How to Build Interior Shutters.

If you’re here, you’re interested in interior shutters.  I don’t blame you one bit. They look good in traditional,  contemporary or heritage homes and best of all you can custom build interior shutters yourself.  No, really you can.  I did.  Here’s how.

White shaker style interior shutters in heritage home.

My neighbours have interior shutters in their historical home and I’ve always loved them.  So I stole the idea.

Some of my best ideas are stolen. The same goes for my jewellery.  Don’t worry about stealing ideas, everyone does it.  The one thing you should pay attention to is making the idea  work for you and your circumstances.  Adapt it, change it and make it your own.

I knew my neighbours’ interior shutters wouldn’t work for me because I didn’t have space on either side of my windows for opening them up.  They have 2 shutters on each window that open up just like cupboard doors, laying flat on the walls on either side of the window.  That wasn’t an option for me because I have too much stuff on either side of my windows to swing open a 15″ shutter on either side of them. There would be nowhere for the shutters to go.

In my home, a buffet blocks the wall for two windows, a sofa table blocks another, a couch blocking yet another and floor to ceiling bookcases on another.

After a good 2 years of thinking about them on and off I configured a way I could make interior shutters work in my house.  Here’s how:

Hinged Interior Shutters

 

 

MATERIALS

1/4″ birch plywood sheets (good on both sides)

1/4″ flat, square edged trim (poplar)

Non Mortise Lid Hinges and screws

1″ narrow hinges and screws (4- 6 hinges total per window)

Wood glue

Tape Measure

Clamps

Iron on Edge Banding

File

Sandpaper/Palm Sander

Drill and bits

Mitre Saw

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Measure the width and height of the interior of your window.  Plan to make each of your shutters 1/8″ smaller than the opening.

TIP – Take the window measurements from a few different places.  If they’re different it means your windows aren’t square.  If that’s the case, use the smallest of your measurements.

Woman cutting wood to length on outdoor porch.

I bought 5′ x 5′ birch plywood sheets and had the widths of my shutters cut at the lumberyard.  They can do a MUCH more accurate job on their table saw with these long panels of wood than I can when cutting them lengthwise.  I just gave them the measurements of all my shutter widths and had them cut my plywood panels into strips.  Once I got them home I just had to worry about cutting them to the right height with my mitre saw.

(The lumberyard cut my 5′ sheets into strips that were the widths I needed for shutters, then when I got the strips home, I cut them to the right length)

2.  Once all your panels are cut to size you can cut your trim to match.  This is an easy job with a mitre saw.  The trim then gets glued into place with wood glue.

TIP – Use an old credit or gift card to spread the glue.

Spreading glue on wood trim with old credit card.

 

3.  You need to put trim on both the front and backs of the plywood so the final thickness of your edges will be 3/4″.  This is what you need for the hinges.  Plus if you only put trim on one side, the shutters would be unfinished on the other side which is more offensive than dusty rose curtains.

 

 

*** If you can’t buy trim that’s long enough for your shutters you may have to piece some together to make a long enough piece.  That’s what I did (by cutting the edges of the trim on a 45 degree angle and sliding them together).  Like this.  It’s more discreet than butting the 90 degree ends of the wood together.

Placing 3" wood trim on birch plywood for interior shutters.

 

4.  Clamp your trim as soon as you get it placed.

Red clamps scattered around partially made interior shutters.

TIP – Double check that your edges are still lined up after clamping. Clamps can pull the wood off kilter.

4. Once your edge trim is applied you can lay your hinges to what will be the backside (visible from the outside of your house) of your shutters.  Pre-drill your holes.

Partially made birch plywood interior shutters laying on pine floor.

TIP – I started out using brass hinges but abandoned them because brass screws are SO soft.  Even with pre-drilling my holes I was stripping the screw heads. Use stainless or zinc hinges.

5. Screw the hinges in, making sure the wood is butted up together evenly.

Screwing small brass hinges into interior shutters.

TIP – Technically you could use only 2 hinges on each shutter, but the additional hinge in the middle helps keep the flimsy 1/4″ plywood from warping.

6. Even the shortest screws will come out the back of a 1/4″ piece of plywood.  File the tips that protrude through with a metal file.  It will just take a few zips with the file.

Filing off screw tips with metal file.

 

7. Because you’ve added trim on top of plywood the edges of your shutters are going to be hideous. Ugly little things.  Cover them up with iron on banding (which is made especially for this purpose).

Ironing on edge banding.

TIP – Don’t forget to run a block of wood with a sharp edge down your edge banding after you iron it to help everything stick well.

Please notice the scar on my hand from accidentally chopping my hand instead of a piece of kindling with an axe.

Rolling edge banding with block of wood.

TIP – You’ll still have to trim the banding. I use an X-Acto knife for this.  After trimming it, run your file down the edges to dull and flatten them even more.

 

8. Hang your shutters!

Hanging interior shutters.

TIP – Not sure how to properly hang shutters?  Read this.

9. Check to make sure the shutters open and close smoothly.  Adjust your hinges if necessary.

Opening unfinished interior hinged shutters.

 

10. Now you can finish your trim.  I didn’t want to be able to see the seam down the centre of these shutters so I’m covering them up with a piece of trim. It runs directly centred over the seam but is only glued on ONE shutter.  This way it covers the seam but you can still bend the hinges.    Also measure and cut your last pieces of trim for the tops and bottoms of the shutters.

Measuring for trim on interior shutters.

 

11. Glue and clamp all your final trim.

Clamping glued trim onto hanging interior shutters.

 

12. Sand off any areas where the trim isn’t perfectly flush.  I had to do this on a couple of spots where I joined the wood.

Sanding interior wood shutters with palm sander.

 

13.  Now paint ’em.  I painted my shutters with my Wagner sprayer because you get such a smooth, fine coat of paint.

You can see how I painted my shed in less time than it takes to make a batch of cookies here.

Black painted shed in slate backyard.

You could also use a microfibre roller for your shutters.

Just make sure to prime the shutters first, sand them after priming and then give them 2-3 coats of paint.

You’re done!  I know it seems like a lot of steps and work but it’s all fairly straight forward. Time consuming?  Yes.  Terribly complicated?  No.

Here, this guide will help make it seem less terrifying.

  1. Cut shutters and trim to size.
  2. Attach trim with glue around edges of shutters.
  3. Add hinges.
  4. Hang shutters.
  5. Glue remaining trim.
  6. Paint.

See?  Seems so much easier that way.

 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

What are the measurements?  Don’t ask me about measurements.  Someone always asks me about measurements, but when you’re custom building something for a certain space, measurements don’t mean anything.  The measurements will depend on the size of your windows. Even the trim width.  In this case I’m using 3″ trim, but if you have smaller windows or bigger windows your trim width might need to be adjusted for scale.

Do these look homemade?  Nope. At least I don’t think so, lol.

Can I have curtains too?  You don’t really need them, but sure you can have curtains too.  I’d make sure they’re very plain though with no pattern otherwise it might just look like a jumbled, busy mess.  I’m actually considering adding black velvet curtains for the winter months.

How much do interior shutters cost?  Each window treatment cost approximately $125.  But again, the cost will vary a bit depending on the size of your window.  This cost includes all the plywood, trim, hinges, screws, edge banding, glue etcetera. It does not include the cost of paint.

→Like to Sweat, Swear and do Stuff? GET MY POSTS emailed to you 3 times a week←

 

31 Comments

  1. Isabella says:

    You’re such an accomplished, smart little perfect person. You little show off. Kudos.

  2. Kristin says:

    Very nice and what a great idea!

  3. Auntiepatch says:

    Ummmmm…….you are suppose to wear the safety goggles not eat them…….

    • Dan says:

      Was going to add this comment as well. PPE doesn’t do any good if you don’t wear it. Take it from someone who has had a doctor come at their eye with what amounts to a surgical-grade dremel tool to get the embedded stuff out.

      • Karen says:

        K. Everybody calm down. If you look at the photo you can see my hand isn’t on the handle. I’m not using the saw, I’m lining the wood up. ~ karen!

  4. Carol says:

    They came out beautiful! Thanks for the plans! I have a couple windows I would like these on! Great job!

  5. Edith says:

    Soooo much better than the mauve curtains. You did a great job, as usual!

  6. Garnet says:

    Such a simple idea – no wonder I never thought of it. “Curtain” material could also be used in place of the interior plywood panel, stretched across the frame. In fact… oh so many creative applications! Thankyou for this great project.

  7. ecoteri says:

    how can I do this when I have two windows side by side with a window seat? there is a 5-6 inch chunk-of-wood between the windows. the sill isn’t very deep. Sigh, I need to make honking big shutters, don’t I – ones that only open to the side? the windows are 3 feet wide (well, maybe 2′ 6″ – each) . waaaah. these are so awesome. I don’t need them, but I want them.
    Ah well, enjoyed the two posts.
    Back to avoiding cleaning chicken eggs for the farmstand. and avoiding planting potatoes because I am lazy. and figuring out how to deal with chicken fleas. er. back to my real life, after I give up pretending that I will ever build shutters for my almost 100 year old farmhouse. Perhaps I will arrange for insulation, first.

  8. Marna says:

    Wow, that’s awesome!

  9. Jill says:

    Would it not be easier to paint prior to hanging? Did the sprayer make a mess inside your house?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jill. It wouldn’t be much easier to paint the wood prior to assembling them. You’d still have to touch them up because cutting the wood inevitably causes splintering. Either way it’s going to be a pain. I took the shutters down and painted them outside. 🙂 Although technically if you tape everything off with plastic you can use this sprayer inside. ~ karen!

  10. Bill says:

    Prior to clamping, sprinkle a small amount of table salt on the wet glue to inhibit the parts from sliding

  11. Mary W says:

    Black velvet curtains for winter – sounds as good as hot chocolate.

  12. Arlene Topps says:

    Well done! They look great!!
    You have such pretty windows with the transom above….
    I never noticed that before!

  13. Sabina says:

    Fabulous!

  14. Irena says:

    Love this idea. Question: how did you paint the shutters with the sprayer indoors? Doesn’t the spray go everywhere? Thanks.

  15. Teresa Chandler says:

    I got distracted by the stacked planter outside your beautifully painted shed. If you didn’t make that, I’ll bet you could figure it out and show us how… hint, hint. That is a perfect Spring project and since we still have snow here and are expecting more this weekend I REALLY need something to help me believe Spring will ever come.

  16. Danni McLaughlin says:

    Wow, these look fabulous and I am going to do them on a super sweet but woefully drunk-uncle’d 1928 shack we just bought at the beach. It has some of those weird long and skinny horizontal windows in the bedrooms. Gotta cover them, but they are high and curtains would look stupid and the cafe curtains on there now just block the view. This will work, provided they can make the span without sagging. Thanks Karen, you’re a star.

  17. Linda says:

    These look fabulous! I used to be a sewer (person who sews, not a drain) but now I prefer wood-working. So much more predictable and forgiving. I love the way you over-lapped the center piece to hide the hinge, very clever. However, I might use a ‘piano hinge’ for greater strength and stability.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda! I forget why I didn’t use a piano hinge, but there was a reason for it. I can’t of course think of what it was right now, lol. ~ karen!

  18. Trish says:

    How do they stay open? Or stay closed? Thanks

  19. Catherine says:

    You mentioned in a previous post that you used “A few magnets here and there and a latch (that is actually a picture hanger)” to keep the shutters from popping open. How does this work?

  20. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Bogs as woodworking tools? well that sure is thinking outside the box . . . err boots 😏. Well played.

  21. Alena says:

    My advice would be to not apply the clamps without any additional padding. If you don’t have any small pieces of plywood (for example) that you can use, fold a paper towel several times lenght~ as well as widthwise and insert these between the clamp and the shutter. The pads on the clamps are notorious was making little indentations in the wood that are hard to get rid of.

  22. Nicole S. says:

    In your tip before step 6, I think you mean “additional hinge” not shutter.

    You mention you took the shutters down to paint them. Did you also take them down to attach the final trim? I’d have thought it’d be easier to attach when the shutters weren’t swinging around on hinges?

  23. Rick says:

    To avoid stripping brass screw heads, first install a steel screw of the same size. The steel screw will thread the hole and, unless you try to drive it all the way through the wood, allow the installation of the brass screw without undue force.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Art of Doing Stuff