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The Croix de St. Pierre, from page 211 of “The Amateur Carpenter and Builder” from the early 20th century. Image courtesy of Gary Roberts.

One of the biggest complaints about leg vises is having to engage some sort of secondary mechanism to keep the jaw parallel as you advance it and to act as a pivot point when squeezing the work. I have a bar in my tail vise that is bored with a series of holes. By moving a steel pin into the correct hole I can control the parallelism of the jaw and set the jaw for different thicknesses. I’m so used to it that I don’t think much about it and it has become part of the natural rhythm of my work.

However, if you don’t like stooping, you won’t like having to do this.

One solution, which is presumably French, is called “Croix de St. Pierre.” I’ve seen it in action on a commercial leg vise and it is ingenious.


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The box itself is dovetailed together. When laying out your dovetails, make sure the back groove falls between the tails and the pins on the sides so the groove won't show at the top. I had to run stopped-grooves on the sides to avoid the groove showing from the outside. All you have to do is stop the cut, then use a chisel to square out the end of the groove.