Friday, March 2, 2012

Building shutters

The mild January weather gave me the chance to build some shutters for the windows.  They’re purely decorative, of course, but they add some visual appeal to what is a plain ranch house.  I built shutters for the front windows and they improved the look of the house immensely.  So recently I built shutters for the windows in the gable ends. 

I settled on a board and batten style as a nice rustic look, and this style is also easy to build.  The shutters are built out of western red cedar 1x4.  I thought I’d run through the basics of putting these together and try to convey some of my ideas on doing outdoor projects.  A table saw is necessary for this project.  A mitre saw is helpful but not essential.
The first task was to rip a small bevel on the edge of the cedar 1x4’s.  This was necessary to give the shutters a soft shadow line and a finished look.  The saw was set at a 45 degree angle so about ¼ inch of the edge was removed.   Allof the 1x4’s were beveled.

Next the boards were cut to the proper length in the mitre saw.  This can be done with a circular saw but it’s easier with a mitre saw if you have one or can borrow one.  After cutting the boards to length the mitre saw was set to a 45 degree angle and the ends were beveled the same as the sides. 

This is a closeup view of the long and short pieces after all the cuts were made. 

After the pieces were all cut the next step was to apply the first coat of stain.  When putting together outdoor projects I always try to stain the pieces before assembly.  I also stain all sides of the wood, even if the back side will remain hidden.  A face that is not stained will absorb and release moisture at a different rate than a face that is stained, and can result in the wood cupping or even splitting.  It’s best to get at least one coat of stain on all faces.
The next day, after the first coat of stain had dried, the shutters were assembled.  The crosspieces were nailed with small trim nails to the long pieces – enough to hold the shutter together.  I placed the crosspieces 4 inches from each end of the shutter.  The length of the crosspieces allows about 1/8 inch gap between the long pieces.  I used a framing square to make sure the ends were even and the crosspieces were square to the long pieces.
Once the shutter was tacked together it was carefully turned over and screwed together from the backside into the crosspieces with 1¼ inch exterior wood screws - long enough to firmly connect the pieces together without going through the front piece.  I first predrilled holes, being careful to not drill all the way through the front side.  Once all the screws were intalled the shutter was very solid.
Then I applied another coat of stain.  Rough sawn cedar soaks up stain like a sponge, and the first coat had penetrated the wood enough to leave the shutter looking unfinished.  For the second coat only the front and edges were stained.  It’s always easier to paint the shutter on a sawhorse than when it’s installed, and the paint job should last longer when the coverage is good.  Now that they are finished it's obvious (to me anyway) that the bevels on the edges make the shutter look better than if they had a square edge. 
Before installing I tacked some ¼ inch cedar strips onto the back side of the shutter.  This stands the shutter away from the siding so water is not trapped between the shutter and the house.  The shutter was held in it’s final place and four drillholes marked so the screws go just below a siding lap.  Each shutter was then screwed into place.  The screws nearest the window went into a jam stud.  The outside screws went through the plywood skin below the siding.  That’s enough to hold the shutter.  Later I’ll go back and dab a little paint on the screws.

That’s it.  I got the look I wanted at about $25 a window, about the same as the plastic shutters at the big box lumber stores.  Time: I’m guessing about 3 hours per window.         



kitsapFG said...

That really dresses up that window! What a great improvement project to tackle. Our house is a simple ranch style too. I need to show this to my husband and see if he is suitably inspired. :D

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the DIY instructions on these shutters. I have built several sets with "my own" idea, but like these and as I am preparing to build new shutters, will use this style and plan. I especially like the way that putting the bevel on the edges makes them look. Again, thank you.
Karl Micheal

Unknown said...

I am doing the same thing you did, but I'm having trouble finding the red stain. Could you tell me what you used?? Thanks so much for the help!

gardenvariety-hoosier said...

Unknown - I used a stain from Pittsburgh Paints called Navajo Red. Any paint department should be able to make a stain you like.

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