How To Build Plantation Shutters With Plans
Building Plantation Shutters On A Budget
Diy plantation shutters plans. How to make plantation shutters. Plantation shutters are rewarding woodworking projects that require accuracy and attention to detail - one or two louver pivots slightly offset and the whole shutter is compromised - but they can add unparalleled ambiance and elegance at a fraction of the cost of ready made plantation shutters.
The first step is choosing the right wood for the shutters. Preferably, it must be light enough NOT to stress the hinges but also strong and good looking and suitable for staining. There are few options to choose from. The second most important step is accuracy in measurement before starting the construction because plantation shutters are made up of many components, some of which may be movable, like louvers and tilt bars, increasing exponentially potential errors and misalignment with the parts numbers, therefore requiring precision throughout.
The finishing touches are equally important to complete a decor accessory that will increase many times over the appeal of your home while enhancing its livability with its relaxed ambiance feel, soft light filtering and sense of privacy. Plantation shutters bring the indoor out and the outdoor in at the tilt of a bar as needed. In this page you'll find out how to make plantation shutters, how to choose the right wood, how to finish them plus plantation shutters plans.
DIY Plantation Shutters - Which Woods?
How To Make Plantation Shutters With The Right Wood
Plantation shutters can be made of synthetic material as well, like faux wood or vinyl, but for diy purposes, beauty and style, wood is the primary choice. Not all woods are the same though and not all are suitable for shutters even if they are good woods. A plantation wood must guarantee not just appeal and strength but also lightness so as not to stress the hinges with time and cause misalignment or breaking.
The wood should also not warp, as shutters are exposed to humidity, have a uniform grain to allow easy stain, be low in resin and tannin because these may bleed through and preferably come from regulated sources and not harvested indiscriminately. There are few woods that fit the bills, and the top one is Basswood.
Basswood guarantees an even texture and an indistinct grain, it is very pliable, easy to screw and glue, sand and stain. It also does not warp, shrink or expand with humidity fluctuations, allowing for an even louver and shutter performance through the seasons. If basswood is not available, Alder is a good option with a performance similar to basswood but the limitation of coming from a small tree, therefore suitable for smaller shutters or requiring joints as needed.
Cedar is another staple wood of choice, suitable not just for plantation shutters but also for all outdoor structures like decks, gazebos, trellises and pergolas because of its exceptional resistance to insects, rot, sun rays and rain. It is very durable and suitable for staining, though natural color may vary a lot. It is not a very hard wood but keeps its shape and dimensions very well, although one downside is that sometimes the louver staples attaching to the tilt bar may come loose and need fixing (easily done).
Poplar is a second choice for plantation shutters because even though it is cheaper and readily available, it is heavier and prone to streaks and a green color, making it suitable for trimming rather than the shutter itself. Oak and Maple are very good hardwoods and can be used, but they are very heavy, requiring pre-drilling during construction and very strong hinges to hold them up over time. Oak also tends to warp, while maple made louvers are difficult to tension, affecting the shutter mechanics.
Over all, the best wood choices to make plantation shutters are Basswood, Alder and Cedar.
DIY Plantation Shutters Plans Blueprint
How To Make Plantation Shutters Step By Step
The first step is determining the and the size. Depending whether the window is close or not to a corner, you may need to make the plantation shutter a bi-fold (or not). Accurately measure window height, width and depth, then proceed to the cutting. Let's suppose you want to make a bi-fold shutter, you then need the following components to build it: each plantation shutters (for a total of four) should be made of 2 stiles, 2 rails, 13 louvers and 1tilt bar.
For this example we assume we want tilting louvers to be adjusted as needed depending on the outdoor light, but plantation shutters can also be built with fixed louvers. The frame is made up of 2 top/bottom and 2 sides. You then need a whole set of accessory components like hole plugs (about 3/8 inch), crown staples (1/4 inch x 1 inch), 2 inch screws, 3 inch screws, 8 butt hinges (1-3/4 x 2-1/2 inch), 4 magnetic door catches, louver pins.
The second step is making the panels. For this you should cut the rails and stiles to size, then bore the holes for the louver pins. The holes must be bored with utmost accuracy and spacing to ensure the perfect leveling of the louvers. The louvers themselves can be carved with a flat or tapered profile, thicker in the center and thinner on the edges. A tapered louver is stronger than a flat one and it overlaps nicely into the one above when the tilt bar is closed shut, filtering more light out. Typically, plantation shutter louvers are 2-1/2 inch, 3 inch, 3-1/2 inch, or even 4-1/2 inch for larger shutters. Louver tension is an important factor as they may fall to the down position with age. A plantation shutter with poor tension will always stay open on the down position and won't keep the shut or half way positions, not the ideal.
For the tension to be optimal, you can insert a screw through the side of the plantation shutter panel into the edge of one louver, or more simply use a split nylon pin from the louver into the side. This way the tension stays the same through the range of motion and it does not require adjusting with time. Once the louvers are positioned and in place, they can be connected to the tilt bar with a staple system. To each louver staple corresponds a bar staple, so that the crown staples interlock and work in synchrony closing and opening all louvers with a simple tilt bar move.
This method have the tilt bar to connect every louver with staples that are glued and inserted into the wood, but it is also possible to carve a groove in the back of the tilt bar and insert a metal strip with hooks that engage the louver staples. This is an easy and industrial method that is less effective because the hooks often disengage from the staples or the metal strip comes out of the tilt bar. This "hooking" step is critical, if done properly all of the louvers will work simultaneously and effectively.
The plantation shutter frame is bolted into the wall but should be built on a flat surface first for comfort and ease of construction. Needless to say, measurements should be extra accurate to make sure it will fit into the wall once is finished. To make sure you get the frame fitting well around the shutter panels, attach the hinges to the outer sides of the shutter panels, then slot them into the flat positioned outer frame. Insert spacer all around in the form of 1/8-inch strips of hardboard to ensure even spacing and fitting around the shutters.
Screw 2 inch screws through the miters, mark the shutter hinge positions and then carefully remove the shutters. It's time for positioning now. Insert the frame into the window, drive 3 inch screws into the frame and through the wall, then hinge the shutters. You may need to trim the shutters to ensure proper fitting and lastly you can attach the magnetic catches to keep the folding shutters closed.
Last but not least, the shutters can be stained with a suitable wood paint, either gloss or opaque. For interiors you may use a polyurethane extra shiny gloss, but for shutters facing outdoor, a resin based wood stain is preferable as it offers extra durability against UVA, rain and rot.