Tools & Materials
I do my ironing in a bedroom, rather than the laundry area in my unfinished basement. I wanted a handsome cabinet to keep the board easily accessible yet concealed from view. Generic prefab ironing centers can top $400, so I decided to make my own using a $40 salvaged shutter, with a swan cutout, for the door. At 18 by 46 inches, the shutter was wide enough to hide the ironing-board insert that I planned to tuck inside the cabinet (Hafele fold-up board, $205; Rockler) and about twice as tall. The extra height left enough space above the board for a supply shelf and an iron rest. A hanging bar on the door holds freshly pressed shirts. And paint, color-matched to the existing finish on the shutter’s face, unites the new and old wood.
Old Shutters Adorn Windows and More
Unlike many new, decorative shutters, which are fixed to the house in the open position, vintage ones were meant to move. They swing on hinges mounted to the window surround and are secured with tiebacks, called “shutter dogs,” when not in use. The operable shutters sold at home centers today work the same way, but you’ll be hard pressed to match the quality and craftsmanship of the old ones. To find these, you’ll have to hit a salvage yard.
Keep in mind that old shutters are also often coated in lead paint. So you should brush on clear polyacrylic to seal the old paint, and commence repurposing.
Shown: Vintage shutters like these can be found for $25 to $75 each.
Measure for the Cabinet Frame
Using a tape measure, note the shutter’s length to determine the height of the cabinet’s 1×8 sides. For the cabinet top and bottom, deduct ½ inches from the shutter’s width, as these boards will go between the sides.
Mark the Boards and Cut to Length
Transfer your measurements to the boards. Then, using a rafter square as a guide, cut the boards with a circular saw.
Build the Cabinet Frame
Fasten the boards together, using bar clamps to steady the top and bottom between the sides. Drill pilot holes for 1½-inch wood screws, and drive in the fasteners.
Add the Back
Cut ¾-inch plywood to the inner dimensions of the cabinet frame. Secure through the sides, top, and bottom with wood screws, being sure to drill pilot holes first.
Make a Shelf
Add an interior supply shelf that’s the same length as the cabinet frame’s top and bottom but ¾ inch narrower, to accommodate the cabinet’s inset back panel. Drill pilot holes and secure the shelf with wood screws.
Add the Shutter Door
Hinge the shutter to the cabinet. Drill pilot holes for the hardware’s supplied fasteners, and twist them in with a screwdriver so as not to strip the soft metal. Next, add a cabinet knob to the shutter so that it’s easy to open and close.
Install the Ironing Board
Secure the ironing board and iron rest to the cabinet’s back panel, and the hanging bar to the inside of the shutter door. Use the supplied fasteners for the iron rest and the rack. For the ironing board, upgrade to beefier, ¾-inch No. 10 screws.
Paint the Cabinet
Fill the screw holes, and paint the cabinet to match the shutter door. (Remove the door, board, and accessories first to avoid errant brushstrokes.) Hang the cabinet with heavy-duty fasteners made for your wall type, and you’re ready to iron away.