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The other headline I considered for this blog entry was: Fare thee well, pinheads.

As I sorted through the box of castings and metal bits in my Benchcrafted Crisscross kit tonight I wondered if this would be the box that finally banishes the pin from my leg vise.

Since 2005, I’ve been using a parallel guide on my leg vise that is adjusted with a metal pin. The pin pivots the vise’s chop into my work in the correct place, giving it a superhuman grip.

But to adjust the pin, you have to stoop. I don’t mind stooping all that much, but I also didn’t mind doing homework in high school until I was freed from it in 1986. After I tasted it, I hated homework.

There are other ways to avoid the pin – read about them here in this earlier blog entry.

But I chose the Crisscross.

As with all objects coming from the Benchcrafted family, the Crisscross is a superb piece of workmanship. The sand-cast arms of the Crisscross are beautiful, as are the brackets that hold them. I can barely wait to get the thing installed to see how it works.

Plus, I have been waiting for this particular piece of bench hardware since Benchcrafted announced in May they were going to make it. TO prepare, I have been lurking on eBay to find the perfect old iron vise screw that will match the Crisscross.

Earlier this fall, I found it. It was a screw that hadn’t ever been used. Other than a little surface rust, it was factory-fresh. I even have to gin up a garter and way to attach the nut to the inside of the leg of my vise.

And that brings us to a curious part of this blog entry. Where the heck am I going to install this new leg vise with the Crisscross?

That’s easy: On the back of my 2005 Roubo workbench. Lately, I’ve moved my workbench so it is perpendicular to the window in the shop – it used to be under the window and against the wall. I did this for two reasons: No. 1, photography. It’s easier to take photos when you can set things up on either side of the workbench. And No. 2, I have company in the shop quite a bit.

Because of my current book projects and furniture commissions, I’ve had other people working alongside me in the shop. And sometimes we both need to use the leg vise or the end vise.

So to make things easier, I’m converting my 2005 Roubo workbench to a “partners’ workbench,” with vises on both faces of the bench. This Crisscross and vintage vise screw will go onto what was once the back of the bench and was forced against the wall.

I’ll keep you posted on how the installation goes – it will be a retrofit, so it won’t be as easy as installing it on a new workbench.

— Christopher Schwarz


We have a lot of books and DVDs on workbenches in ShopWoodworking – including downloads of my first two books on the topic at a special price. Plus a DVD that follows me as a I build an 18th-century Roubo bench by hand.

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Showing 19 comments
  • Moontoad

    I can see a whole new line of tools once Chris’ bench idea catches on. Imagine a table saw with two blades, each running in opposite directions. No more walking around the saw to use it, and SO convenient when teaching or working with others!

  • metalworkingdude

    So by eliminating the pin from the vise you’ve put it on the bench? 🙂

  • willworkforarn

    Speaking of legs vises, you are going to want to check out this new design for keeping the leg vise jaws parallel during use without the use of a pin.
    I found this on the oowm site in the woodworking forum.

  • Adam Cherubini

    I’m curious…I had a leg vise on my German bench for many many years. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I repositioned the peg. Now the tongue was just 3″ off the floor (the chop sat on the floor)so the angular change at the top was slight when a new hole was chosen. And most of the time, I was working thin-2″ stock.

    So I have a few questions:
    1) Did you adjust your vise often?
    2) Were you often clamping very thick things (like drawers) in your vise?

    Just one comment from me- I have nothing against this design (tho I’ve never held or beheld one), and I REALLY don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon but it looks like a solution to a problem I never had. Is it retrofittable? Can guys try a tongue first and add this later if they find they don’t like the tongue and peg? As you may know, I like very simple benches. I keep taking things off my benches and tend to prefer them with less and less stuff.

    Really appreciate your exploration tho, Chris.

  • bonobo6000

    There’s a cute repositional “Milkmans’ Cross” vise currently on

  • Danny H.

    Man, You are getting me all excited. I just recently finished what I though was my dream workbench and now I want to build another ! I just finished reading your blog on the different solutions to not having to stoop down and use a pin, including the chain one. I’m with you Chris. I like this BenchCrafted Crisscross the best. I’m going to have to sell another machine tool and do some reorganization to fit another bench in my shop though. Maybe I could talk the wife into putting the other bench in the garage! Honey…..

  • matthewjoneill

    hmm.. was a “d” added to the post title? I appreciated the (maybe unintentional) borat reference.

  • pmac

    Go the whole nine yards and put in another wagon vise! Here’s my reasoning: If you put the Crisscross on the back of the bench, you’ll obviously have permanent dibs on that vise and that side of the bench (no more stooping); but that means your guests get the side of the bench with the wagon vise. (Ty might pull a Les again and break out the tape, only this time dividing the bench lengthwise.) Just saying.

  • artagain

    Hmmm. This ought to add another $300 to the price the bench hardware. I just paid $200 for a wooden screw and that company has announced a price increase as well. Is it me or is ww becoming strictly a rich man’s sport?? Honestly, if taxes do increase due to the fiscal cliff, I’ll be making tree branch furniture.

  • Anderson

    I also really like being able to work all four sides of a bench. It allows a lot more flexibility in coming at a given task.

  • BLZeebub

    Schweeeeet! I’ll take two. I’m intending the very same setup, adding a leg vise to the backside of my own bench. Oooyeah.

  • Lemonjello

    I’m sure it made you, jump, jump…?

    Really interested in its action, assembly and drawbacks!

  • david cawthray

    can we see the great mr schwarz in action fitting it out and a review with your great sense of humor in the mix.

  • cmegal

    This is great news, Chris! I really like the idea of adding a vice to the other side of the bench, makes a lot of sense. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the hardware after you’ve had some time testing it out.

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