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How to Build Window Shutters

Updated on February 2, 2012
Beautiful window shutters on a balcony in France.
Beautiful window shutters on a balcony in France. | Source

Functional window shutters once flanked the windows of many houses. On stormy and windy days, the homeowners would reach outside the window, unlatch each shutter, and pull them together to close over the window. These were effective barriers that prevented the window glass from breaking. When they weren't in use, the window shutters laid flat against the house on both sides of the window.

Window shutters enhance the aesthetic presentation of windows. They add substance and visual weight to each window's appearance and make a perfect opportunity to add a punch of contrasting color against the house's facade.

Working window shutters are not the standard for houses these days, but if you want them, you can certainly order them or buy woodworking plans to make your own.

How to Make Your Own Window Shutters

These plans will guide you through the construction of simple window shutters. If you make the window shutters to fit the exact width of the window, you can make them functional. After constructing the shutters, attach outdoor hinges and locking hardware them to open, close, and lock the shutters.

You can also install these shutters as aesthetic accents without the hinge and locking hardware. Skip the hardware installation and permanently affix each shutter to the house with screws instead.

Materials and Tools for the Job

1-by-4-inch pine boards

Tape measure


Straight edge


Compound miter saw

Wood glue

1-1/2 inch exterior wood screws


Wood putty


4 shutter hinges

Shutter latch

The Process

Step 1.

Measure the width and height of your windows from the outside.

Divide the width by 4 inches to calculate how many 1-by-4s would cover the window. Keep in mind that most milled lumber measure just shy of their stated dimensions, so double-check the width measurement of the 1-by-4s before calculating this step – it may measure 3/4-by-3 3/4.

Step 2.

Transfer the height measurement of the window to a 1-by-4 with a tape measure and a pencil. Make a straight cut through the wood with the compound miter saw.

Cut the remaining number of boards using the same length measurement as this first piece. Depending on the width of the window, cut a total of 6 to 12 pieces.

Step 3.

Divide the amount of the cut 1-by-4s into two groupings. Align them side by side. Measure the width across the boards with the tape measure.

Use this measurement to cut two to three pieces of 1-by-4 for each window shutter using the compound miter saw. These pieces form the crossbars to hold the long 1-by-4s together.

Step 4.

Glue the meeting sides of the aligned long 1-by-4s of each shutter together.

Evenly space the shorter cross bars perpendicular across the long 1-by-4s, from top to bottom. Lift each one up and apply wood glue between the crossbars and the long 1-by-4s.

Step 5.

Use a drill to screw wood screws through the cross bars and into the long 1-by-4s. Screw the screws in a straight, horizontal line across the middle of each crossbar, with two screws going into each long 1-by-4.

Set them aside to dry overnight.

Hang the Window Shutters

Step 1.

Mark a level line across the top and bottom of the side of the windows, using the length measurements of each shutter.

Step 2.

Select a contrasting color to paint your shutters, choosing one that highlights your house's design. Paint the shutters before hanging them.

Step 3.

Align the hinge hardware to one side of each shutter. Mark the screw holes, and attach the hinges to the window shutters with the hings screws.

Step 4.

Align the window shutter to the outside of the window frame. Mark the screw holes with a pencil, and set the shutter aside.

Step 5.

Pre-drill holes into the window frame at the marked positions. Use support anchors if the hinge hardware includes them.

Align the window shutter back up to the window frame, and screw the hinges to the frame with a drill.

Step 6.

Swing the window shutters close, and attach the latch hardware with a drill and screws.

Also attach a hook or latch to the house to hold the shutters in the opened position.


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