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Making a French Cleat

French Cleat 2

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Have you been looking for a way to hang your wall shelf or clock? Ever wondered what a split cleat or french cleat is? Paul shares this traditional method that really works.

29 Comments

  1. davidk on 2 February 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for posting this Paul. I have used this system before with your bookcase I built. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I have seen it done with the recess for the screw on the portion that attaches to the bookshelf.

    Cheers, Dave

  2. António Samagaio on 2 February 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Once more….
    Thank You WWMC!!

  3. garyprott on 2 February 2015 at 7:03 pm

    I’ve made use of the French Cleat system several times. Thought I knew all about it. You proved me wrong again. Will be using that chiseled recessed from now on. Thanks for what you do.

  4. Gary on 2 February 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I too have used the system, but had never seen the chiseled recess. Another great, informative video.

  5. Mihai on 2 February 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Last summer I used some alluminium for this; After seeing this , I can say ‘what a simple bright idea’ .Thank you !

  6. dpaul on 2 February 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Sooo much nicer, and safer, than doing that on a table saw.

  7. johnfranssen on 2 February 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Hello Paul,

    I am a beginner woodworker and you have been an inspiration for me.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge about life and woodworking with us.

    Greetings from Belgium,

    John

  8. whitedog9 on 2 February 2015 at 10:42 pm

    I am preparing a hanging tool rack to be placed on the wall right behind my workbench. I have been playing around with different solutions to this. I had not even thought of the French Cleat. Not only am I now thinking of it but this is precisely what I am going to do. I love the chiseled niches to hold the screw in its own recess. I fully intend to do that as well.
    Greetings from the US
    Thanks Paul for all of your insight!

  9. popper587 on 2 February 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Another useful video. Always something to learn.

  10. steven bignell on 2 February 2015 at 11:33 pm

    Great video thank you Paul

  11. Charles Cleland on 3 February 2015 at 12:52 am

    I almost didn’t watch this video, thinking I understood French cleats pretty well, as I’ve used them several times. Then I thought to myself “I bet Paul has a twist on it that improves the concept” and I was right. The screw recess solves a problem that has prevented me from using this on a couple of projects, because the way I’d seen it before had it attached to the back of the thing to be hung, leaving a space behind the cabinet that had to be blocked out with a shim on the bottom of the cabinet. Thanks again Paul for a real insight that seems obvious once you see it, but that a lot of people don’t know about.

  12. sailforfun15 on 3 February 2015 at 2:38 am

    When I saw the small wall shelf show up in the email announcement for this video today it brought back very good memories. I have two of these hanging in my house. The first I made at the foundational woodworking class that Paul started in TX. My wife liked it so much that I made a second one. I have always been impressed with the design details. It seems simple at first, but there are lots of subtle details that add visual appeal and that don’t often appear on simple wall shelves. One thing I struggled with was how to hang these on the wall. I ended up simply using screw on picture hanging hooks. I had not heard of the French Cleat when I made these. After learning about French cleats in a cabinet making class I took, I thought they would be the perfect way to hang these shelves. And now here is a video showing Paul doing just that. Now I have to retrofit the ones I already have.

  13. Martin Chapman on 3 February 2015 at 9:12 am

    Paul,
    Thanks for a very informative video, like others I had not seen the screw recess before, much neater.

    As an aside, what is the make of countersink that you are using?

    Thanks for all the videos and information you have provided, you are an inspiration to my woodworking.

  14. Lespaul on 3 February 2015 at 10:37 am

    Without a doubt you have to be the most informative person i have ever had the luck to have found concerning woodworking. You sir are a genuine legend. Keep up the goodwork.

    Gareth

  15. kpinvt on 3 February 2015 at 10:41 am

    Another great video, thank you. Would a touch of beeswax or tallow to the screw threads make it a little easier to put the screws in? I keep a chunk of beeswax in my screw bag which I rub onto the screw threads of longer screws before using a power driver to run screws into something.

  16. Kirk Zabolio on 3 February 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks Paul, your version of the French/split cleat is great. I love the little wall shelf. Do you have master class on it? If not I hope you will in the future.
    Kirk

  17. STEVE MASSIE on 4 February 2015 at 8:58 pm

    I love and use the French Cleat system, but have have seen the chisled out area for the screws. I will be using this now, thanks for showing this method.

    Steve

  18. robertparsons81 on 4 February 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Great paul i injoyed watching it a little different to when i last did one. thanks again p s keep up the good work .

  19. ballinger on 4 February 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Actually saw one of these on a photo/frame that my wife and I ordered from our wedding shots. Never knew what it was called though or how to make them. Thanks Paul and team!

  20. thephilipc on 5 February 2015 at 12:29 pm

    If the shelves were bigger would you need to secure the cleat to the sides as well? Isn’t it only the glue joint between the top and the rest of the shelf unit holding that and the items you put on it to the wall?

    Thanks
    Phil

  21. HM Magnusson on 7 February 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I think that the Youtube Paul Seller video collection is definitely one of, if not “the” best woodworking instructional video collection freely available today and I want to thank you for the huge amount of time and effort that has gone into the making of these videos.

  22. hayes on 7 February 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Thanks Paul, another great video. Quick question…any concerns that the weight of the book shelf plus it’s contents would strain the top housing dado and cause it to fail?

    • Paul SellersTeam Member on 9 February 2015 at 3:15 pm

      It’s a good question, @hayes. With the statement most glue manufacturers make the the glue is stronger than the wood, then there is generally no problem. That said, endgrain gluing is not as good as long grain to long grain. Different factors do influence our choices and in this case I believe the method is fine, even if filled with books. I have longer book shelves with twice as many shelves but the same width and that has worked fine for years now too. Now then, on multiple shelves you could add a second French cleat to the underside of an adjacent shelf so that it comes beneath the housing dadoes into the sides and this would resolve any and all concerns. As this is indeed a retrofit to an existing shelving unit, working on a new unit design you would generally factor in something like the french cleat so that a wider cleat might facilitate stub tenons into the sides as well as the long grain gluing to the top.

      • davedev on 13 February 2015 at 11:08 am

        You are right Paul, but only if the top joint is a piston fit. I would NOT rely on the accuracy of the joint I have made (and I suspect many of your other followers) and would make this with a longer lower part to the French cleat and cut a recess into the verticals so the weight is taken on the vertical members.

      • veaceslav chicu on 27 November 2015 at 10:24 am

        I don’t like very much the screws. I think join to the sides could be stronger and simpler. Even if glue is strong enough, I fill better if load is distributed on the sides and join is mechanical. But if you already have the book shelf probably this is one of the solutions. You could drill the hole and countersink deeper or just use dowels.

  23. Sandy on 13 February 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I used one of these to hang my wall clock last year. It works pretty nice and keeps the clock against the wall better than anything I’ve tried.

  24. robertparsons81 on 7 May 2015 at 7:39 pm

    the three tire shelf used in the show I have looked at it many times as I see it looks any interesting project I am un able to work out how the top under strut and middle shelf under strut have been done,I would like to say that I am in joying my woodworking thanks to Paul and the team some great shows.

  25. Sebastian Muratore on 18 January 2017 at 4:44 am

    Hi Paul,
    We call them split battens in Australia. Yours are much more refined with the recessed screws. Thank you for your hard work.

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