• Omar Garcia

Designing a Holy Cross for the Road

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

As many are familiar, the Holy Cross is a main symbol in the Christian religion, representing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. While there are many variations and meanings to each style of cross, what my friend and client wanted at the time was a simple form of the cross which she could place on the side of the road in which a person close to her was lost to a car accident.

Step 1: Research

Immediately, I began to research cross-construction and the variations of crosses, their meanings, and so forth. And, frankly, it’s very easy to get swept into over-researching or over-analyzing the data you collect in this phase. Whether it’s meaning, types of wood, nails, etc., what’s important to keep during this phase is a list of what the client wants and what is needed to make this a reality.

Step 2: Defining Objectives

So after indulging in some woodworking videos and diving into home depot and lowes for wood, stains, and so forth, I made a list of what I actually need to accomplish with a wooden cross that needs to be suitable for roadside conditions:

  • Made out of wood (material)

  • Resistant to water damage (finish and coating)

  • Easily staked into the ground (geometry)

  • Visible from the road (length, width, height)

Step 3: Designing and Iterating

So we these objectives in mind, I started to design different crosses, looking at ways to increase each objective’s successfulness by continuously iterating.

( I accidentally deleted the 3d Model file, lesson learned. :/ )

And yet, after all of that work, I realized this project really did need something simple. It’s hard to innovate something so rigid such as the geometry of the cross. If I were to change anything out of its usual look, it would make the piece look like a bad copy of a cross. So I decided to go with this instead:

Standing (laying) at 3' x 2', the added length allows for enough wood to be driven down into the ground and maintain proper visual cross proportions

Now, after all that work, some of you are asking “how did you end up with that?” Well, it’s simple. No really, it’s very simple.

It’s one piece.

This is huge in terms of lifespan and water resistance. Having it made out of a solid piece of wood prevents creases or gaps normally present in multiple-piece construction. Without these seams, there’s no place for water to penetrate and stay put.

This also makes the piece a lot stronger structurally. When they go to stake it into the ground, there won’t be any nails or screws which could loosen up, and neither can other pieces jab into one another.


Now, it’s not without its faults. I wanted to find a way to have water fall off the piece efficiently. In order to do so, I would have to minimize any planes being parallel to the ground. Unfortunately, if I were to angle the two arms down to do this, it would really destroy the look of the cross and make it appear as a poorly designed cross. And if I were to bevel the edges into smooth curves I run into the issue of dealing with corners.

So, in the end, this piece fits the requirements and even accentuates the beauty of the wood by using softer curves to connect the arms as one solid piece of wood.

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