29 comments on “Making a French Cleat

  1. 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. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  9. 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.

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