How To Make A French Cleat Without A Table Saw?

A French cleat is a type of woodworking jig that allows you to cut curves into pieces of wood. They are often used to create decorative elements such as moldings or door frames.

Making a French cleat requires a combination of skills from carpentry, woodwork, and metalworking. If you don’t have access to a table saw, then you’ll need to use a different method. This blog shows you how to make a French cleat without a table saw.

 What are French cleats for?

A French cleat can be used to create curved cuts in wood. The tool consists of two parts: the base plate and the cutting guide. The base plate has a slot where you place your workpiece. The cutting guide slides over the base plate and holds the workpiece securely while it’s being cut.

The cutting guide is attached to the base plate with screws. You can attach them using a drill press if you have one available. Otherwise, you may need to clamp them together with clamps.

How To Make A French Cleat Without A Table Saw Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Cut the Base Plate

The first step is to cut out the shape of the base plate. Use a router with an arbor bit to do this. You can also use a circular saw, but I recommend using a router because it will give a cleaner finish than a circular saw.

You’ll want to start by making a template of your desired curve. To make the template, trace around the outside edge of the base plate on the paper. Then, transfer the outline onto the base plate itself.

Now, you’re ready to cut the base plate. Start by laying the template face down on top of the base plate. Then, position the router so that its arbor bit is centered inside the area outlined by the template. Turn on the router and slowly feed the base plate through the cutter. Once you’ve made all of the cuts, remove the base plate from the router.

Now, you can repeat these steps to cut the other side of the base plate. After both sides are done, you’ll need to sand the edges smoothly.

Step 2: Make the Cutting Guide

To make the cutting guide, you’ll need to find some scrap material that fits between the slots of the base plate. For example, you could use a piece of plywood.

To make the cutting guide, lay the base plate flat on top of the plywood. Using a jigsaw, carefully cut along the outline of the base plate. Be careful not to cut too deep into the plywood.

Once you’ve finished cutting the guide, turn it upside-down and slide it over the base plate. Attach the guide to the base plate using screws.

Step 3: Assemble the Cleat

Attach the cutting guide to the base plate by screwing it into place. Now, you’re ready to assemble the entire cleat. First, align the base plate with the center of the workpiece. Next, attach the cutting guide to the bottom of the base plate. Finally, attach the workpiece to the cutting guide.

Step 4: Sand the Workpiece

Sand the workpiece until it’s smooth. It should look like this when you’re done.

A Video Guide On How To Make A French Cleat Without A Table Saw?

make a french cleat without a table saw


How can you hang a pound mirror without French cleats?

A good way to do this would be to drill holes in the back of the mirror and then screw it into a frame.

What if I only have an old door? Can I still build a French cleat?

Sure! Just make sure that the door has enough strength to support the weight of the mirror.

What Type Of Wood Should I Use For A French Cleat?

There are many different types of wood that you can use for making French cleats. The best ones include oak, maple, cherry, and mahogany.

What is the Best Size Wood to Make a French Cleat?

The best size wood to make a French cleat is a 1×4. It’s big enough to give you plenty of room to maneuver around while you’re building the cleat. However, you can also use smaller pieces, such as 2x2s and 1x3s.

Is there anything else I should know before making my own French cleat?

Make sure that you get all of the parts right. Otherwise, you’ll end up wasting time trying to figure out why your cleat isn’t working.

What Angle Should You Use to Make a French Cleat? How About Cutting Guide?

Using a 45° angle works well. But, if you’d rather, you could just use a straight edge instead of a cutting guide.

What Kind Of Tools Do I Need?

Yes! You need a router, a jigsaw, a circular saw, a hand sander, a palm sander, a bench scraper, and a mallet. These tools will allow you to create the perfect French cleat.

Can you use MDF for French cleat?

Yes! Although MDF is more expensive than hardwood, it’s easier to cut and sand. You can even buy pre-cut pieces of MDF at most home centers.

If you decide to go with MDF, you’ll need to take special care when assembling the cleat. Because MDF tends to warp easily, you’ll need to make sure that your assembly goes together tightly. Also, be sure to use glue or screws to hold everything together.

 How thick should a French cleat be?

It depends on what kind of wood you choose. If you pick oak, maple, cherry, mahogany, etc., then you should probably make the cleats about ¼” (6mm) thick.

However, if you choose pine or poplar, you might want to make them thicker. Pine is fairly soft, so you don’t want to put much pressure on the cleats. Poplar is harder than pine but still fairly soft. So, it’s up to you how thick you want to make the cleats.


You’ve learned how to make a French cleat. This blog was designed to help you build one yourself. Hopefully, you enjoyed learning about it as much as I did. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment. Good luck!