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How to Build Shutters, II

May 2, 2011

Chers Amis,

Building DIY shutters for an entire house is an undertaking, but it is doable and very rewarding. Last spring as part of our house remodel, my dh and I built shutters for 10 windows on the front of our Colonial Revival home.  It definitely helped with our curb appeal!   Last week Terri Sue asked for a few how toos and I realized that in all the summer kitchen craziness I never posted any information. Je suis desolee!  So here we are. In Part I I laid out the initial planning steps and today I am going to cover a few important tools and  tomorrow we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of cutting and assembly.  I hope that it will be helpful!


Having the right tools can determine whether or not you are able to complete your project and keep your sanity. Shutters do not require a woodworking studio but some common work horses that you will use for a variety of other DIY projects. Here are a few you should have on hand:

sander – belt or orbital either works 

saw – preferably miter or table saw. A circular saw will work but not if the blade is not sharp enough.  We started with a circular saw and decided to buy a table saw on Craigslist. A miter saw would have been great too.

drill  – make sure you have a bit that allows you to counter sink screws if you plan to cover the holes with wooden peg covers.  If it is battery operated, always have a battery charging.  This project will eat batteries.

clamps and vices – Once you determine the width of your shutters MAKE SURE you have several vices/clamps that open to that width.  We found that often the boards were either not perfectly straight i.e. warped or not of perfect width so when we were putting a group of four together we often had to line up each  end and clamp them together before attaching the battens. Otherwise they splayed apart.  Very irritating, but clamps gave us the proverbial upper hand. We purchased a set from H*Dpot that included both pinching clamps and sliding vices.  We then also bought a few wide clamps that you screw tight. We were being cheap and while they worked, I would have preferred the sliding variety.

A builder’s square – you will need a square to keep everything lined up or you will have crooked shutters. Take my word for it. Get one that is big enough to lay across the width of your shutter i.e. at the top so that it extends down the length.  Many people only have a small plastic square.  It will not suffice.

A work table – No, you do not need to buy one, but have a large working area that is comfortable and will hold your largest shutter.  Saw horses with sturdy plywood should work. We also had a smaller table to hold our tools so we did not knock over the drill when we repositioned the shutters.  Having a table to which you can clamp the shutter occasionally is also useful.

Tomorrow, let the building begin!

— Marjorie

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