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Season 1. . . Coming Soon

Chess (n.)

a board game of strategic skill for two players, played on a checkered board. Each player begins the game with sixteen pieces that are moved and used to capture opposing pieces according to precise rules. The object is to put the opponent's king under a direct attack from which escape is impossible ( checkmate ).

I have never fallen in love with the game of Chess. As a child, it always looked so complicated. I know this sounds wrong, but it just seemed so serious and that you had to have an IQ of 130 to play this game. So, I stuck with Monopoly and piecing together puzzles!

As an adult, Chess has been intriguing but I still feel intimidated by the amount of rules there are in the game. . . until Scott Iler created a masterpiece. This piece of artwork has now intrigued me to learn the game and I feel not so intimidated.

Read the candid interview with the mastermind behind the Live Edge Chess Board. . . Scott Iler Master Woodworker of Iler Woods.

What were your first thoughts when you saw the live edge slab?

I was in Big Bear for a family getaway and I decided to go to a lumber yard to see if they had live edge for sale. I had seen a lot of live edge work and thought it was gorgeous. I looked over the lumber yard and saw a piece that looked like it had been thrown off to the side, it was covered in snow and dirt, it literally looked like a piece of garbage.

I found the gentleman in charge of the yard and asked if he would sell me the forgotten piece. He looked at me as though I had 3 heads. He said it was junk because of the bark beetles that had ravished the San Bernardino Forest and all of the little holes and blemishes made it unsightly. He said I could have it for free because no one was going to go through the effort to make it into something worthwhile. I was ecstatic to have my very first piece of live edge!

How did the birth of the chess board begin?

This piece of wood sat in our backyard for nearly 2 years before I even touched it. Along the way I had thought about using it as a coffee table top and then perhaps an end table. I really didn’t know what to do so I ultimately decided to cut it up and split it for firewood. After the pieces were cut, I looked at them and it struck me, a bolt out of the blue! I saw 4 different chess boards and knew I had to keep that wood and start the process of milling it flat on both sides.

What were some obstacles along the way?

Getting the bottom side (live edge side) was certainly an act of love or me being too stubborn to let it go. Before milling the wood, it resembles the landscape of Mars. Lots of hills and valleys, rocks embedded into it and a whole array of knots and grain issues. To shorten the story, let me just say that it was a slow and tedious process to get the board flat.

Behind the scenes: What is something you would like customers to know about the craftsmanship of the chess board?

A few things about the first board named, Season 1 is that I have never used the Japanese art of Shou Sugi Ban on such a large piece of raw wood and I was pretty nervous to be quite honest.

There was a real potential that the wood could have caught on fire and that would have been a bad ending to Season 1.

I have been finished with this board now for about two weeks and in that time I have fashioned a set of U shaped legs out of flat steel. I went to fit them the other day and they look horrid, I will NOT be using those legs.

I will add simple little feet to the bottom and by doing that, attention will be drawn only to the board. I am now in the midst of creating a walnut box to carry chess/checker pieces that I have made as well. If all goes well, Season 1 will be available for purchase in the next week or two.

What do you hope this chess board will bring to a home?

I have always thought of chess as an event of sorts where two people come together and have long meaningful play and conversation. If this board can help bring intellect to the surface while being played and inviting art to the party when it is displayed, I would be ecstatic.

So. . . will you make a move with the game of Chess?
I plan to cozy up with a cup of coffee, have an intense read of Hemingway, and challenge myself to this Game.
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