French Cleat Storage System: It’s the Bomb!

Looking for a great way to add versatile storage to your shop? Try using a french cleat storage system. They’re easy to make, you can change your mind as much as you want after they’re installed, and you can easily take stuff from storage to bench and back to storage.


The wall behind my drill press is way too empty! What a great place for drill bits and other boring accessories. Instead of mounting the French cleats to the wall, I decided to put them on a sheet of plywood, and then mount the plywood to the wall. But if mounting the cleats directly to the wall works in your shop, go ahead and do it that way.


Use 3/4″ BC plywood, available at home centers, for the cleats. Rip them to 1-7/8” wide. It’s very convenient, and a HUGE time saving, if the plywood is already cut to the finished length of your cleats. That way you don’t have to cut each cleat to length individually. Cut enough cleats for the wall, and enough for the boxes, shelves and other hangers you’ll be putting on to the system.


After you’ve ripped the cleats to width, set the saw blade to 45-degrees, and recut each piece.


Set the rip fence carefully for the bevel cut. You should be leaving a perfect knife edge on the French cleat, without reducing its width.


If you’re fastening the cleats to a plywood backer use a 1-1/8” spacer to locate the top cleat. Glue and staple the cleat in place.


Use a 2” wide spacer to locate the remaining cleats. It’s very handy to make the spacer from material that’s thicker than the cleats. If you use material that’s the same thickness the bevel cut tends to ride up the spacer, and you’ll lose accuracy.


Level the cleat system and fasten it to the wall.


Build Accessories

Here are a few simple ideas for ways you can take advantage of your French cleat system. Use your imagination, and you’ll have a wall full of clever storage ideas in no time.

Shelves are simple. Glue and staple a piece of plywood to the top edge of a cleat. 1/2″ plywood works fine for shelves and storage boxes. Add a brace to prevent the shelf from sagging. For shelves I typically make the shelf and the cleat the same length.


The shelf brace needs to be wide enough to span partially across the cleat you’ll be hanging the shelf on.


On storage boxes, simply glue and staple a cleat or two to the back of the box. No need for the cleat and box to be the same length. For this 28” long box I used two 4” long cleats; one on each end.


There are lots of cool aspects to using this system. One is that you can lift things off the French cleats on the wall, use the item at your bench (or wherever) and then return it to hang on the cleat when you’re done. You can also hang your items up, see if that’s how you really want them, change your mind, and move them around. Easy peezy.


Enjoy getting organized! You’re going to fall in love with this system, and find many places in your shop you can use it.

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