Louvered Shutter Construction

How Louvered Shutters Are Made

The construction of louvre shutters is intricate work requiring a keen eye for detail and a range of complex woodworking skills. If you would like to know how these elaborate window coverings are made, this five-minute guide will give you an idea of processes that are involved in louvered shutter construction.

Louvre Shutter Design

Louvered shutter construction
Simplified design of a sliding French window panel with solid raised bottom and louvered top

The first step involves measuring the window to determine the required proportions and deciding how the finished shutters should look. Key considerations include:

  • The configuration of the shutters (cafe / full-height / tier-on-tier)
  • Their shape (standard / arched / circular / triangular / other)
  • What mechanism will be used to tilt the louvers, if any
  • How many panels are required
  • Whether the panels will fold out or sit on tracks

Once the measurements have been recorded and the design envisaged, detailed plans are drawn up to guide the construction of the shutters.

Making Louvered Shutters

This section gives an overview of how the very most basic louvered shutter panels are made. The process of building louvered shutters whose slats open and close is far more involved, so I’ll spare you the detail on this for now.

First of all, the pieces of wood are cut to shape using a power tool with a shaped cutter known as a router. The slats or ‘louvers’ are shaped using a special attachment on the router called a roundover, and a mechanical sander is used to smooth out any lumps and bumps.

Once all the components have been cut and shaped, it’s time to make the mortise and tenon joints. These are used to connect the rails (the horizontal bits above and below the louvers) to the stiles (the vertical bits on either side of the louvers). They comprise of a protruding tongue (the tenon) that slots neatly into a hole (the mortise), forming a strong joint that can later be wedged or glued¬† secure.

With the mortise and tenon joints prepared, the whole frame is sanded smooth and a tool known as a plunge router is used to form grooves at 45 degree angles in the stiles. This is where the louvers will sit. A custom-made jig holds the wood in place and guides the work through a controlled motion, ensuring a neat finish with evenly aligned grooves.

Once all the grooves are in place, the shutter can finally be assembled. First the slats are dry-fit into the grooves in the stiles, then the stiles are glued to the rails using the mortise and tenon joints that were prepared earlier. Any excess glue is cleaned off and the whole structure is clamped together to dry.

The final step in louvered shutter construction is the application of the desired finish, usually a paint or stain. If the shutters are being painted, a couple of coats of primer are required beforehand to ensure an even finish. Where a stain is used instead, a few coats of polyurethane or lacquer are often applied to the surface to add richness and depth of colour.

What About Operable Louvered Shutters?

Operable louvre shutters with tilt rod
Operable louvre shutters with tilt rod

As I mentioned earlier, shutters with operable slats are much more complicated to make so unless you have experience of this, it’s best to leave it to the experts.

Operable louvre shutters are made in such a way that the slats can be opened and closed by means of a metal lever or pulley system, either manually or via remote operation. This enables you to regulate the amount of light and ventilation that is admitted into the room, giving far greater flexibility.

If you would like some operable louvered shutters for your home, Shutter Design can help. Our specialist craftsmen have a wealth of experience in constructing louvered shutters, and are able to provide attractive and cost effective solutions for even the most unusual of windows.

Call us on 01423 359230 to discuss your requirements in detail and arrange a free, no-obligation home visit. Alternatively, if you would like more information on louvered shutter construction, About.com has a detailed guide to making louvered doors and window shutters that is written specifically for experienced woodworkers.

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