Shutters have been used to cover windows for hundreds of years. They were first used to control incoming light and drafts. In today's homes, they are used for their clean lines and to provide an alternative to draperies. Studio shutters are designed to have fabric panels instead of louvers. Building shutters for the home requires intermediate woodworking skills and precise measurements.
Tools and Equipment
A steel tape measure.
Sand paper or power sander
Screw driver or drill driver
Wood or steel dowels
Fabric for the panels
Measuring for Shutters
Careful measurement will result in shutters that fit properly and operate correctly. Measure the window on both sides from the window sill to the top of inside window casement and subtract one eighth inch. This is the height measurement for the shutters. Measure the width of the window casement at the bottom, center and top and subtract one eighth inch. Windows can vary slightly in these measurements. Use the narrowest measurement for the width measurement.
Building Studio Shutters
Studio shutters are hinged frames that are built to fit the inside measurements of windows. Bass wood is the preferred wood for shutters for its strength and because it does not warp. Other types of wood such as pine, oak and walnut can also be used, but they tend to be heavier.
The frames for the shutters are constructed with mortise and tenon joinery, which requires some specialized woodworking tools. Use the circular saw to cut framing to length. The table saw is used to rip the wood to the proper width.
The frames can be painted or stained. Steel or wooden dowels are inserted to install the fabric panels into the frame at the top and bottom of the frame opening.
Mortise and Tenon Joints
Mortise and tenon joints take practice to accomplish a good fit. Practice on scrap wood until a good fit is achieved and the technique is comfortable. The mortise is an opening that is cut with a wood chisel into the frame to receive the tenon. Anyone with a basic knowledge of woodworking can accomplish this type of joinery. Use wood glue to connect the joints and clamps to hold the joints in place until the glue dries.
To calculate the size of the tenon joint measure the width of the mortise that it will fit into. This measurement is the width, not the depth, of the opening. The width of the mortise opening is one third of the wood's thickness. If the finished width of the mortise is two inches, the length of the tenon that fits into it will be two inches. Cut the tenon with a tenon saw and cut the mortise with a wood chisel.
The finish chosen for the shutters can be applied with a brush or sprayed on.
Building Shutters from Kits
Kits are available from several manufacturers that come complete with the hinges and all other hardware. The manufacturer posts a diagram with detailed instructions on measuring the windows. The kits can then be ordered and assembled by the home owner. The manufacturer also gives detailed instructions for the proper installation of the shutters.
Shutter kits can be ordered unfinished to allow the home owner to add their own touches by painting or staining. The cost savings for doing the finish work and assembly results in a cost savings. This allows the homeowner to build historically accurate shutters when restoring vintage homes that are the same quality expected from custom shutters available from decorating firms. The home owner has the satisfaction of achieving a quality product without the cost of specialized tools.
Installation of Shutters
Hinges are attached to the shutters and then screwed into the inside of the window frame to allow the shutters to fold back to each side of the window
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