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French Cleat Clamp Wall. FAIL! And why...

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Project by SawdustTX posted 01-06-2021 05:51 PM 1527 views 5 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Had over 200 clamps, stored in various places all over the shop, see the picture collage in the last picture.
Build this french cleat clamp wall, right over my assembly bench, big improvement in my work efficiency, and it’s a very effective use of space, with almost 100 clamps in a 3’ by 3’ square of wall space.

With very limited wall space, I hang the clamps “stacked” out from the wall, not individually along the wall. Added benefit, I can grab 4 clamps at a time in one hand, and just slide them off the hanger.
Cleats and hangers are all 3/4” plywood. Cleats only 2” wide but need to be at least 4” (more on this in the “FAIL” comment below.
Since everyone asks, the holes in the hangers are purely aesthetic, no functional purpose although I could claim some tiny weight savings.
Made nesting trays for spring clamps, it’s posted as it’s own project
Love how this works, wish I’d done it years ago, BUT, it all came crashing down…

FAIL!

Walked in one day to this mess:

I’d upgraded my 3’ Jorgensen lightweight clamps to the Bessey heavyweight F-Body clamps. About a week after hanging them, the plywood cleat delaminated, the clamps tumbled down taking my toolbox to the floor with them.

The hanger was fine.

Extensive discussion on one of the forums, here’s why it failed, not one single cause but a combination of:
1. My cleats at 2” were not wide enough, so my hangers could twist a little, putting a big load on the cleat bevel, instead of a perfectly vertical load. If my cleats had been 4” wide, the hanger would have stayed vertical and all the load would have been vertical, instead of trying to rip the plywood apart
2. This particular hange, with my longest and heaviest clamps on it, was right at the end of the cleat. So there was no material to the right of the load to help hold the plies together.
3. I’d sunk my flat-head screws too deep, through the first layer of ply

So going forward, I’m using solid wood for my cleats, and more importantly, I’m making the cleats at least 4” wide to keep all loads perfectly vertical without the outward twisting/pulling load. I have two very heavily loaded oak shelf units that have hung on 2” solid oak cleats for 20+ years no problem, so I’m confident this approach will work.





25 comments so far

View EllenWoodHead's profile

EllenWoodHead

154 posts in 388 days


#1 posted 01-06-2021 05:56 PM

Thank you, learning from other people’s mistakes is less painful :)

-- "wood" and "good" rhyme, but not "food"

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

8499 posts in 3277 days


#2 posted 01-06-2021 06:05 PM

Thanks. I see a lot greats ideas in your set up to use down the road.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile

woodbutcherbynight

7780 posts in 3421 days


#3 posted 01-06-2021 06:15 PM

+1 on the solid wood for cleats on a unit that size as well as making them wider and spreading more of the load. Something smaller not such a problem.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Peteybadboy's profile (online now)

Peteybadboy

3082 posts in 2961 days


#4 posted 01-06-2021 06:51 PM

Thanks for posting. I need to upgrade my clamp rack. Your plan plus wider solid cleats looks like it works!

-- Petey

View 987Ron's profile

987Ron

393 posts in 328 days


#5 posted 01-06-2021 07:18 PM

Like your ideas. I too need to reduce the clamp storage area. You inspired me to at least look at what could be done. Thanks for the push to do something.

-- It's not a mistake it's a design opportunity

View woodchuckerNJ's profile

woodchuckerNJ

1453 posts in 2646 days


#6 posted 01-06-2021 08:03 PM

There’s more to the failure. A wall behind it with strips on the bottom of the hanger helps with the load. The wall takes the twisting action off like a wider one, but also spreads the load to the wall itself.

I use white oak for my heavy loads. It has never let me down. On the other hand, I also have a clamp cart. way useful for moving to the glue up location and following me around big projects.

-- Jeff NJ

View JD77's profile

JD77

92 posts in 701 days


#7 posted 01-06-2021 08:57 PM

Great share. Another way to take the twist out is to make sure the back of the hanger contacts the cleat below rather than just the one it hangs on. It also reminds me that I need to make some clamp hangers,...and buy more clamps!
-JD

View SawdustTX's profile

SawdustTX

347 posts in 3336 days


#8 posted 01-06-2021 09:17 PM


There s more to the failure. A wall behind it with strips on the bottom of the hanger helps with the load. The wall takes the twisting action off like a wider one, but also spreads the load to the wall itself.
I use white oak for my heavy loads. It has never let me down. On the other hand, I also have a clamp cart. way useful for moving to the glue up location and following me around big projects.
- woodchuckerNJ

Hi Woodchucker (great name!) – my shelves I mentioned are on oak cleats, and even with skinny 2” wide cleats with no wall backing they have held very well with shelves loaded over 200 lbs. Strong hardwoods work very well, and that’s what I’ll be using going forward.

Adding a wall covering behind the cleats is an option, but much more material and work, and would likely not have prevented this failure. The twist was with the hanger on the cleat, not the cleat itself. With a wider 4” cleat the hanger would be prevented from twisting, eliminating the need for any cleat backing other than the studs.

The key is to keep the load vertical, down on the bevel of the cleat, versus the torquing moment and riding up that my hangers did on the skinny cleat, which resulted in the cleat ply being ripped apart. Here’s a pic of what it was doing. You can see the hanger is twisting, but not the cleat.

View SawdustTX's profile

SawdustTX

347 posts in 3336 days


#9 posted 01-06-2021 09:26 PM


Great share. Another way to take the twist out is to make sure the back of the hanger contacts the cleat below rather than just the one it hangs on. It also reminds me that I need to make some clamp hangers,...and buy more clamps!

That would work too, probably even better than my wider cleats and with less material. Only issue is it then limits where the hangers can be from row to row. I’ll look at it.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

4710 posts in 2234 days


#10 posted 01-06-2021 10:05 PM

Yep, things like this can unexpectedly happen. Your solutions sound good, the only thing you might add is to switch to pan-head (maybe even some washers) to hold the cleats to the wall. The counter sunk heads act like a wedge when under tension.

Glad you posted this! It’s not a failure in that something is learned and passed around.

View pottz's profile

pottz

14891 posts in 1996 days


#11 posted 01-06-2021 11:35 PM

live and learn they say so im glad to use others mistakes and avoid my own.this is top notch clamp storage.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View swirt's profile

swirt

6027 posts in 3984 days


#12 posted 01-07-2021 12:38 AM

Thanks for sharing the successes and the failure.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25937 posts in 4117 days


#13 posted 01-07-2021 01:07 AM

Wow..Nice work on the racks. You have more clamps than 3 Woodcraft stores!!

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

7242 posts in 1586 days


#14 posted 01-07-2021 10:37 AM

Headlock FastenMaster Star drive pan head screws. Usually found at Menards, Home Depot, and Lowes in the hardware section. Box of 50, 6”, runs around 40 bux, 4” are less but if you are going into 3/4” then 1/2” wallboard you have a 3 1/2” stud on edge, I would go for 5”, and get the max grab you can get.

I’ve been using these for a bit over 10 years, and have never seen a failure, indoors or out, in any application where I wanted a power hold.

You have a butt ton of weight hanging there, skinny screws won’t work, at least for long.

-- Think safe, be safe

View becikeja's profile

becikeja

1168 posts in 3825 days


#15 posted 01-07-2021 01:14 PM

Thanks for sharing, we can all learn from this.

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

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