How I Saw: Ignatius J. Loncao (1918 – 2015)

July started out on a sad but celebratory note for my family. July 1 marked the passing of our family patriarch: Grandpa Loncao. The obit is here if you’re curious. At 97, with his two daughters by his side, he peacefully shed his mortal coil and joined the likes of many before him. He went out in very much the same fashion as he did everything else: an example of how things should be and beacon of hope for those cherishing in family, dignity, and tradition.

Grandpa Loncao

Grandpa Loncao

The weekend of July 4 was spent celebrating his long and storied life. I’m not sure if I laughed or cried more but to a small Italian family like mine, a laugh:cry ration of about 1:1 is par for the course. The weekend’s final event was capped by a truly inspirational eulogy at the hands of my Aunt Sue. After hearing her words, I’ve added the following to my life’s goals: have one of my daughters speak as eloquently about me when I’m laid to rest.

Onto woodworking.

A retirement gift, which hung at my grandpa's until we reluctantly moved him out in 2011.

A retirement gift, which hung at my grandpa’s until we reluctantly moved him out in 2011.

When we moved Grandpa out of his house in 2011 I ended up with a bunch of his tools. He was quite happy to see them being put back to use after many years of languishing in his basement. I also took the picture to the right, which was a retirement gift from when he was a maintenance man at a state-run facility near where we lived. This picture hangs prominently in my shop as a reminder of the times I spent learning from him. Whether it was a story about this childhood, the war, or raising a family I always felt richer after a conversation.

There were, and still are, many tools to work on but the first order of business was rehabbing two old Disston D8’s. I did this a few years ago and I thought today was good a time as any to take you through my process. I used a tutorial from Matt Cianci, The Saw Wright, to clean up the plate. I bought some Brasso to clean up the saw nuts (hint: wear a respirator…I didn’t and didn’t like the effects). Finally, I shipped them to Bob Rozaieski to sharpen the saws. The results have been priceless.

I’ve used these saws to breakdown nearly every piece of furniture I’ve built since 2012 when these saws went back into service. I sold my Ridgid sliding compound miter saw shortly afterward. I’ll never look back at all. It brings me great joy to know his tools will shape the furniture of generations to come.

When my second daughter was born in 2013, Gramp came down from NY to meet her. Shortly after meeting her, I distinctly remember running down to the basement to get his saws and show him what I’d done. He felt them in his hands. He looked at me with wonderment. There was a lot of history and pride in that moment; a moment I won’t forget; a moment I’ll pass along to the next owner of these saws.

One day.

How it's done

How it’s done

This post was a little bit more personal than most. Thanks for indulging me.


About Shawn Nichols

Heady. Phishy. Woodworker
This entry was posted in General Philosophy, Shop Stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How I Saw: Ignatius J. Loncao (1918 – 2015)

  1. Brian says:

    This is what makes tools, and family, so special.


  2. Sorry about grandfather, Shawn. May we all live to be 97 and have personal items of significance to hand down.

    I have a six inch metal rule from my grandfather that he etched his name in to and I use it every time in the shop. I have some of his other tools as well, but I keep this one in the chest pocket of my apron.


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