Monday, May 12, 2014


The last couple of months I've been working on making a free rummy game.  I've registered that domain name (, where I will be putting some of the things I work on.

Have fun!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Plantation Shutters: Painting

While I love the look of stained wood shutters... they wouldn't match our house. So I choose to paint ours white. I painted each of the pieces separately before assembling. It would be difficult to keep the paint off the louver pins otherwise, which would violate one of the most important rules of this step which is to maintain smooth movement of the louvers.

I choose to use a pure white interior semi gloss paint, which is fairly common for trim work. I found that three coats gave the desired look. I did this by hand with a brush, but some suggest using a sprayer. I imagine this would be much faster. I admit that the painting took me nearly as long as all the other steps combined. :( There really isn't anything tricky to this step. Just time consuming.

My daughter has expressed interest in having some shutters that "look like wood", so I would like to try that someday. The process should be similar, substituting stain and a top coat for the paint.

Plantation Shutters: Making the tilt rods

The tilt rods are the thin pieces which are moved to control the angle of the louvers. The length needs to be just slightly longer than the distance between your top louver pin and you bottom pin. I like to leave 1/2" sticking out beyond the end louvers... so in my case the distance between the two pins was 30", so I made the tilt rods 31" long (1/2" on each end).

I prefer to make each rod 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick, however it is reasonable to make them 1/2" thick... it just depends on whether you want a thin unobtrusive tilt rod or a sturdy feeling thicker tilt rod.

You can easily make the tilt rods for both shutters (and several more) from a single board. Simply use the rip fence on the table saw to rip each side to the desired width and thickness.

The next step is to round off the outer edges of each tilt rod. I used the same 3/16" roundover bit, but you can adapt to your personal preferences. I only round the edges that will face the user... the two edges facing the window are left square.

The final step is to use a fastener of some sort that will allow the louver to pivot but still firmly fix the tilt rod to the louver. After some research and experimentation I found the cheapest and easiest way is to use strong staples. I bought this Stanley Sharpshooter staple gun from Home Depot. It has two depth levels. Neither of these will sink the staple all the way in... which is ideal. Each staple should stick out above the wood between 1/8" and 1/4". The matching staple on the louver will do the same and interlock with the other.

Mark each place on the tilt rod where a louver pin would hit and staple each spot parellel to the length of the rod. This is important... don't staple perpendicular to the length because this wouldn't allow the freedom of movement needed. You may notice the staples feel somewhat flimsy and as if they won't hold. To fix this I used a small dab of gorilla glue at each point where the staple touches the wood. After drying this will be sufficiently strong.

One last point. I didn't put in the staples until after I painted the tilt rod, but if you are careful it should still work to do it beforehand.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Plantation Shutters: Making the rails

The rails are the horizontal components of the shutter frame. I make them from 4/4 lumber.

The hardest part is determining how tall the rails should be. I use the rail as a buffer to absorb extra space or to allow more room when needed. This is because the louvers will not exactly fill the space. A little experimentation should find a good height. For the proper proportions, I like to have them somewhere between 4 and 5 inches. The length of the rails is determined by the width of your window.

I have found that tapering one edge lengthwise of the rail helps the louvers close more tightly and thus block out more light. The side that should be tapered is the side that will contact the louver. For the bottom rails, this will be the top edge. For the top rails, it will be the bottom edge. I prefer to taper both the front and back of the edge so there is a point in the center. I cut the tapers at a 25 degree angle on the table saw.

You will not need to round the edges of these pieces, so the final step is to drill pilot holes that will match up with pilot holes in your stiles. Use the same spacing and bit size.

This is a picture of my rails before I cut the tapers:

Plantation Shutters: Making the stiles

The stiles are the vertical pieces of the shutter frame. The scale of your window may change things, but I prefer to make them 1.25" thick (deep) and 1.5" wide. The length will be determined by the height of your window.

I make these from the 6/4 rough cut lumber. I prefer to buy a piece wide enough that all four stiles can be cut from it. This is a picture of the pieces put back together after I cut them:

To do this I cut the left and right 1/8" edges off the board with the table saw. This smooths off the "rough sawn" nature of the board and gives a more consistent surface to work with. Next I cut the board into 1.5" strips. Then I turn each on its side and again take off about 1/8" from each side. This will take the 1.5" (6/4) down to 1.25". Then cut each piece to the desired length (the height to fit in your window).

Now that you have four distinct pieces of wood / future stiles... use the same roundover bit on each edge to give a more professional look.

Next you will need to drill pilot holes for the screws which will hold the rails and stiles together. The bit size will depend on your wood and screw size. I believe I used an 1/8" bit with 2.5" #8 screws. This shows where I drilled the holes:

The hole closest to end is 1" from the end and the other is 2.5" from the end. Each is countersunk and centered within the piece.

Finally, you need to drill holes to receive the louver pin. These should be 1/4" diameter and 3/8" deep. The placement of these holes goes as follows:
If you have 3" louvers and want them to overlap by 1/4", place the holes every 2.75". Center the holes within the stile and make sure you choose the right number. You may need to adjust the rail height to accomodate the louvers.

This is a picture of the holes I marked:

and then drilled:

Plantation Shutters: Making the louvers

As stated earlier, louvers are the slats that can rotate within the shutter frame to either block or allow more light to enter through the window. The easiest way of creating these is to buy "sheets" from National Balsa. Determine what length you need the pieces to be and buy the size that is exactly right or larger.

Once the pieces arrive, your first step is to round all four edges of the piece. I wanted the edges to have a continuous rounded edge rather than an elliptical one. Each piece should be 3/8" thick... so using a 3/16" roundover bit produces this result. This Porter Cable bit is the one I bought. This is a relatively easy thing to do, but doing four sides of 26 pieces that are each 3 feet long... takes about an hour.

This is what they should look like when you are done:

Once the pieces are nicely rounded off, cut the pieces to the desired length. It looks much more professional if you can get all the pieces exactly the same length.

Now you will need to drill holes in the ends of louvers to accept the louver pins. Drill a 9/64" hole at least 5/8" deep.

I highly suggest using nylon shutter pins rather than dowels. This will allow much smoother movement. I bought 1,000 pins for about $30 from Professional Hardware.