Making your own growth chart ruler is super simple and lots of fun! You don't even need any power tools to get the job done.
Kids grow SO fast. Having a growth chart ruler hanging on the wall is such a wonderful way of keeping track of their growth throughout the years. My favourite thing about it is that you can take them with you if you move, or pass it down to your kids to use on their own children (or better yet, keep it for yourself and keep track of your growing grandchildren too!).
Choosing Your wood
The options are nearly limitless when deciding on what type of wood you want to use for your growth chart ruler. If you plan to paint the base of the ruler, the most cost effective thing to do is buy framing lumber or pine. The beauty of the wood doesn’t matter if you are painting over it. If you will be staining it, here is a few things to consider:
Existing woods around your home. A great way to keep a house feeling cohesive is to repeat elements throughout. In our case, I built our dining table with Wormy Maple lumber, so I used the same for the growth chart ruler. Partly out of convenience, because it was just one more piece to add to the order, and partly for the reasons above.
Cost. There is a wide range of prices for wood. From more affordable pine to more costly white oak, there are many options to consider.
Availability. If you do not have a lumber yard near you, or you just aren’t interested in visiting one, you will be limited to the stock that most hardware stores carry, such as pine, oak, and poplar. All three are beautiful and would make great choices for this project!
1 piece of wood - 1inch x (6,8,10 or 12) inch x 6 feet
** If you will be using the growth chart for more than one child, I suggest using a piece of wood that is no smaller than 9.5/10 inches wide **
Water based deck stain or latex wall paint (depending on the finish you choose)
Measuring tape or 12 inch ruler
Matte paint marker
Painters rags or old dishcloths/tshirts
Sandpaper block (120 grit) or orbital sander with 120 grit paper
Step 1 - Cut your wood to size (or have it cut at the hardware store)
I know, I know! I started this article talking about how easy this project is and that you don’t need power tools, and the first step I list is to cut the wood. If your hardware store doesn’t sell wood in 6 foot lengths, you can ask them to cut an 8 foot board down to size for you. Every store I’ve been to offers this service and usually does it free of charge (you will receive both pieces and still need to pay the full cost of the 8 foot board).
If you do have a saw, just measure 6 feet and cut off the remaining 2 feet with your mitre or hand saw.
Step 2 - Sand the Wood
I hate sanding. It’s messy and loud, but it is absolutely the most important step if you want a polished looking finish. You can either use a sanding block, or if you have an orbital sander go at it with that. Sand off any rough spots or chips and give the whole surface a once over.
After sanding is complete, you can use tack cloth if you have it to wipe off all the sawdust. If not, don’t fear! A few pieces of lightly damp paper towel works perfectly to get those bits of sawdust off the wood.
Step 3 - Stain or Paint
Painting: Use a small roller and cover the whole piece with the paint you selected, including all 4 edges. Once dry, put on a second coat to help with durability.
Staining: Using a large paint brush or foam brush, spread your chosen stain over the entire piece, including all 4 edges. For a light stain, wipe right away. If you want a darker look, let the stain sit for a few minutes, then wipe off excess with your painters cloth or old rags. **always read the instructions on the stain can for correct information regarding how long to leave the stain sitting before wiping**
Step 4 - Mark your Ruler Lines
Using your measuring tape or ruler, measure your baseboards from the floor to the top where they meet the wall. Round the measurement up to the closest inch (i.e. for baseboards that are 4.5 inches, round up to 5) Mark down this number. With your board laying on a flat surface, extend your measuring tape and lay it on the long right side of your board. Add 4 inches to your baseboard measurement, and line up that number on the measuring tape at the bottom of your board (if your baseboard measured 5 inches, line up 9 inches on your measuring tape with the bottom of your board).
With your pencil, make a small mark on the edge of the board at every inch, making a larger mark at every foot (12 inches, 24 inches, 36 inches, 48 inches, 60 inches and 72 inches).
Step 5 - Painting your Ruler Lines and Numbers (as well as names or titles)
For a paint marker: Use the flat edge of the marker and draw a line along each pencil mark that you made, making sure to draw the foot marks longer than the inch marks.
For a paint and brush: Use a small square edge paint brush and put a small amount of paint on the tip, then dab once or twice on a scrap piece of paper or towel. Then paint a straight line along each pencil mark, making the foot marks longer than the inch marks.
If you want any sort of title along the top or side of your Growth Chart Ruler (i.e. Watch Us Grow, or just a name), use paint or a paint marker to do that now.
Step 6 - Hanging your Growth Chart Ruler
Once all your paint is dry, lay the board upside down on a flat surface. Measuring from the bottom of the chart, draw a mark at 5.5 feet. Then measure your board from side to side where you’ve marked 5.5 feet and draw a mark at the halfway point. Where these two points meet is where you want to install your hooks. I recommend using D-Hooks like these, or a French Cleat system like this.
Step 7 - Add a Special Note
This step is completely optional, but I like to write a special note on the back of the growth chart ruler. It can be something as simples as "made with love by mom/dad", or a special note for your children to read when they are older.
I made one as a gift for my nephew who is an avid sports fan. On the back I wrote "Maybe it wasn't the talent the Lord gave me, maybe it was the passion" - Wayne Gretzky
There are so many ways to personalize your Growth Chart Ruler and so many designs you can do. Have fun with it, and most importantly...Don't forget to measure your kids annually!!