French cleat dimensions?

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Forum topic by williamhdixon posted 07-02-2018 09:40 PM 4361 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 650 days

07-02-2018 09:40 PM

I know I’m about to open a can of worms, but here goes.

I’m thinking about adding some french cleats on one wall of my shop. (Actually, the way I’m shoe horned into my garage, I only have one wall. Actually, only part of one wall. ) I’ve looked at lots of french cleat examples online, but they aren’t consistent with their sizes.

I’m planning on going 3/4”, either plywood or 1-by material. But I’m stumped when it comes to figuring out width and spacing. Once I start nailing stuff to the wall, I don’t want to change my mind later, or find that I made a big mistake in my choices.

Does anyone have recommendations on: (1) how wide the part mounted on the wall should be; (2) how wide the part mounted on the shelf, etc should be; and (3) what is the best vertical spacing between the cleats?

Thanks in advance.

10 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


12843 posts in 2800 days

#1 posted 07-02-2018 09:53 PM

I doubt any of it really matters unless you make them so small the screw holes weaken them, which is unlikely since a man’s tendency is to overbuild. I would probably make the total width of both halves about 3ish inches depending on what I was going to hang on them. If they are just tool holders, I would use 1/4 – 1/2” ply. If cabinets, 3/4” and make sure the screws go into studs. I don’t like them for tools holders though. I just make the tool holder and screw or brad nail it to the tool wall.

-- Rick M,

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John Smith

1885 posts in 583 days

#2 posted 07-02-2018 10:08 PM

concrete block wall or stud & drywall ??

for attaching things to a framed wall, I use screws – not nails (in case I want to move it someday).
what is the estimated weight the cleats will be holding ? that would be my determining factor.



-- I am a painter. That's what I do. I paint things --

View williamhdixon's profile


15 posts in 650 days

#3 posted 07-03-2018 01:02 AM

John, nothing heavy. I just want a place to store some of the assorted cr*p that keeps getting in the way. Hmm, after wording it that way, I guess it doesn’t really matter after all.

View Lazyman's profile


3554 posts in 1808 days

#4 posted 07-03-2018 03:00 AM

I would use 3/4” x 2-3” wide screwed to studs. That way you’ll never have to worry about it not being strong enough. Just realize that a FC system, while very flexible, can be a pretty inefficient use of material. It might be just as easy to simply screw your hangers directly to the wall. I used FCs to organize a bunch of junk on the wall just like you are doing and almost never move anything around. I think that I put 3 cleats about 12” apart and after getting everything on the wall, I realized that even though the wall is full, I probably only used about 10-20% of the cleats. Because of the relatively large size of the things I hung there, one of the cleats has only one thing hanging on it so keep that in mind if you have more than one cleat when planning the spacing.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View clin's profile


1039 posts in 1416 days

#5 posted 07-03-2018 03:34 AM

I covered most of my shop with French cleats. I used 3/4” pre-finished birch plywood. Pretty much what you can get at a big box store. I ripped ~6” wide strips then ripped each of these in half with the blade tilted. So each was about 3” wide (more than that on the wide side, narrower on the other side.

I chose this size because it made efficient use of the plywood sheet and the final cleat was wide enough to put two screws in at each stud location. I do use mine for hanging my wall cabinets and they are plenty strong.

I spaced them about 8” apart. Though I varied this as needed based on location of electrical sockets. The only reason to put the cleats closer together is how fine a choice of height do you want. Maybe a bit of thought on the number of cleats from above a work surface to the bottom of a wall cabinet.

On the wall cabinets I used the same size cleats. My cabinets have full backs 3/4” thick, so I just used a bunch of short screws in the cleats on the cabinets. Else you’d attach to the top bailer of a typical cabinet.

For smaller things the cleats are perhaps just 1” wide. For the most part, whatever size and number of screws you would use to attach something to a wall is what you need for your hanging cleat.

I like the flexibility of the system. But it is just one of many ways to hang stuff on a wall. Another system I’d consider is covering the walls in 3/4” plywood and then you can just screw most anything anywhere.

-- Clin

View Dubbs's profile


35 posts in 262 days

#6 posted 02-01-2019 03:46 PM

I’m trying a French cleat system for the first tie as well… I’ve ripped my 3/4in stock to 5 inches but having trouble figuring out how to cut them in half with a 45 degree angle on my table saw? Did one at 2 1/2 inches and it came out completely wrong. Anyone know? I’m new to this …

-- —— Bruce Hicks ——-

View Rich's profile


4565 posts in 1010 days

#7 posted 02-01-2019 04:21 PM

You have to account for the thickness of the material. With 3/4” stock, to rip it down the middle at 45º, you need to cut it at 2-1/8” or 2-7/8”, depending on the blade tilt relative to the fence. The idea is that the center of the thickness of the board will be 2-1/2” and the other two faces of each will be one half of 3/4”, or 3/8”, different. I hope that makes sense.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

View Lazyman's profile


3554 posts in 1808 days

#8 posted 02-01-2019 05:24 PM

Just mark where you want the blade to exit the cut on the top and and set the fence accordingly.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View MrRon's profile


5571 posts in 3664 days

#9 posted 02-01-2019 05:59 PM

It wasn’t mentioned, but when using a french cleat (FC) system for cabinets, you must use a strip at the bottom of the cabinet, the same thickness as the cleat. Some use 2 FC’s on cabinets, that is wrong. Only one FC should be used and at the top. The angle to cut the cleat is usually 45°, but most any angle will work. The cleat must be tightly attached to the wall or it may fail if the cabinet is heavy. One must consider the wall the FC is to be attached to, as walls are seldom flat due to the drywall joints. A very uneven wall flatness may not allow a cabinet to sit properly on the cleats. Items using FC’s can be secured with nails or screws, or they can be allowed to “float” for easy removal. Tool holders are left loose for removal (portability). I have used FC’s in my shop and in the house.

One very useful application is for a magazine rack. I place a long FC on the wall and magazine boxes hung from it. That way, I can remove a box of magazines organized by date and they can easily be rearranged as needed.

View Dubbs's profile


35 posts in 262 days

#10 posted 02-06-2019 01:08 PM

Thanks for the answers everyone. Came out ok.

-- —— Bruce Hicks ——-

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