How to make a simple shelf hung with a french cleat.

Picture of How to make a simple shelf hung with a french cleat.
This instructable shows how I used an old oak table leaf to construct a simple yet durable wall shelf which is hung using a french cleat. I know there are lots of intructables about how to make a shelf, but I am particularly fond of the french cleat hanging method due to it's simple construction and how much easier it is to hang a shelf.

Some scrap lumber
1/4" wood dowels
wood or hot glue
tape measure or ruler
saw (preferably with a tilting table or blade to allow for angled cuts such as band or table saw)
wood screws
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Step 1: Select some lumber.

Picture of Select some lumber.
Here are a couple of the oak table leaves I found in my attic which were missing the rest to make a table.

Step 2: Cut the surface area.

Picture of Cut the surface area.
The leaves were about 12" wide and several feet long so first I cut the leaves into 15" lengths.

Step 3: Divide to make 2 shelf surfaces.

Picture of Divide to make 2 shelf surfaces.
I then cut the 15" length so that I now had 2 15" x 6" surfaces.

Step 4: The cleat "hanger"

Picture of The cleat "hanger"
Now cut several 1"x3/4"x9" strip(s), depending on the number of shelves you plan on building. I cut more than enough because spares never hurt.

Step 5: Cut the cleat at a 45 degree angle.

Picture of Cut the cleat at a 45 degree angle.
Next I cut the strip(s) at a 45 degree angle leaving a 1/4" area to drill holes in for mounting. This will make more sense later.

Step 6: Sides

Picture of Sides
I took a 12"x6" length of wood and cut it in half to make two 6"x6" square pieces. I did this because I am making several shelves. You could simply cut one 6" piece.

Step 7: Draw a pattern

Picture of Draw a pattern
Using a pencil I measured and drew the lines to make the side support brackets. I decided on a triangle using slightly different dimensions for each side. They are as follows: 4-1/2"x5-1/2"x6-1/2" The bottom I cut so that it is flat and does not come to a point. Again the pictures are worth at least several sentences.
Tagwatts11 year ago
You make this very simple, I hope I can build something close to what you have designed. I need to make the shelves a 48 inches in length.
steven_t_953 years ago
i am doing this project in highschool and i have to wright abunch of stuff down for the presentation but some of the stuff was missing like, how much the shelf can hold and the size. but i could find everything else.
mattl (author)  steven_t_953 years ago
Hi, the surface of the shelf is 6" deep and 15" wide. I have placed potted plants that weigh as much as 5lbs on it when watered. I would think you could put as much as 10lbs of weight on them. The key is whether you are able to drive the screws into a wall stud or something of similar strength. French cleats can bare a large amount of weight due to how they distribute it evenly over several anchors.
Hope this helps and good luck with your project!
Dipankar6 years ago
What I would give to have a workshop like yours except money. Here it will cost a fortune. Your work is good, should be with tools like that.
mattl (author)  Dipankar6 years ago
I can appreciate that. I have purchased major power tools one at a time as I can afford them or have requested them as gifts for birthdays etc. Honestly, a $100 band saw is an extremely worthwhile investment; a tie is a good drill (drill press or hand drill) followed by a table saw. The band saw is great because it has a small footprint and is very versatile.
mattl (author) 6 years ago
Thank you for your kind comments. I'm all about detail.
Sandisk1duo6 years ago
Very well documented!
shooby6 years ago
This is far more elegant than the use of two solid right-angled triangles, nice job.