Are There Any French Cleat Alternatives? Here’s The Truth!

Toolroom storage has confounded DIY enthusiasts through the years. The tools need to be stored in a secure system that protects the device and safely holds it until needed. In addition, the tools need to be readily available and easily removed or replaced as required.

The alternative solutions to French cleats are Pegboards and Slatwalls. French cleats have advantages over both systems because they are more flexible, easily made, and can hold much heavier objects than pegboards or slat walls. You can use French cleats to store large-sized tools.

The French Cleat system offers the best of both worlds; not only can it hold outsize, heavy tools, but they can be easily removed as required. Placing them back on the French Cleat is simply a matter of hooking one Cleat over the other.

What Are French Cleats?

First used in the 1800s by French shipbuilders to hang fitting on the side of the ships, French cleats are robust systems used to attach things to walls. They are often used as a storage system for tools, and it is in this context we will discuss alternatives to French cleats.

Are There Any French Cleat Alternatives? Here's The Truth!

French cleats consist of two strips of wood, longitudinally separated with a 45-degree angled bevel.

One piece is fastened, beveled edge facing up to the wall with the short side facing the wall. The other panel of the French Cleat is attached to whatever item is to be held against the wall, using its beveled edge facing down and the short side facing the article to be hung.

Attaching the item to the wall, hook the French Cleat holding the thing to the side of the French Cleat attached to the wall.

French cleats are the premier tool storage mechanism. They have the following advantages.

French Cleats Can Store Very Heavy Items

French Cleats can hold heavy weights because the design spreads the pressure against the wall, which is opposed to the object’s weight being hung to create full strength.

French Cleats Can Store Outsize Tools

Because the French cleat system involves two parts, the side that connects to the tool can be made uniquely for the tool’s dimensions to be stored.

French Cleats Are Very Flexible

If you need more space on the French Cleat system, you only need to add the additional area you require, not a complete system. French cleats can also be built in multiple regions of the toolroom, so you can split up the French cleats across the room if there is insufficient space on one wall.

What Are The Alternatives To French Cleats?

Although French Cleats are an optimal storage system, it is worth looking at the alternatives’ pros and cons.

The possible alternatives to French Cleats are.

  1. Pegboards
  2. Slatwall

What Are Pegboards?

Technically known as perforated hardboard (Pegboard is an expired trademark), the idea was first developed in 1952.

Are There Any French Cleat Alternatives? Here's The Truth!

The system consists of a board made from thick film-faced plywood, hardboard, wood, metal, or other material. Whatever the pegboard is made from, it has a series of holes drilled at fixed widths, in lines across the pegboard.

The pegboard is mounted on a wall, and purpose-made hooks are attached to the holes.

You can use the pegboard to store tools by hanging them from the hooks.

The advantage of pegboard is that hooks can be hung in any pattern and adjusted to cater to outsize tools.

There are three primary downsides to pegboards.

Pegboards Are Not As Flexible As French Cleats

The number of items that you can hang is restricted to the finite area of the pegboard. If it needs to be expanded, the woodworker will have to set up a duplicate board next to the first one.

Pegboards Are Not As Strong As French Cleats

The hooks carry the weight of the item which is hung. The loads created by the thing being hung are applied to the hook, which in turn are spread to the surface around the hole.

If the pegboard is made from plywood or hardboard, the hook’s pressure around the hole can cause a tear. It means that you can only use pegboards to store lightweight items.

You cannot use Pegboards To Store Very Wide Items

Because pegboards rely on hooks to hang the tools, it is challenging to store electrical devices such as drills, routers, and sanders.

What Are Slatwalls?

Slatwall is a storage system often used in retail shopping spaces to hang stock for display purposes.

Are There Any French Cleat Alternatives? Here's The Truth!

The system consists of horizontal grooves – also known as slats – mounted on walls or sometimes a freestanding fixture. Hooks, bins, and shelves hook into the slats.

The tools are hung from the hooks or placed in bins or on shelves.

Slatwalls Vs. Pegboards

Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Although Pegboards are a lower-cost solution than slatwalls, French Cleats are cheaper than both.
  2. Slatwalls can hold more oversized items than pegboards. However, the winner is still the French Cleat system.
  3. The weight carrying ability of pegboards and slatwalls is compromised, and if too much weight is added to either system, the storage hook or slat will fail.
  4. Both Slatwalls and Pegboards need ample free wall space to mount. French Cleats can be spread around the workshop using any wall space available.
  5. If the pegboard or Slatwall becomes too full, you must identify a sufficiently sized wall area and install an entire system.

Are There Any French Cleat Alternatives?

On paper, both pegboards and slatwalls are viable alternatives to French Cleats.

However, as discussed above, French Cleats remain the optimal system for storing tools in the shop. To install a French Cleat storage rack, you need a few lengths of similar width lumber, some wall screws, and a saw capable of ripping a 45-degree cut longitudinally across the wooden plank.

It makes it an accessible storage system for any competent woodworker.

Having first been used by French shipbuilders (hence the systems name – “French Cleat”) in the early 1800s, the French Cleat system has stood the test of time. Over 200 years later, it is still considered the optimum system to hang tools from walls.


There are two alternatives to French cleats; however, neither system matches French cleats’ flexibility, carrying strength, and low cost. If you have an option, it is suggested that you opt for a French Cleat system to store your valuable tools.

A cliché says, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” which proves particularly true for the French Cleat wall storage system.


French Cleat

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