A popular mechanism for maintaining parallelism in vise jaws began to surface in the American patent record in the mid 19th century. There are also documented sources of this mechanism in the La Forge Royale catalog, Paris, late 19th to early 20th c.

This device is basically two pieces or "arms" of metal or wood, equal in length, joined in the middle to create a pivot. The upper ends of the arms (also on pivots) are joined to the bench's leg and the chop. The resulting mechanism not only maintains a parallel opening, but also supports the weight of itself, the vise screw, and the chop.

The beauty of the mechanism is its simplicity. In modern times this mechanism has become known as the "St. Peter's Cross", taken from an early 20th c. publication describing it as such. We eventually acquired a 19th century version of the St. Peter's Cross, and used it to prototype our version, the Benchcrafted Crisscross.

Two Models

The Crisscross Solo

The Crisscross Solo attaches to the bench leg and chop with two 3/8" steel mounting pins. These holes are most accurately drilled using a drill press, so choose this model if you're building a new bench, and can work on the bench leg at the drill press.

The Crisscross Retro

The Crisscross Retro features two cast iron brackets which house short pivot pins that attach to the arms. You don't need to drill any holes for pivot pins with the Retro, which makes it a better choice if you're retrofitting a bench with a Crisscross. You can also use the Retro in a new bench, even if you have access to a drill press, if you'd prefer the installation method of the Retro. The arms in both the Solo and Retro are identical. The difference is simply in your installation preference.

Variations on a Theme

Although we designed the Crisscross alongside our Glide Leg Vise, it pairs perfectly with any leg vise hardware, be it a metal bench screw, or a wood screw. Both work excellently with the Crisscross.

Wood screws have the distinct advantage of speed with their fast pitch, and when matched with the action of a Crisscross the result is fantastic. Quick, easy adjustments and the classic look of wood.

The Crisscross can also be used to build auxilliary vises with any vise hardware, such as a high leg vise for detail work.

Before deciding which Crisscross is right for you, please read through the installation instructions available on our downloads page.