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Plantation Shutter Construction

Posted by Shutter Medic ® on 12/12/2011

This post will briefly cover the different methods that manufacturers use to assemble the panel of a wood plantation shutter and to describe the benefits and drawbacks (if any) of each method.  For the purpose of this post, first let’s go over some terminology.  A shutter panel frame is made of two vertical members called Stiles and upper and lower horizontal members called Rails.  In some cases a middle Rail is installed to add rigidity to tall panels, and for appearance on shorter panels

Specifically we will be focusing on the corners or the shutter panel where the Stiles and Rails meet.  Shutter panels acquire their strength and rigidity from the joinery method(s) used at these locations. 

Invented by the Egyptians, and still considered by many the best method, is the Mortise and Tenon.  When constructed properly, this joint is very strong.shutter mortise and tenon  The drawbacks are that it is prone to tension forces if badly constructed, and time consuming to fabricate.  Nowadays, however, it is much easier to construct high quality Mortise and Tenon joints faster with the aid of dedicated machinery.

Another means of joinery are Dowels.  Dowels are cylindrical piece of wood cut to a certain lengths.  Holes are drilled in both the Rails and Stiles.  The Dowels are placed into these holes along with glue and the two pieces are joined.  This technique is well suited for fast fabrication and assembly of plantation shutters. 
When using this method it is important to use the correct size dowel fplantation shutter dowel constructionor the project.  If undersized dowels are utilized the joints can fail.  This problem is exacerbated if panels have to carry the weight of additional panels in, for instance, a bi-fold installation.  It is recommended that a minimum of two dowels, no smaller than one half (1/2) inch in diameter be used where Rails and Stiles join.

The last method we will discuss is the use of mechanical fasteners such as screws.  This is a very strong alternative to the aforementioned methods.  As with dowels, at least two screws are used at each corner of the shutter panel.  They should be recessed into the stile, the holes plugged, and sanded.

As with all of these methods, none are designed to be taken apart.  If you should find yourself in a situation requiring removal and installation of a new louver, you will need to utilize a spring loaded louver repair pin.  By simply using your finger, you can make the pin flush with the inside of the shutter stile.  This allows you to move the louver over the pin.  When the pin finds the hole at the end of the louver, it pops into the hole, and secures the louver in the shutter panel.