How to Make Bahama Shutters

White house with two light blue Bahama shutters
  • 4-8 hours
  • Advanced
  • 550-600
What You'll Need
Louver slats
Table saw
Mortise form
Corner wood clamps
T square
Safety glasses
Wood glue

Bahama shutters combine two functions. Not only do they offer the shade of traditional shutters, but the louvers also provide ventilation in a room. They’re most common in southern states. They also give protection in bad weather, making them especially useful. You’ll need good carpentry skills to make Bahama shutters for your home, but here’s how to complete the task.

Step 1 - Legalities

Before you begin making Bahama shutters you need to look at the building codes in your area as there will probably be specifications you’ll have to meet. No matter where you are it will be necessary that the shutters fit over the window frame but inside the building frame. This means that the closed shutter is flush with the face of the building.

Step 2 - Design

hands over a sketch of a house

Your design for the Bahama shutters is very important. The shutter itself fits to the top of the window frame, attached with hinges so it can tilt out. Within the frame of the Bahama shutters louvers are fitted. These can be tilted open to give ventilation through the window.

For the frame of the shutters you should use treated wood or cedar that is 1-inch by 2-inches or 1-inch by 4-inches. Which you choose will depend on the size of the shutters; larger windows will require thicker wood.

Step 3 - Frame

Once you have your measurements for the Bahama shutters you can make the frame. First cut the vertical parts, known as rails, and the stiles, or horizontal pieces. As you’ll be using tenon joints to join the pieces so allow an extra inch on each side for these. For the low stile at the bottom of the frame, use wider wood to offer more stability.

Now you need to cut the mortises on the rails. You’ll need the router, drill, and the mortise tool to make them. There will be mortises for each of the louvers that will fit in the Bahama shutters. Line the rails up by each other to be certain the mortises are level. With this done, use sandpaper to clean the corner, and cut the mortise and the inside top and bottom of each rail. After this make the tenon, or tongue, in the stiles to fit into each of the rails. Dry fit the frame pieces together and cut the louvers, with the tenons on the edges, to fit in the frame. Dry fit these, too.

Step 4 - Finish

Sand the ends of the wood and then use varnish on the ends to give a waterproof seal. Allow to dry in a well-ventilated room before proceeding. Put glue in the mortises of the frame and fit all the pieces, including the louvers, together.

Use corner clamps on each corner, tighten, and leave in place overnight so the joints will be tight. The next morning loose the clamps. Screw the hinges to the top of the Bahama shutter and fit to the window frame, making sure the shutter will open and close easily. Use wood and hinges to make a prop to keep the Bahama shutter open.