French Cleat Storage System: It’s the Bomb!

french cleat storage system

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.

drill press

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.

cutting cleats

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.

recutting the pieces

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

making a bevel cut

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.

gluing and stapling cleats

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.

using a spacer to space cleats

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.

leveling the cleat system

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.

gluing and stapling a shelf

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.

bottom of a shelf

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

gluing the cleat

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.

hanging a cleat

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.

cleat storage system

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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4 Responses to “French Cleat Storage System: It’s the Bomb!”

  1. Carl Piatt

    I’stripping 1 wall to cover it with plywood. Gotta start somewhere. I watched a lot of videos on how to get this done right.Will let everyone know the outcome.


    Thanks for the data, I'm going to alter a pegboard plan from Simpson Strong Tie for my new fixed workbench. I will follow up...

  3. BILL

    drill storage on a French cleat wall

  4. spanthegulf

    This is a cool system that I'm planning to incorporate as I'm putting together my new shop. I'm a total newbie to woodworking, but understand the value of organizing from the gate! My question is why do you recommend cutting all of the cleats to length and width individually, then doing the bevel? Could I save a step by cutting the cleats twice as wide then doing only one angle cut, effectively producing two mirror image cleats? Or am I missing something that makes cutting them separately preferable? Thanks for guiding me along!