Used frequently for kitchen and shop cabinets, a French cleat is an easy, yet strong way to hang large items on the wall.
Hanging With Cleats
This type of cleat consists of two parts, each with a 45-degree bevel cut along the length of an edge. It’s a snap to create on a table saw; simply rip a board near its center at 45 degrees. One half of the board will be attached to the wall, the other half either is used as the back rail of the project, or is attached to the back of the project.
If it isn’t used as the back rail, you’ll need to attach an offset board the same thickness as the cleat near the bottom of the project, as is the case with the headboards mentioned above.
Positioning the cleats is key, and confuses some people. For the cleat attached to the wall, position the narrow face of the cleat against the wall. The thin edge (point) of the bevel should be away from the wall and facing up. This creates a pocket for the beveled edge of the project cleat or back rail. For the project cleat or back rail, position the narrow face of the cleat against the back of the project with the thin edge of the bevel away from the back of the project and facing down. Think of the two cleats as puzzle pieces designed to fit together.
Attach the wall cleat to the wall using appropriate fasteners for your wall type and use a level to make sure the cleat is aligned properly. On a typical wall with drywall and wood framing, attach the cleat to the wall studs using wood screws. For example, on a cleat cut from a 1x board (3/4-inch thick) and 5/8-inch thick drywall, use a 3-inch wood screw. You can countersink the screws as well.
The project cleat or back rail needs to be securely attached to the project as well. We use a couple of methods on the projects above, but generally glue and screws.