August 15, 2010

Building the shutters

I have started cutting the parts for the window shutters. They are basic plank board shutters but I am adding some extra detail so they have a little more interest than a plain board does. My boards are being artificially weathered for an aged look. The wood I am using is Western Red Cedar and I have selected pieces with tight, vertical grain. They will be painted blue but the first step is to make the board have a gray tone. You can see the natural color in the groove I just cut.

A groove is cut near the edges of the boards. I want the groove to be the same distance on both edges of the boards so I am using a  jig to control the position. A small flame shaped jeweler's steel burr is being used to cut the detail. My shaper is a Cameron Deep Throat drill press, this is a specialized drill press that  turns very fast and accurately, almost as fast as a router. You can't use router bits or most cutting burrs (exception diamond coated burrs) in most drill presses and get a smooth cut in wood. So generally this work needs to be done with a Dremel or Proxxon motor mounted into a drill press or even a router table. Those machines turn fast enough for routing. Always check that the bit you are using is rated to run at the maximum rpm you plan to use for cutting.

What is important is having complete control over the board you are putting a groove into. I have created a channel which controls the board. The groove will now stay in the exact position along the edge. The only work my hands have to do is push down on the board while pushing it along through the groove.

My jig is  not fancy or complicated, it is built from wood scraps. The fence at the rear is permanently fixed to the base of the jig. The fence at the front is not fixed, I clamp it into position as required. It needs to be adjustable as my shutters are of different widths. Remember jigs can be easy to make and inexpensive. The results you get will make you look like a professional.