DIY Stay Organized with Garage Cleats

garage setup with different hooks on cleats

Scrap wood. So much scrap wood. What to do with it? Throwing it away is a waste, so why not put it to good use? If you haven’t checked out my slatwall review, see why staying organized and neat is so important for your tools and your garage. Slatwall and other commercial solutions are expensive, and while highly customizable, they just don’t give you the level of freedom as DIY’ing it yourself. Also, they’re expensive.

Incoming Cleat system. So easy, and if done right, so beautiful too. Also not very expensive.

[wp-review id=”519″]


  • Lumber of your choice
  • Construction screws
  • Your imagination!


  • Power Drill
  • Table Saw
  • Level
  • Brad Nailer


  1. Since I wanted this to look decent, I chose not to use my scrap wood for the cleats themselves and instead headed out to the hardware store to pick up some decent cuts of Knotty Pine. Important to note – if you are building for strength, cleats can offer one of the strongest solutions out there, but you have to buy the right material. Knotty Pine is a soft wood, has knots (duhh), and is 1/2″ thick, which doesn’t equate to a lot of strength. If you are hanging heavy items, opt for something thicker (3/4″) and a class A/B plywood.
dewalt table saw set at 45 degrees

2. Simply cut my board down the middle at 45 degrees

3. Then I set the fence distance to blade at 2.5″, which is the size I want every component of my system to be at. Having a single size is great for efficiency as you know everything will fit. More on this another time, but try to build all of your hangable items in 2.5″ increments as well. Also, if don’t have straight boards, I’ll add another post down the line on how to make straight cuts.

Side profile of a cut piece of working lumber

4. I worked off 6″ boards, which yielded 2 work pieces per piece. You can get wider planks and just do the math backwards as well. My rule of thumb is all new long cuts go on the wall, and save all the spare cutoffs to use on hangers in the future.

5. Staining (Optional) – You can stain and top coat these if you want a nice finish on them before you put them up. I personally don’t care so maybe something to do in the future.

Cleat spacer

6. Keep a scrap to remind you of your dimensions.

cleat spacers for future reference

7. Use the scrap cutoff as a spacer -. 2.5″ height of each plank, but also 2.5″ between them. Once you place your first cleat up, check for level and then drive a screw into your studs. For the second cleat, use the spacer to determine the height of the next piece, line it up and then drive it again into the stud. Tip: don’t force the spacing in too snug, a little room to breathe is not a bad thing in case your planks do warp or bow. Also try to line up your screws, makes for a more symmetrical and uniform look when complete.

leveling your cleats

Congratulations, this is the beginning of the end for any clear wall space you thought you had.

There really are no rules and these are just for inspiration. I use cleats in my tool room, garage and work bench, so they are scattered all around my house and work bench. This allows me to take the sections I need for each project into my workspace and then store them away when I’m done. I’ll add to this series another time with some of the box designs I’ve done to give you some ideas.

Have fun with it.

If you are looking for more weekend projects, hit up our weekend project category for more ideas. Hope you enjoyed this project!

One response to “DIY Stay Organized with Garage Cleats”

  1. DIY Front Door Color Change Exterior Wood | HOTMILLK Tutorials Avatar

    […] of the door to black. I’ve literally done everything but that – finished a basement, converted my garage to storage, and then reconverted it again to a workspace, painted the house, put trim in, etc etc. Given the […]


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