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Tim Malyszko

Plantation Shutters Part 2

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Creating the elliptical profile was by far the trickiest part and involved a lot of trial and error until I found the optimal setup. Since I owned all the router bit profiles in the woodline set except for the louver provile, I did some searching and found a similar shutter profile from Eagle America ( Profile O). The bit was expensive at $55, but I am a believer in spending my money on high quality router bits. It however was still cheaper than buying the woodline plantation shutter set.

Here are some pictures of my final setup:

In order to get a smooth, consistent cut, I had to shim the featherboard so that it would make direct contact in the flat, middle of the louver blank; otherwise, the blank would rock as it was fed though the router, leaving a very inconsistent cut. In addition, finding the optimal fence position was tricky. If the blank rode on the bit's bearing, the louver would come out less than 1/4" thick, but if the bit was recessed too far, I didn't get a good elliptical profile and wound up with simple, rounded over edges. Also, I would suggest not using a small router for this operation because it was nearly impossible to make these in 2 passes and get consistent results. The featherboards were really the key and using a caul to hold the featherboard in place was ideal since it gave me the ability to easily adjust the featherboard's tension as I rotated the blank to make the passes on each side.

Here is the order in which I cut each blank - Side A, then side B, followed by C or D.

By the time I finished the louvers, I wound up with approximately 98 linear feet of 2 3/8" wide by 3/8" thick elliptical louvers. I only need 75 or so linear feet for this first window, so I will have plenty of stock to start another window.

Here are a few pictures of the louvers:

From beginning to end, the milling took approximately 4 hours. When it is all said and done, I estimate that the wood for these shutters should only cost me less than $70 and the hardware/paint another $50 or so - a significant cost savings over the custom plantation shutter quotes.

On the next set of louvers, I plan on making a few changes:
  • Rip the rough stock into 6" strips instead of 3" strips, to save time on the jointing, planing and resawing.
  • Use 4/4 stock instead of 5/4 stock. I ended up wasting a lot of material and could have achieved the same results using 4/4 stock.
  • Cut the blanks longer than 40" - each louver blank has about 1.5" of snipe on each end from the router. I tried shimming the outfeed fence, but could not get good results, so the snipe is something I have to live with. I found 40" blanks very managable and could have easily handled longer blanks. Going with the longer blanks will cut down on wasted material due to snipe.
  • Make the louver blanks 2 5/8" wide since I lose 1/8" on the blank when I pass it though the router table. This will yield a 2.5" wide louver instead of the 2 3/8" louver I ended up with.
As I continue to progress I'll update this thread.

Thanks for looking.