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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.
- 3/4" Plywood
- 3" Wood screws
- 1-1/4" Pocket Screws
- Cordless drill
- 4' level
Step 1: 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
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
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
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!
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.