Monday, December 31, 2012

Video: Crisscross Retro Install

On my way out of the Benchcrafted warehouse last Friday, just as I was punching out (right!), I grabbed a Crisscross Retro and headed home. I guess that's one of the advantages of working at Benchcrafted. I can dip into stock anytime, never pay for anything, and walk out feeling like a guilt-free burgler.

In reality, I rarely do this. My bench at home still has the original Benchcrafted Tail Vise in it. The very first one. I still use it almost every day. I did put a new handwheel on it, but that's because we accidentally machined the logo on one small handwheel and one large handwheel upside down. I took those cosmetically-challenged parts and put them to use instead of tossing them back in the furnace. That's why the logo on the handwheel above is upside down. It's also why the handwheels is dark. This is the handwheel I used to demonstrate cold bluing.

You also might notice that I linished the logo in the center of the hub. I did this because it looks nice. It's easy to do with a small sanding block and 120 grit paper. It also looks nice on our standard handwheels, as seen here.

In the video I use a roughing end mill designed for machining aluminum to rout the Crisscross mortise. Spiral upcut router bits are widely available, but I don't much like them. They have a very aggressive cutting geometry, and although they remove material fairly well, this geometry doesn't mingle with tearout-prone woods. It also sacrifices something that I really like when routing: control. The roughing end mill is a three flute, center cutting (so it can be plunged) tool that eats wood like no tomorrow. The serrated flutes break up chips so you can move more rapidly through the cut, and take much more material per pass. The geometry of the tool gives great control. Grain direction is almost non-existent, and you never feel like the router is going to take off on you. The solid carbide bit also features a zirconium coating for durability. The bit does not leave a smooth finish however because of the serrated flutes. The finish is very similar to what a toothing plane or scraper would leave. For the Crisscross mortise its fine. If you'd like to try out this bit, I source it from the same place I get super bit: Carbide Cutting Tools Part # 14740. Carbide Cutting Tools is an old-school machine shop. No online ordering. Pick up the phone and call Frank. He'll be glad to take your order.

A word about the Glide Crisscross, which I now have on my personal bench at home. Saturday I retrofitted the Crisscross to my bench, and the next day (yesterday) I started building a six board chest using the new vise. Although we've been testing the Crisscross in various benches and vises for several months, this is the first project I've actually worked on using a Glide Crisscross in MY bench, working in real time on an actual project. My mind was free to concentrate on the project itself, and not on testing vises. It's been said before by many traditional leg-vise users, "I don't mind the pin". Well, I can now confidently say that not having a pin has changed how I work. Mind you, I enjoy using our vises, but when I'm building furniture, I want all my concentration to go into the creative process. I don't want to think about anything but the wood, and that includes vises, planes, chisels, tools, the heater, whatever. Fussing with things kills my rhythm, as I expect it does others. The Glide Crisscross is the best thing that has happened to my Roubo bench,

I tried to cover just about everything in the following video. If you have any questions, please post them below.


  1. Great video. This will come in handy when installing mine in the new year. I like the glide vise with the pin but really really like the action of the crisscross. I went with a thinner chop so I'll need to remake it anyway. I was thinking you could salvage the chop but I guess you need the extra thickness for the hardware.

  2. How thin is your chop Jason? This one is about 2-5/8". Maybe your's could work.

  3. Very slick. It makes me want to upgrade my bench.

  4. My chop is a strong 1 3/4 hard maple. Its not a big deal to make a new one but i'd like to use existing if it can. I can always find a use for the wood somewhere in the shop. I do really need to get going on some actual projects as I've spent a good long time on shop projects around the bench. That being said, when I do get going, my shop will be that much more efficient and fun to work in.

    1. If your chop is long enough, you could laminate onto the inside face if you want to get the thickness.

  5. Happy New Year Jameel!
    Would you please share the part number of Super bit. I might as well order both.


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