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French Cleats...

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How I do French cleats:

 

1) Mark the 45 degree angles on the ends of the board.

2) Use those marks to set a marking gauge to mark a line the full length for the low side of the 45 degree bevel (so the bevel will go from the far top edge of the board down to the line on the near edge/side). Pencil in the line.

3) Optional: Cheat and use a chamfer plane as far as I can go.

4) Use a jointer or jack plane, to plane the remainder of the bevel keeping it straight/even. With the goal of working the bevel down so it goes from the far back edge, down to my marking gauge line.

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Answers ranked from best to worst:

 

Kev

Carus

knockknock

 

Sorry, knockknock...that sounds like an awful lot of work when you could just slap that puppy on a shooting board like Carus said.

 

Why stand when you can sit? -Winston Churchill

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I'm thinking of ripping as close to 45 degrees as I can and then clamping the 2 halves together in such a way that allows me to try and joint the miters. Although, I could just hit them with a chamfer bit in the router after ripping if I have to.

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Suit yourself. The bevel can travel with the plane and your bench can provide the floor if the bench is flat. Think the concept rather than a true 4' chute. I think it is easier to run the plane on the table and clamp a board at the angle you want. Hand rip the bevel off of the board when you are done. Maybe visual is better?

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Maybe I'm missing something here. If this is a discussion of cutting long miters for other uses, then I'm sure it is necessary to clean up those hand cut miters with precision. But if you are just using this as French cleats, then I don't understand the need to be incredibly precise about this.

 

Do you have an angle that is less than 90 degrees relative to the wall? You're good. Typically I see people shoot for 45 degrees, but being exact on that is overkill. Whether your angle is 25 degrees, 45 degrees, or even 72.619 degrees, relative to the wall, the French cleat will behave in the same way. You are relying on the shear strength of the fasteners for the most part. The angle in the cleat helps pull the object closer to the wall, then that's it. Obviously the strength of the wood is a factor. You don't want finish screws and balsa wood holding up your bowling ball collection.

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My thoughts too, I wouldn't bother with a shooting board for a french cleat. I would cut them on a tablesaw but since this is a hand tool tool question, I would do the same as knockknock. Run your line down the face equal to the thickness of the board then plane (or saw) roughly at 45d down to that line without touching the opposite corner. Then connect that line with the corner using a smoothing plane and bob's your uncle, should be a darn near perfect 45.

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I would not trust my handsaw skill so I go for a different option. The flatness of the plane is critical for a mechanical seat that balances load across the whole cleat. The flatness of the plane also determines the ease with which the object being hung can be leveled in a fuss free fashion. I think maybe by referencing the chute that I have clouded the issue. I have both 45 and 55 Stanleys that will give me perfect bevels in quick order. If I did not, shimming the board for jack or jointer work is easy peasy and Fast. Smoothing is only necessary if tearout occurs. If you can saw better than I can then maybe my comments are rubbish but I just want to make clear that I am only mirroring a principle.

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Personally I usually do as knock knock said, you absolutely do it with a shooting board but I always try to perfect everything I do as practice. Honestly after you get some practice in and get a rythem going it is really quick, quicker than me setting up a shooting board to do it. As long as it gives the results your after there isn't a wrong way.

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I didn't realize we were talking about four feet of French cleat.  In that case I think it's a coin flip doing it knockknock's way or Carus's way...either way it's gonna take way longer than it needs to and you'll be panting by the end of it...so it really doesn't matter.

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One of the cool things about french cleats it that the don't have to be perfect angles as long as the angles match up.  

 

Now, with that said, it you have the router and a good bit, that would be the quickest way to get the job done.

 

Another option would be a circular saw and a straight edge.

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If you want to go the powertool route go for it, but since perfection is not a necessity in this scenario practicing with the hand tools would be very beneficial to you. You'll never see it once it's up and if you mess it up your only out a little wood-so the only risk you have is loosing a little time (not likely at all) and gaining skills that you will begin to use more and more. I think this is the perfect time to work on your skills, not on a show part of a project with expensive wood. Just a thought, no choice is wrong.

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I'm on the bus w/ Sam here. Usually (always) a French cleat involves two boards cut at adjacent angles. I suppose the optimal would be 45 deg. Regardless of the angle, if you ripped a board  close to a 45 and used half of this board on the object you're hanging and the other half on the wall, it will match perfectly. Am I wrong?

 

Now, ask me about French drains or French fries or just the French, and I have an opinion about these as well.

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From the responses, I have to ask, is this a question of proper technique that just so happens to be used on a French cleat, giving merit to wanting precision...or is this a question of a general technique to be used for a French cleat?

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