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Kirtz Shutter Craftmanship; assembling a quality custom shutter

The assembly department is responsible for turning lengths of components into a plantation shutter.

First, all parts are cut to length according to the exact specifications for your custom shutter.  After parts are cut, they are placed onto a cart with job sheets that details each opening in the order.

At Kirtz we take a few extra steps during assembly before the panel comes together to make sure that your shutter is built to the highest of quality standards.

Each tilt rod is given personal attention.  We shape the top of the tilt rod in a machine we designed to give the rounded top that is unique to a Kirtz Shutter.  Then, the top of each rod is sanded smooth so it has the same quality finished look as other parts of our shutters.

tilt-rod-shaping

After shaping it is sanded smooth

After shaping it is sanded smooth

Before the shutter is put together, each louver end is burnished with a sander.  Again, this extra step allows the ends of the louvers to accept the painted finish better, and eliminates the rough ends you would typically find with louvers that are cut, but not sanded.

Burnishing louver ends

Burnishing louver ends

Next, the louvers and tilt rod are fed through a machine that attaches them together with staples and puts pins in the end of each louver, and your shutter panel is ready to be put together.

Joinery of a Kirtz Shutter

At Kirtz we use dowels to join the stiles and rails of each shutter together.   Wood glue is put into each hole that will be receiving a dowel.  Then we use dowels that are slightly larger than the hole they are inserted into.   This requires the use of a hydraulic clamp to put the stiles and rails together.  After the shutter has been clamped together, small pin nails are applied to the backside of the shutter through the dowels, giving it an extra dose of reinforcement.

This method has been used by Kirtz for many years, and we confidently stand behind the joinery of a Kirtz Shutter for a lifetime.

The shutter comes together on the clamp table and is pin nailed for extra strength

The shutter comes together on the clamp table and is pin nailed for extra strength

Framing

Just like a door hangs in a frame, many times your  hardwood shutter will be in a frame.  We have several framing options at Kirtz to accommodate a variety of decors and types of windows.    After your shutters have been assembled, the frames that surround them are built.

At Kirtz we customize many of our frames so that they fit around window cranks and lever locks.  By doing these notches in the factory when possible, the notch receives a finish coat of paint instead of touch up in the field.

For more information on notches, see my post about plantation shutters in casement windows.

This completes your shutter assembly, next stop finish department!

Kirtz Shutter Craftmanship; Making the parts makes the difference for your custom shutters

Hardwood shutters by Kirtz start at our factory as raw lumber.  We typically buy direct from the best lumber mills across the country, with a great deal of our lumber coming from the Northern US.

A load of lumber for Kirtz Shutter, before sorting

A load of lumber for Kirtz Shutter, before sorting

Lumber goes through the following process to become parts for your plantation shutters.

All lumber is tested upon arrival for proper dryness.  Using lumber that has been wet, or is not properly kiln dried could result in warping.  Obviously, this would be bad news for a shutter, so each load is tested immediately upon arrival to be sure that it meets the criteria for furniture quality use.

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Painted Custom Shutters… Why Use Maple?

At Kirtz we like to do things different, not just simply for the sake of being different, but because we want to bring something above average and a little special to our customers.  In our painted plantation shutter, that something special is the wood we use.

The founder of our company was a woodworker, in fact he got his start in the industry as a trim carpenter until the economy and life took him a new direction (I’m sure a few of you can relate given the world’s present state).  So when he decided to make shutter, he picked the wood that from his experience, would the best wood for a plantation shutter– MAPLE.

Why Maple?   In one word, STRENGTH.

 Maple is about twice as dense as shutter industry standard woods such as basswood and poplar.   What does that mean for the you, the buyer?  An awful lot in the long run.  Your shutter is put together with fasteners, staples that hold the louvers into the tilt rod.  Time and use of the product stresses these fasteners.  In softer woods, such as basswood and poplar, they often come loose over time.  The result is that the shutter does not function as it was originally intended.   A Kirtz Shutter is guaranteed never to have this problem, and if it did, it would be covered by our warranty.

Have you ever had a piece of pine furniture?  Did you notice how easy it was to dent the wood if something accidently bumped or banged into it?  The same is true of a poplar or basswood shutter, they can easily dent and ding at the slightest impact, thus increasing the look of wear and tear on the shutter.

The strength of maple also gives us ultimate FLEXABILITY IN DESIGN. 

In Height:  The Kirtz Shutter does not need a midrail (also called a divider rail) until after 96″ in height.  Industry standard is 72″.  That means you can have two more feet of unobstructed louver space by using a custom shutter by Kirtz out of maple.

In Width:  With shutters warrantied up to 38″ in width, customer’s have the ultimate flexibility in designing their shutters for the best fit to their space without the constraints of industry standard shutters.

Often I meet with customers who are confused with the variety of materials that a plantation shutter can be made from and the variety of pricing that goes along with them. 

My advice to them, and to you, is this — 

Plantation Shutters are one of the largest financial investments in window treatments that you can make.    They will provide beauty and protection for many, many years.  All shutters are NOT created equal.   In an economy where every dollar counts,  we all want to make sure we spend our money wisely.  

Choose the plantation shutter that will provide you the best product experience over the life of your shutter, not just in the beginning.  And just as important, choose a company that you can trust to provide you great customer service, both before the sale and years after your shutters are installed.  That, in my life experience, is true value that pays dividends long after the check has cleared the bank. 

I’ll end this (and step off my soap box) after I share my favorite quote.  I try to live it every day, in the products I represent to the products I purchase for myself and my home.

“The bitterness of poor quality, lingers long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

A Case Study in Customization of Kirtz Plantation Shutters

Yesterday we finished a plantation shutter installation at a new branch of SNB, a local bank, with national presence.     Just like many of our jobs, this was a “one off” of Kirtz custom shutters.   Let me explain, with some photos to help.

Designer Request:

Make each window opening appear as one seamless unit, and provide a finished casing around the opening. Build the custom shutters out of oak and custom stain them to match the flooring.

Sounds simple, right?

The Challenge

When the windows arrived from the manufacturer the transom portion that seamed to the lower window did not line up uniformly.  This is because both outside and inside jambs of the upper unit were different widths than the jambs of the lower unit.

The Solution

Kirtz mounted the oak shutter and frame inside the window jamb with custom width framing around each unit.  This allowed us to align the stiles (vertical part of the shutter) so that each shutter panel is the same width and provides a continuitous vertical line.

One issue solved, one to go…….

The Challenge

Standard work of applying casing onto a frame at the factory would not provide a cased look to the opening since this opening had to be installed as four separate shutter units due to the window jamb issues mentioned above.

The Solution

Custom width casing was milled to be applied in the field around the entire window unit.  These trim pieces not only surround the outside of the opening, but run along all vertical and horizontal window mullions to provide a uniform cased appearance, eliminating any hint of the window’s irregularity.

The windows before hardwood shutters

The windows before hardwood shutters

This illustrates the different jamb widths of the window pre-shutter installation

This illustrates the different jamb widths of the window pre-shutter installation

This close up illustrates how we unified the upper and lower units to look cohesive

This close up illustrates how we unified the upper and lower units to look cohesive

Thefinished unit

Thefinished unit

Walnut Plantation Shutters in Commercial Spaces

This post is about a very special project for Kirtz Shutters.    We just completed installation of walnut shutters for Coach Gundy’s office, the head football coach of Oklahoma State University. Go Pokes!

Our company is composed of many individuals who “bleed orange”, no one more so than our owner, Chris.  So needless to say, we felt privileged to have the opportunity to work on this project.

But lets talk about the shutters, there are a few unique charecteristics to note about this project.

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