Members Bruce Jacobson and David Sontag share a community and a passion for woodworking at The Cliffs at Mountain Park.
There are hobbies and there are passions. For Bruce Jacobson and David Sontag, woodworking is the latter. These two men, as they were designing homes for their families at The Cliffs at Mountain Park, each dedicated over 1,000 square feet to woodworking shops. And through the community at Mountain Park, these two men have met and become close friends who enjoy sharing their passion.
Jacobson has been working with wood for about 25 years; Sontag for about 40 years. For Jacobson, wood was initially just a curiosity. As he was cleaning out his basement in Carmel, Indiana, he came across some tools and decided to build a workbench. On the other hand, Sontag’s introduction to wood came vocationally: he worked construction jobs during high school and college, and through that, learned carpentry.
Their introductions to the medium of wood developed into fullblown appreciation for woodworking’s marriage of function, precision, technique, and aesthetics. Jacobson, a Master Woodworker who dedicated eight years to refining his craft through courses at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, explains “I’ll sometimes spend 300 hours building a piece.” He elaborates, “I enjoy the process of figuring out how to make a piece work.”
“With hand tools, you can do just about anything your imagination would lead you to with wood. It’s all about design possibility and the joinery,” adds Sontag.
Joinery — the art of fitting pieces of wood together without the use of screws or nails — is what separates fine woodworking from more casual forays. Properly cut joints — dovetails and mortise and tenon — fit like precise puzzle pieces and lend strength and durability to a piece, and in the case of Jacobson and Sontag, they’re cut, shaped, and fitted by hand.
There’s no limit to how these two artisans can apply their skills. “I work on pretty much anything that has to do with wood,” says Jacobson, giving a nod to everything from furniture to toys, to cutting boards. Sontag is much the same: “I love a new project. All I need is a picture to reference.”
Jacobson and Sontag frequently visit each other’s shops, checking out projects and offering feedback. Lately, they’ve taken their collaboration to a new level by co-teaching woodworking classes for women. The projects for these classes are smaller in scale — charcuterie boards, for instance — but the two friends are happy to share their passion. “I just enjoy being in the shop,” says Jacobson. “If I can be there with a friend, even better.”
This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.