You don't have to have many skills as a woodworker to make a very effective french cleat system. The hardest part is the first step, ripping a bunch of 3/4 inch plywood strips at a 45 degree angle. I did this on the table saw but it could be done with a circular saw as well. Even the 45 degree angle doesn't have to be perfect, you just have to be consistent across the cleats, and the things you're hanging on the cleats.
I made mine about 3 1/4 inches wide. This number isn't important but you want it wide enough so it won't twist off the wall.
Here is a cleat attached to a wall.
Don't do what I did here and use a drywall screw (I ran out of stainless). They don't have much sheer strength and will break easily. Use a good steel screw and make sure you hit a stud. I put screws in every stud. Make sure to counter sink them so they don't get in the way of hangers.
After a while you'll have something that looks like this. You certainly don't need this many rows of cleats but I wanted mine to be very flexible as I didn't know where and how I would put things. I probably use only small percentage of the available 'cleat' I have hanging, but I have lots of options for hook and shelf placement. I used a laser level to start the first bottom row then spacer blocks to add the rest.
As I worked my way along the wall I had to attach endpoints of the cleats. While probably not necessary, I used pocket screws to connect the ends. Depending on stud spacing this helps support the ends of the cleat.
This was my trial run of the system.
Here is a side view of one of my hangers. This is 2 pieces of 3/4 inch plywood glued and screwed together. The angle of the piece on the left matches the angle of the cleats you attached to the wall. The dowels are 3/8". I just drilled two holes at a slight upward angle and glued them in.
The hangers are simply dropped in place on the wall cleat. No nails, no screws, no glue, they just sit there.
Here's a hanger in place on the cleat.
Here is a whole wall full of cleats and hangers. If you don't like the layout you can easily move things around.
Here is one thing not do do. This was a long strip of wood with a few small 45 degree angle blocks. I added a few dowels and hung bike helmets. Notice how the whole thing is kind of tipping away from the wall. Hope this makes sense, but whatever you are hanging on the wall should contact the hanger below where the cleat and hanger 45 meet. If the weight of the item being stored is higher than the cleat, the hanger will tend to tip away from the wall. Basically things should hang from the wall cleat, not sit on top of it.
Here are a few more examples of hangers made with just 2 pieces of scrap plywood and some dowels.
My favorite hanger is this bin holder. Construction will depend on the type of bin you are using.
I put them all low enough so the kids could throw all their stuff in them... they still prefer the floor though.
The bins I used have a recessed handle.
I put a few dowels in the plywood 'arms'. The dowels go in the recessed handle and prevent the bin from sliding off the hanger.
I screwed a cleat to the back of a small parts organizer and hung that on the wall.
If you like some of the manufactured garage storage items, most can be made to fit the french cleat system. I just screwed this one to a plywood sandwich and it works great.
Here is my ladder holder. It the same plywood sandwich with a couple arms sticking out.
Here is one type of shelf I made. Notice the space bar along the bottom. This prevents the shelf from tipping slightly forward. Don't make shelves too wide unless you have very straight walls. If your walls are bowed at all, a wide shelf won't sit well in the cleat.
Here is another shelf.
Here's something I threw together for tennis rackets and balls. It has 2 plywood arms for the rackets and a bunch of dowels angle upward to hold balls.
This hose hanger is much sturdier than anything I've seen in a store.
This is very custom. Holds all my fishing poles and tackle box. My girls attacked this with their pink chalk.
Couple more random pics.