[Maker’s Note] French Cleat Tool Wall

by Yun-Han Lin

First, a sneak peek of the video!

French Cleat

A French cleat consists of two wood pieces that each has one 45-degree edge. One piece is a strip secured to a wall with its beveled edge facing up, and the other is attached to the back of the item you’re hanging.

Pegboard v.s. French Cleat

Pegboards are more common in Taiwan as seen in product show rooms or Makerspaces, while in other countries, French cleats are the mainstream for Makers who share their woodworks on YouTube channels.

Pegboard:

Pros- Low price; easy to obtain; compatible to accessories of various kinds.

Cons- Wooden ones have poor support if they are secured to the wall using wooden sticks; metal ones require more work in customization and processing.

French Cleat:

Pros- Great weight support; compatible to customized accessories.

Cons- Not easy to find ready-made products, which means you can only build one by yourself

At first, there was a pegboard in our studio for storing tools, but soon we ran out of space. Extra tools ended up on the table or being stored somewhere else.

Accessories commonly seen with French cleat

Rack for electric drills and screwdrivers:

A must for French cleat, for its small size and position for grabbing the tools. The only shortcoming is that the spaces for different tools need to be customized.

Square ruler:

To fix a square ruler on a pegboard requires more than one fulcrum, and the ruler can tilt back and forth. With a French cleat, a few screws are enough, and both square rulers and angle squares can be fixed perfectly well.

Fixture rack:

There is a fixture rack for almost all woodwork studios. Although a fixture cart is also an option, a tool wall really is more than enough if there are not too many tools to be stored!

Saw rack:

Not as commonly seen as other storage racks, but it can come in handy when it comes to hanging large woodworking saws such as back saws.

Others: French cleat is also perfect for storing several other special objects, such as tape holders, sandpaper storage, drill holders, paint cans, etc.

Notes for DIY French Cleat

Although French cleats are all-purpose, there are certain things to be noted if you want to build one on your own:

1. The bottom support block: the bottom of your French cleat is usually for large tools, where we installed a fixture rack. Note that the back of the block should be nailed with wooden strips or blocks on the bottom edge, so that the block is fixed well with great support!

2. The width between each block should be at least the sum of width of the joining edges plus the thickness of the plywood to be used.

3. Clean up the extra glue: the glue sipping out from the block will make it hard for the pieces to fit in the 45-degree edge after the glue dries up, and the pieces sometimes even tilt a bit or even fall off from the dent.

4. The thickness of the plywood must be the same: should the thickness of the boards varies, the support deteriorates, and the pieces can shake or even fall out.

Details and functions for advanced work

1. Lead angle: the blocks fixed on the wall are wooden strips with an inward 45-degree lead angle, where the sawdust piles up easily, which will decrease the locking when the objects are hung. It is suggested that the tip of the surface beveled 45-degree be smoothed, so that the sawdust does not accumulate, while the support works just as fine.

2. Cleat to prevent objects from falling off: one problem with using a French cleat is that the blocks hold on to the objects using the weight of the object itself, which means the object can fall if it is being pushed upward even a bit. For this, there are some smart adjustments from the YouTube channel- Craftswright! (Video 1) (Video 2)

3. Tool wall & cart: French cleat features easy access and removal of the hung objects, and that makes us wonder if it is possible to build a cart with the same feature. Users, thus, can simply hang everything they need on the cart, instead of walking back and forth between the wall and the work station all the time!

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