Venetian Blinds - Canadian Woodworking Magazine


Venetian Blinds

When we decided to finish off our basement recreation room, it was easy to find suitable furniture pieces, but when it came to window finishing I wanted wooden slat Venetian blinds. Although, I could find some in the décor stores they were quite expensive and came in only a limited selection of colours. No colour available suited the room and so I set out to make my own.

Pick out a regular set of inexpensive blinds and have them cut at the store to the correct width for your window. That will give you the basic hardware to build the blind, the mounting strings/cords and the rewind mechanism. Temporarily hang this in your window to determine the necessary number of slats that you will need for your window. Once that's done, you can completely disassemble the blind.

Disassemble store blinds

Remove drive rod

Use wedge to remove parts from the basic assembly
Note the construction so that you can reassemble it later. You will only need to keep one slat to use as a template. The new slats can be made from almost any type of wood. I chose poplar or, as it is frequently sold in the lumberyard, whitewood. This wood is generally very clear and has good flexibility in thin strips. It also takes a stain easily.

Cut from a 3/4" thick board, pieces 1" wide (or as wide as the slats from the disassembled blind) and add about 1/8th" in width for finishing the edges. Make the length equal to the template.

Cut blanks for slats
The new slats will be cut from this material. Each piece should yield 4 slats. Cut enough pieces to make all the slats you will need. Use the jointer to clean up the sawcuts and give a finished piece 3/4" x 1".

Each slat needs some holes for the strings to pass through. The template you saved before can be used to locate these holes on the 1" face of your stock. Usually a hole about 1/2" x 1/4" is suitable. Drill these with two 1/4" holes and square with a chisel. Or, use a mortise jig cutter to make two 1/4" holes side by side.

Cut stringing holes with a mortise jig
On a bandsaw you can slit each piece into four equal 1" wide strips. These are your new slats with neatly located holes. Cut sufficient slats to do the job. Sand all surfaces. Prep for stain and finish.

Cut strips for blades

Sand strips for valence

Disassemble valance

Fit new strips into valence
(Tip: use a wide saw blade for splitting, it will make a straighter cut. 1/2" X 4 teeth/inch is suitable)

On your assembly there may be a valance slat. Cut a piece of whitewood to this size. Sand, stain and finish.

The bottom slat is similar to the main slats, but double the thickness of the main slats. For the holes in this slat just drill a 1/8th" hole for the strings to pass through and be knotted in the final assembly. If the knot is too small for the hole use a small washer or a pushpin to keep the knot from pulling through. Sand, prep for stain and finish.

Paint the metal frame and mounting hardware, a suitable colour to match the desired stain colour.

Stain all wooden parts and apply a finish of shellac or varnish to all surfaces. You will likely need 2-3 coats of finish with sanding in between each coat before the surface is smooth. Be sure the surface is smooth, as a rough surface will make cleaning more difficult. At the end, a light rub with 000 steel wool and carnuba wax, will give a great finish to each slat.

Now it's time to reassemble the blind, and mount it in the window.

JACK WALLACE is a woodworker/photographer living in Don Mills, ON.