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Turn Tongue and Groove Flooring into French Cleats

Tongue and grooveHang Heavy Objects using Tongue and Groove as French Cleats.  So fast and easy, plus it supports a lot of weight!
Hanging heavy objects on your wall can be a challenge.  I often make large (heavy) signs out of reclaimed wood or cabinet doors and suspending them on a single wire hanger can be tricky.  In addition to that, I live in earthquake country, and making sure that objects on the wall are secure even under heavy vibration is essential.
My California Republic stenciled sign weighed a little under 50 pounds.

Some items, like shelves or cabinets need even more support, and that is where french cleats come in.   This hanging system works by supporting the weight of an object over an angled joint which is secured on one side to the object and into a stud or solid surface on the other. NewImage



Experienced woodworkers and cabinet makers will make their own French cleats out of plywood
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Image source
You can also find commercially available French Cleats make from various materials and of various strengths.
Metal french cleat
French Cleats are also sometimes called “Z-hangers” 
But today I’m going to show you a fast, cheap and EASY French cleat hack using tongue and groove flooring (Although you could also use ANY type of tongue and groove board to do this.)

Making French Cleats from Tongue and Groove Boards

If you have leftover tongue and groove flooring scraps this is the perfect project.  If you don’t, you can often find small board and flooring samples at home improvement stores.  Depending on the object you are hanging, a few samples may be all you need.

Tongue and groove flooring
You just need to make the boards are actual tongue and grove and not the "quick snap" interlocking board systems used for many laminate floors.   A tongue and grove with have a single centered male end (the tongue) on one side and a female rabbet end (the groove) which interlock. Tongue and groove
For this process only need to separate the tongue from the groove.  That means you can either cut the flooring board down lengthwise (which is what I did in this example project) OR you can use two separate pieces of flooring.

First we need to install the GROOVE side of the flooring on the wall, with the groove side UP.  


You can either use one long piece of flooring along the entire span or you can use multiple smaller segments.  To install the wall cleats, you want to make sure you hit the studs.  (In this case I'm installing a sign on my fence, but if you were installing on an interior wall you need to check for the studs.)

Typically studs are 16 inches apart, so if your piece is more than 16 inches wide you want to make sure you hit more than one if possible.    Otherwise you need to use some heavy duty drywall anchors.  For objects under 50 pounds these are my favorite type.  For SUPER heavy items, you need to use butterfly anchors.
Tongue and groove as french cleat

Next we need to install the tongue side on our object, with the tongue facing down. 

Again, you can use either one long length of board or multiple smaller segments.  If using multiple pieces you have to be more careful to get them lined up exactly with the cleats on the wall.
Drilling board for french cleat
You also want to make sure your object cleats are VERY secure into your object. I use multiple screws in each of mine, since I don't want the cleat tearing out.
Tongue and groove flooring french cleat

To hang the object, slide the tongue into the groove and make sure it is completely seated. 


You may have to angle the item a little bit to get it to fit in correctly, but when the tongue is seated in the groove you wont be able to pull the piece away from the wall.
Alternative french cleat

Thankful sign from cabinet door
If you piece is long you may notice it angling a little bit due to the width of the wood.  Adding a spacer block to the bottom of your piece (a small scrap of flooring will work great) will allow it to hang straight.
Thankful farmhouse sign
And that is the entire process. No complicated tools or mitering required!   Plus you are using up that scrap flooring!

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