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Thread: what wood for plantation shutters

  1. #1

    what wood for plantation shutters

    My wife has taken a fancy to those plantation style shutters for the house, and being a wood worker and excessively cheep, i have taken on the project to make the all myself for the whole house (about 28 windows worth). For the cost end of things, I am going to make them over the next year or so.

    A trip down to Rockler in NY got me a jig and a good supply of hardware to make the first few. Sadly they only had one 2 1/2" shutter slat in stock an living in Canada, getting down to them is not a fun trip, so I bought the router bit to make my own. I don't have a shaper and no intention of ever getting one, so no need to tell me the router option isn't the best.. I work with what I have got.

    My question is the wood to use. The pre-made slats from Rockler is made from Basswood, but I think that might be from a side of economics as that wood is cheeper. The price split up here between basswood and maple isn't all that much. Is there a reason to go with one wood over another, or just stick with what you can get your hands on for not too much money?

    Any additional hints are always appreciated to get the project done.

    Thanks

    Matt.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Napa Valley, CA
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    916
    I think one of the biggest considerations in material selection for shutters is stability. A lot of commercial shutters are made with Western Red Cedar as it is one of the most stable of species. Port Orford Cedar is also excellent (but hard to find). I would use VG stock. You don't want the shutter slats to warp.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SE KY
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    436
    Basswood is often recommended for indoor Plantation Shutters because of its light weight. The shutters need to be light enough so that they can hang properly in the window casing, and also to stay in position when set with the control arm.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    PALM BAY FL
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    A video about my Bahamas shutters, I had resawn my Cypress to needed dimensions very easily on a radial saw.

    - Beachside Hank
    Improvise, adapt, overcome; the essence of true craftsmanship.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
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    888
    I built 4-18 X 80 (3.5" slats) door sized shutters using soft maple due to the long styles and using a clear finish. But I wouldn't hesitate using basswood slats if I were going to paint the shutters. BTW, I found the slats (all 4 passes) were so much easier to make on my horizontal R/T.

    Rockler didn't cheapen up on this kit, so I had no problems using it.
    Also, make sure your mounting method will allow you to open the slats! For ex., there are only 8 windows in my house in which I can use 3.5" shutters mounted inset.
    Last edited by Joe Scharle; 04-26-2013 at 8:23 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Wilmington, NC
    Posts
    407
    I made mine out of poplar, however, painting them was such a nightmare, that I decided to buy most of them and move on to other projects.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    119
    I am currently making Shutters for use outside on an historic house. I am using Cedar decking material, it is the right thickness (1 1/8") for the stiles and rails, I resaw it to make the 3/8" louvres. Using 1/4 " dowels for the pins instead of Rockler's plastic ones. ( Theirs are way too expensive.) Use their jig to make the holes in the louvres and enlarge them to 1/4". Same for the stiles.

  8. #8
    I'd select a wood based on how easy it is to machine and sand.

  9. #9
    I made these out of poplar. The only item I bought were the pins for the movable louvers. I did the louvers with a bit I already had.
    004.JPG002.JPG001.JPG003.JPG

    And a picture of the bit I used to make the louvers.
    001 (3) (800 x 601).jpg

  10. #10
    Thanks for all the input. I went out and bought some Basswood as all the maple that I had was pretty knarly and cupped all over the place. (serve me right for buying 350bf of air dried maple when I didn't really have any use for it). I cut a 24" blanks to make the 6 shutters and plained them down to the 3/8" ready for the router. But as it was getting late and I didn't want to hurt myself, safety first right, I called it a night.

    Then before going to bed, i googled louvre pins as I knew i didn;t have enough, and found a custom shutter store that is 20 min from my house sells pre-cut slats made out of Yellow American Poplar for about the same as my cost of wood. At some point you make the decision is it better to get the project done rather than trying to de everything totally by hand yourself. Now i just have to figure out how/where to get the white lacquer for the finish.

  11. #11
    Beautiful job on the shutters Alan! What was your finish routine?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Grand Forks, ND
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    2,287
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Mackinnon View Post
    Now i just have to figure out how/where to get the white lacquer for the finish.
    Matt, I suggest Target coatings EM6500 white lacquer, I'm a new user of the stuff, but I really like it. I used sanding sealer, 2 coats of EM6500 followed by 2 coats of EM7000 high gloss clear.
    A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. My desk is a work station.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Ames, IA
    Posts
    540
    I made 25-30 for every window in our home from red oak. Now, I have 30-35 or so in process made of poplar for a daughter. All were made from scratch using a molding machine to cut the slats. Being able to stain and varnish the oak pieces prior to assembly was a big factor. Any painted ones can be primed, maybe a coat or 2 of paint prior to assembly, but final finish coat only after assembly (as they mar during assembly). Let me know if any further questions.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Southport, NC
    Posts
    3,147
    Are you going to paint them or stain them? If painting I would suggest using poplar. It works nicely and paints well. I helped a friend make some a few years ago and we used cypress which was nice to work with and stained evenly.
    Howie.........

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