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  • Plantation Shutter Build

    5.5.12

    I bought a new house in Bakersfield, CA this past Feb which needs window treatments. I wanted to do something more than just hanging blinds as quite a few houses in the neighborhood have plantation shutters, and also, I think they're much nicer.

    I had several quotes to outfit the house with plantation shutters between $4 - $5k! The main front window is in my dining room, measures roughly 5' x 5' and just that window was $650 - $750 depending on the vendor. After recovering from the sticker shock, I decided I'd tackle these myself. I estimated that I could build that window for about $300 in materials and use my free labor. Many many questions and studying later, I finally bought materials. Special note goes out to Woodwreck who has offered up his work, pictures, and advice graciously.

    The posts on this forum was a godsend as there is very little I found on actual construction of plantation shutters. The Rockler jigs also were a gift. So I picked up their 3 1/2" jig along with a bunch of other materials. Unfortunately, Bakersfield doesn't have any wood shops or any real hardwood shops so my shopping is in LA. About 2 hour drive.

    One hurdle was dealing with the bullnose corners around my windows as the traditional no brainer hang strip won't work. Looking at store demo's and saleman's show and tell, I decided that a z-frame type trim is what I needed. Everything I saw however showed this to be one piece construction. Perhaps overkill, but I didn't want to show construction joints in the molding. Unfortunately, no one I could find sold this in a pre-made trim. So I found a hardwood lumber yard in Riverside, CA and bought a board of 10/4 poplar to start off.

    I'll attempt to keep this journal updated regularly.

    Attached are some pictures of basswood, Rockler louvers, and the big fat poplar board.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bill MacDonald; 06-05-2012, 08:49 AM.

  • #2

    Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    5.17.12 - Was in LA for business and took this advantage to make adjustments to my hardware I bought earlier in the month. I also found a cheaper source of pre-milled shutter louvers that are significantly cheaper and I can get them in 8' and 10' lengths. So I brought back Rockler's louvers and picked these up.

    5.19.12 - Building z frame. See below.

    Coming up with the z frame design is something that took me quite a while to detail out. Part of it is I wanted to end up with a product I'm happy with, part of it is I'm an engineer and can't help myself. LOL. The visit from Dennar shutters was very worthwhile as I saw their samples and took pictures and was able to compare how it would look in the window. Finding a suitable molding pattern was also a trick. I did find a bit from MLCS that seemed to work, but after routing it on a scrap board, it was just too symmetrical looking. I added a round over to the edge and voila, what a difference that made. So on to production.

    One thing I found out, is handling that 10/4 board is a 2 person job! Luckily a friend came by and he help me stabilize and guide the board across the blade. I had some difficulty cutting the 2 1/4" thick board. I started ripping in 2 passes and that help but still not as smooth as I would have thought. One thing that may have contributed is I was using a crosscut blade. I had never had any issue ripping with it before but then again, I never ripped such a deep cut before either. I went ahead and ordered a Freud rip blade this morning as I know I'll have to make more z-frame. I ended up cutting one of the pieces a bit short (dang it!!).

    The molding bit from mlcs generated a lot of chatter. Unfortunately, the noise without any load wasn't clue enough for me and I routed all my trim and ended up with a lot of chatter in the piece. I'll be sanding it to smooth it.

    Thinking ahead for paint, I intend to spray with a hvlp gun I bought from harbor freight. Its a small gun and that's what I wanted to make sure the spray is not too heavy. Talking to Homestead Finishing, I got to speak to Jeff himself. He recommended the General Finishes waterbased white pigmented poly. Unfortunately, shipping from East coast to West is a bit expensive and I was able to find a more local vendor. So I've got a gallon of GF's white undercoat and a gallon of the pigmented poly.


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    Last edited by ScoobyDoo; 05-20-2012, 05:05 PM.

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    • #3

      Re: Plantation Shutter Build

      Re: Plantation Shutter Build

      That's a very impressive job and post, Scooby; having just hung up from our most recent of tel discussions, I can see why you have a concern over ripping the stock. Yes, using a 1 3/4 h.p. saw to try to rip 10' lengths of 2"+ stock is excessive. IMHO you must cut it to manageable lengths - plan your needs and cut it to +/- 3' or 4' lengths before ripping and it should work much better.

      WW

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      • #4

        Re: Plantation Shutter Build

        Re: Plantation Shutter Build

        We have shutters on all our first floor windows that we contracted out. Yes they were expensive! Watching your and Woodwreck's posts with great interest. But I really find it depressing to think the view out your window will look much the same month after month, after month, after....... Oh well snow is nice too.

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        • #5

          Re: Plantation Shutter Build

          Re: Plantation Shutter Build

          Hmmm..woody...that sounded like a little jab there...eh? Well, I'll take that as a challenge to have this done timely! heh heh

          A little more progress over the last couple days....

          I started rough cutting the basswood to make the basic frames. With this build, I am going a little over what Rockler recommends in width and height. I'll dry fit it to see how flexible the frame is. Hopefully still sturdy as I really don't want to add a mid-rail.

          First I fine sanded the boards.

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          Rough and final cutting the rail lengths. Will route the rabbets before final cutting the width.


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          Working on the stiles. Got as far as rough cutting them. I'll wait to make the final width after I've routed the edge on them. They are 2" wide however 1 set I've made 2 3/8" to allow for overlap between panels.

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          Woodwreck, btw, I think your absolutely right on a possible dull blade. I really noticed it cutting the basswood that the wood is harder to push across. Will have to deal with that after the holiday weekend.

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          • #6

            Re: Plantation Shutter Build

            Re: Plantation Shutter Build

            Dwoody I must correct you. We have at least two (2) maybe three seasons/year here which is why we have so many December - January southbound visitors, but moreso, why we go visit our wonderful Northern friends and neighbors when we want more.

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            • #7

              Re: Plantation Shutter Build

              Re: Plantation Shutter Build

              Ok....update....

              Had some company over the Memorial Day weekend so project was on temporary hold. Made some more progress this week and today.

              Final cut the the rails and stiles, put the bead shutter pattern on the stiles. On one of the stiles, I bumped the board up while routing it across and put a minor detour on the pattern....crud.. Then after doing that...apparently I thought it would be fun to do it again. double crud. Patching with wood filler and will route over the repaired section.

              I finished out the 2" stiles first, then laid all the boards on the table to line them up together as nicely as they would fit. Marked and labeled them then finished routing the 2 3/8" stiles on the marked sides. One thing if you look at the 4th picture is the 2nd stile has a bit of a bow in it. I'd like to try to get that out of it. I'm thinking of setting a weight on it to reverse the bow?? Any other ideas?

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              Final cut the rails and added a chamfer on each of the 4 edges.
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              • #8

                Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                Before adding the rabbet to the rails, I rough fit the rails and stiles to check for closest squareness. I knew this was going to be a large shutter panel, but I didn't really get the sense until I did this. That is one big panel!

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                Marked rabbets on boards based on best dry fit and went to town with a dado blade and a sacrificial fence. The top inside edge will get a roundover unfortunately, the smallest I had is a 1/8" radius roundover. Too large so will buy a 1/16" radius one.

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                Rough cutting louvers. There is 32 of them.
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                Next I'll be working on final cutting the louvers, and pre-drilling the shutter pin holes. I also need to work on some jigs to handle the mouse hole for the louver rod and for mortising in the hinges.

                Couple questions for the community -

                1. I mentioned the bowed stile in the prior post, is there a good way to straighten that out? I swear all the boards were straight before I cut them. With the boards at final thickness, I really don't want to go to the jointer. The board is around a 1/16" off? Noticeable over the length of the stile.

                2. Starting to think about paint. I'm sure that pre-finishing all the louvers and boards make sense ahead of assembly but that also seems like a big pain. I know the pro's paint the panels after assembly and its the approach I'm planning to do. I have seen Norm's video and he pre-finished, but did you guys notice how difficult Norm had in moving the louvers? So any opinions? I'll be spraying with General Finishes undercoat and white pigmented poly.


                That's all for now....off to the pool and a couple beers!
                Last edited by ScoobyDoo; 06-04-2012, 03:56 AM.

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                • #9

                  Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                  Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                  Louvers final cut.

                  To minimize tear out, I cross cut halfway thru the louver, then flipped it over and finished the cut. Still getting some micro tear out but I don't know how to control that. Its fairly minor and most of the cuts are clean. The louver is tapered and rounded at the edge so the sled back fence doesn't protect it as much as I would like. Any ideas here?

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                  • #10

                    Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                    Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                    Originally posted by ScoobyDoo View Post
                    Louvers final cut.

                    To minimize tear out, I cross cut halfway thru the louver, then flipped it over and finished the cut. Still getting some micro tear out but I don't know how to control that. Its fairly minor and most of the cuts are clean. The louver is tapered and rounded at the edge so the sled back fence doesn't protect it as much as I would like. Any ideas here?
                    You need to make a mold or have something under the bottom edge of the louver that is shaped identical and will back up the whole cut. A plaster mold in a carrier might work. FWIW JMHO.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                      Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                      Originally posted by Wally in Calgary View Post
                      You need to make a mold or have something under the bottom edge of the louver that is shaped identical and will back up the whole cut. A plaster mold in a carrier might work. FWIW JMHO.
                      I figured as much but how would I do that?

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                      • #12

                        Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                        Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                        Originally posted by ScoobyDoo View Post
                        I figured as much but how would I do that?
                        Make a small trough out of some plywood that your louver would sit in and fill it with a hard plaster or body filler and place a piece of louver in it. Wax it first so you can take it out. . Then cut the ends off so the piece can stick out the end and set it in your sled the same as you are cutting now.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                          Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                          You need to make a mold or have something under the bottom edge of the louver that is shaped identical and will back up the whole cut. A plaster mold in a carrier might work. FWIW JMHO.
                          I fullly understand where Wally is coming from particularly since as we know, I am doing the identical processes at the same time... what he is doing is building a zero clearance plate like the saw insert. But that really begs the issue. Your description "To minimize tear out, I cross cut halfway thru the louver, then flipped it over,..." yatta, yatta, yatta... There should really be no need to do that as your problem should not exist in the first place. The Basswood/Poplar that you (we) are using is such soft stuff and with the Freud blade, particularly the Fusion, you shuld be getting razor sharp cuts. Every time, one time. Period. I do.

                          As we discussed, did you clean the blade with the blade cleaner (watch the fumes )? ... when was the blade last sharpened?

                          WW

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                          • #14

                            Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                            Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                            You raise a good point dwoody; my friendly forumite/colleague from Muir Creek will be here again in a few weeks to visit and we will see that he gets an extra couple of five gallon jugs of our sun light to take back home to you to store up for your Fall/Winter.
                            Last edited by Woodwreck; 06-04-2012, 06:16 AM.

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                            • #15

                              Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                              Re: Plantation Shutter Build

                              Working on building some jigs. Started a dowelling jig - its interesting that I'm able to get a more accurate hole with a standard drill bit than with a brad point one. Finished my mortising jig and nearly complete on the louver jig to drill the end holes. Couple pics below.


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