How to DIY shutters for the enhanced comfort and beauty of your home

Creating a cosy environment with DIY shutters is easy to do!

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Shutters can enhance any window. Plantation shutters, in particular, are a popular and functional option, but they can be expensive! If you want to upgrade your windows minus the extra costs, it’s worth learning how to make your own DIY shutters.

Making your own DIY plantation shutters can be a fun project. You need the right tools, a little time, and some of the helpful steps below to get started. Read on and learn how to build DIY window shutters that will add comfort and enhance the beauty of your home!

The benefits of DIY plantation shutters

Install shutters for windows

Plantation shutters aren't just for looks. They can help you keep the heat out during the summer and offer a layer of protection and insulation against the cold. Plantation shutters seal up against the window frame, so air doesn’t easily escape through gaps.

This energy-efficient option is also easy to clean with a vacuum cleaner brush attachment. They also avoid the need for any cords that pets and kids might reach. Instead, they use a control arm on slats, making them both safe and sturdy.

How to make plantation shutters 

The tools you'll need for your DIY shutter project

  • Tape Measure

  • Drill

  • Mitre Saw

  • 1 3/8″ Shank Forstner Drill Bit

  • Router Roundover Bit

  • Drill Bits

  • Skill Saw

  • Table Saw

  • Kreg Jig

  • 7/64″ Self Centering Drill Bit

  • Wood Router

  • Metal Snips

  • Scratch Awl

The materials you'll need

  • 4’x8′ – 3/4″ Plywood (x1)

  • 8″x27″ Flat Sheet of Metal

  • Frameless Cabinet Hinges

  • Wood Glue

  • 4’x8′ – 1/2″ Plywood (x2)

  • Metal Pop Rivets

  • 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws

  • 1″ Finish Nails

Step-by-step guide on making DIY plantation shutters

Making slats for shutters

Step 1: Cut the frame and slats

Start with ¾” plywood and cut using a skill saw to turn the full sheet of plywood into four smaller pieces. The inside window and louvre frames are made using ¾” plywood. The slats will be made from ½” plywood. Cut the ½” plywood into smaller sections, then cut the slats with a table saw, ensuring each cut is perfectly straight.

Step 2: Chamfer each slat

Use a wood router to make the front and back slats rounded. A simple round-over bit should do the trick to chamber the edges. A router table is preferable to chamfer the corners perfectly.

Step 3: Trim the slats

The control arm that will open and close your slats can be placed on the front or back. The arm is a flat sheet of metal that joins the slats together. For this, each slat needs a notch cut out on the back. Use a table saw and raise the blade 5/8 of an inch. Clamp several slats together, then cut a notch the same thickness as the saw blade.

Step 4: Drill holes on each slat

Your slat holes need to be exactly in the centre of each slat to ensure even gaps between them. Use a drill press and drill straight and evenly centred holes.

Step 5: Chamfer the rail boards

The louvre frame will feature two side pieces attached to the slats on the top and bottom rails. Use a table saw to chamfer each board at a 45-degree angle.

Step 6: Drill pocket holes

Drill two pocket holes on the backside of the chamfered rails using a Kreg Jig. These holes will hold the louvre frame together. Make sure you set the Kreg Jig for ¾” wood thickness, then drill the holes.

Step 7: Measure and mark the holes on the stile boards

The louvre stile pieces need to be measured from the bottom at 5 1/2″. This will be the centre of the first slat. From that mark, continue every 3″ until you get to the last mark at 5” from the top of the stile.

Step 8: Drill holes for the frameless cabinet hinges

Frameless cabinet hinges are an optimal choice for a more minimal look, and they allow you to open the louvres without knocking the trim. Use a 1 3/8″ by 3/8″ Shank Forstner Drill Bit along with a 7/64″ Self Centering Hinge Drill Bit to drill holes for the hinges.

Measure 12″ from the bottom of the stile board and 12″ from the top, then place the hinge at the 12″ mark before pushing down on them with a scratch awl. This marks the position with a little dent. Drill a 1 3/8″ hole in the centre of the mark with a Shank Forstner drill bit, then position the hinge inside the hole and pre-drill the screw positions using a self-centring hinge drill bit on every stile board that requires it.

Step 9: Attach rails to stile boards

Assemble the frame of the louvre by attaching the top and bottom rail to the board with the hinges. We recommend using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws and wood glue. Insert the slats, ensuring the notch for the control arm is facing the stile board with the hinges.

Step 10: Attach second stile board

Take the other stile board, insert the slats into the holes, and then attach the stile board to the rail using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws and some wood glue. Attach the frameless cabinet hinges as well.

Step 11: Make the control arm

This may be the most complex part of the DIY plantation shutter process:

  1. Use a flat sheet of metal that is 27” long

  2. Cut 1” wide strips

  3. Measure ½” from the bottom and make a mark (this will be for a nail to control the first slat)

  4. Continue marking every 3” on the metal strip

  5. Use sheet metal snips to cut out the control arm

  6. Place on a flat surface and hammer flat

  7. Use a scratch awl at the first ½” mark and hit it hard enough to make the nail go through the metal slightly

  8. Repeat this process for all of the marks

  9. Attach the control arm to the louvre using 1 ¼” finish nails

Step 12: Assemble the window frame

Your window frame will be the same size as the louvre. Start by drilling two pocket holes on both sides of the upper and lower frame board. Attach these boards with wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws. Assemble the frame and attach the hinge's mounting plate to the inside. Measure 12” from the top and bottom of the window frame, then attach the louvre to the frame. Screwing a small mounting plate hinge by itself is easier than holding the louvre while trying to attach it.

Step 13: Paint and install

Paint the window frame and the louvres before installing. Allow it all to dry, then insert the frame in the window, securing it with wood screws. Attach the louvre hinges to the mounting plates on all of the frame windows. 

Building shutters to improve your home

Shutters to improve your home

It may be clear that the steps above are not for the absolute beginner. You'll need some specific handyman tools and knowledge of how to use them. If you are equipped with all of this, we hope you create some stunning shutters that improve the look and your home with ease!

If this may be a little above your DIY pay grade, there is no shortage of skilled handymen you can hire to help with shutter repair and installation. Cost-effective shutter options are still within reach for those who choose not to create them from scratch themselves.

If you are a DIY wiz and have mastered the DIY shutters, keep reading our How-Tos and try other home improvements! If you want an alternative to shutters, you can learn how to install and measure curtains correctly for a new look. Additionally, check out our privacy fence ideas if you are looking to give your exteriors an upgrade.

Improving your DIY skills offers the bonus of a much nicer home! Get reading, crack out the tools, and enjoy some creative changes to your space today.

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Window Shutter FAQs

Board-and-batten shutters are easy to make and are a great way to add old-style charm to your home, protect windows and increase the security of your home.

Plywood and basswood are popular options for shutters. They can be painted and stained and are flexible and light, perfect for a variety of designs. The only downside is that they are more expensive when compared with synthetic shutters.

Yes, pine is a great option for exterior shutters and areas with mild, minimal temperature fluctuations. Pine is, however, a softwood that expands and contracts, meaning the internal movement over time will make them somewhat more susceptible to water damage.

Thickness of the wooden louvre can play a role in the quality and functionality of your wooden shutters. Most wood shutters come in 2.5 to 4.5 inch thickness. Thick louvres can offer extra durability, but some thinner options can be sturdy if the material is of good quality.

Yes! Whether you want to uplift your windows or save on heating and cooling costs, shutters make a good addition. They provide an elegant, low-maintenance fixture for windows.

Whilst it’s good to have shutters, not all windows need them. Shutters might not be appropriate for certain window types. For instance, if the windows are too wide, shutters might not be the best option.

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