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Thread: Any advice for making plantation shutters?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Punta Gorda, Florida
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    902

    Any advice for making plantation shutters?

    I need to make some plantation shutters. I do not have a shaper so will have to use a router setup. About the only thing that I can find is Woodlines set: http://www.amazon.com/Woodline-WL-20.../dp/B000JES9XC Looks like the only bit that is not common is the bit to shape the louvers. They also have the pin and tension kit. I suppose that the bits are of a quality to make at least a set of shutters for one window---or not. At least they have the instructions for building the shutters which I downloaded from their site.

    Any ideas or suggestions?

    What about the quality of the Woodline bits? Other options?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ozarks
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    4,992
    allen, i`ve never made shutters but i use woodline router bits and in my experience unless you`re willing to pay for whiteside they last as long as the others in my thrashings.....and even whiteside doesn`t do well when you hit a nail......so i opt for cheap/replacable...tod
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    The Ocean State
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    170
    Allen,
    I can't comment on the bits...and
    If you don't belong to Fine Woodworking site I don't know if you can see this jig...
    http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworki...e.aspx?id=3256

    If not...yell.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    North Central Texas - DFW
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    89
    Allen,

    I have made plantation shutters for about 7 of the 8 windows on the front of my house. I will be making a next batch of shutters before too long (need to finish some other projects first).

    They are not really that hard to make. I did quite a bit of research prior to starting construction on the first batch. I even made a prototype out of cheap construction pine to make sure it would work the way I wanted it too. During my research, I discovered that plantation shutters were made of pine, basswood, maple, popular, and many other woods. I was planning to paint mine, so I decided to make mine out of soft maple. I thought pine, basswood, and popular would be too soft to stand up well in a house with 3 teens. Soft maple was not too expensive so I went with that.

    I built the rails and stiles using mortise and tenon joints. I made the rails slightly thinner than the stiles.

    I though about making the louvers curved, but after looking at shutters in local stores, I noticed that many of the custom made shutters were made with flat louvers. So, I made mine flat too. I also used less wood by making the louvers flat. I rounded over the edges with a bull nose bit.

    To attach the louvers to the stiles, I used shutter pins from woodworkers supply. (http://www.woodworker.com/cgi-bin/FU...ARTNUM=812-395).

    I made the tension/tilt rod out of maple and used a bull nose bit on that too.

    I made sure that I test fit all the parts together prior to doing the paint and final assembly. I was not sure that I would get a good finish with the shutters put together, so I painted mine before final assembly. I used Fuhr finish from Homestead finishing on mine. I sprayed it on to get a good smooth finish.

    The most complicated part of the entire project was figuring out how to attach the louvers to the tension/tilt rod. All of the shutters I looked at locally had the louvers attached to the tension/tilt rod with staples. But, then I found several online places that custom built shutters. These companies talked about using brass eye screws instead of staples. The claimed that the brass eye screws would not pull out like the staples would. So I used brass eye screws. Put all of the eye screws in both the tension rod/tilt rod and into the louvers. Then using needle nose pliers I spread the eye screw in the tension/tilt rod just enough to put the eye screw from the louvers into the tension/tilt rod and then closed the tension/tilt rod eye back closed.

    I also had to build frames to go inside of the sheet rock around the windows. There was no way that those window openings were straight, square, level, or plumb. I build the frames and shutters at the same time. I think for the next batch, I will build the frames first, then build the shutters to fit the frames. As it was, I had to try to keep track of each frame and the shutter that went into that specific window.

    Hope this helps. I have attached some pictures from prior to finishing and after the shutters were installed.

    If I can help with any more info, let me know.

    Mike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Tokiwadai, Japan
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    Mike,

    Very informative...thanks.

    Do you have any close-up pics of the tension/tilt rod detail? About how long did it take you to make/fit/paint/assemble a shutter?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Punta Gorda, Florida
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    902
    This is a lot of good information. I think that I will try the Woodcraft bits and plan and with the information supplied here it should not be real bad job as long as I can muster up some patience.

    Thanks tod for the info on the Woodline bits. You did me a big service Glenn as I had forgotten that I have a months free trial to Fine Woodworking online. Guess that I had better start taking a look at it before the month runs out. And Mike, thanks for the extra effort to supply all of the information that you did. Some of things that you talked about were things that I was wondering about and thanks for the link to the shutter pins. Your shutters look really great.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    North Central Texas - DFW
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    89
    Greg,

    Here are some details for the tension/tilt rod attachment that I tried to describe in words. I should point out that I did use solid brass and not brass plated eye screws. Brass was much easier to bend.

    Attachment 11905

    Attachment 11906

    Attachment 11907

    I also should have discussed the adjustment screw. When I built the prototype, I discovered that the louvers would not stay in position. So, I built in an adjustment screw to tighten one of the louvers and keep it from moving unless someone moved the tension/tilt rod. I put the access hole for this adjustment screw on the hinge side of the shutter. I also put a neoprene

    Attachment 11904

    Here is a line drawing that attempts to show how adjustment screw is constructed. I drilled a hole all of the way through on one of the louver holes about 3 up from the bottom of the shutter. I used that as a reference to make a stepped hole from the outside. I then counter drilled a hole so that I could put a threaded insert into the hole. I used a 10-24 screw and put a neoprene washer that I found in the plumbing area of a local hardware store (not one of the big box units). This neoprene washer was just a little bit bigger in diameter than the hole. this allowed just enough friction to keep the screw from working loose as the louvers move. These shutters have been up now for over 2 years, and so far, the adjustment screws have not moved a bit.

    Attachment 11903

    As for how long it took to make/fit/paint/assemble a shutter. To answer this question I must give you some background and go into "True Confessions and Excuses of a Woodworker". Also, the answer to that question really depends on who you ask. And if you are talking about calendar time or hours spend working on the shutters.

    Background:

    I got started building the plantation shutters when we moved into our new house. While we were waiting for the house to be finished, LOML had plenty of time to think about how she wanted the house to be decorated and what window covering she wanted. She picked plantation shutters. When she brought me the estimate for the shutters I about fell over. I could have bought a new fully loaded Toyota Tundra for what that estimate was. Well, what does any good woodworker say when they are ask to agree to purchasing something made out of wood. "I can make that for much less and they will be of much better quality. All I need are a couple of new tools and I can start building the shutters. It shouldn't take too long."

    And so, the stage is set. We move into the house and several weeks later a big truck pulls up in front and delivers the first set of tools to do this project. LOML gets plantation shutters and I get new jointer, planner, and dust collector.

    Excuses:

    As I said, I spent some time doing research and building a prototype. For a while there, it seemed like every time I planned to go out and work on the shutters, there was some other project in the new house that needed to be done (excuse number 1). So, the prototype got done and I got started on the real shutters. As I said earlier, I had to make frames to go around the windows. These frames served two purposes, make the window square and give a place to attach the hinges. Many more excuse number 1 things came up and before I got back to working on the shutters.

    Then excuse number 2 started happening. I had to make a lot of out of town business trips. Excuse number 3 was a ton of extra work piled on at the job. This really didn't leave much time to do any type of woodworking.

    I also had some medial things come up and that keep me out of the shop for about 6 months during this time (excuse number 4).

    True Confessions:

    I did make the shutters all in one batch. That was about 170 sq/ft of plantation shutters to make. I still have more to make, but LOML has other things she wants done first. Since I had so many windows to make and the plan at the time was to make many more than the 7 I had made in the first batch, I spent quite a bit of time building jigs and fixtures to make this process faster when I build the next set. Some of those worked out, some didn't. For example, I tried to make a setup to space the holes down the inside of the stiles. I never did get that to work, the little bit of being off and the slop would build up as I went, and the holes would get out of alignment.

    Actual Time:

    From a calendar time basis, and due to all of the excuses I talked about above, it took about 2 1/2 years to get the first batch of shutters up on the windows. Have you ever heard the quote "If you live with a woman in a house without window coverings long enough, she can turn into a witch"? Well, LOML didn't turn into a witch, but some times she would get the big Harley broom out and ride it around just to try and make things happen faster.

    From an actual hours spent on the shutters, I estimate that I spent about 100 hours building the first batch of shutters. This includes the time that I spent working on jigs an fixtures to make the next batch easier. It also includes the time I spent fixing things that were just plain dumb on my part. For example, (another confession) the first shutter I painted, I used regular latex paint on. I let that dry, and then after several days, I stacked the louvers together to give myself a place to work on the next shutter. I then got sent out of town for 2 weeks. Do you know that happens to latex when it is stacked in direct contact for 2 weeks shortly after being applied. When I came back to start working again, the louvers were a solid mass. I spend a huge amount of time breaking those apart and then striping the latex off (that is when I switched to the Fuhr coating).

    I also talked about how long it took, it depends on who you ask. If you were to ask LOML, she would say that it to way too long.

    So, most likely more information than you wanted, but that is the good, bad, and ugly of my building shutters. I learned a bunch on those, and I'm sure that the next batch will go much faster.

    Mike

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Tokiwadai, Japan
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    Mike,

    Thanks much for the info and pics. I just got back from the paint/trim store, so I'll take a closer look at your post and details and comment. I really appreciate the info.

  9. #9
    The Guru NORM has a segment on making Plantation shudders and has a jig for the router and all, check out the New Yankee Workshop Site... http://www.newyankee.com/index.shtml

  10. #10
    Hi Mike,
    Am doing research for hubby since he is a big diy person like yourself. (drives me crazy, but glad at the end)---anyway, your shutters look absolutely fabulous! My husband & I (I'm his elf) will be taking at least the same amount of time if not more---we will be doing 8 windows, 2 of which are trapezoid. How thick did you decide to make your louvers? I've seen discussion about 3/8 vs 1/2", and how wide were your louvers? And we will be staining and spray polyurethane finish---since you painted yours before assembly, would you also recommend the same for the staining/spray process. What size of brass screw for the tilt rod do you recommend? After using these a few years now and probably having finished your next set, do you have any other suggestions/recommendations? Thank you so much for sharing so many details of your efforts---(we also have ordered and reviewed Norm's Yankee dvd, and have downloaded & orders some other instructions to study up on the approach---so far I like your "flat" louver approach and the brass screws for the tilt rod.)
    Peg
    Last edited by Peggy Hundt; 10-08-2010 at 11:45 AM. Reason: to remove original quote info (newbie)

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