Wooden Ruler Growth Chart DIY/Tutorial

I have wanted one of those ruler growth charts since Mr. Viever and I saw them at a "hometown fair." We looked at them and both loved them but couldn't bring ourselves to spend the $80 on it when we were fairly certain it could be something we did on our own.  Two kids and several years later.  I finally got to making it.  Partially, because I was reminded on our move up to Seattle while staying at a friend's house who had theirs hanging in their hallway (looking at you Amber).

Materials used for this project (alternative ideas at the bottom)
8ft x 9in x 1.5 in wood board
150, 180, and 220 grit sandpapers
Cloth diaper/rag
Varathane Stain + Ploy in Golden Oak
Behr Weather Proofing Wood Stain & Sealer in Grey
Behr Marque in an Aqua/Robin Blue
Small Paint brushes
Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover Clear Gloss Spray Can
D rings

I started with an 8 foot board from the discount bin at home depot.  As you can see there were splits on the ends and sections that were chipping off.  But as my son says, "But that's okay!"  I had Mr. Viever cut off the ends where the splits in the wood down the middle were and ended with a 6.5 foot board.

As for the chipped areas, I already knew I'd be sanding it down to use the stain I wanted (per instructions on the back of the stain can) so I focused on those chipped areas to get the nice and smooth.  I started with the 150 grit sanding all sides. Then did the same with the 180 grit and the 220 grit.  3.5 hours of sanding later and my board was prepped and ready for some stain!  **Make sure you are sanding WITH the grain.**

Here's where I deviated from the can instructions.  It says to apply with a brush.  Well, I like using rags.  I actually ended up cutting small 4x4 inch squares from an old cloth diaper flat using one piece to dip into the stain and a "clean" one to wipe away any access I noticed.  I feel with this method, I'm more able to get a more uniform, smooth paint job.

Apply stain, wait an hour to dry, sand board, dust off, and repeat.  In between paint jobs if I noticed I missed mopping up some access I made sure to hit those spots with the sandpaper a little more throughly before adding the next coat of stain.

It took me a few days to get all 4 coats of stain done as I did all sides and could only work on it when the kids were napping, Mr. Viever had the kiddos (digging for worms was the activity of choice this week), or the kids were in bed for the night.  But finally I had the staining all finished.

Time for the ticks!  I have two metal L shaped rulers.  I used my smaller one and measured out each inch.   I knew I would be starting my board 6 inches off the ground so I treated the base as inch six and worked my way up to finish the first foot.

 Like on a ruler I wanted some distinction between the inches so inches 1,2,4,5,7,8,10, and 11 all measure .5 inch in length; inches 3 and 9 measure 1 inch in length; the half way point of inch 6 is 1.25 inches; and finally the foot mark or in 12 is 1.75 inches long.  Continued all the way to the top which for me topped out at 7 feet 1 inch (plus a little).

Next the numbers.  I used the font Marker Felt and printed out numbers one through seven at a 400 size.  This gave me the BIG numbers I was wanting for the board.  You can of course adjust the size as you want or even pick your own favorite font.  Maybe something more scroll like?  Me I like the marker look.

Next take a pencil and scribble the back of the number making sure to include all edges of the number.

Then lay out the correct number next to the correct foot mark with the print side facing you and your scribble down on the board.  Trace the outline of the number using a firm hand.

You now have your outline!  You may need to use your pencil to darken the line on the wood but the impression should be there as your guide.

Break out the paints again!  Before we actually get started with the paint I'll let you in on a little secret.  I bought both the number paint and the inch tick paint from the "oops" bin at Home Depot.  Each pot was only 50 cents!  Now if you aren't picky about colors you might want to make a stop at the oops station yourself.

I used a thin brush to trace the outlines of the number first.  Then filled the outline with a thicker brush.  I found that stiff brushes were not good for getting a nice layer but the softer brushes gave me the even layer without many brush lines.  I did have to occasionally pull out the hairs of the brush when they pushed out to maintain a nice line.

With the numbers all filled in, its time to move onto the ticks.  Again I used my thinner brush here.  I started at the top of the board and worked down as then I was making lines left to right since I'm right handed and then I didn't run my hand through the wet paint.  Lefties would find it easier to go right to left (at least I'd imagine so...)

After my ticks were filled, i looked at my numbers again to see if they were filled to my liking.  I ended up doing one more layer b/c I had some thinner spots where the wood coloring was slightly peeking through.

Now finished with both numbers and ticks.  I waited overnight for them to dry and then did the hardware on the back.

Using the front to measure, I measured down to my 6.5 foot line.  Then I drew in that line on the back of the board.  Placed the D-rings so that the hook will hang approximately from the top of the inside of the ring.  Then used my ruler to make sure they were lined up on the bottom and marked the holes to drill.

Mr. Viever kindly pre-drilled holes for me.  Then I manned the drill and put in the screws.  Hardware done.

Time to seal it up!  Using the directions on the can I added two coats of gloss on the top of the board. Ohhhh shiny!  I had just sprayed in this picture when it's dried it's not nearly so shiny.

Mounted the board using the hooks that came with my d-rings.  Measured up the wall to the 6.5 foot mark, lined up the bottom of the hook with the line, and nailed in the hooks.  Hanging after that was easy breezy.

So how accurate or off was I?  I think I did pretty good!

Without further ado, here is my finished wooden ruler growth chart!  Ta Da!!!!

I went out and bought some extra fine sharpies in colors my kids like for their height markers.

Storage for the markers so we know where they are but the kids can't get to them.  Check.

Ultimately I'd like to get paint pens to do their marks with but the store didn't have colors I liked...  Another idea would be to use metallics rather than colors to make the markings pop off the board, especially if you've gone with a darker color stain/paint.

First marks!  I'll be adding their birth lengths and measurements from their well checks later.

Other Tips and Ideas
Don't like stain?  Choose your favorite color to paint with!  Chalkboard paint.  Shabby Chic styling.  The possibilities are endless!

Numbers and ticks:  Mailbox decals, vinyl cut outs, decoupage scrapbook paper cut out into numbers, stencil and use a paint pen or sharpie, wood burning, search on etsy and buy the decal to stick on

Inch Ticks:  I didn't do this on mine but read about it later as a way to get nice straight lines.  Instead of marking the actual inch line mark 1/16 to each side of the inch mark then draw those two lines to the length desired making a rectangle of sorts.  Then fill in.  Voila straight lines!

Add a personal flair with your family name down the side or a favorite quote.

Use your nursery theme (or a piece of the theme that will grow with your kids) and include images down the sides.

Use the picture frame rubber bumpers on the bottom corners of the chart to minimize any rubbing against the wall when bumped.  (I can't find mine or I would have take pictures of this!!  Will update the posting if I ever find them... or buy a new set)

Keep your clear gloss spray pain around and seal the marks you make every couple of years so the lines don't wear away with time.

Have fun creating!