Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crisscross Update - Video

Hard to believe it will be September in a day. It seems like we just got back from the Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Jeff Miller's where we first showed the new Benchcrafted Crisscross. That was back in April.

Between our new handwheels and the Crisscross we're just about ready for a week off. But nope, we're trudging forward to get the Crisscross in production as soon as we can.

This past week showed some great progress. First off, we picked up a small batch of the first castings of the Crisscross arms and the brackets that attach the arms to your bench. And over the past weekend we machined up the first pre-production samples to test out the castings and our machining process.

We still have few small details to work out, but our pre-production unit is singing. If you've been following along, you know that the prototype was quite large. The production model is 6" shorter, and actually works better than the prototype as a result. The Crisscross can be used in benches as short as 30" (even shorter if you mount the screw a bit higher in the leg.) The jaws will open to about 9". Way more than you'll ever need. The cool part is that the chop glides in and out no matter how open the jaws. And coupled with our Glide Leg Vise, the thing is just a ton of fun to operate, and not to mention, effective. The vise holds wood like, well, like crazy. Compared to a standard leg vise with a parallel guide and pin, the Crisscross gives a little more ease when approaching the final grip. You have more feedback. With a pin its more abrupt and crisp, especially with a thick chop. Feel-wise, one isn't better, its just different. My own personal opinion is another thing. I'll be retrofitting my bench with a Crisscross as soon as I can. I never minded moving the pin, but did I enjoy it? Well.....

If you don't have a Glide, can't afford one, or just don't like handwheels (what's wrong with you?), the Crisscross works like the traditional leg vise of your dreams when paired with a plain-jane bench screw, metal or wood. Well, we haven't tried one with wood yet, but it will work fine. We'll get one mounted up with a wood screw and report back.

The vise in the pics and video was built with a rather long "leg" portion. This was done to operate the vise at a convenient height, and also so the screw would not interfere with the bench the vise is temporarily mounted to. The length of the chop here is 33", so pretty typical for a standard bench. There is over 8" between the screw and the top of the chop (in other words the top of the bench.) You will see some lateral motion in the chop as the vise is operated. This is completely intentional and built into the vise during the machining process. A vise needs a certain amount of give in specific areas, just like a fine suit.

We should have pricing by the end of the month (September, not tomorrow!) and hopefully a release date as well.

Here's a short video.


  1. Fantastic! I know your not taking preorders, but I'll definitely be ordering one when they're ready. I just got my Glide Vise earlier this month and have yet to make my chop and guide wheel brackets, so this is perfect timing. No need for wheels. Keep us informed. Thanks.

  2. If you put the nut on the other side of the leg, the nut screws will merely hold the nut in place as opposed to being pulled out on when the vise is tightened.

    1. If I understand you correctly, you're talking about the square black thing on the inside of the leg? That's not the nut for the large screw, it's an acetal guide bushing to center the screw in the hole. The nut that the main screw rides in is on the other side of the leg as you suggested. The screws that hold acetal bushing in place do not see any pressure or tension of the vise opening or closing.

  3. Are you guys going to WIA Pasadena? Any chance you'll have some of these with you? :)

  4. Rob, We won't be attending Pasadena WIA. Wish we could though. Maybe next time...

  5. Will you attend WIA Cincinnati? Will you be able to bring along leg vice/crisscross combo installed on a bench for demo?

  6. Hi Jameel,
    I saw a past post where you built a sliding leg vise. Would the Crisscross fit? (For those of us who have nothing better to do than dream about the perfect bench.)

  7. Larry, no plans for WIA in Cincinnati either, unfortunately. Just a super busy year for us what with three new items in one year. We'll miss you!

    Patrick, The Crisscross is sized for a stationary leg vise, and will be too long for a sliding leg vise. We've already been asked about a smaller version. It's something we're looking into seriously. But I'll stick by my guns her regarding a sliding leg vise of any kind. Even with a Crisscross the sliding leg vise just gets in your way. The deaman does it better in all respects.

  8. Jameel,

    I just measured the chop on my bench at ~ 26".. I understand that I'll have to build a new chop, but it looks like the wear plate on the bench leg will occupy space that is currently in use by a carriage bolt (I followed your split-top plans pretty closely).

    Will any modification need be made to that joint? I could see just knocking the tenon down and drawboring the joint, but that sorta defeats the purpose of having knockdown hardware everywhere else on the bench.


    - Matt

  9. Just out of curiosity: I notice that the moving end of the Crisscross is the bottom, and the fixed end is the top. This reduces the leverage as the thickness of the object being clamped goes up. Can you install it the other way around?

  10. Matt,

    We've worked out a new joinery scheme for this area and will be including retrofit instructions with all the Crisscross documentation. It will also be free to download at that point. Cheers.


    The fulcrum (top two pivot points, actually) must be at the upper end of the vise, in order to support the weight of the mechanisms and chop. The physics are reversed with the Crisscross upside down--it doesn't work. There is no practical leverage reduction when the chop is wide open. It holds just as well with a 1/2" board as with a 7" board.


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