A Visit to Daed Toolworks


One of the benefits of not teaching this year (or the next) is that I have some extra time to visit friends and hang out in their shops. Yesterday I visited my friend and toolmaker Raney Nelson of Daed Toolworks at his shop in Greenfield, Ind., a small burg outside of Indianapolis.

Raney makes bad-ass planes, mostly miters and coffin smoothing planes, and I was one of his first customers to order a miter plane from him when he opened his doors of business after years of research and development.

The infill miter I own from him is superb. It’s so nice that it was one of the few high-end tools I didn’t sell off when I left my job at Popular Woodworking Magazine and radically reduced my tool inventory.

Raney’s shop is a freestanding structure located on the cusp of a hill that overlooks bottomland and pretty much nothing else – though his house is about 30 paces away. The structure looks small from the outside, but it actually is three floors with an incredible amount of space. As a result, Raney can keep his metalworking and benches on the main floor. In the basement (with a walkout garage door), he has a complete suite of woodworking tools. The third floor is for storage, packing materials and (for now) photography.

The main floor features four woodworking benches (and people say I have a problem) – everything from an Ace Hardware special up to a gargantuan French oak Roubo. This bench area is where he keeps his computer, his music (a turntable in a shop? Awesome) and a 6’ coffin stuffed with books and papers.

All the walls are lined with woodworking and metalworking hand tools. This area features a nice wooden floor.

Immediately adjacent to this is the metalworking area, which is filled with a milling machine, lathes, a surface grinder, metal band saw, grinders and all the other accoutrements of the toolmaker. It is all incredibly tidy – like a well-run machine shop. And yet Raney is hard at work on two infills for customers when I visited.

I took a bunch of photos while he wasn’t looking, and so below you have a tour of his shop. It’s a sweet set-up – something to study and be a little jealous of.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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20 Responses to A Visit to Daed Toolworks

  1. mbred says:

    I missed an opportunity to see his shop when I was out that way. He had offered, but time didn’t really allow for it. Wish now I had tried harder! Thanks again Raney for your kind offer.

  2. Niels Cosman says:

    Benchcrafted DIY Thong Kit. That’s all.

    • toolnut says:

      Noticed that too. Maybe there is some truth to the rumor there were plans for a FORP 1 calendar.

      • Niels Cosman says:

        So wrong it’s right. Although it might be so wrong that it’s wrong again.

      • raney says:

        The Benchcrafted guys were thinking of selling those, and sent me that one for evaluation. I wasn’t sure how to respond politely at first, but when they sent me the product shots of father john and Jameel modeling it… Well, something had to be done. A couple years later I’m still afraid to go to sleep.

        It’s now a historical cul de sac in their product development.

    • Niels Cosman says:

      The horror, the horror!
      I have no interest hearing about any of those cul de sacs!

  3. tsstahl says:

    …and a quarter pipe in the drive to boot!

  4. Jim Messer says:

    That would be the world’s most amazing or terrifying thong.

  5. toolnut says:

    Four workbenches. You’d think he be terrified of them.

  6. admiralnj says:

    Raney: Is that arbor press I noticed on the bench end being put to good use? I seem to recall selling you one a while back. . . .

    • raney says:

      Hey Rich! Yup – that’s the one I got from you right before I escaped the east coast. And no, I never ever use it. I just don’t like seeing that part of the metal bench ;).

      I use it mainly for starting maker’s mark stamps. Makes it easy to get the first strikes dead on and hard. ‘course I’m mushrooming the crap out of the post over time, but hey – it’s a better life for a #0 than pushing bearings in and out of hot wheels cars or living in flea market purgatory.

      And for the rest of you – you think there’s a lot of benches? Maybe I’ll do some vise photos to christen instagram Now THERE’S my real problem.

  7. richardmertens says:

    Raney is a splendid toolmaker and woodworker. I met him–and his planes–at Jeff Miller’s furniture shop in Chicago. He was there for the annual Lie-Nielsen tool show. His planes were so beautiful I was afraid to touch them. He does lovely shoji work as well.

  8. jonfiant says:

    Just tell him to post more! Do you hear me Raney?

  9. leeboyz86 says:

    I am impressed with the obvious quality of both materials and craftsmanship in your planes, Raney. I have no doubt they are worth every penny. I just wish i had the skills to make an investment in one of your miter planes a sensible decision. Alas, I am a wannabe, not a craftsman. So, I will have to just dream.

    • raney says:

      leeboyz – I appreciate the sentiment and compliments. But I am also pretty clear and vocal that I don’t see my planes as ‘sensible’ in almost any case. almost every craftsman worth a damn can get the level of functionality they need for any level of work for a tenth the cost of my planes.

      I love my tools, I love making em, and I love that there are any people out there who can and are willing to pay what it takes to make them. But I’d despise myself if I felt like I was trying to convince anyone that they were anything but a high-functioning luxury.

      But again – thanks for the sentiment; I absolutely know what you’re saying.

      • I will admit, I was afraid to touch them as well when I’ve seen you at the various events. I read your article in popwood tho and will definitely give them a try when i see you next. The message in the article was clear. These planes are the Navin R. Johnson of the woodworking world: they have a special purpose and we should all touch them when we can.

        Thanks for writing it Raney.

  10. miathet says:

    I too was almost afraid to touch them Raney but you gave me enough lessons while at Handworks. I really got to like the way they feel and operate. The really give you immediate feedback on the wood. I really thank you for your willingness to share with somebody who has already sold both kidneys.

  11. Alex A. says:

    does anyone know where those ring pulls in his plane rack came from?

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