Crisscross Installed

Wow, a major milestone, measured in baby steps.  I got the Crisscross guide installed, and it works like a dream.  It wasn’t hard, I got it done in about 4 hours while dealing with several work crisis.

The first operation was to clear out the “mortise” for the Crisscross mechanism.  I made a template yesterday, so it was just a matter of figuring out where I could put the clamps and routing out the waste.  I did it in about 5 steps down, vacuuming out the chips before going deeper each time.  Then I squared up the corners with a chisel and installed the hardware.  Tapping holes in wood felt weird, but it seems to work OK.

My template for routing the Crisscross mortise

My template for routing the Crisscross mortise

Template clamped in place and ready to go

Template clamped in place and ready to go

Done!  Check out the fit on that tenon!

Done! Check out the fit on that tenon!

Hardware test fit

Transferring the location of the hole and mortise to the chop

Unclamping the glue-up for the leg vise chop was anti-climatic.  I half expected it to make a springing sound and twist itself into a double helix.  I bandsawed the Walnut overhang off, and planed the edges square.  When laying out the location for the holes in the chop I made sure it would end up about 1/8″ proud of the bench top, after I’ve flattened the top of the bench I’ll trim the chop to match  For what it’s worth, that Claro Walnut isn’t real hand plane friendly.  It’s hard and has lots of twisty grain.

Tast fitting the hardware in the chop

Tast fitting the hardware in the chop

Side-by side, bench leg and leg vise chop

Side-by side, bench leg and leg vise chop

Installing the mounts for the Crisscross glide requires tapping holes into the wood, I used Tried & True Oil/Wax finish to lubricate the tap, and a bit on the threads of the machine screws that go into the threaded holes.  It should lubricate it if I need to take it apart, and should set up and provide a little extra strength over time.

Installing the mounts for the Crisscross glide requires tapping holes into the wood

Tapping Holes

The Crisscross mechanism works really well.  It’s smooth and completely supports the vise chop.  The hole in the chop and leg for the screw line up *exactly*, so there won’t be any weight or binding on the vise screw.  With the other mechanisms (parallel guide and pinless guide) the collar on the screw is required to help maintain alignment.

Smooth as silk

Smooth as silk

What’s left?  I have to mount the threaded block for the vise screw to the back of the leg, install the garter on the chop, glue up the short stretchers and glue on the top.  By this time tomorrow it will be a done deal I think

Mockup

Mockup

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11 thoughts on “Crisscross Installed

  1. David Taylor

    Just curious. I am just about to order a crisscross, and am debating between the retro and the solo. I’m wondering why you’re using the retro on a new bench build. Do you just like the way the retro mounts better, or was there something else that caused you to decide on the retro?

  2. I like the way the retro installs, and getting the cross-pin in exactly the right location was a little concerning, especially if my stock was a little out of square (now, or later from wood movement).

    FWIW, I am really happy with the way this mechanism works, it’s going to be a great setup.

  3. Yippee! Congratulations! You’re getting so close to being done!

    • I know, I kinda can’t believe it. And at the same time, I kind of can’t believe it took me this long. Not working on it for months and months tends to drag the finish date out I guess. Who knew?

  4. What size router bit did you use for the guide? I’m assuming it was greater then 2″. Did it deflect or wobble on you? Your walls looked nice and clean with no divots

    • it was a 1/2″ diameter by 2.5″ length of cut. I only cut about 1/5″ of depth at a time though. It did a nice job overall. The critical part (according to the instructions) was to have a nice, flat bottom and the top shoulder where the bracket is be 90 degrees to the bottom.

  5. Cesar

    What a great build! You are about 10 steps ahead of me in my own build, which is extremely useful since I am leaning a lot from your experience. I am also ordering the crisscross and after your previous post have been debating a lot about the tenon in the long stretcher and the cavity for the cross. I was initially planing on a 5″ wide x 3-7/8″ thick leg and a 3″ wide x 1-7/8″ thick stretcher (I am using 8/4 soft maple), but with the crisscross, I can’t find a good way to fit both the cavity and the tenon. How does the strength of your the tenon feels for you now? I am thinking I might have to add an extra lamination to both pieces and use a 6″ thick leg and a 4″ thick tenon; but am concerned with how they would look aesthetically against a 4″ thick top that is only 24″ wide. But it’s either that, or having a thinner tenon going behind the cross cavity, which seems to me won’t be strong enough.

  6. I haven’t put any real stress on that joint, other than lifting the assembly and moving it around the shop. I’m not happy about having to have the tenon exposed like that and if I had it to do over I’d probably try to find a way to avoid it, although as you point out it might not be that easy (or attractive).

    You can download the instructions for the crisscross from Benchcrafted’s website without purchasing the part. Take a look at those and see if their solution would work for you. They do a stub tenon to register the stretcher in the leg, and then a special bolt to hold it together.

    I’m going to weld up a bracket to reinforce that one joint and screw it to the back of the stretcher and to the leg. That will be significantly stronger than the single bolt that approach I think – and I do have the tenon glued and draw bored in place. I’m probably over-thinking this, there is a rumor I do that sometimes.

    • Cesar

      Thanks! Yeah, I have read their suggestion, but for some reason I don’t want to use metal fasteners on my joinery besides (probably a dumb reason, but that’s just how I want the bench to be!). Maybe I’ll email Jameel and see what he thinks; we are most likely not the first ones considering this issue.

  7. If I was committed to a no-metal-in-my-joinery approach I might make the front stretcher as thick and my legs (a bit over 5″ in this case) so I could keep it flush to the front of the legs and offset the tenon to the beck side. on that one leg.

    I’m not a fan of the bolt approach myself aesthetically. I’m pretty sure the reinforcing bracket I’ll make will look OK. If not, I’ll probably add a shelf between the stretchers anyway and it will be invisible. I need a place to store my shooting board and bench hook.

    Let me know if you email them and they have some better suggestions!

    • Cesar

      Jameel replied almost instantly. His recommendation -if I want the legs to remain at 3-7/8″ thick- is to make the front stretcher twice as thick (hence, also 3-7/8″) and place the mortise on the back of the leg, behind the crisscross mortise; and make sure the drawbore pegs go all the way through the leg.

      He also thought that the idea of thicker legs and thicker stretchers would not look bad aesthetically.

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