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I want to use a french cleat to hang some basic open cabinets in my garage. I've seen recommendations anywhere from 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick, but nobody seems to be talking about weight.

Is there a guideline for how thick the french cleat should be based on weight requirements?

  • I assume you mean "wide" instead of "thick". – Dennis Williamson Dec 3 '10 at 23:06
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    Dennis: Actually, I did mean thick. I'll make them the entire width of the cabinets, and I'm looking for how thick they should be. – TelegramSam Dec 8 '10 at 23:49
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I don't believe the thickness of the cleat is as critical as the type of wall anchor being used. The cleat holds the cabinet in place, but it's the anchors which are really bearing the weight. I would make my decision based on the type of wall material holding the cabinet and use an anchor rated for the expected weight of the cabinet for that particular wall material. If you have a regular drywall and wooden stud construction, I would probably use the screws used to hang kitchen cabinets as they are designed to carry a pretty heavy load. You could have a 1.5 inch cleat with an inadequate anchor and the cabinets will pull it right out of the wall.

  • Good point - I was assuming proper use of anchors. It seems easier to find anchor ratings then cleat ratings however. :) – TelegramSam Dec 8 '10 at 23:47
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I used left over 1x3's from an earlier project to create my French cleats. Instead of cutting them in half at a 45 degree angle, I cut the angle on one edge. This gave me a little less than 2 inches of square wood to use to anchor to the wall. I used 2 1/2" wood screws (two per stud) that I also had laying around to anchor them into my studs.

I have not built any cabinets yet, but I did make a bookshelf. It's currently holding about 20 large text books like it was nothing. I think this setup suits me well and plan on filling the blank walls in my garage with the same French cleats.

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Food for thought:

  1. If you're dead set on implementing a French cleat, make sure you have a spacer the same thickness attached to the bottom of your cabinets too! It's crazy to see some people go through all the trouble of using the French cleat system and yet not use a spacer at the bottom of the their picture, mirror, cabinet, etc.
  2. If your cabinet is going to be holding lots of weight, definitely go with a hard wood versus soft wood... but that's just my opinion and probably just more for peace of mind (again, IF you plan on tons of weight).
  3. Believe it or not, you could always just instal a plain old cleat inside the cabinets running the entire length of all cabinets combined. This is how a lot of hardwood cabinets are installed (oak, hickory, etc.). The plus of this method is that the back of the cabinets will be flush to wall versus how they will end up using a French cleat.

Good luck!

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