By Amanda Wolkin
After a long day at the office, Sandy Springs dentist Michael Chalef and orthodontist Harold Enoch put down their drills and forceps and pick up new tools: bowl gouges and skew chisels—pieces of equipment that are essential for their woodturning hobby.
The two met nearly 30 years ago while taking their dental licensing boards — Chalef gave Enoch information on the Georgia board, as Enoch was coming from out of state; Enoch gave Chalef pointers on the Florida board, which Chalef was going to take in a few weeks.
They were united by their occupations, but bonded over their shared interest in taking up unusual hobbies.
Together, the two friends have taken glass-blowing courses, received their SCUBA certification, and most recently, taken up the craft of woodturning—a form of woodworking that is used to create wooden objects on a lathe.
“For Harold and me, dentistry and orthodontia are our bread and butter, but hobbies can be great outlets for creative expression,” Chalef said. “Woodturning in particular has evolved into a sort of passion for both of us.”
Chalef and Enoch enjoyed going to craft shows together and found that they were drawn to the booths with the wooden bowls. They took a few woodworking and cabinet-making courses prior to taking woodturning classes with several specialists, and, as Chalef put it, became “smitten by it.”
“Both Michael and I think ‘dentist,’” said Enoch. “We work well with our hands and enjoy that kind of creative expression where you can mold things and create things. It’s an extension of our occupation.”
The pair quickly became immersed in the craft and joined the American Association of Woodturners. They became founding members of the Roswell-based Atlanta Woodturners Guild. They began attending monthly meetings and installed lathes in their homes. They hosted the Wooden Teeth Turners booth at the Sandy Springs Festival and have had their worked displayed in galleries in Georgia and Florida.
“It got to the point where I would come home from work, wolf down dinner and head straight down to my shop until midnight,” said Chalef.
While both Chalef and Enoch are not opposed to selling their products, they make their art for fun, not for money, and prefer to the give their creations away as gifts to family, friends and patients.
“I have many pieces of my woodturning work displayed in my office,” Chalef said. “My favorite thing to do is give a pen or small bowl as a gift to a patient.”
Similarly, Enoch has his adult patients pick out a wooden gift, usually a pen, after they have finished their orthodontic treatment with their new smile as “something to make going the orthodontist a little less painful.”
“We compare notes, help each other with technique and, once either one of us acquires a source of wood, we share it,” said Enoch. “We look out for one another. It’s just something we both love to do and have fun doing together.”
For the two of them, the fun never stops. They recently stopped taking ballroom dancing lessons with their wives so they could make time for bridge lessons.
Of course, over the past three decades, the doctors have found that they have their differences: Chalef has two grown girls while Enoch has two grown boys. Chalef refers to himself as “more of a cut-up while Harold is a little more serious.” Enoch’s shop is immaculate while Chalef’s is more indicative of his personality, with materials and designs everywhere.
Even their taste in hobbies are not completely similar: While Chalef found the heat of the oven during glassblowing too much to handle, Enoch has stuck with the art, now continuing it with his son.
In addition, Chalef finds he is addicted to golf, a sport which Enoch stopped playing to instead focus his attention on tennis. Next, Chalef plans to fly solo—literally—as he studies and trains for his private pilot’s license.
But, despite their ever-changing list of activities, both insist that woodturning is one hobby they will continue.
“It’s not some art that we’re just going to throw away once something better comes along,” said Chalef. “Nothing beats the feeling of creating a beautiful object of art from a log of a cut-down tree.”
Another constant for the two doctors will, of course, be their friendship.
“Harold is one of the most creative individuals I have ever met, in art and in life,” said Chalef. “We will always be looking for a new and exciting sandbox to play in.”