillar of the local community.

This wooden dowel plane was used at the store in order to create dowel rods – thin pieces of wood used in furniture making to join two pieces of wood together. Unlike the laborious method of hammering a rod through a dowel plate, the plane allowed woodworkers to craft dowels of any size from lengths of wood. By deftly spinning a section of wood against the plane’s blade, layers were shaved off until the desired width was achieved.

While modern machinery dominates contemporary workshops, the presence of this traditional dowel plane in Kwong Sing & Co speaks volumes about the evolving nature of craftsmanship, technology, and international trade in the 19th century.

This dowel plane was made by the J Buck company of Waterloo, London, founded by Joseph Buck in 1759. Likely imported alongside other tools that the store bought from the United States of America and England, its presence was a sign of increasing internationalism and technological development in the heart of New South Wales.