How to Make a French Cleat for Hanging Heavy Items
A viewer wants to hang up a heavy wall sculpture and is thinking about using a French cleat but isn't sure what it is.
Kevin's simple diagram shows two pieces with one end of each cut at the same angle. One piece is screwed into the wall, while the other is screwed into the sculpture, or whatever you are hanging. When they are together, with the two angles facing each other, gravity holds the sculpture in and down securely.
Kevin next shows how to fabricate a French cleat from aluminum. He uses a cool little fabrication tip by lining up the first piece of metal against a jig, squaring it on his level workbench. He clamps the metal to the jig before flipping it over, knowing the piece of aluminum he is using is straight and square.
Next he tack welds the second piece of aluminum to the larger piece that is clamped to the jig. Then he uses another jig - one of many pieces of metal he has around the studio to use as jigs - to allow him to add the third piece of metal to the two others, tacking them into place.
The last piece of the wedge itself Kevin holds in place and tacks to the others.
The next step is tacking the back side of the angled piece of metal, cutting end caps to fit, and tacking them on. Then you weld everything together.
Next you drill two holes through the parallel sides of the aluminum. You can also drill the two holes oversized, then fit and weld pipe into the holes on both sides. Using the pipe lets you screw down on the pipe instead of the hollow French cleat itself, providing extra strength for when you tighten the screws.
The next step is to make a second section like the first that will be screwed onto the sculpture or whatever heavy item you are hanging.
Or - here's a great tip! - just make your French cleat twice as long as you need and cut it in two. That gives you 2 pieces you know will match up perfectly.
You can also simply make the French cleats from wood, using a 2 x 4 or other piece of solid wood using a bandsaw or tablesaw.
Kevin is ready to get back to work, but you might want to stick around for another moment to hear him go off on a surprising tangent ....
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