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Thread: Plantation Shutter Build

  1. #1
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    Default 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 Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Bill MacDonald; 06-05-2012 at 07:49 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default 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.


    P5194993.jpgP5194994.jpgP5194995.jpgP5194997.jpg
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    Last edited by ScoobyDoo; 05-20-2012 at 04:05 PM.

  3. #3
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    Steve

    Default 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
    http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=12450&dateline=127309  6828 Wood Wreck - Structural framing specialist.

  4. #4
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    Dennis

    Default 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.

  5. #5
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    Default 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.

    P5225004.jpgP5225005.jpg

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


    P5225007.jpgP5245013.jpg

    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.

    P5235010.jpgP5235012.jpgP5245014.jpg

    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.

  6. #6
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    Steve

    Default 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.
    http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=12450&dateline=127309  6828 Wood Wreck - Structural framing specialist.

  7. #7
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    Default 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?

    P6025169.jpgP6025165.jpgP6025167.jpgP6025168.jpg

    Final cut the rails and added a chamfer on each of the 4 edges.
    P6025170.jpgP6025171.jpg

  8. #8
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    Default 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!

    P6025172.jpg

    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.

    P6025173.jpgP6025174.jpg

    Rough cutting louvers. There is 32 of them.
    P6025176.jpgP6025177.jpg

    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 at 02:56 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default 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?

    P6035178.jpgP6035179.jpgP6035181.jpg

  10. #10

    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    Quote 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.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    Quote 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?

  12. #12

    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    Quote 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.

  13. #13
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    Default 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
    http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=12450&dateline=127309  6828 Wood Wreck - Structural framing specialist.

  14. #14
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    Default 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 at 05:16 AM.
    http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=12450&dateline=127309  6828 Wood Wreck - Structural framing specialist.

  15. #15
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    Default 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.


    P6075182.jpgP6075183.jpg

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    Spent a bit of time working on a doweling jig today. I modified an idea I saw from Phil Thien. Got some brass 3/8" bushings and used some scrap. The idea is to drill the dowels on the face side eliminating 2 axis. (assuming my board is true). I'm still tweaking the jig as I haven't been able to get a completely true joint yet. I tossed out the brad point bit and am using a regular drill bit. I am learning and I have some more playing to do. But hey, the only investment I have in this is a $16 drill bit to set the bushings.

    P6095184.jpg

    I also finished my jig for drilling the end holes in the louvers. Why aren't I using the Rockler jig? Well, the louvers I picked up at Peterman's are a 7/16" height versus Rockler's louvers at 3/8" and the jig is designed for it. I picked up some plexiglass at Lowes and finished it off. Unfortunately I stepped up the drill too quickly when drilling the hole for the Rockler self centering bit and boogered up the plexiglass a little. But at the end of the day, it still works and I drilled all my louvers. Take a look, perfectly centered.

    P6095185.jpgP6095186.jpgP6095187.jpg


    Now time for drilling the louver holes on the stiles. I read warnings of taking your time drilling basswood as it is very stringy. They weren't kidding. Even so, the bradpoint bit left some tear out on nearly every hole. Luckily the louver pins will hide all of it.


    P6095189.jpgP6095193.jpgP6095190.jpg

    Dry fit up. Looking very good and getting close to final assembly.

    P6095191.jpg

    So my current thoughts -

    1. Still thinking about how much of a pain in the butt it would be to pre-paint all of these pieces and think spraying after assembly is the way to go. Looking at the dry fit up, it is clear that i would not be able to catch all the wood between the louvers and the stiles. Of course, one could argue that if the paint can't reach it, you're not going to see it anyway. Any tips from any expert sprayers valued.

    2. The overlapping adjacent stiles are not true and I estimate one of the boards has a 1/16" bow in it. This is mentioned in one of my earlier posts. Its really minor but its enough that it bugs me. I tried putting 35 lbs of weight on it in the center for a few days with no effect. As the board is already final cut, I'm not willing to go straight to the jointer to correct this. I'll adjust it in the rabbet if I can't do anything with it. But I believe I should be able to get a 1/16" bow out of the board, right? I read something about setting it on some wet lawn in the hot sun to get the bottom side moisture content raised, then putting it under clamps to set the board as it drys back out. Perhaps a bit voodoo, but I'm going to try that.

    3. Debating whether to make the control rod out of poplar or basswood. I'm truly impressed with how light basswood is but I'll have to sacrifice a good board to do that whereas I have poplar from the squares I cut out in the z-frames. So I'll probably go that route and see how heavy it is.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    FYI if I may; You might want to re-examine your use of brass bushings ("I modified an idea I saw from Phil Thien. Got some brass 3/8" bushings and used some scrap...").

    Phil used steel bushings [Picture "(3a) This is the block with steel inserts, front view."] (Emphasis added) for good reason as do comercially-manufactured dowelling jigs, in that brass is too soft and drill bits will seriously erode any accuracy in short order.

    A principal concern inherent to dowelled joinery v. other methods, is the dependence upon precise bushing positioning with no runout in drilling.

    WW
    Last edited by Woodwreck; 06-10-2012 at 09:56 AM.
    http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=12450&dateline=127309  6828 Wood Wreck - Structural framing specialist.

  18. #18
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    Alan Bienlein

    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    I just built 2 sets of plantation shutters and I primed and sanded all the pieces before I assembled them. After assembly I did a touchup with the primer and then did 2 coats of white catalyzed lacquer on them.
    001.JPG003.JPG004.jpg002.jpg

    I made mine out of poplar. The only item I bought to do them was the pins for the louvers I got at Rockler.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    Great looking work product Alan, Glad to see you are also using flat louvers. I interpret your use of "pins" to refer to the louver end swivel pins - correct?

    Are your control rod connecting staples, the Rockler manually inserted staples or are they 18 gauge 1/4" crown pneumatic staples?

    Your profile is empty - where are you located?

    Thanks,

    WW
    http://forum.canadianwoodworking.com/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=12450&dateline=127309  6828 Wood Wreck - Structural framing specialist.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Plantation Shutter Build

    Very nice Alan. Did you make any jigs to support the numerous louvers while you were priming or did you hang them to spray?

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