Introduction to French Cleat Tool Storage

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This is an Introduction to French Cleat Tool Storage. In this post, I’ll show you why setting up a French cleat storage system for your tools in your shop can be a modular and flexible storage system that can easily adapt to your needs as they change. Enjoy.

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French Cleat Tool Storage

Introduction-to-French-Cleat-Tool-StorageIn order to understand French cleat storage, you first need to understand what a French cleat is to begin with. This is a system for hanging things on your wall, and it’s based off of two pieces of wood that interlock.

In reality, it doesn’t even have to be wood. There are plenty of metal bracket French cleat systems that are sold online, and these are pretty easy to use as well.

Basically, it’s two pieces that lock together with gravity, and the harder you pull downwards, the tighter it brings the piece to the wall. You could also slide pieces around with this type of system, because it’s based off of rails.

See Also: How to Make a French Cleat the Easy Way

How it Works in Your Shop

To make this work in your shop, you first need to install a set of horizontal rails along the wall that you want to dedicate to your French cleat storage area. You can put these every foot of wall height, or perhaps every 2 feet depending on how big your storage containers are.

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Essentially you’re lining the wall with the bottom half of the cleat, so that way you can just hang boxes, bins, and cabinets with the other side of the cleat. You can also put them anywhere you want on the rail system, and that let you order your shop any way you like.

If you are doing a lot of smaller bins, then you’ll want to place your horizontal cleats closer together. However, if you’re doing larger bins or even small cabinets, you can place them farther apart and still get the modular properties.

See Also: 29 Ways to Maximize Your Woodworking Shop Layout

Average Cost of Installation

The cost of installing a French cleat system is really based on how big it is, and whether you buy the material or make it yourself. Since you are likely a woodworker, I definitely recommend that you make the system yourself.

And inexpensive way to do this is to start with common lumber that is big enough to put a 45 degree bevel on one of the edges, with still enough meat left to be anchored tightly to the wall studs.

Typically a one by two or a one by three is enough. If you buy these at your local home-improvement store, they may only be a couple dollars a piece. So, it should be pretty easy for you to look at your wall, and do the math on how much it’s going to cost.

The only other thing that you’ll need is a few more sticks of the same type of wood so that way you can make corresponding cleats for the back of your bins and cabinets that are going to hang from the system.

These don’t have to be nearly as large, and they are tacked to the back side of the different items that you hang from the wall.

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See Also: 15 Helpful Woodworking Bench Design Tips

Advantages to Using the French Cleat System

The biggest advantage to using this cleat system over permanently installing stuff on your walls is that it’s fully modular. You can move stuff around whenever you need to change the layout on the wall. That’s super helpful.

Even though right now you may think that you don’t plan on moving things around, once you’re stuck with a certain layout and conditions change, you might wish that you would gone with something that has a little bit more flexibility.

Another advantage to using French cleats is that they are very strong. Wall anchors and mollies are not very strong when compared to the system. Though I don’t recommend it, adults can pretty much hang from any one of these cleats as long as they are anchored to studs and secured into the items being hung from the wall.

That’s a ton of weight, and even though it’s completely unnecessary, it’s nice to know that your tools and other items that you’re storing are not going to fall off your wall in the middle of the night. That could be terrifying, and cause all kinds of other problems.

See Also: 9 Great Tips for Storing Wood Clamps

If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books

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French Cleat Storage Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most from storing your tools using French cleats, and it can help you make the best system possible.

  • If you plan on doing the system, plan on doing it all the way. Don’t just install two rails on the wall and then hang some bins from it. At that point, there’s not a lot of flexibility and you might as well have just screwed your bins straight to the wall.
  • Making the system yourself will definitely cost a lot less than buying it. Since the only part that is seen are the rails you screw to the studs on the wall, you don’t even really have to worry about buying the best looking wood. You can even stain it if you like.
  • Cut the 45 degree bevel on all of your pieces of wood first, that way you don’t have to do it afterward once you cut it up into a bunch of little pieces. It’s just easier that way, and you can use your miter saw to trim pieces to length for your different bins and cabinets.
  • Anchor your rails deep into the studs because you may end up hanging a lot of weight from them, and they need to hold.
  • Attach cleats to your boxes and bins securely, using both glue and screws for extra support and security.

See Also: How to be a Modern Renaissance Woodworker

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know all about the French cleat tool storage system, and how you can add a lot of flexibility and also a lot of storage potential to your shop, it’s time to get out there and take action.

If you have a lot of bins and boxes hanging around in your shop, and you have been thinking about creating a better storage system, this one can definitely be a good answer.

Do a little planning, and figure out exactly where you want to put it. Buy the wood yourself, and make the system yourself. After you get it put up, and you finally organize your shop, you’ll be super happy that you did.

If you have any questions about storing your tools in your shop using French cleats, please post a question and I’ll be happy to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
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  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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