Introduction: Horizontal Shutters to Cover Skylight

About: Maker & Mother. Author of the book 'Hey Teacher, Find Your Inner Designer', director of a fab lab in Rotterdam & teacher and researcher mainly concentrated in Maker Education.

In 2017 we started rebuilding our house, an old farm near Delft. This old farm had two rooftops and we decided to combine both floors by adding a new horizontal roof instead of two sliding roofs. With that, we created a lot of extra space and more practical space.

We placed skylights on the roof. But we did not find a covering option for these skylights that we liked and/or fits our style. So, we made our own.

We are using the shutters for almost two years now, but until now I did not make any time for creating an Instructable for it. But I got many reactions on this project that I placed on Instagram earlier: I had to calibrate the sliding system once (after a few months) due to temperature shifts. This was easy to do. I added the design files for the 3D printer but you could also put some wood in between.

I tried to write this instructable for all makers out there, inexperienced or professionals, and everything in between. In this instructable, I also explain how you could make a shutter that fits your skylight, so it is not restricted to a square shutter as I made.

Let me know what you think of this project!

If you have any questions according to this instruction, please let me know.



  • Wood
    thickness and length differ from your project. (see step 1 for more details)
  • Sliding door system (set of 2 per shutter)
  • Wood glue
  • Optional: screw or nails


  • Screwdriver/drill
  • Clamps (at least 4, preferably 8)
  • Circular saw
  • Optional 3D printer

Step 1: Step 1: Create the Shutters

Materials & tools:

  • Wood
    thickness and length differ from your project. I created my shutters with the wood from the old roof. The size of these planks/boards was 16x140 mm with different lengths. Make sure you use a shelf with tongue and groove, this will make it stronger. Make sure you choose a length that is longer than the size you need. At least 200mm longer, but I suggest 400-500mm to give you more flexibility in working with the material.
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
    at least 4, but 8 works even better. Use clamps that are big enough to cover the width.
  • Circular saw
  • Optional: screws or nails
    I did not use them, but it can make your shutter stronger


Start with making the shutters. First, fit the tongue and groove shelves into each other. Connect as many shelves as needed to create a wide enough panel. Once you are happy with the width and length (do not saw the shelf yet!).

Choose a shelf to cover the shutter vertical. I used a similar shelf in a vertical direction, but feel free to change the size and pattern here. It is important to cross the shelf of the shutter to keep it from bending later. It will make the shutter stronger.

Now glue the shelf together by adding glue in the groove (first take them out, then add glue and then click in each other again). Once you glued all the shelves start gluing the upper shelf (as I called vertical). Once you have everything into place, add the clamps. Use an extra shelf underneath the shutter (without gluing this!) to prevent it from warping. You can also add weight on top of it to help to stay the shutter in place. Make sure you use clamps vertical AND horizontal. It is not that clear on the photo but it should also put force on the horizontal as both the vertical shelves.

Once the shutters are glued (I let them rest overnight) you can make the shutters in the right size. I used a circular saw for this. First measure the right size of the shutter. Measure the size of the skylight and add the size of the sliding door system. See 'depth' in the image. Also, check where you will put the sliding system. (It may differ depending on how your roof is structured) Do not make the shutter exactly the right width, keep some extra millimeters, you can always take the off later (or not).

Step 2: Step 2: Fit the Shutters

Materials & Tools:

  • Door sliding system
    (I used this one: but there are many systems on the market. Please note that the system I use already come in with a lot of screws..)
  • Optional: 3D Printer (otherwise you can use wood)


Once you have created the shutters it is time to fit them to your skylights. You will need some extra hands for this ;-)

First fit the shutters without the sliding system. Are they covering the light? Good, now attach the door sliding system. I used this one: Make sure you do not install the system to high, for the shutter should easily slide, but also not to low for that will cause light leaks.

To adjust the hight of the shutter attach a 3D printed element (I printed this element with glow-in-the-dark material for I like combining materials and the flexibility of 3D printing. This element (see attached) is designed specifically for the sliding door system that I used, but it is very easy to create your own design with for example: )

You can also add the shutter without a printed object or piece of wood, but in my experience this gives you more flexibility and possibility to adjust the height over time. (For wood will change a little bit).

Step 3: Step 3: Install the Shutters

Materials & Tools:

  • Screwdriver/drill


Once you have created and fitted the shutter on your skylight it is time to install the shutters! Make sure both sides are installed at the same height. Think about the way to slide the shutters. We can touch the shutter with our hands, but if your roof is even higher (or you are smaller) also think about a way to open and close them. This can be a tope, a stick, an automated system.

After using the shutters for some time it can be necessary to adjust the height a bit. I had done this once over a period of almost 3 years.

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