Raney Nelson, 44, a woodworker, toolmaker and father, was killed Saturday by a piece of flying debris in his Indiana workshop.
While medical authorities are still working out the details, Hancock County Coroner Tammy Vangundy told the Greenfield (Ind.) Daily Reporter that Nelson was struck by several jagged pieces of wood that looked like they came from his workbench area.
According to Hancock County EMS reports, when medics arrived on the scene, they called the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office because it appeared that the workbench had “exploded,” though the Daily Reporter said no explosives or accelerants were found at the scene.
Though I saw Nelson briefly at Woodworking in America, the last time I got to talk with him at length was during the French Oak Roubo Project in Barnesville, Ga. We built our workbenches side-by-side during the week, and it is a bit unnerving to think that Raney was killed by his own workbench.
We all knew the moisture content in our benchtops was high, but I had no idea that a bench could rip itself apart to the point where it would become a porcupine of deadly projectiles. I suppose this is why the slab-top workbench was abandoned more than a century ago. It’s just too risky to human life.
Remember kids: Sjöbergs save lives. It’s not just a marketing slogan.
— Christopher Schwarz
The following is my photo tribute to Raney and his bench.