Introduction: Organize Your Shop With French Cleat Tool Storage

Picture of Organize Your Shop With French Cleat Tool Storage

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I have a French Cleat Tool Storage System in my shop that makes moving all my tool storage items super easy when I want to reconfigure things. I have dedicated plans for all the items you see in the picture over at FixThisBuildThat.com. But for this Instructable I’m going to give you a quick primer on french cleats and show you how I set them up on a wall of my shop. Here is what you'll need for the French Cleats and for a simple tool holder.

Materials

  • 3/4" Plywood
  • 3" Wood screws
  • 1-1/4" Pocket Screws

Tools

  • Tablesaw
  • Cordless drill
  • 4' level

Step 1: Cut a Sheet of Plywood Into Strips

Picture of Cut a Sheet of Plywood Into Strips

Start the project by deciding how large of a space you want to cover with the french cleats. I wanted to cover a couple 4' areas, so I ripped the plywood into 3" wide strips the full width of the plywood at 48".

Step 2: Cut the Bevels on the Cleats

Picture of Cut the Bevels on the Cleats

Tilt your tablesaw to 45 degrees and cut a bevel on each of the plywood strips. This bevel is the heart of the french cleat system and two mating pieces will be held together as the 45 degree bevels interlock with each other.

Step 3: Mount the Cleats to the Wall

Picture of Mount the Cleats to the Wall

Figure out how far apart you want the cleats to be on the wall and the height of the cleats to put your holders and cabinets where you want them. I spaced my cleats at 10" apart and did 3 high. That allows me to hang a 30" cabinet and have full coverage across the cleats.

Use blue tape to mark the studs and a 4' level to position the cleats on the wall. The bevel should be facing up and sloping down towards the wall. Secure each cleat into as many studs as possible using 3" screws. If you will be storing very heaving items you may want to use 2 screws per stud in each cleat. I only used 1 screw for each spot on mine and it's worked fine.

Step 4: Add Cleats to the Back of Your Cabinets and Hang Them

Picture of Add Cleats to the Back of Your Cabinets and Hang Them

Cut a french cleat trip to the width of the cabinet you want to hang and secure it to the back of the cabinet with 2" or 1-5/8" screws. The bevel should be facing down and sloping away from the cabinet. Now simply lift the cabinet into place on the wall and position it where you want it.

Visit my Cordless Drill Charging Center to get free plans for the cabinet you see above.

Step 5: Make Tool Holders for All Your Clamps and Tools!

Picture of Make Tool Holders for All Your Clamps and Tools!

Now that you have the cleat system in place you can put the french cleats on just about anything and come up with small tool holders for all your tools. The photos here are just a few examples of the things I've built with french cleats to hold clamps and tools. If you'd like to see more info on any of them you can check it out here.

Comments

crazypj (author)2017-09-09

Isn't solid wood stronger than plywood? If the 'sharp' edge is rounded over slightly it won't get broken off, I would expect the outer layer of ply to 'come loose' over time?

rober! (author)2017-07-18

What do you think of the idea of running the wall mounted parts of the French cleat the full length of a wall and spacing them about 10—12 inches apart vertically?

fixthisbuildthat (author)rober!2017-07-19

that would give you maximum flexibility for sure!

ShayanP (author)2016-02-14

Can I use this over getting plywood. It's a little expensive to get plywood as I just started DIY projects with wood.

fixthisbuildthat (author)ShayanP2016-02-14

You could use any 3/4" material for the cleats. Doesn't have to be plywood. And could even be MDF or OSB.

Oncer (author)fixthisbuildthat2017-03-28

Great instructable and I can see a use for this all over the house.

However I'd be wary of using MDF as it's edges can be damaged very easily especially if you are moving your cabinets around a lot.

redrew (author)ShayanP2016-02-15

Look for strength in materials you use. Shop cabinets, no matter if you only intend to store sandpaper or routerbits, gain weight. Later on, you may also put the sander and router on the shelf too. Just as we would never build the cabinets out of particle board because they sag, use strong cleats & fasteners.

JackB64 (author)2016-02-16

great works, will be following this when I make room in my work shed, slash storage shed ..I have one question regarding the Kreg tools ,I have a new Kreg kit i got for Christmas ,and it cold winter here [no heat in shed]so I didn't get to use them yet ,,,Question ,,the nails used for the Kreg joints are expensive here in Canada ,is there a good alternative to using there nails ,thank for reading ,looking forward to the answer

fixthisbuildthat (author)JackB642016-02-16

I've seen folks use regular old drywall screws. You just have to be careful because they have a countersink head vs. a flat shoulder panhead. If you drive it too deep it will split the joint.

yes they are screws not nails, if you use d drywall screws or other screws you could use a small washer in stead of the Kreg flathead screws.

The Kreg pocket hole system is so good the extra price for the Kreg screws is worth it. I have seen some variety in pricing on ebay.

oldhess (author)Ralphxyz2016-06-06

I have used the self tapping Panhard screws with every project I've ever used my kreg jig on and found them to work great!

JackB64 (author)fixthisbuildthat2016-02-18

thank you for that tip .

oldhess (author)JackB642016-06-06

I use the pan head self drilling screws. you can find them at most hardware stores. They're cheap and work great. never had a problem.

meat_chris (author)JackB642016-02-25

If you want to use nails, try blunting the tips before you hammer them in. A blunt nail is less likely to split wood.

Here's a popular mechanics article about it, plus some other useful nailing tips.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a1666/4217164/

JackB64 (author)meat_chris2016-02-26

Just realised that they were screws and not nails thanks

salmansheikh (author)2016-02-26

Awesome project and the video is awesome, especially the last 45 seconds.

thanks, man! I had fun making that last part.

Jedi_zombie85 (author)2016-02-24

brilliant way to orginise everything, nice work

thanks!

Ralphxyz (author)2016-02-25

Oh great instructable. I am building my work shop and will be using this. Love the French cleats!!

Thanks!

DougM2 (author)2016-02-25

To eliminate a series of cuts, simply cut your cleats at 45 degrees from a wider board - no reason to have one side be at 90 degrees. Granted, both sides will have a miter - but you saved the effort. Simply cut them all then mount the resulting parallelogram on the wall and on the back of the item you want to hang.

Vanilmirth (author)2016-02-25

if you add oblong holes to the side of that hanging cabinet, you can easily take it down/put it up. very nicely done, i think i shall make one as well :D

Yonatan24 (author)2016-02-15

Awesome Instructable! I also like your clamp hangers

thanks!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-02-13

Great storage system. You should enter this in the Living without Closets contest.

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