About three years ago - I (carpenter Jacob) asked a local village bladesmith Chris to make 3 timber framing tools (2 framing chisels and a slick) for my timber framed homestead project. Chris made the blades, I made the handles. After seeing the result of both our work I had an idea about creating hand crafted hand tools and sharing them with the world.
At this time bladesmith Chris had to complete his own projects, so I found a young man named Janis in a nearby village who had recently begun his profession in blacksmithing. He showed me some of his pocket knife making experiments. I asked him to make 2 simple steel rings to protect my chisel handles from breaking.
Afterwards I asked him to try out his hand in making replicas of chisels made by Chris. After much trail and error he showed some results. So I gave Janis my collection of my old hand tools (axes, chisels, drawknives) and we tried to make replicas together. That is how it all started. Together with my brother, we made the movies about the process of creating our tools. This is how we became known to the world.
There is no one person named “John Neeman”. The name was developed to appeal to broader audiences rather than our native names. The smith’s name, Janis Nimanis, was used as a model to build this name from. The company, idea, philosophy and vision in my heart existed before the name “John Neeman” did. After some time, bladesmiths Chris, Martin and Peeter, joined us as they were master bladesmiths with over 10 years of experience. We worked, as a team of craftsmen, until Janis together with his brother decided to open a side project. This was to be a different, independent and original project where Janis wished to produce different knives than those of the coalition of our designs crafted at Neeman Tools. In the beginning we had no problems with this request. However, it soon became apparent that many of the tools and knives being produced by Janis, were duplicates of our designs, exact replicas. After this was discovered, it was decided by us that Janis needed to leave Neeman Tools. When he did, he took the name “John Neeman” with him and has used it to single himself out as the original and only smith at Neeman tools.
The fact that after seeing the result of our all work and the demand for our creations Janis has decided to make his own side project and has decided to copy our designs, does not allow him to take our established brand name "John Neeman" together with him.
As a crew of craftsmen, as a team, this went against our grains of belief that any one member was more important than the rest. We are all equal, free craftsmen that work together for the betterment of us all and those that use our tools.
Jacob, carpenter, designer and founder of the John Neeman Tools
At the August 2nd-4th (2013) in the far away of the Latvia (Latgale) couple of same minded friends came together on a hewing "Jam Session" with their families and helped to start rising a sheeps barn for one carpenter living and working in the self sufficient farm. Most of the hand tools and axes used were made by John Neeman Tools. We have been hewing also with some old Austrian and Latvian goosewing hewing axes. The timber we work with is spruce. Many thanks to all of the people who helped to organise this event.