Monday, January 30, 2012

Ruler Growth Chart

I have been seeing these wonderful ruler growth charts on blogs and Pinterest.  The first one I saw was here:
Love it!  Easy to follow instructions and great pictures!  Of course I had to make my own and make it a little bit different.  Here is what you need:

A 6 foot 10"x1" or 8"x1" board (I used a 10"x1")
Printed off large numbers in different fonts.  (I made them the size of a printable piece of paper in Word.)
Printed off  smaller numbers for the ruler part.
Clear Sealer
Paint pen

Start with sanding down the board and the sides:
Wipe all the dust off and print off your numbers:

Here is a picture of my numbers 1-6, plus the smaller numbers.  I only printed the outline of the numbers in order to save ink. Then I measured out where I wanted the board to hang on the wall.  I wanted the top of it to be level with the door opening that it was next to, and that ended up being 7 inches off of the floor.  It is important to know this from the beginning so you know where to start your measurements and numbers!  Check and double check your measurements before you lay anything out on your board.  Next I laid out all the big numbers where I wanted them to be on the board:

Notice the tape measure laying on the floor next to the board?  This is so I could see what height to place the numbers.  I made sure they were all straight and then taped them down.  Now for the second part of the tutorial: Staining a design onto a piece of wood! 
After I laid out my design and taped down the pattern, I used a pen to trace the design onto the wood:

You need to press really hard, because you want to make an indention of the outline onto the wood.  The deeper the indention, the easier the next step will be:

Here you can see the number two that was traced onto the wood.  You can see where I ripped through the paper at one point and drew on the wood- you want to avoid that if you can!  After you get everything outlined, you can start carefully staining in your design:
You want to start on the inside of the design- (in my case the numbers) and gently push the stain to the edges:

One it gets close to the edge of the design the wood will absorb the stain up the indention.  Instead of using a brush with stain, you can also use a stain marker.  Just be sure to always start at the inside of your pattern and let the stain soak to the edges or it can bleed past the indention.  If you want the stain to be darker, you can go over it with a second or third coat.  I didn't want too much contrast, so I left it at one coat.  I used a dark cherry colored stain, but any color will work! After the stain dries, you want to seal the board:

I used a water based clear satin sealer.  I like to use water based whenever I can so that cleanup is much easier.  Once that is dry, you can start on the measurements:
Remember where you need to start at the bottom of the board based on where you want to place it on the wall.  Mine was going to be exactly 7 inches off of the floor, so I was able to start measurements one inch up and then mark every inch with the first foot marker being 5 inches up.  I overlapped my markings every time I moved the ruler to keep everything precise:
Once the board was marked in inches, I went back and marked where every foot and half foot was.  I decided to make the inch marks 3 centimeters long, the half foot mark 4.5 centimeters long and the foot markers 6 centimeters long.  I marked them all with a pencil first then used a paint marker to go over the lines:

You can buy the paint markers at most craft stores and sometimes Walmart carries them in their craft section.  I use them all the time in my murals- a great way to get a nice crisp and steady line!
 Notice the tip is white when first opened.  You will need to prep the marker by pushing down on the tip to get the paint to flow.  Do this on a scrap piece of paper or cardboard before using it on your project or you will end up with a little pool of paint on your project.  I am missing the pictures where I taped down the smaller numbers, traced them and filled them in with the paint marker.   I used the same method as with the big numbers and just placed them center at the end of each foot marker.  Here is another picture of the finished project:
Next, I added pictures of my sons at each of the different heights.  Since my boys range in size from 3' to 6' I was able to fill in the wall.  A fun way to look back at how they have grown over the years and also for the younger ones to look forward to getting their pictures added as they get taller!  You could also take pictures of different relatives or family friends who are a variety of heights and put their pictures on the wall.  I know my boys love looking forward to being as tall as or taller than their Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents!


  1. I am going to make this, this weekend!! I love the stained numbers!!

  2. I love your big number choices. Which fonts did you use?

  3. I had planned on making one of these for my husband for father's day out of canvas, but I love this so much more! Fantastic. He loves to measure the kids and I can't bear to see all his hard work on the side of a door which could possibly go away or not come with us if we ever move. How did you hang this? Do I need to make sure I find a stud?

  4. Love this. Thanks for the tutorial. Did you write the name by the boy's height on the actual board or did you just use the pictures?


  5. Would you consider adding a PDF of the numbers you used? I love that font!! :)

  6. So Darling I've had a piece of wood cut out for weeks for my ruler and you just inspired me to finish it! I was worried about doing the marks up the side but thanks for the awesome tip and the great idea to put pictures up the side! Darling!

  7. Where did you buy the wood????

    1. Vianca - you can buy lumber like this at any Lowe's or Home Depot.

  8. can i do the measurements and the smaller numbers before i seal the wood? is there a specific reason why i have to seal it after staining the larger numbers in the background?

  9. Guys! You can go to
    They have tons of free awesome fonts to download free!

  10. How did you hang yours?? I have had all my supplies to do this for months now, but I keep putting it off because i'm unsure how to hang it when it is done. Thanks!

  11. Wow, I like the way you did yours! I cheated and bought a vinyl stencil... hey, I have your ruler linked to my oversized ruler growth charts post as well today, for inspiration!

  12. This is spectacular! Loved the fonts you used! How did you get them in the outline form? Could you put a pdf of the numbers? Also, what stain did you use? Thanks!

  13. We are making one of these for Christmas. My husband suggested we put a picture hanging piece on the back with some picture wire. Then you can easily hang it just as you would a picture. I'm not sure if that is what was done in this tutorial, but it makes sense and should work! Hope that helps.

  14. I love this - have my own started but can't figure out a good way to hang it. Any suggetions?

  15. Hi there! Stumbled across your blog and love it, especially love how your DIY growth chart turned out with the stained numbers!
    A few months back I asked my husband to help me make a growth chart ruler for our boys and we had fun preparing the board, but got stuck on creating a neat, professional way to put on numbers and tick marks. We tried numerous methods, and weren't happy with any of them, so decided to design a DIY vinyl decal that you can just transfer onto the board and were finally happy with it!
    Since then, knowing how popular this project is, we actually opened a shop on Etsy to sell the decals for other DIY-ers who wanted to make a board but didn't have the time or way to hand draw out or stencil numbers and tick marks. If you'd like to take a look, or recommend the shop in your post to others who might be frustrated by the same step as an option, it's:
    Maybe it will be a help to others out there!
    Thanks and best wishes!

    1. I clicked on your link and it said it was not available.

  16. Can you please upload a PDF with the fonts you used? Im having trouble finding ones that would fit well.

  17. I'd also love to know what fonts you used. I've found some nice ones on, but can't find anything like the "1" or "3" you used and I really liked them! Thanks!

  18. can i purchase one of these from you???

  19. I loved this idea so much I made my own :) Thank you for posting how you did it and what measurements you used. That was so helpful!! You can see mine here:

    Thanks again!!

  20. Love the photos, black and whites are my fave, and the bowler hats pic is really hard to tear your eyes from! posters

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  22. I started a similar project last night - I went ahead and traced around my numbers, puching very hard to make an indentation on the board. At the next step (get the stain close to the indentation and it will be pulled in), I ran into trouble. Not only did it pull the stain into the indentation, but right on through the other side. It didn't seem to matter if my paintbrush (1/4" flat edge) was loaded with stain or contained a very small amount, it blurred the edges of every number (thankfully I've only done the large ones). Do you have any tips to remove the excess stain? Can I sand it off or has it soaked in too deep?