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French Cleat Tool Holder Building Tips

Once you build a French Cleat tool wall, you need to start adding tools. Most tool holders take less than 
20 minutes to build. Have fun and don’t be afraid to toss your failures and try again. Here are tips to help you build your wall and make custom holders for your tools and gear.

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french cleat tool wall trim head screwsFamily Handyman

Fasten with trim-head screws

Use 1-1/4-in. screws for 3/4-in. to 3/4-in. joinery. Use 2-in. screws for edge joints. Plus: Learn how to build the cleat wall for mounting all of these nifty tool holders.

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french cleat tool wall test wallFamily Handyman

Build a test wall

Mount three cleats on a half sheet of plywood to mock up a test wall. Use it to test and assemble your shelves, bins, hangers and more.

Learn some tips on how to drive screws properly right here.

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The plywood is optional

If your garage or shop wall has exposed studs, you'll find the plywood in our plan ideal for finishing the wall. But you could also screw the wall cleats right through existing plywood or drywall or even directly to the studs.

Get the best plywood for your buck with these 16 tips.

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french cleat tool wall tool holdersFamily Handyman

Plan your tool holders

Lay out the tools or other items to help you decide what type and size holder will work the best.

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french cleat tool wall small shelvesFamily Handyman

Small shelf supports

Small Shelves can get by with minimal support. They'll only need vertical supports that cover one wall cleat.

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french cleat tool wall medium size shelvesFamily Handyman

Medium-size shelves

Medium-Size shelves, depending on their design and the weight of their contents, may need to span more than one cleat.

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french cleat tool wall large supportFamily Handyman

Heavy units

Support Large, heavy units with double cleats. Screw the top cleat to the tool holder, then hang it on the wall with the bottom cleat already nested in the wall cleat. That way you can screw the tool holder to the bottom cleat from the front in exactly the right position.

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Take advantage of the hardware aisle

Stroll through the hardware section at your favorite home center. Choose hooks, racks and shelf brackets and build components to suit them.

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outletShutterstock/Rhonda Roth

Plan for outlets

If you have existing outlets near the floor, you can tap into those outlets to feed new outlets in the slat wall itself. These new outlets can be at workbench level to feed battery chargers or up high to power lights.

You can cut holes in the drywall and feed cable up to those locations. You don’t need to patch those holes because they will be covered by the slat wall. Leave the cables coiled behind the plywood and note their locations. Then you can cut outlet holes in the plywood and insert “remodeling” junction boxes.

Learn more about replacing electrical outlets here.