Are you ready for the easiest project you will ever make? What is even better is you can do it under an hour. Today’s project involves no cutting! Which is great if you don’t own any tools. Life-sized rulers or growth chart rulers are quite popular in the arts and crafts circles these days. The cool thing is DIY growth charts are the perfect gift for a friend with young children, for your own home, and can even be given as a keepsake for grandparents once the grandchildren have grown up. I really like the idea that wherever you go, your ruler can go to as well.
My mother would mark my height on the edge of my bedroom door when I was growing up. I love going back home and seeing my height in the 80’s. My bedroom door is made of solid oak and is extremely heavy and perhaps a little too big to transport and store, which is why I love the idea of having something that is portable.
For this project I used oak. Oak is a hardwood and depending on the can be heavy. We also have a few other wood fixtures and furniture in our home that are made from oak, I wanted to match the existing decor. However, almost any wood can be used to make this awesome growth chart ruler, even pine. It’s durable and more affordable.
You have a choice now to either stain or paint your ruler, either way, you cannot go wrong. Natural wood is just as beautiful as pigmented. If you decide to forego the stain, you can make this growth chart ruler in a few hours. I completed my ruler so quickly, I almost forgot to snap pictures along the way. I was able to get a few. Here we go…
Life-Size Growth Chart Instructions:
You will need a 1’x12″x6′ board. I used oak, a pine board would work fabulously.
1. An orbital sander is great for evening out wood quickly, if you have one take one pass, up and down the board. Alternatively, a 220-grit piece of sandpaper will do, be sure to remove the particles dispersed while sanding (if you decide to stain or paint your ruler). You can do this with a tack cloth or an old t-shirt.
2. Apply one coat of wood conditioner to the board. Wood conditioner is not a requirement to apply before staining. It will make your stain adhere a tad more and may make the final color results look richer.
3. There are many options for coloring your board, milk paint, gel stain, paint and the list goes on. I used Miniwax “Natural” as my stain.
4. I started the markings and numbers once the stain dried. My growth chart ruler will sit right above the floor molding. The first tick mark is 6″ from the bottom of the ruler, each mark was equally spaced approximately 1″ apart. For the numbers, I simply printed them from my computer, from a Microsoft Word document. Cut them out and traced them in them pencil directly onto the board. I happened to have an oil-based Sharpie in my junk drawer. It worked perfectly on top of the stained wood. You can also use stencils.
*Oil-based markers can spread when pressure is firmly applied while writing. I accidentally pressed too hard. You can see the results below. After a quick Internet search for solvents that would remove the blemish; I conducted a few experiments, using toothpaste, peroxide, and rubbing alcohol. None of these worked for me. Ultimately, a quick and light pass with the orbital sander and 120-grit sandpaper removed the marker.
6. The quote I used is based on a scripture I like, it’s quite fitting for a child’s growth chart. After a failed attempt and transferring a printed page with lettering to wood. I drew the lettering freehand, I first outlined it in pencil and then filled it in with a marker. It was late at night when I was working on this and I misspelled a word. No problem, I was able to correct it after sanding it.
That’s it. You’re done! I added some super cute black and whites of my kiddos and affixed them with black and white polka dot washi tape.
This ruler will sit nicely against any wall in your home. However, if you decide to hang it, there are a few options. Hanging a heavy object can be tricky without the right hardware.
How To Hang A Wood Growth Chart Ruler (Or Hang Any Heavy Object)
1. Check for wood studs. Studs are the post behind your wall that supports your home. In most homes, the studs are located every 16 or 24 inches. To be certain you are drilling into the stud, purchase an inexpensive stud finder. Alternatively, you can locate the stud without a stud finder, by measuring every 16″ from the corner of a room and knocking on the wall, then knock in another area, maybe 10″ away from the corner. Did you hear a difference? The area that sounds hollow is definitely not where the studs are located.
2. The growth chart ruler I made is from oak, which is heavy. If you decide to use oak I recommend toggle bolts. Toggle bolts bore into the wall at any location with or without studs and spread to prevent your piece from moving. Although, the screw heads will be visible, it’s a small price to pay for security. One of the things I like best about using toggle bolts is your project will lay flush against the wall. I decided to go with this option is that I have a lot of little quick hands and feet running around and lets face it kids can be clumsy. I wouldn’t want anyone to hit it at the “right” angle and knock it over.
Here are a few other options for hanging heavy objects without a stud:
1.Use D-rings for support. These things are awesome since they support an incredible amount of weight. I used them on the murphy desk I built in my bedroom. D-rings are typically sold with a screw, which goes into the wall and a ring that affixes to your project. The screw will protrude from the wall a bit and prevent your project from hanging flush against the wall. To avoid this, try adding a small piece of wood at the bottom of your project.
2. Lag screws or lag bolts as they are often referred to are known for the strength and ability to support heavy objects. They do not need to be drilled into studs and the screw heads are visible.
There is a myriad of options available these days for hanging items, I hope you decide to tackle this project and build your own growth chart ruler. It is an awesome beginner woodworker project and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel is off the charts. Have more questions about this project? Ask me in the comments.
Be Great. Live Passionately.