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