French Cleat Lumber Rack

Introduction

Something I have been lacking for a long time is my shop is lumber storage. Being that my space is very limited I opted to come up with a configurable storage solution that can be redesigned based on my needs. When contemplating my options, I learned about a method of hanging shop organizers using the french cleat method. This lead me to come up with this project and implement it in my workshop. It's a completely customizable lumber rack and can be reconfigured to meet anyone's needs. This solution is remarkably strong for what it is made out of and has proven very useful in my battle for shop organization and has improved my workflow.

The Build

The first thing I tackled was cutting all the strips that made up the French cleat wall. I went to my local home store and picked up some dimensional 1 x 3’s and cut them down the center using my table saw. The accuracy of the 45-degree angle doesn’t matter too much but the closer the better. If your off by more than a degree or two I would suggest re-cutting the strips. A great tool to have in your shop for setting your table saw blade to various angles is a digital angle gauge. The tool brand Wixey makes a good quality and relatively inexpensive one. I would avoid harbor freight knock offs because they tend to not be very reliable.

After cutting several strips, more than I needed, I moved on to cutting the blanks for the French cleat brackets. These brackets are what the lumber will sit on when the project is assembled and in use. They are again made from dimensional lumber but this time I am using kiln dried 1 x 8’s. It’s crucial that you purchase kiln dried dimensional lumber because it is immensely more stable than green lumber and less likely to drastically move as it acclimates to your workshop environment. 

With the blanks made I decided to make a template I could use to trace the shape of the brackets onto each blank. This greatly increased the speed at which I finished this project and ensured the uniformity of each bracket. I used a ¼” piece of medium density fiberboard to make the template and used my band saw to cut it out. With the shape roughed out I then refine it using my oscillating spindle sander.

With the template shape finished I went to work tracing it onto each blank. I simply used a pencil to accomplished this task. When I finished tracing I moved back to the band saw and started roughing out each bracket. This took a long time and was very repetitive. I wish there was an easier way to knock this portion of the project out but unfortunately there isn’t. I cleaned up all the edges using my spindle sander after I was finished cutting everything out.

Just for ascetics I put a ¼” round-over profile on the edges of each bracket using my router table. Feel free to skip this part if you’re not interested in how the brackets look.

With all the woodworking finished it was time to put up the angled strips that I cut earlier. I use a level and interior construction screws to attach the strips to my wall. I screwed at least two screws, per hanger, directly into studs. To get even spacing I use some scrap cutoffs I had laying around and placed them temporarily between each strip until I had it secured. I placed each strip 8” apart to provide plenty of room for stacking lumber.

Conclusion

I have had some time since I built this lumber rack to contemplate changes or improvements that I could make to improve this project.  First off, make everything out of plywood! Several subscribers voiced opinions questioning my use of end grain in this project. There is no end grain, per say, when using plywood so I would suggest using that to solve this problem. Secondly, plywood has little to no movement and dimensional lumber, even kiln dried, will move on you. Several of the brackets I made had a mild cupping issue after several months of sitting on my shop wall. You won’t have this issue either when using plywood.

I didn't have any design failures while using this lumber rack and found that, although flawed, it performed well. I hope that you found this article useful and if you have any questions please feel free to email me. You can also write me a note in the comments here or on my YouTube channel. Thanks for reading and I invite you to like, comment, or subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

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Project Plans

French Cleat Lumber Rack
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