Rawge's Collection of Cross Photographs and Art

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Making a cross is fun and it's pretty easy. Like I've always said, "If Rawge can do it, anyone can do it!" Below are the step-by-step instructions to make a basic cross. You will need some wood, a chisel and hammer, a circular saw and some wood glue. I have used material ranging from a 2"x4" to 8"x8" to 1"x12" lumbar. I have used this basic technique for crosses as little as something you can hold in your hand to something as large as 12-feet tall.

With this general idea, you should be able to use your creativity and imagination and make most any form of cross.

Please Email Me Here  if you need some help or just to let me know that the directions were helpful. Good luck! I always enjoy seeing the crosses that you make, so feel free to share a photo.


Cross making 101

First choose the shape and size of your cross. This graphic shows two possibilities, a 1:2 ratio and 1:3 ratio in arm length to total height. You can use this to decide the length of the pieces. Usually you know how tall you want it, so this helps decide how wide it needs to be to stay in proportion. The last boxes below have more hints on keeping the correct proportions. Once you have decided on a shape/size, cut the upright and the arm to your length. For this cross, I also cut 45 degree angles to the ends. You will only need one of each piece, but I have two of each as I am making 2 crosses at the same time. This cross is going to be 4-1/2' tall and 2-1/2' wide. Measure from the top and set the cross arm at the appropriate place. Use a square to get the pieces perpendicular. Carefully mark where each piece overlaps. You will be marking on each piece, so if there is a possibility of them moving while you mark, use a clamp to hold them in place. This shows the marks on each piece. If you stay inside the marks, the pieces will be a snug fit and may need the gentle help of a mallet to fit together. If the fit is perfect, you can use glue on all contact points. But, don't worry, if it is a little sloppy you can use some screws from the back after it has been glued and clamped.
 Set your saw to cut a depth that is exactly half of the total thickness of the wood. make a practice cut on scrap wood to check the depth. Here you can see my wood is 3/4" thick so my cut is 3/8" deep. Rip a number of cuts within the boundaries that you have marked. You are going to remove this material, so the more cuts you make, the easier the material will chisel out. Another view showing the cuts. Once the material is removed, this will make the shiplap-joint to join the two pieces. Close-up view of cuts in lap joint.
Use a chisel to remove the material. You can even start by breaking them off with a screwdriver wedged into the cuts. You can start smoothing the area with a narrow chisel... but it is easier to finish with a wider chisel. Here is the finished cut. I've used some sand paper and a block to get it smooth. Try to get it as smooth as you can, but it is not critical that it be perfect. Once both cuts are completed, press the two boards together. One cut should sit into the other cut. This is a ship-lap joint.
Close-up of ship-lap joint Add wood glue to both pieces Press into place and clamp tightly for several hours. Use wood scrap to protect the wood from marring by the clamp jaws. Be careful to wipe any excess glue with a wet cloth. If you are going to stain the wood, then this is critical, as the stain WILL NOT cover over dried glue. Here is the piece after the arm is joined. I added a couple of drywall screws from the back, into the ship-lap joint. Just make sure the screws will not go all the way through. At this point, you can sand and paint or stain. You can also add some trim around the edges as I did on this cross. This takes a little more skill, as there are a lot of 45-degree cuts, but it is pretty easy with a good chop saw. Trim can really dress up a simple cross.
Other Crosses I've Made
 As I mentioned earlier, I was making two crosses at the same time. Once they were both completed, I used a small piece of wood to separate them and then used screws to hold them together. I added some drywall texture (from a spray can) and painted them. I screwed a small  block of wood on the back and added a bracket on the block to hang the cross on the wall. The block made the cross hang several inches out from the wall.  Here is the cross on the wall of the baptismal of our little church. The back cross is painted a little darker. With colored lights positioned in front and above, it has a nice shadow effect.  Here are diagrams for 10' tall and 12' tall crosses. These show the attachment points and can give a general illustration of the final product.  This one shows how a 10' tall cross would look in both 12" wide material and 6" wide material.

Click here for more info
on cross dimensions

Just note that to keep in general proportions, your wood should be roughly 1" to 1-1/2"  wide for each foot tall. Example - the wood on a 2' tall cross should be about 2"-3" wide, a 10' cross should use wood roughly 10"-12" wide. Check out the other crosses I've made. Most all of them were made using the ship-lap joint.  The heavier crosses need more thought in where/how to install hanging brackets. Also, give some thought to how you might use lighting....front, back, color, etc.


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