I recently completed a project making interior Plantation Shutters for our home. It was an interesting project completed over a several-month period, through which I learned a lot and developed some new skills. With the high cost of purchasing fabricated shutters, it’s a very cost-effective alternative that I’d like to share with the group.
This project encompassed making shutters for 22 windows in our home. Using Rockler‘s shutter system, I went with 3 1/2” louvers on most windows, and 2 1/2” louvers on the smaller windows. All have hidden control arms, with the larger panels having separate upper and lower louver controls.
I chose to use popular for the frames, and basswood for the louvers. Both woods take paint well, and the basswood keeps the weight down. The louvers can be purchased from Rockler, but they cost a fortune (and the few I ordered arrived too warped to be usable). Instead, I purchased the louver router bits from Rockler and made the louvers myself (the 350 required louvers would have cost me $1600 thru Rockler, whereas I made them for a few hundred dollars). I purchased all lumber at Rugby Architectural Building Products in Wilmington.
The shutters were made in batches primarily due to shop space limitations, but doing so also afforded me the opportunity for some trial-and-error, and to refine my techniques along the way. (They took up a lot of space, as the full window panels were 60” x 31” and weighed about 25 lbs. each.) I chose to finish the shutters with Lacquer, applied with an HVLP sprayer (primer + 2 top coats), which yielded commercial-grade results.
Generally, I’m not a big fan of Rockler, but I have to admit that they do shutters very well. Their free online “Measuring Guide” and “Shutter Wizard” make it easy to create printable plans, as well as material and hardware lists, based upon the dimensions you input. You can order all of the necessary jigs, templates, router bits, and hardware thru Rockler to create fine crafted shutters that will match-up with anything on the market.
Making shutters with the Rockler system is time consuming but not overly difficult. If you have any interest in undertaking a plantation shutter project, I’d be happy to show you the finished product in our home, share my experience, and provide assistance and/or consulting on your project.
— Ken Goebel