Up Cycling Shutters Into a Tote With Hand Tools




Using the hold open mechanism from a broken wooden step ladder I got when my grandfather passed in 1988 for the handle and some window shutters we took out of the kitchen several years ago I made a multipurpose tote.

Step 1: Gathering Materials

While taking apart an old step ladder I got when my grandfather passed in 1988 for another project (grandkids playhouse) I discovered the mechanism used to hold it apart. I knew immediately that I wanted to use it for the handle of a tote. My wife took the shutters off the kitchen windows sometime in the last century, they’ve been kicking around since then. I found one in the barn and one in the basement.

Step 2: Cleaning Up

I cleaned the shutters. You may want to skip this next step but I didn’t want the shutters to move anymore so I glued them down. I also decided I didn’t want the rod that opened them so I removed that as well.

Step 3: Cutting to Size

The tote inside of the tote I made was about 5.5” (14cm). The wood in my scrap bin was wider than I needed so I had to rip it to size. If you get stock from a home center a 1x6” board will be 5.5” wide. The boards for the ends were just a little wider than needed so I planed them to fit. Again, you could use the same size board by putting the ends on the inside instead of the outside as I did. I think it looks better the way I did it.

Step 4: Painting

I thought it would be easier to paint before I assembled it. I cover places where glue would be applied with painters tape. This is another step you can make much easier because I decided to make milk paint from scratch. I needed skim milk but the store was out so I used 1%. Add lemon or vinegar to curdle it overnight. Use cheese cloth to strain it. I added acrylic paint for color. It took three coats to achieve the effect I was going for. Sand lightly between each coat. I got the receipt from Martha Stewart.


Step 5: The Glue Up

Once I was satisfied with the finish I took the tape off to expose the raw wood. Paint prohibits good glue adhesion. Apply glue and clamp it up. After about an hour it was ready to nail. Nailing along the edge is usually not a problem but nailing close to the ends can split the wood. I used 6p finishing nails. I cut the head off of one to use as a drill bit. Works great, no splits or blowouts through the sides, I hate when that happens.

Once I set the nails I filled with wood filler. Once the wood filler was dry, I touched up any area that needed more paint.

Step 6: Distressing and Adding the Handle

You can now distress the tote as much as you care to. I sanded the high areas with 100 grit sandpaper. Once I was happy with the look, I vacuumed the entire piece.

I had to bend the handle a bit to get it at the right angle. I used a large washer type headed screw.

Step 7: Fill It Up and Use It.

Use as desired. One word of caution, milk paint is not weather proof so it you intend to use it outdoors, coat it with a clear coat that is weather proof. Hope you enjoy it.



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    4 Discussions

    Good idea. I might have to try this with some of the slotted closet doors that I have from our bedroom renovation.

    1 reply
    lsatchDIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, sounds like a perfect use for them. You certainly can do it easier if you use nominal lumber and regular paint. Good luck and post a pic when you finish.