13 Helpful Tips for Making an Actual Size Growth Chart Ruler

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This is 13 Helpful Tips for Making an Actual Size Ruler Growth Chart. In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know about how to make a growth chart ruler that you’ll be super proud to have in your home. Enjoy.

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Making an Actual Size Ruler

13-Helpful-Tips-for-Making-an-Actual-Size-Growth-Chart-RulerActual sized rulers that are used as growth charts for young kids are an awesome way of cataloging their growth throughout the years. They are also a lot of fun, because it looks like a gigantic ruler stuck to the wall.

They are also portable, which means you’ll be able to take the ruler with you if you change homes. On top of that, they can become a treasured item that reminds you of the time when your kids were little, and that should bring a smile to your face.

While making one of these growth chart rulers is not incredibly difficult, there are some tips and tricks that can help you be more successful on the project. I’m going to show you several of them in this post, and it will help you enjoy the experience even more.

Here’s the list and I’ll go into each one of them in full detail farther down in the post.

  • Find a Great Design
  • Make it Look Authentic
  • Decide on The Width of the Ruler 
  • Start the Measurement at 6 Inches
  • Applying Decals for the Measurements
  • Spraying the Scale on the Wood
  • Secret Masking Tape Trick 
  • Sealing With a Clear Coat
  • Plan Where to Hang It on the Wall
  • How to Hang it On the Wall
  • No Woodworking Tools Option
  • Marking Heights on the Growth Ruler
  • Be Sure to Take it With You

Here is a step by step DIY wooden ruler growth chart tutorial where I show you the entire process. Use this post with your tips in this post and you can make the ultimate life size ruler. 

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Find a Great Design

The very first thing you I need to do before you make yourself an actual size ruler to use as a growth chart is to find an awesome design. This is super important, because there’s a lot of different ways you can go with this particular project.

In the end, you want to have something that you enjoy looking at, something that functions really well, and something that matches your Decour. Thankfully, it’s really easy to find all of that because of all the different options available.

I recommend that you look at Google images, and Pinterest to find examples of different growth chart rulers that different people have made. You’ll find a lot of interpretations on the same design, and you’ll definitely find something that you like.

You can also combine some of the things that you like from different rulers and delete all the things that you don’t. In doing so, you’ll create a hybrid of many different designs that will become your own perfect version.

See Also: 9 Awesome Ways Pinterest Can Make You a Better Woodworker

Make it Look Authentic

One of the best things that you can do is make your ruler really look authentic. One of the best ways to do that is to take a look at old wooden school rulers and see what they look like. Use those as inspiration for your giant ruler, and you’ll have an awesome look.

One of the biggest reasons that you want to be authentic is because it should be blatantly obvious what’s hang on your wall. Nobody should look at it and have to wonder what it is, which actually takes away from the overall look.

Also, since you’re going to use to record actual measurements, you don’t want to have something to abstract, otherwise you won’t be able to get an accurate height. Again, it’s more important to record the progress of your children than anything else.

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See Also: 11 Great Ways to Find Woodworking Inspiration

Decide on The Width of the Ruler

There’s also something that’s really important to decide on early on, unless you’re planning on making several different growth chart rulers. If you are going to be recording multiple children, it’s better to pick a piece of wood that’s a little wider for your ruler.

On the other hand, if you only plan on having a couple kids, you can go with a narrower piece of wood and get a similar effect. The point is that you don’t want to have to crowd the growth measurements from one kid to the next.

Your alternative is simply making one actual sized growth chart for each kid, and hanging it in a different part of the house. Once you make one of these, you may decide to make several, so this might be a very easy option for you.

See Also: Growth Chart Ruler with Silhouette

Start the Measurement at 6 Inches

Another great tip is to start the measurement at the bottom of the ruler at 6 inches rather than zero. The problem with starting at zero is you have to put the ruler on the floor when you hang it on the wall.

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The problem with putting the ruler on the floor is that you have different thicknesses of carpet, there’s usually a piece of wall trim in the way, and it typically ends up with the growth chart ruler on an angle rather than flat against the wall.

In the end, it just kind of messes up the measurements when you have the piece starting at zero and directly on the floor. Instead, start the measurement at 6 inches, and measure up 6 inches from the floor as the ruler is mounted to the wall.

This also frames the ruler a little bit, by putting the color of the wall behind it on all four sides. It’s a much better look than terminating on the ground, and the ruler looks more like a piece of art, which it actually is as well.

See Also: How to Make Wood Look Reclaimed

Applying Decals for the Measurements

There are a couple different ways to graduate your ruler and apply the measurements scale for your children’s height. The first way is by using details, which adhere directly to the word and provide the scale and numbers.

All you need to do is go online and find some peel and stick vinyl numbers that are in a font that you like, and look good on your ruler. Then, get some basic peel and stick and carefully cut a bunch of narrow strip pieces to be used as lines.

Place the lines where they need to be, and then place the numbers where they need to be. All you do is peel and stick for a while, and in the end you’ll have a growth chart that has all of the graduations where they need to be.

You can also buy a ruler making kit, which has everything you need ready to go. 

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See Also: Answer for How Many 16ths in an Inch?

Spraying the Scale on the Wood

Another option for applying the numbers and the scale is to use spray paint. This is a little bit more involved, but the numbers will never fall off, and you’ll never have to worry about scratching them off or replacing them down the line.

Again, it does take a little bit more time to mask off the area really well and apply all the measurements, but once you’re done you add a few layers of paint and remove the tape to reveal your scale.

This is the way that I happen to make all of my growth charts, it’s served me really well right from the beginning. The numbers never come off, because they are painted directly on the wood, and the masking tape leaves nice crisp lines.

I use a Silhouette Cameo to make the numbers, which is really helpful, and the numbers turn out really nice. 

Secret Masking Tape Trick

Just in case you’re thinking about masking off your ruler and spraying all of the numbers and graduations, I’ll give you a super trick for making all the lines. It involves masking tape obviously, but it’s easier than you think.

Something really convenient about most of the 1 inch rolls of masking tape is that they’re not actually 1 inch. They’re a little closer to .9 inches, which is really good, because two strips next to each other leave a 10th of an inch of open space.

If you mark lines every inch for where you need the hash marks on your ruler, and then apply a piece of this tape directly in between them all, they will leave a open section where the line is about a 10th of an inch wide.

All you need to do is put the masking tape on straight, and you will have nice straight lines for your measurement scale. This is super helpful, and it makes the process a ton easier.

See Also: 19 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Woodworking

Sealing With a Clear Coat

It’s very important that after you mask everything off and spray your scale and your numbers that you follow it up with a clear coat. The paint by itself is not meant to protect itself, it needs to have a coat of lacquer or similar over the top.

The best solution for this is any type of spray that’s a high-quality. For example, a furniture grade of lacquer is perfect because it will apply really nicely, lay out in a nice coat, and not look like it was done by an amateur.

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Avoid the bottom shelf clear coats that you find in the hardware stores, because these cause more problems and they solve. You may end up with a frosty look that you don’t like, and you’ll have to take everything off including your numbers to start over.

See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker

Plan Where to Hang It on the Wall

It’s important to plan where you’re going to hang your growth chart ruler on the wall, in order to make sure that it looks nice and that it matches the area. You need to find an area wall that is big enough, and that can support the ruler safely.

In that first paragraph, and the biggest thing you should remember is safely. You need to find a spot on the wall that not only looks nice, but that you can anchor into and attach that ruler in such a way that it’s definitely never going to fall off.

Odds are that you have small children that are going to be playing around this ruler, or the recipient is going to have small children that will do the same. The absolute last thing you want is to have any type of safety issue with something you make in your shop.

How to Hang it On the Wall

There are a couple different ways to hang your growth chart ruler on the wall. Again, it’s all about safety and security, and both of these methods will ensure a very strong union between your ruler and the wall.

First, if you can find a wall stud, and you can screw directly into it using L brackets, this is the best method. The reason is the best is because you’re screwing into a solid structure that’s built into the frame of the house, and is very strong.

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Use long wood screws, and pre-drill so that we can sink them deeply into the ends of the ruler, and then into the studs. Put your screws in carefully, make sure they hold really well, and then securely mount it to the wall.

The second method is to use toggle strap anchors to secure L brackets on the top and bottom of the ruler to the drywall. Invest in really nice toggle strap anchors, that hold a lot of weight.

This is definitely not as good as anchoring into a stud, but if you do it well, they can still provide a ton of strength and give you some security knowing that the kids will have a difficult time ripping it off the wall.

See Also: Woodworking Tips Cards – Woodworking Safety

No Woodworking Tools Option

This is a fun option for making a growth chart if you don’t have any tools but you still want to do it. Buy a piece of wood that’s already the right length and you’ll do really well at making one of these without actually having to cut anything.

Instead of buying a board and then cutting it down to size, which is typically about 7 feet long, you can just pick out a board from the store that has nice even ends, and that’s about 7 feet long and you won’t have to cut it.

From there, start your graduation is at 6 inches, and just go until the end of the board. It really doesn’t matter if it ends at 6 foot four or 6 foot eight, what matters is that it looks like an old ruler.

See Also: 20 Easy DIY Woodworking Projects With Tutorials

Marking Heights on the Growth Ruler

The easiest way to do your marks on the ruler is with a permanent marker. Interestingly enough, the hardest way to make marks on your ruler is with a permanent marker. It’s easy because it sticks, and it’s hard because it sticks.

Permanent marker will dry out really well on top of your clear coat, and it will stay there without rubbing off once it’s dried. The problem is, you might have a really squirmy kid underneath while you’re trying to make your mark.

Here’s the secret. Don’t measure it with your kid. Instead, take the height measurement that you get from the doctor during your regular appointments and mark that on the ruler instead.

This will be a far more accurate measurement anyway, and you can take your time to get it right where it needs to be based on the information from the doctor. Also, you’ll get reliable measurements at regular intervals, which makes the growth chart fun.

See Also: A Beginners Guide to Woodworking

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Be Sure to Take it With You

The biggest part about having a chart like this in your house is that you get to take it with you. It’s important in all the hustle and bustle of moving, and the stress that’s involved, that you don’t forget this important prize attached to your wall.

When you go, instead of patching up that old door jam where most people mark the heights of their children, and leaving it with the house, you’ll get to take those memories with you. That’s what makes this project so special.

Your kids are only going to be kids for a short amount of time. The days themselves might feel kind of long, and kind of stressful, but the years are going to fly by. My kids are still kind of young, but the years I’ve had with them already seem like they’re going way too fast.

Something like this is a way of taking those memories with you, and being able to look down on your ruler and remember when they were only knee-high. This is super important, and it will be a treasured memory when you’re older.

See Also: A Woodworking Notebook

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know all of these awesome tips on making a big ruler that you can use to mark the growth of your children, it’s time to get out into the shop and take action. This is an awesome project for a million reasons, and you should definitely make one.

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If you don’t have kids of your own, you can really enrich someone’s life that does have kids by making something like this as a gift. Be sure to help them mount it as well, because that’s a part of the experience.

If you have any questions on making an actual size ruler, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post.

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