I am a custom cabinet maker who has recently been asked to build three sets of white oak plantation shutters. I have no experience building these, and would like any advice out there. The client wants me to custom build, not outsource, and is willing to pay for this. Questions I have: are there special techniques for stapling louvers to adjustment rod? How are you spacing holes in stiles for louver pins? Any preference on louver pins? What is a good source for shutter hardware? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
From contributor K:
Many years ago I saw a show of This Old House where they visited a shutter shop. One of the few things I still remember from that is the unique modification to the stapler they had. They must have had the air pressure set just right for that stapler so not to sink the staples and to leave them stand proud about 1/8" or 3/16" from being flush. The cool part is that it looked as if they had a groove milled into the tip of the stapler in order to always cause it to properly straddle the staple in the edge of the louver that their stapling over. If you did this you would obviously need to buy some replacement parts so be sure to work that into the cost of the job.
Also, I believe they had a stapler built as a stationary tool on a table where they indexed a louver to drive the staple into its edge in a consistent manor. If I were building these, I would mill a round tenon on the ends of each louver with my Multi-Router. It makes quick work of it and very accurate. The machine is designed to receive a template fixture for producing the tenon consistently.
In regards to earlier posts, you may want to consider what louver size you will be using, this is usually the first question we ask a customer. Most common are 1 3/4", 2 1/2" and 3 1/2". The simplest and easiest to make on a small scale would be the 2 1/2", and this is also the most popular choice. If you do choose the 2 1/2" , all stile drilling for louver pins will done on a 2" center. Stile drilling by a drill press is very unforgiving, we use a Ritter drill that can drill 13 holes and has a good index system for repetition. If possible, you may want to have someone do this for you. Also the staples would be shot in the tiltrod on 2" centers. Use a 1/4" crown staple x 3/4" for this. (The staple should be 1/4" above the wood surface.) We then attach the tiltrod to the louvers using a 1/4" x 5/8" crown staple. Again, the staple should be 1/4" above the wood surface.
Originally we marked the back of the tiltrod with the proper spacing where we wanted the staples. This is best for just a few tiltrods. We later progressed to a story pole for marking tiltrods - made one each for 1 1/2" centers, 2" and 3" centers. Now that we shoot tiltrods in larger numbers, we have a index system in use so we no longer even mark the staple locations.