Hanging Cabinets With French Cleat Wedge Brackets

Man and woman building a kitchen cabinet
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One quick and easy way to mount a DIY utility cabinet onto a wall is through the use of a classic type of wedge bracket called a French cleat. A French cleat system is essentially two long wooden cleats with lengthwise bevels cut at 30 to 45 degrees. With one cleat mounted on the back of the cabinet, the other anchored firmly to the wall, the beveled angles fit together to allow gravity to hold the cabinet securely in place against the wall.

A Simple French Cleat Hanging System for a Wall Cabinet

In our utility cabinet project, the French cleat is formed from a piece of 2 x 6 dimension lumber sized to match the length of the cabinet and then ripped in half on a table saw at a 45-degree angle. One-half of the bracket is mounted on the wall and the other in the rear of the cabinet. The bracket halves are attached so the point of the beveled angle faces upward on the wall portion, and downward on the cabinet portion. Gravity does all the work, as the weight of the cabinet forces the upper cabinet bracket downward as it hooks over the point of the wall bracket. A couple of screws driven through the lower back wall of the cabinet into wall studs will keep the bottom from tilting outward, thereby securing the entire cabinet against the unlikely possibility of being jarred loose.

This mounting system is simple and sturdy, but it does require some planning when building your cabinets. In our basic open utility cabinet project, there is a cover that conceals the French cleat. For a cabinet with doors that close, there may be no reason to cover the French cleat—it's a matter of style rather than function. However, for open, exposed cabinets, you should include some means of covering the exposed cleat in the rear of the cabinet.


When building less utilitarian, more decorative cabinets that won't carry as much weight, the French cleat could easily be a wedge bracket made from a 1 x 6. Because the back of the cabinet will need to support the weight of the cabinet, the back should be of the same stock (typically 3/4-inch plywood) used on the rest of the cabinet carcass. Insetting the cabinet back 3/4 inch in from the back edge of the cabinet sides will leave just the right amount of space for the wedge bracket to fit. Built this way, the edges of the cabinet sides will rest against the wall, and the small reduction of the inside dimension will barely be noticed.

Another Mounting Option

The other option for mounting cabinets—and the one normally used for stock factory cabinets—is to use heavy-duty deck screws driven through the back of the cabinet into wall studs. With factory cabinets, there is normally a 3/4-inch nailing strip along the rear of the cabinet near the top to facilitate anchoring the cabinet to wall studs. If you are building your own cabinet, you should make sure to build it with a 3/4-inch plywood back—not the common 1/4-inch plywood, which will not adequately support the cabinet.