What is a French Cleat and your step by step guide to building one.
Look at this gorgeous walnut mantle it’s probably over 100 years old but you know what a previous installer or carpenter ruined it. What did they do I hear you asking? Well they went ahead and drove nails through the edge of the wood to attach it to the wall. What a mistake. What they should have done was use an ingenious device called a French cleat. This would hide the fasteners and securely attach the mantle to the wall.
What is a French Cleat?
Basically it’s two pieces of material that interlock with one another. It can be made from wood it can be made from metal and you can use it to fix just about anything to a wall. It could be a picture it could be a mantel, a plaque you name it.
How to make a French Cleat
Now how do you make it? If you’re using wood all you have to do is take your saw set it at a 45 degree angle and saw it down the length of the wood. Attach one part to the wall so that you get a v-shaped groove on the wall and then attach the corresponding piece of the cleat to the back of the mantel or the picture or whatever and bingo when you slide the mantel or the picture down onto the other piece the two pieces of material interlock and you cannot pull it from the wall. It’s a great way to attach an object if you don’t want to see nails or screws.
To give you a better idea of exactly how it is done here is my step by step guide on “How to make a French cleat”
DIY Tool Storage Wall using a French Cleat Mounting System
My first step was to lay out where I wanted the wall panel to go. I then marked out the stud locations with a line so that I knew once I had the panel up where I could secure the screws. I then started cutting the half-inch back panel to width.
I marked out the 3/4 inch cleat panel next and then I cut that to length as well. Once I cut that to length I marked out five inch spacing for the cleat segments, that seems to be the common width of the rip strips that everybody uses for cleat walls and the trick with those is you cut them to five inch widths and then after that you run your saw over to 45 degrees. Find the centre of the wood and then you split it basically in half making two identical pieces with 45-degree angle for the cleat. I sanded the edges of all those 45-degree angle cuts just to kind of clean them up and knock the sharpness off of them.
Next I prep the panel for the attaching of the cleats with glue and nails. Next I marked up the spacing for the cleats. The spacing from edge to edge between the cleats is three and three-quarters inches. This doesn’t need to be three and three-quarter inches I just picked that from my number because that’s what I felt provided the layout that I wanted for placing of tools and future tool holders and stuff like that .
I’m using heavy duty wood glue with inch-and-a-quarter nails to hold them in place. This is pretty strong I haven’t put any screws in these cleats and I’ve had him up for several months now and I haven’t had any issues with them. I run some screws into the studs and I used about eight screws to hold this whole panel up. I might add a couple more depending on how the panel holds up over time but for now it’s really sturdy and secure on the wall.
Now for the tool holders I decided that I’m not going to go into too much detail verbally on the tool holders themselves because everybody’s tools are different. For the most part I just came up with what I wanted and what would work for my tools and using scraps of plywood and leftover materials I just came up with several holders for my tools. I’m really happy with the ones that I made and how they turned out and I was kind of learning with everyone that I made.
Once you have completed your holders you have to attach the other half of the cleat to the back. Again depending on the width of your holders you will have to measure and cut the cleat. I attach the cleat using glue and nails, for heavier tools you made need to use screws. Now that you have completed this you can securely attach the tool holder to the wall.
So guys the wall is done. I’ve obviously got it up and I’ve kind of got it laid out the way I think that I’m going to like it for now. That’s the beauty of this whole wall is that I can really move this stuff wherever I want to. If I decide that I want to put something in a different place all I have to do is take it off the wall and move it around until I find the place that works the best for me.
So I hope this answered your question on “What is a French cleat?” and that my short tutorial on “How to make a tool storage wall using the French cleat system” has helped you. It really is a simple but very effective way to hang things around your home, especially if you do not want the screws or nails visible.
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