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Making Louvered Doors | THISisCarpentry

Louver jig-1

…with One Router Sled

I reside in an previous stone barn that was transformed to a home within the 1950s. The grasp rest room wanted a makeover, so I gutted it in preparation for an entire overhaul. I needed to construct a brand new closet and separated rest room space, each of which wanted doorways. I made a decision to construct louvered doorways out of Mahogany, which might usually value roughly $600 from an internet provider. My complete value for supplies was lower than $200 for all three doorways.

I discovered a number of jigs and movies on the internet and in woodworking magazines that would have helped me make the slots. The one factor all of them had in widespread was that you simply wanted two jigs, one for all sides of the door. A few of the jigs value tons of of dollars, or required in depth fiddling to get good outcomes. There needed to be a greater approach that didn’t embrace a $40,000 CNC machine! The next is an outline of the jig I got here up with; it took longer to write down about it than it did to construct!

• • •

For an alternate technique of creating louvered doorways,
obtain Gary Nichols’ PDF on Making Fastened Louvers with the Festool Domino.
Gary’s technique has impressed a variety of different carpenters and craftsmen,
resembling Brice Burrell, who made a shutter with fastened louvers with the Festool Domino.

• • •

This jig will reduce slots in each stiles, prices about $13 to make, and takes just a few hours to assemble. It labored so properly that I made a decision to ship my SketchUp drawing to Gary to see if he was thinking about publishing it in TiC. He replied that I ought to doc constructing the doorways with the jig (perhaps he didn’t consider it will work!), which was greater than I bargained for, however I agreed to provide it a attempt. I’m going to incorporate plenty of ideas and particulars in case you need to do this in your personal store.

Key options of the jig embrace:

  • One jig cuts slots in each stiles
  • Jig self-centers on the stile
  • Slot width could be adjusted simply
  • Offset slots might be created by off-centering the stops
  • Constant slot spacing, size, and angles on each stiles
  • Any angle slot may be made by altering the space between the pivot factors
  • Correct and constant outcomes
  • Accommodates a lot of the mud throughout slicing
  • Straightforward and quick to make use of with a plunge router (about 10 seconds/slot)
Louver jig-1

(Observe: Click on any picture to enlarge)

The jig has 4 primary elements, which I’ll describe intimately together with some development ideas. Accuracy and the dimension of every element are each necessary. Should you obtain SketchUp Eight (the free model), you’ll be able to view my mannequin in Three-D and orbit round it in an effort to see it from any angle. I’ve additionally included feedback on the drawing, which you’ll be able to activate or off by clicking on the scene tabs on the prime of the drawing window.

Click on right here to obtain the SketchUp drawing to your pc!

Supplies you’ll need to construct the jig:

  • 1 – half″ x 2′ x 2′ Baltic Birch plywood or one thing clean, – $Eight (sufficient materials for 2 jigs)
  • 1 – Eight′ 2 x Four that’s straight – $Three
  • 2 – 1/Four x 1 half roll pins – $2
  • 1 – 1/Four x 2″ clevis pin or any 1/Four″ straight rod


The Jig Base

I began by chopping the underside of the jig base from the 1/2-in. plywood. I made mine 10 1/2 in. x 11 7/Eight in. in order that I might make two jigs from the two x 2 sheet of plywood. The dimensions just isn’t important so long as you’re shut and the corners are sq.. Subsequent, I minimize the router information rails and stops. These items orient the router within the jig and restrict its journey throughout chopping. For my router arrange, I minimize the router guides 1 1/Four in. x 11 7/Eight in., and the router stops 2 5/16 in. x Eight in. I might glue these to the bottom, however not but.

Jig base-1Jig base-1

Tip: Minimize the stops and the router base on the similar time on the desk noticed in order that they’re the very same measurement within the Eight in. dimension.

Tip: When you use inventory that’s greater than half in. thick to construct the jig, your router bit is probably not lengthy sufficient. 

The Router Base

You could not have to make a base in your router if it has a sq. base, or if the spherical base is completely centered. My router is an previous Porter Cable 690 plunge router, so I wanted to make a base. I reduce my router base from the 1/2-in. plywood and made it 6 in. x Eight in. so it will slide between the guides of my jig base. Should you select to not make a base on your router, you’ll have to modify the sizes of the router guides and stops in your jig base.

Subsequent, I drilled a 1/Four-in. gap within the middle of the router base. I put an extended 1/Four-in. drill bit in my router after which slipped the bit via the opening I simply minimize. The drill bit stored the bottom centered whereas I marked for the mounting screws and hooked up the bottom. I counter sunk the screws that mount the bottom to my router in order that the underside was flush and the router bit was centered. Centering the bit is necessary! After the bottom was mounted, I eliminated the drill bit and inserted a 1/Four-in. spiral up-cut bit.

Tip: Make the screw holes outsized so that you’ve some play whenever you safe the router base. Examine the space from the bit to every aspect and remount if needed.

Tip: Flippantly sand the within fringe of each router guides and the 6-in. sides of the router base earlier than meeting in order that they slide extra simply if you end up utilizing the jig.

Assembling the Jig

I clamped the router stops to the jig base after centering them on the bottom. They might assist me place the router guides for gluing.

I glued the router guides to the bottom, ensuring that they have been tight towards the ends of the router stops. I all the time go straightforward on the glue! DSC_3404-1DSC_3404-1
DSC_3429-1DSC_3429-1 I clamped the router guides and eliminated the router stops and the router base in order that they wouldn’t get caught from the glue squeeze-out. I then cleaned up any glue that wasn’t between the 2 items of wooden.

The Stile Guides

Whereas the glue was drying, I reduce the stile guides that connect to the underside of the jig. I minimize 18 half in. off of the straight 2 x Four inventory, and I milled two 1 1/Four in. x 1 1/Four in. x 18 in. items out of it (the size just isn’t a important dimension). Subsequent, I drilled two 1/Four-in. diameter holes alongside the middle line of every stile information—one gap wanted to be situated 6 in. in from an finish, and the opposite 1 in. in from the other finish. I did this on each items. I used a drill press (however you may use another gadget) to make sure that the holes have been perpendicular to the floor. It was essential that the holes have been centered, however the distance from the ends was not crucial. After drilling the holes, I pressed a 1/Four-in. x 1 1/2-in. roll pin into the opening that was 6 in. from the top on each items till it was protruding rather less than half in.

Stile guide-1Stile guide-1

Indexing Rail

The indexing rail ought to be lengthy sufficient to chop all the slats on one stile with out shifting the rail. My slats have been 1 in. aside, however you’ll be able to select totally different spacing. I milled the leftover 2 x Four inventory so it was 1 1/Four in. thick and 1 1/Four in. broad. On the drill press, I clamped a scrap piece of three/Four-in. plywood to the desk (to behave as a backer), with a straight piece of wooden hooked up on prime of it to behave as a fence when drilling the holes within the indexing rail. I adjusted this fixture on the drill press so the bit can be centered on the 1 1/Four-in. rail width (5/Eight in. in from the fence). I drilled a 1/Four-in. gap within the plywood backer. It’s necessary that the holes within the rail are centered, so make sure you check your set-up on some scrap. Then I slid the plywood fixture precisely 1 in. to the fitting and re-clamped (the bit ought to nonetheless be centered 5/Eight in. from the fence). I might now drill all of my holes precisely the identical distance aside, with out having to measure by indexing every gap from the earlier one which I drilled. I caught the chuck-end of a 1/Four-in. drill bit by means of the beforehand drilled gap within the rail and inserted it into the plywood gap. I drilled holes from one finish to the opposite. The variety of holes must be larger than or equal to the variety of slats within the stiles.

Again to the Jig Base

Now that the glue had set, I might connect the stops and drill holes for the pivot pins. I began by drawing a advantageous line throughout the bottom, parallel to the information strips and completely centered between them. Then, I situated the precise middle of the bottom by drawing a perpendicular line centered on the 11 7/Eight-in. dimension of the bottom.

Center-1Center-1 I now had a cross on the bottom that I might use to reference the pivot holes and the router stops. The stops decide the size of the slot which ought to equal the slat width. I like to recommend not gluing the stops. I simply put a screw in every cease in order that I might modify them if needed. I situated each of my stops Three 5/Eight in. away from the middle line (for a 1 1/2 in. slat width). You’d transfer them nearer collectively for a narrower slot and additional aside for a wider slot. They need to all the time be positioned the identical distance from the middle line until you needed the slots to be off-center within the stiles.

Tip: Place the router stops 1/32 in. nearer to the middle line and make a check slot. Check match a completed slat within the slot and both regulate the slat width or the slot size for a unfastened match.

Finding the holes for the pivot pins was the subsequent step, and it may be probably the most difficult a part of constructing this jig! The situation of those holes units the angle of the slat mortises. Whereas the angle of the louvered slats isn’t crucial, somewhat trigonometry (or a full-scale drawing) will let you set them at any predetermined angle you’d like.

This jig is predicated on a easy proper triangle. I knew the specified angle and the size of the other leg (the thickness of the stile and one stile information). I simply wanted to seek out the triangle’s hypotenuse.

pivot spacing-1pivot spacing-1

The formulation for figuring out the spacing between the pivot factors is: Stile Thickness (ST) + Thickness of 1 Stile Information (SG), divided by the sin of the Slot Angle (SA). (ST+SG) ÷ sin SA = pivot level spacing. (Don’t let this method scare you!) I might use half of this size to find out the pivot gap spacing from the middle line between the sled stops.

Instance 1:

Stile Thickness = 1.375 in.
Stile Information Thickness = 1.25 in.
Slot Angle = 30°

(1.375 in. + 1.25 in.) ÷ sin 30° = 5.25 in.

Instance 2:

Stile Thickness = 1.5 in.
Stile Information Thickness = 1.25 in.
Slot Angle = 25°

(1.5 in. + 1.25 in.) ÷ sin 25° = 6.507 in.

One other strategy can be to make use of a development calculator’s “roof” perform—there can be a number of much less keystrokes, and you would maintain all of your measurements as fractions. By which case, your math can be as follows:

Stile Thickness = 1 Three/Eight in.
Stile Information Thickness = 1 1/Four in.
Slot Angle = 30°

1 Three/Eight in. + 1 1/Four in. = [RISE]30 [PITCH][DIAG] … 5 1/Four in.

Word: Remember that altering the thickness of the fabric used for the stiles or the stile guides will change the slot angle.

Now that I had decided the spacing, I drilled two 1/Four-in. holes on the road that was parallel to the stile guides. I spaced mine 5 1/Four in. aside, putting them 2 5/Eight in. from both sides of the middle line intersection. DSC_3432-1DSC_3432-1
DSC_3435-1DSC_3435-1 It is vital that these holes be positioned appropriately to realize the specified slot angle. If I moved the holes nearer to the middle mark, the angle of the slots can be decreased, and shifting them additional away would improve the slot angle.
Now that I had my pivot holes drilled, I hooked up the stile guides to the underside of the jig base by inserting the roll pins that have been protruding of the stile guides into the pivot holes. The stile guides ought to connect securely and nonetheless be capable of pivot. DSC_3436-1DSC_3436-1

I gave the jig a attempt on a bit of scrap that was the identical thickness as my stiles—1 Three/Eight in.—and I adjusted the router in order that my slots would minimize 1/Four-in. deep into the stiles. This check reduce the slot within the base and check scrap.

Tip: Mark one aspect of the router base and one aspect of the router jig so that you simply all the time place the router the identical method within the jig. Any error in mounting the router to the bottom can be doubled, and the slot can be enlarged and/or lengthened, making it troublesome to align the jig for the primary slot.

DSC_3418-1DSC_3418-1Right here’s the actually cool half concerning the jig: The stile guides pivot in parallel and get nearer collectively or additional aside whereas preserving the stile centered. This lets you clamp them tight to the stile when routing. If you end routing all the slots on one stile, pull one of many stile guides off of the jig, rotate the opposite information 60 levels, and reattach the information that you simply simply eliminated. You at the moment are prepared to chop the opposite stile!


Constructing the Louvered Door

I began by getting ready all of my inventory (joint, aircraft) for the rails and stiles.

In case you are making a number of doorways or shutters and they’re totally different sizes, make the bigger ones first to be able to use any errors to make the smaller ones! You don’t want to tear the stiles to width or reduce them to size presently; this manner, you haven’t ruined as a lot wooden in the event you make a mistake. In fact, you’ll be able to all the time use your errors to make the required 60-plus slats for every door. DSC_3392-1DSC_3392-1
DSC_3395-1DSC_3395-1 I recommend leaving the stiles a few inches lengthy and the highest and backside rails 1/Four in. too large. The door might be trimmed to remaining measurement after remaining meeting. I drew strains on the stiles to mark the approximate places of the rails, after which adjusted their positions so the slats would fall evenly between them. I used blue tape to mark the rail positions alongside each stiles. It will be very troublesome to patch a misplaced slot!

Subsequent, I made a mark throughout the stile to point the place my first slat would start. After attaching the jig to the stile, I appeared by means of the slot gap within the backside of the jig for the mark that I made throughout the sting of the stile. I aligned the top of the slot with that mark, and clamped the stile guides to the stile. At this level, I nonetheless needed to clamp the indexing rail to the stile, so I waited to activate the router. I used a 1/Four-in. clevis pin to index the jig to the rail, however something that’s 1/Four in. x 2 in. or extra will work. With the jig firmly clamped within the right place for the primary slot, I positioned the pin by means of the top gap within the stile information and into the top gap within the indexing rail. I then firmly clamped the indexing rail to the stile with two clamps. Don’t transfer the indexing rail till all of the slots have been routed. If you should transfer the clamps, transfer separately.

Tip: In case you make the rail width in 1/2-in. increments, they may fall between the slots!

Tip: When you depart the stiles at the very least 5/16 too broad, you possibly can minimize off the sting with the miss-cut slots and begin over. I want that I had considered this earlier than I reduce my first stile!

DSC_3440-1DSC_3440-1Tip: Don’t reduce the mortises or rails to width till all the slots are reduce, simply in case…!

After I reduce all the slots within the first stile, I eliminated the jig and set it as much as minimize the other stile. I turned the jig over and pulled off one of many stile guides after which rotated the opposite stile information in order that it will be on the opposite aspect of the slot within the jig base. After I re-attached the stile information that I had simply eliminated, I used to be prepared to chop the slots within the opposing stile. I double-checked my angle on the stile that I had simply routed—the slot within the jig base must be 60 levels to the slots I simply minimize.

As soon as all the slots have been reduce, I positioned the rails and marked them for the mortises.


A TiC article wouldn’t be full with out mentioning that I used a Domino XL700 to chop the mortises. DSC_3399-1DSC_3399-1

Milling the Slats

The slats have been ripped to five/16 in. thick on the bandsaw from my “errors.” I ran my inventory throughout the jointer earlier than ripping in order that I might have a clean floor on one aspect. If I had tried to aircraft each side with the planer, I wouldn’t have had an excellent floor—the noticed marks would telegraph by means of skinny inventory. I used a 1/Eight-in. radius, half-round cutter on the shaper to spherical over the sides of the slats earlier than chopping them to size.

Tip: Run the slats by way of the planer with their ends butted so that you’ve one steady stream of wooden going by way of the planer. This can scale back snipe on the ends. The slats must be about 1/32 in. much less in size than the space between the bottoms of the slots within the stiles.

I wasn’t wanting ahead to sanding greater than 60 slats on each side—I made three doorways; that’s 195 slats! I clamped some lengthy scrap, which was lower than the thickness of the slats, to a desk in a sq. U-shape to carry the slats whereas I sanded them with a belt sander. 220-grit gave me a pleasant end on the mahogany. I used to be capable of sand 195 slats in an hour!


I sanded the louver slots by hand, with a block, and the sides of the rails that confronted the slats as nicely (the highest of the underside rail, each edges of the center rail, and the underside of the highest rail). I made positive to not spherical over the sides of the stiles till the rails have been hooked up.

Tip: Dry match the door body with a couple of slats inserted. You don’t need to discover out that your slats or tenons are a hair too lengthy if you end up gluing the body collectively.

I rounded all 4 lengthy edges on the rails with a Radi-Aircraft. I made positive to not get carried away with rounding over the sides on the stiles earlier than assembling the body, in order that I wouldn’t find yourself with an ugly groove the place the rails and stiles met. I created two mortises on the ends of every rail, and within the corresponding places on the stiles.

Tip: When you make your personal dominos, or purchase the lengthy ones that you need to minimize to size, don’t overlook to chamfer the ends in order that they’re simpler to insert.

After dry becoming the body collectively, I needed to take it aside in order that I might glue the tenons and insert the slats. In the course of the dry match I stored asking myself this query: “How am I going to attach up the body and insert all of these slats earlier than the glue grabs?” The reply: Don’t use water-based wooden glue! I used epoxy as a result of it gave me probably the most working time.

Tip: Reverse your clamps (if they’ve this function) to unfold the stiles aside, or use a block of wooden, to be able to ensure that the slots you narrow are protected whenever you start to coax it aside with a hammer.

I knew to complete the slats and slots earlier than I inserted the slats into the body. I put them in a 5-gallon drum of Penofin Marine Oil End to soak, after which I wiped them dry after 30 minutes of soaking. A movie end would have been troublesome to restore when the time involves clean up the end, however oil could be very straightforward to use and wipe off. When you do determine to make use of a movie forming end, apply the primer to the slats and slots earlier than you assemble the door. In case you are utilizing polyurethane, apply a coat to the slots and slats earlier than meeting. You might also need to undersize the slats somewhat to make room for the paint. Once I paint louvered doorways, I spray them with Alkyd paint, which leaves an ideal end.


It was then time to assemble the door. I utilized epoxy, sparingly, into the mortises on the stiles and slid the door collectively till the stile simply touched the slats that I had already inserted into the opposing stile. Because the slots have been 1/Four-in. deep, I used to be capable of pull them out of the slot sufficient to get them began within the different stile earlier than they fell out. You will be unable to angle the stile until you narrow all your mortises oversize, which I didn’t.


I discovered to only take my time, and I made positive that I positioned every slat in order that it was in each slots earlier than I closed that final 1/Four-in. hole between the rail and stile.

Tip: Get a helper or two to assist with slat insertion.

I gave my door a light-weight sanding and utilized the end. Then I stood again, and admired the work. DSC_3423-2-1DSC_3423-2-1

Tip: All the time be sure you keep in mind that final step!

• • •


Gene-1Gene-1Gene acquired his ardour for development out of necessity after shopping for a home that wanted a whole lot of work. His curiosity in development and woodworking continued to develop as he rebuilt his “fixer higher.” Eight years later, when the home rework was accomplished, lightning struck the home and brought on extreme hearth injury. The second rework solely took two years!

His day job in Info Techniques didn’t depart a variety of time for house restore tasks. Every new challenge created a necessity for extra instruments and extra “how one can” books—Gene has learn his stacks of Effective WoodWorking, Positive HomeBuilding and JLC magazines all cover-to-cover; he by some means even discovered the time to learn Gary Katz’s guide on trim carpentry.

Gene retired in 2011 and now works full-time on a transformed stone financial institution barn that was constructed within the 1800s. He likes to innovate and discover new methods to unravel issues that mix information from a number of disciplines.

On the uncommon events when he takes a break, he additionally enjoys snowboarding and images.

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