How I built exterior wood shutters and what I learned

marys1000October 27, 2005

Any number of months ago I posted here and Build a House forum on building wooden shutters for my new little house. Would it be feasible for a novice? How?

There was one response from someone else who had done it using biscuits which was certainly beyond me. I've only built a few birdhouses and they all looked like a kindergarten project.

I decided to give it a try anyway and here are the results and what I learned.

First - my method. Louvered was too complicated. Now I think routing would have maybe been easier than I thought then but at the time I thought too complicated so I settled on the board and batten style as the easiest to make.

I used cheap tongue and groove fir flooring from Menards. Only later did I think about the fact that this was an interior grade wood.

It didn't alway fit together that well so though I tried to use the nicest sides face out a few times I had to use sides with flaws. And they didn't fill and sand that well.

Lessons Learned: Either go to a real wood store and get nicer wood and/or use a planer. I was painting them and expressing how upset I was about the final look to a guy who said "why didn't you plane them" DUH! Cuz I'm a novice and it never occurred to me. I built them at a base wood hobby shop and they have planers I just never thought of it. 'smack forehead repeatedly'

The tongue and grove thing actually worked pretty well. I faced a lot of challenges as a novice (a guy left the chop saw at 03 which wasn't noticeable right while cutting individual boards.... and so I had slanting tops and bottoms, etc. etc. etc.) but anyone with half a clue can do this better in half the time it took me.

The tongue and groove thing limits your flexibility on exact widths a little. You have to shave the tongue/groove off the outside boards with a table saw but don't want them to look narrower than the other boards. Since the tongue and groove boards are a little less than 4" your width choices are essentially in multiples of 4. For a little window it would probably look better to use more but narrower boards but then you'd have to use biscuits. I digress.

Tools needed: I used a good mitre saw, table saw, drills, glue, good clamps, deck screws for building, stainless steel for mounting (countersunk) . You could use a circular saw instead of the mitre saw pretty easily but I think you really need access to the table saw for trimming the outside edges of the outside boards. If your more talented than me with your circular saw go for it.

Time: For most people:) You could probably build a set of 2 in an hour and a half. Add another 1/2 hour for filling and sanding (we are talking the fronts only) and another hour for various coats of paint (prime and regular). So at least 3 hours per set plus time at the store.

Cost: I think the fir was roughly 3.70 a 6 foot board, so a little less than 30.00 a set for approximately 2 x 15+" panels, plus you have to add in a tube of filler and a quart of primer and a quart of finish paint. (My windows were 48")

Though I would recommend using better wood. The fir is very soft (how could anyone use this for flooring?) and if you don't have a planer won't look the greatest close up.

In the pictures you can't really see the flaws since its late afternoon and I haven't painted the screws yet. They look ok from the road I think. Sometimes I wonder if a different style would look better or maybe no shutters at all.

I'll have to see if they bug me too much knowing to look for the flaws. In which case I can either buy plastic ones (eck) or maybe use my lessons learned and build a new set - maybe a routered version? But first i want to build a platform bed so that means we're talking a couple of years:)

Trying to give back,


Here is a link that might be useful:

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You know now that I'm looking at these more I think a bit of a groove (not a space) between the boards is more normal for store bought ones and these look a little flat. Hm. A little talented sanding might have helped that look better.
What do you all think?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2005 at 6:21PM
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Wow, I am really impressed and inspired!

I love the board & batten style.

I agree with you that a groove would bring in some texture, but I am still very impressed. :)

On Friday I'll be using a jigsaw for the first time, to make my new house numbers. Maybe I'll post pics!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 8:50PM
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These are what I am looking for can you tell me where I can find plans/instructions/hardware for this style of shutters?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 7:19PM
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I made the shutters for my home after I bought it in 1997. I used 1x6 pine boards. My spacing between the boards was 1 inch and then I placed on top and bottom and maybe up/down from ends 12 inches. I love them, and they added so much character to my home and I MADE THEM! LOL Since then I've done 2 decks, arbor, gates, planters, fences and am even buying tools...

A flat picture showing a set in the background.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 9:22PM
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Someone please help....I built my shutters I think using 1x4 wood with the cross bar appro. 12 inches from the top and bottom...I made sure that I primed and painted both sides of all the wood that I used...some of my windows are rather tall and the ones exposed to the weather want to worp and curl some I used pressure treaded wood....the really looked nice, I cut a 30 degree angle the length of all the boards and it gave them a very nice look....until the worping started....Someone I am a 71 year old female and the house I am living in was built by my Grandparents...I was completed in Dec. of 1911, the year my Father was born Dec. 12, 1911 in this the house will be 100 yrs. old Dec. of this year....I am planning to host an open house to celebrate... Patty

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 1:14PM
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The board and batten shutter style is certainly the most easy to construct. As noted on many of the posts, proper wood selection is essential to the success and life of the shutter. Inquire what is used in your area for exterior applications. Cedar is often a popular choice. You will need a wood that remains straight when not nailed or screwed in place. Also, finish quality must protect the wood for an extended life of any shutter. Keep up the good work.

Here is a link that might be useful: exterior shutters

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 8:19AM
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