1,633 handplanes in search of a new home

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Trevor Semmens with his collection in 2015

There’s a specific word for a person who collects, studies and preserves woodworking planes. For over 40 years Trevor Semmens has borne the title of rhykenologist par excellence, all the while growing and maintaining his large and historically significant collection of hand planes.

 ‘My collection of woodworking planes really started out accidentally in 1982 with the purchase of a trunk containing some 30 planes. I also have hundreds of other woodworking tools and a comprehensive library of reference books.’


Australian made planes, clockwise from left front: McConnell 1941 patent; Bergs Jack, 1948– 55; Adept Aluminium, 1971–80; Carter 78 rebate, 1945–55; Turner Block 1960–70

Currently the collection comprises 1,633 planes originating from 17 countries, and that’s aside from Trevor’s other 376 woodworking tools and 17 tool chests.

The collection is fully catalogued and Trevor’s associated research has resulted in the publication of Australian Woodworking Planemakers, now in its third edition. Over the years, Trevor has given many talks on specific topics such as planes for coopering, patternmaking, model making and on the importance of reference books.


Showing variations of boxwood inserts attached to some plane soles.

‘Whilst I have planes from many countries, the oldest being a Dutch plane from about 1720, my main interest has been Australian made planes. In 1993 I wrote my first book which has become the definitive reference on Australian woodworking planes.’


The oldest plane in Trevor Semmen’ collection, a valuable Dutch carved plough plane dated 1778

The collection is of inestimable value in historical terms and the time has now come to consider its future. ‘With age catching up with me, I feel I need to assess what to do with it’, said Trevor. ‘I would like it to have a good home and as it is fully catalogued it would be good to keep it as a whole unit, so I am open to any reasonable outcomes. To hold these tools in my hands is to feel and touch our history and enterprise.’ 

Contact Trevor Semmens via email or phone 0437 300 443

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