French Cleat for Wall Cabinets

Custom-built and manufactured options for hanging cabinets from the back. August 30, 2010

I'm looking for some kind of French cleat system for hanging wall cabinets. This would optimally include the ability to affect in and out position as well as up and down for all four corners. Any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
I use the Camar suspension system.

From contributor A:
How does that work?

From contributor C:
Z bar. Shim it straight and the cabs will be straight.

From the original questioner:
Contributor C, did you say that the metal bar is adjusted to plumb before the cabinets are installed? Is there any mechanism to tweak position after the wall cabinets are mounted to the wall (particularly in and out?)

From contributor G:
Contributor M, I still cannot see where they go. I've looked at a brochure, which I presume is meant to show how invisible they are, but that is not helpful. Do they fit inside the box, exposed, up in the back corners? They seem to have some little cap that matches the finish? They attach not to the back panel but to the box sides?

From contributor G:
After looking at some pictures, I get it now. It did not occur to me that they integrated with the True32 rear hole drillings.

From contributor C:
I cannot speak for the True 32 guys, though I have worked in Germany for 5 years as a cabinetmaker. Seems the same as the euro cabs (though I never saw the Camar thing). Mostly, the systems I saw were the same as IKEA cabs. Simple, though I dislike the look on the inside of the cabinet.

As far as Z bar, there is no adjustability (to my knowledge). If you are concerned with in and out movement, why not cup hinges that adjust in and out?

From contributor M:
They do not use the rear line of system holes. They need two horizontally orientated 10mm holes for the dowel mount hangers, or you can use the screw mount hangers which don't require pre-bored holes. I bore the two 10mm holes for the dowel mount hangers in one shot with a hinge machine.

From contributor T:
Would this system work with a 1/2 inch thick back that is planted onto the back?

From contributor M:
Iím not sure, but if I had to guess, Iíd say no. The beauty of the system is that you donít need thick back material to attach the cabinet to the wall. All the weight of the cabinet is being carried through the sides of the cabinet; the 1/4" back is just there to keep the cabinet square and finish off the back so you are not looking at the wall.

Think about it for a minute... The weight of all items stored in the cabinet is being supported by the sides anyway. The bottom of the cabinet is attached to the sides through whatever assembly method you use (screws, dowels, biscuits, connectors, etc). So any weight that is stored there is carried directly to the sides with the fasteners. Any weight that is stored on the shelves is carried to the sides through the adjustable shelf pins or whatever method you use for your shelves. The top really doesnít carry any weight, although I guess it does add some support to the top of the hangers since they are located tight to the top.

With the plant-on back method, the weight of the stored items is still being carried by the sides, but is then transferred to the back making some sort of structural back necessary (thick material or thin material and nailers), so you can screw the cabinet to the wall. Installation with the hanger system is a breeze. One person can easily handle a kitchen installation by themselves, barely breaking a sweat, with no special equipment necessary to lift and hold the wall cabinets in position.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. It's been a long time since I built a cabinet with a captured back. My logic has been that backs never produced a very optimal yield and I could usually utilize the fall down for drawer box bottoms. I am not sold on the idea yet but I will try some of the Camar brackets.

From contributor B:
Why does a normal French cleat leave you wanting more? Assuming uniform casework with appropriate scribe, and an accurately installed wall/case cleat, why the need for independently adjustable corners? Everything basically hangs itself if the wall cleat is done right.

I recently installed a small custom-made-to-fit-the-space kitchenette wall system that consisted of two 24" X 36" cabinets - one with one f.e. and one with both - and two 36" X 18", one sandwiched between the taller cases, and one sandwiched between a tall case and the wall. All had finished 1/4" false bottoms and 1 3/4" light valances.

These were installed against a back wall that *randomly* ran out in all directions which was sandwiched between two side walls that ran out of square to the back one more than 1/4" in 12" on both sides and out of plumb 1/8" in 36" on one end and 3/16" in 18" on the other. You've got to love framers and drywall guys/gals.

The unit was occupied and had stuff on the counter and the top of the fridge, and yet it took less than 3 hours by myself. Done. No need for independently adjustable corners.

Hung the wall cleats, furring out where needed. Removed the doors and hung the cases, pinched at the ff with clamps, marked the end scribes, removed and cut to mark, reinstalled, screwed cases together while holding/insuring the faces flush. Screwed through the backs and French cleat into the marked studs beyond with a few 2 1/2" screws. Scribed the left and right 1/4" false bottoms to their walls and applied. Swept up. Re-hung the doors, adjusted. Took the tools back to the vehicle. Done.

Then I even put the dishes and appliances back on top of the counter and the stuff back on top of the fridge... Minus the sudden appearance of wall cabinets, it looked like I had never been there.

Why the need for so much adjustment - isn't that why we shim/scribe things, to match things in the existing walls that are beyond our control?

From contributor W:
I use Camar and they do adjust in and out and up and down. They are the best way that I have found to install upper cabinets. You don't have to make sure they are shimmed out at all because the Camar hanger in the cabinet adjusts quite a bit. Attach the rails to the wall with good quality screws on the studs and if your cabinets end where there are no studs, put a big (I mean big) washer behind the rail and use a molly screw. It works well. Generally you won't be hanging past a stud by much ever.

Check out the cabinets on my website. All use Camar and all are made by me and installed by me alone. Once you try the Camar system, you will be sold.