Not your typical slat wall
Lately, I have been on a quest to get my entire house organized. If you are a frequent visitor here, then you have probably seen my Utensil Drawer project. (If not, I recommend reading that article next). :-) Anyway, I have been really wanting to add a slat wall to my craft/sewing room, but I wasn’t satisfied with any that I had seen. They were either way too expensive, or I was worried about not being able to find the accessories that I would need. Plus, I just knew that if I installed one, the manufacturer would discontinue that line, and I would be left searching for no longer available pieces. So, like so many other things, I just decided to make one myself.
After doing some research, I noticed that a few handy men were beginning to use french cleats in their work shops to hang their tools. So, I thought “why not?” If they can hang tools, I can hang crafting supplies.
If you have never heard of french cleats, let me introduce you to them. French cleats were traditionally used by cabinet makers to hang cabinets. They are strong and reliable. So of course, my thinking was that they can be used to create a design feature that doubles as a wonderful wall storage system.
More about this method
This is so simple you will not believe it. Cleats require two things – (1) a piece of wood with a 45° angle on one side, and (2) another piece of wood with a 45° angle cut on one side. Yep, that’s it. And if you are unaware, an 8 foot board is much cheaper than an 8 foot section of wall slat. How much cheaper? Well, to get an 8 foot section of your typical slat wall system would cost around $25. With this DIY, I am spending just under $2 for an 8 foot furring strip. Oh, but it gets better. I am going to turn that 8 foot strip into 2 pieces of 8 foot strips. So, now I am down to $1 per section! In addition, I will not be spending the astronomical cost for accessories to hang my items. (I’ll explain more about that later) Now, let’s get started on this wall storage system.
Tools used for this project
- 1×4 furring strips. (Because every space is going to be a different size, you will need to make your own determination on how many strips to purchase)
- Nail gun (screws can be used if desired or if you plan to hold a lot of weight)
- table saw (a circular saw may be used if the furring strips are short)
- protective eyewear (don’t forget these when using tools)
- choice of paint or stain
- stud finder
- Hand saw ( optional – I used mine to cut the strips to length, because this room is upstairs, and I didn’t want to keep going up and down the stairs to carry pieces)
How to get the look
The first thing that we are going to need to do is rip the furring strips in half. To do this, we will set the table saw guide so that the strip will cut perfectly down the center with the saw set at a 45° angle. (I suggest practicing on a small section or scrap wood to get the saw set correctly).This will give us two strips of equal dimensions, both having a 45 degree angle on one side. They should look like the image above.
Before attaching any of the strips to the wall, take your stud finder and mark the locations of all of the studs across the length of the wall. You will need this later to guide your nail placement.
Begin by attaching the first strip to the top with the 45 degree angle facing the wall and ceiling. (You can actually use a piece without the 45° angle for this first piece, because it is just decorative. I used a piece with the 45° angle on my wall, because my ceiling is sloped). Check for level as you go and place the nails along the studs. (If this will be used for heavy weight items, use screws placed on studs instead)
Once the first strip is leveled and nailed in place, the rest are easy. Because each room will be different, I can’t tell you how far apart to space them. However, you want to make sure that the space between strips is wider than the strips themselves. Otherwise, the adjoining cleat will not fit between the slats.
On my wall I am just using the level to determine the spacing. You can do the same, or you can use a piece of wood with the dimensions that you want. You may want to do a little math, to determine how far apart you want the strips to be, to have equal spacing over the entire wall. Then, make your spacer accordingly.
Using your spacer, continue adding strips until you have covered the area. If you are covering an entire wall as I am, stagger the seams so that they blend in. This is the proper way to stagger the seams.
After all of the strips have been attached to the wall, use wood putty to fill the holes and to cover any knots. Wait for it to dry. Then lightly sand the putty areas smooth.
Finally we are ready to prime and paint the wall. I have primed my wall with Zinnser’s Bulls Eye 2, but use whatever primer that you like. This was just some that I had left over from another project. The paint in this room is West Highland White by Sherwin Williams. Again, this is just left over paint that I had on hand.
Now that we have finished the wall, lets move onto how to hang items. All you will need for hanging purposes is the same furring strips that was used for the wall. You will probably have some scape pieces left over from the wall , like I did. Don’t discard any of these. You can use them over time to add more items to your wall.
To use them, just attach a section to whatever you are wanting to hang. (For example, I have attached a piece of strip to the back of a bath towel hook). The important part here is to make sure to attach the strip to the object with the angle facing the back of the object being hanged.
Now simply slide the cleat on the item over a cleat on the wall. The great thing about this system is that you can move objects around without needing to remove screws or nails. Just lift and replace. Plus, you can add pieces of these strips to practically anything. So, the possibilities are endless. And, you don’t have to be restricted by what accessories are available, the way that you would be with a purchased slat wall.
More things that I am hanging
I just finished making a thread shelf to hold all of my threads and a selection of craft paints, which I have not finished moving to their new home. (FYI- the instructions for the thread shelf are available here).
Ribbons and other spools are placed on a cheap curtain rod. The great thing about this is I can expand the rod simply by sliding the cleats further apart.
Here is a better view of the scissors (hanging from the towel hook) and a scrap piece of furing strip that I screwed some hooks into.
Before and After
Well, I ended up using 4 pieces of furring strips. That’s just $8 for the entire wall! Now, if I can just get my chairs finished. ;-)
So, now that you have seen how easy it is to add this wall storage system to your walls, don’t limit yourself to just your sewing or craft room. You can also use this system in the laundry room, in your mudroom, in your kids closets, or just add them to your mud bench. If you can think of another way to utilize this storage system, please share it with the rest of us.
If your interested in the details for the thread case check back with me on Wednesday, and I will have a tutorial for you.
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