Making Wooden Window Shutters General Woodworking

Since I use my workshop to make video, I thought it would be a good opportunity to make wooden blinds to block out the daylight that can making filming problematic. A few years ago, at my old house, I made blinds very similar to these, but they had the control rod in the middle of the slat and it was fairly difficult to attach it to the individual slats. The new design puts the control rod over to one side and attaches to a “knuckle” on the end of each slat with a small screw.

To get started, I cut out all of the parts needed for a set:

material for wooden shutters

The material I used is old 2×4 salvaged from my house, so the wood is well seasoned. Of course, any kind of solid wood can be used to make these, but it must be well dried to avoid warping.

I’ll say that a lot of the work involved in making your own shutters is tedious, since there are many of the same parts. In particular, slats and the knuckles that fasten to the end. I decided to make all of the knuckles for the three sets of blinds at the same time. The first step was to print the template:

detail of knuckle for shutters

This template is available here as a printable pdf:

Knuckle Template

Set your print to “actual size”.

Then I cut strips of 1/4″ plywood and taped the ends together to cut them at the right angle on the miter saw:

cut strips to length

set the angle

The angle is about 84 degrees.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize just how easy it would be to chip the 1/4″ plywood ones, so I threw those away and made them from 1/4″ hardboard instead:

plywood

hardboard

They label this “hardboard”, but it’s actually closer to MDF.

I made a simple jig to quickly mark each one out:

quick jig

drilling piece

And used a similar jig to hold the parts while I drilled the hole in the right place.

After about an hours work, I have all of the knuckles made:

original wall-art not ever to be installed

Next, the slats need to be rounded on both edges and I used the round over part of an ogee bit:

router bit in router table
roundover slats

With the router table fence set to the right distance.

When that was done, I used my table saw sled to cut them all to the same length:

lats in sled trimmed to length
knuckle glued and pinned to end of slat

The knuckles are glued and pin nailed to the ends of the slats, being careful to make equal numbers of left side and right side.

all parts for set of blinds or shutters

All of the parts for a set of blinds.

Another simple setup to drill the holes in the ends of the slats:

drill small hole in end of long slat

The holes need to be consistent, and it’s not strictly necessary for them to be perfectly placed, since some variation won’t make a visible difference, and won’t have any impact on how the blinds operate.

rabbet in top and bottom rails

Before going further, I had to cut a rabbet into the top and bottom rails. The slats lap over and fit into these.

Laying out the slat spacing on the stiles. The slats are 1-1/2″ wide, so I went with a 1-3/8″ spacing to get some overlap:

clamp pieces and mark with a square
sequential drilling with a drill press

Again, drilling accuracy with these is critical, but they should be very close.

The pins the slats pivot on are just pieces of 12 gauge steel hanger wire (for t-bar ceilings) cut to about 1″ long. I made a measuring guide from a piece of wood taped onto the pliers:

cut pins to length
pins for wooden blinds

With two per slat, there’s a lot of pins to cut!

Time for assembly and I first tried to do it like this, with the slats standing up:

begin assembly of wooden shutters

But found that it was much easier to do it with the blind laying flat. I could slip the slat pins fully on one stile, then put the other stile in place a slide the pin in part way on that one, pulling it part way out of the other:

assembling wooden shutters
wooden shutter assembly

Then it was just to push the loose stile in and drive screws.

The control rod couldn’t be simpler, it’s just a piece of wood cut 1/2″ square and screwed to the knuckles:

wooden shutter
install control rod

The screws are fully tightened, then backed off 1/2 a turn to allow the blinds to operate freely.

Since the blinds were custom made to the opening, all I had to do was attached them with no mortise hinges and adjust the fit:

installed wooden shutters
glue and clamp on handles

A stop was put on the bottom of the window jam and an astragal laps the middle. I made some simple wooden pulls and just glued those to the frames.

what's better than light through wooden shutters

Finished. They work great, since they allow me to totally cut off the daylight when the camera is recording, and also open to let in the natural daylight when I need it.

I made a video going through the build:

I also made four longer videos that go through the build for those that would like to see the process in more detail by clicking here:

Making Wooden Blinds

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