French Cleat Tool Storage Wall and Clamp Rack

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Introduction: French Cleat Tool Storage Wall and Clamp Rack

I converted my crappy pegboard wall into a French cleat tool storage wall, complete with a French cleat clamp rack. This project took a little less than two days to complete, so it’s a perfect weekend project to reorganize and add storage to your workshop.

DON'T MISS THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR MORE DETAILS!!

Step 1: Gather Tools & Materials

Materials Used On French Cleat Tool Storage Wall (affiliate):

Tools Used On French Cleat Tool Storage Wall :

Step 2: Remove the Pegboard & Rip the French Cleats

My wall had pegboard installed when we moved into this house, so I first needed to remove it.

I cut the French cleat strips from 2' x 4' panels of ¾" plywood, which I had my local home center break down from a full 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. I first ripped the strips on my table saw to twice their final width, 5" in my case, with the blade at 90 degrees.

Once those strips were ripped, I tilted my table saw blade to 45 degrees and ripped the strips down the center, to form two French cleat strips. The final size of my cleats were roughly 2 ½" wide by 48" long.

Step 3: Attach French Cleats to Panels

I decided to create panels for my French cleats, so that if/when we move, I can more easily take them with me. This is the reason I cut my French cleat strips to 48" long. The panels are ½" plywood.

To attach the cleats to the panels, I first marked a line every 6 inches, starting from the top of the panel and ending about 18" from the bottom of the panel. I used 12 French cleat strips per panel.

After marking my lines, I lined up my French cleat strips with the lines, then used glue and 1" brad nails to attach the cleats to the panel. I used a drywall square to make sure my strips stayed square while I was attaching them.

Step 4: Attach Panels to the Wall

My shop walls are concrete block, and the previous owner had added these furring strips to the walls, made from 2x2s and attached with Tapcon concrete anchors. These furring strips allow panels like these to easily be attached to the walls and provide some spacing from the concrete to prevent too much moisture being introduced into the panels.

To attach the panels, I used 1 ⅛" Powerhead screws and used the Flushmount drill bit to make sure the heads of the screws were below the surface. These screws have a ton of holding power and look really clean once they're installed. I used about 12 screws per panel, adding them in each of the corners, along the edges, and throughout the center of the panels.

On one of my panels, I had to work around an electrical outlet. I marked the location of the outlet on the panel and cut out the section using a jigsaw. I did this after installing the French cleats, which I think resulted in a cleaner look.

The last panel needed to be trimmed to width to fit in place, which I did at the table saw, and this left me with a strip of French cleat off-cuts that proved extremely useful in the next step.

Step 5: Create Tool Holders

As I mentioned in the last step, the offcut strip from the last panel ended up being extremely useful for creating tool holders. For things like screwdrivers and chisels, I just drilled a series of holes in scrap pieces of plywood and then attached two of the French cleat offcuts.

As you'll notice, the extra strip of ½" plywood that is attached to the French cleat off-cut adds a lot of stability to the tool holders.

Step 6: The French Cleat Clamp Rack: Cut Pieces to Support the Clamps

For the French cleat clamp rack, I first cut a series of wedges using my crosscut sled on my table saw. These wedges will attach to the back panel of the clamp rack and will support the clamps.

Next, I cut the pieces which made up the support pieces of the clamp rack. These pieces attach to the top of the wedges and ensure the clamps are spaced correctly while adding more support.

Finally, I attached these two pieces, first using wood glue and 1" brad nails and then reinforcing them with 1 ¼" screws.

Step 7: The French Cleat Clamp Rack: Verify Spacing and Attach Clamp Supports to Back Panel

It is important that you get the spacing correct so that your clamps can slide on and off the rack easily while still being held in place. After verifying the spacing, I attached the support pieces to the back panel from behind, first using wood glue and brad nails.

I then reinforced the connection with 1 ¼" screws for the first two rows of screws and then moving on to 2 ½" screws for the second row of screws. The wedges aren't deep enough to use the 2 ½" screws for all four rows of screws.

Step 8: The French Cleat Clamp Rack: Attach French Cleat & Load It With Clamps

After attaching all of the clamp supports, I attached a strip of French cleat to the back of the clamp rack using glue, brad nails, and screws, making sure I ran the screws into the back of the wedges to add more holding power.

With the French cleat attached, all that was left was to load the rack with clamps! I built this rack for my Bessey Parallel Bar Clamps, but I built other racks for my aluminum bar clamps and f-style clamps using the same method. Having all of my clamps on individual racks makes them super modular and easy to rearrange on the wall.

Step 9: Keep Filling Out Your French Cleat Wall & Enjoy Your Newly Organized Space!

As you can see, I still have a lot of room left on my wall in these photos. I've since added the rest of the tools I wanted on the wall and now have the wall nice and filled out! It's extremely refreshing walking into an organized shop, it really helps to know where everything is and makes cleanup a breeze.

Also, if you don't have a workshop but need storage, you could adjust this system to fit your needs. I've seen French cleat walls in laundry rooms, living rooms, etc. They look really cool and are fairly cheap considering the amount of storage you can potentially add.

Hopefully you enjoyed this project! If you did, I'd love to have you as a subscriber on my YouTube channel, as well as a follower on my Instagram. Thanks for checking out this Instructable and, until next time, happy building!

- Johnny Brooke, Crafted Workshop

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4 Tips

Plywood is good in shear. The forces at play here are trying to delaminate the plywood. However either is strong enough, espcially if you glue it to the back. The risk would be a cleat splitting along its length -- more likely on the carrier, as it's a shorter cleat. Plywood would never split.

The edge grain of plywood is rough. No way you could slide the carriers. With 1x4s you could sand the edges and slide them.

One downside of cleats: They will collect cruft -- dust, dustbunnies...

Test: Nail a 2 foot cleat to a bare 2x4 wall. Make a wood box, and load with sand or rocks until it rips off the wall.

I've done this in my shop. I used 1/4" plywood mounted onto drywall but screwed into the studs (yeah, I'll need to patch several holes in the drywall when I take it down), and 1x4 pine ripped in half at a 45 deg. angle. It's MORE than strong enough to hold anything you're going to mount, including parts bins. Also, put you strips 8" - 10" apart, any closer and you're adding strips you just won't use.

From the look of the way you use them, you don't need a cleat bar every 6" None of the things you've made allow using the next row down. Probably get away with 1 every 12"

Cleats can be easily made from 1x4 or even 1x3. This is cheaper than plywood, and the edge is cleaner.

You have mounted the carrier cleat part way down. I don't think there is any advantage to this. Could just put the cleat on the top edge of the carrier.

In some cases you would have something who's end fell short of the next cleat. Putting a block of 3/4 scrap on the back of the carrier will keep in parallel to the cleat board.

Would look cool if you painted or stained the plywood before attaching the cleats.

excellent comment. do you think a piece of 1x4 pine as a rail holds up better than a strip of plywood? asking because I'm smack in the middle of this in my own garage and debating switching to pine. I'm cheap!

Questions

6 Comments

Good day! I am in love with this sort of organizing! My question to you is why did you space the cleats so far apart? 6” seems to be a lot and I think it could have given you much more space for organizing if they were closer together. So just curious to know..beautiful job!

Chuckle. I just asked why they were so close together. All his carriers span at least 2 cleats.

Love the look and the idea of making the panels removable. I'm just finishing my fourth and final shop (this one being a new construction) I've been using french cleats for years. Love them for the ease of rearranging, customization of holders and the look (over screwing straight to the wall. I still use pegboard but mostly as cover panels to hide wiring around my shop CPU or for displaying my collection (ever growing) or old tools. I've even built a few pegboard panels that hang on french cleats...

I've had this in my shop. Nice thing is you can rearrange things anytime you want. It really does work great and is sooo... much better than pegboard and wire hangers.

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