How to Build Cedar Shutters

What You'll Need
1 inch by 6 inch cedar boards (depending on how many windows are to be covered)
1 inch by 4 inch cedar board cross pieces ( depending on shutters being built)
Table or skill saw
Weatherproof glue
Assorted sandpaper
Spar or exterior varnish
Mineral spirits
Weatherproof hinges and screws
Tape measure
Carpenters square

Building cedar shutters is a project that can add charm and elegance to a home, while at the same time, bringing pride of ownership to the homeowner. These functional and attractive window additions are easy and quick to build, requiring a minimum of skill and tools. When completed with the correct finish, these additions can last a lifetime, while providing protection against all weather conditions. 

Step 1 Planning and Measurement

Begin this project by drawing out and planning shutters for each window to be covered. Take measurements and convert into board feet by using the formula, 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch thick is one board foot. Cedar boards are sold by board feet or in lengths of 4 feet that usually come in widths of 4 or 6 inches, approximately ¾ of an inch thick.

Step 2 Cut and Assemble Shutters

Once the measurements for each window have been established, lay out the cedar boards end to end and dry fit them together. If they do not fit tightly, run ends through a table saw or wood planer to square the board edges. Once the boards are squared, edge join them by applying glue to each edge and clamping them tightly together.

Using the 1x4 inch cedar cross members, glue, clamp and screw them to the longer shutter boards. Trim the ends of these cross members if necessary, or make them longer to fit the built up shutters.

Step 3 Attach Shutters to Window Frames

Using weatherproof hinges and screws, attach the hinges to the window frames. Mark hinge locations approximately 6 inches from the top and bottom of the shutters. Use a hinge-centering drill attachment to center the hinge screws before driving them home.

Cedar shutters can be fastened shut with hardware suited for this purpose and secured in the open position, again using hardware designed for this purpose. Be certain to use weatherproof hardware for these functions.

Step 4 Apply Final Finish

Although cedar is extremely weather resistant and has a natural, charming rustic look as it ages, a little varnish will extend its looks and keep it from turning gray prematurely. Begin by rough sanding the shutters with 100 grit sandpaper to add a smooth finish to them. Work up to 220 grit to bring the cedar to a fine and natural finish.

Wipe the shutters with a clean cloth saturated with mineral spirits. When the mineral spirit has dried, apply a solution of 25% varnish and 75% mineral spirits. This initial coat will be soaked up by the cedar sealing it completely. Next, apply a solution of 50% varnish and 50% mineral spirits. Sand lightly with the 220 grit sandpaper. Finally, apply a 100% coat of varnish to complete seal the wood and give it a smooth, soft luster.