French Cleated Shelves




French Cleated Shelves

I should start by saying, we live in a cozy sized home and storage is a premium. My wife and I have wanted to build some shelves to keep all of our family games on – so that we can reclaim the space for a pantry. I have always liked the idea of French Cleats as it allows me an amount of versatility. What I especially like is I can add and take shelves away as needed.

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Step 1: Cut to Size

I started by cutting down some pre-primed pine I bought at Home Depot. I chose both 6 and 8-inch 3/4 stock. The pictures only shows me making some 8-inch boxes, but the steps apply to any size you wish to make. I made 12 x 12 and 18 x 24 inch boxes that you’ll see here. The cleats are made out of some 4-inch pine as well as the bottom rail spacer.

The cuts were:

8-inch pine

2 @ 12"

2 @ 10.5"

2 @ 18"

2 @ 22.5"

Cleat and Spacer

1 each @ 12"

1 each @ 18'

Step 2: Cleats

Make the cleats by setting your table saw to 45 degrees and ripping the 4" stock in half.

Step 3: Sanding

I sanded all the pieces a bit to knock down some of the primer and other imperfections.

Step 4: Assemble

I then glued and pinned the pieces together using some 18 gauge brads. The whole point of the cleat system is to have two lengths cut at 45-degree angles to lock the shelf into place against the wall. The small piece at the bottom of the box is a spacer for keeping it flat against the wall.

Step 5: Sanding the Joints

I then sanded the boxes down again, smoothing out the joints. Not shown in the tutorial is I filled the nail holes, sanded again and then painted the boxes and the cleats. I used three different colors of paint, which matched the palette of our living room.

Step 6: Mount the Cleats

I found the wall studs with a stud finder and pre drilled my cleats. I used 3-inch screws for mounting the cleats and leveled them as I went.

Step 7: Add the Boxes

I then placed the shelves as desired onto the cleat. My intention is to keep the shelves spaced apart, but the cleated system allows for you to place all the boxes/shelves side by side so that you get a shelf and then additional storage below inside the box.

*** Not shown is, I made a 36 x 18 and a 24 x 24 inch box for another part of the house. I also made a cleat to go across the middle of the 24 x 24 inch box to hang a 12 x 12 box inside of it – for kind of a shadow box effect.

Step 8: Enjoy

Thanks for checking out my Instructable!

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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    These look great! I love the photos of these looking very finished in a non-workshop space.


    2 years ago

    The pictures give some idea as to the weight these will handle. The boxes hung are heavy in themselves and paper ends up weighing a lot. It amazes me how strong these things are. How deep do you suppose a shelf could still be practical?


    3 years ago

    Haha, did you watch tabletop too? Because that also made me buy Zombie Dice, Tsuro and Forbidden Island.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yes, I have to admit I am a big fan of Table Top. Most (if not all) the games I have bought recently, have come from watching the series.

    Uncle Kudzu

    3 years ago

    Beautiful! Seems very practical, too.


    3 years ago

    This is so cool! I love French Cleats! They are really strong and quite simple!

    1 reply