DIY: Life Sized Ruler Growth Chart

A huge Thank You to Mr. J.D. Young for this guest post. This is a project I have been wanting to do for my boys. I am happy to take a note from this fine father and his craftiness.
Life Sized Ruler Growth Chart
Items Needed
1. Wood board
2. Black Paint
3. Wood Stain
4. Polyurethane
5. 220 Grit sand paper
6. Ruler/Tape Measure
7. Pencil
8. Stencils
9. Exacto Knife
10. Old socks or t-shirts to use to apply stain and polyurethane
11. Latex gloves
12. Paint brushes
When my wife pitched me this idea, she had seen many different variations on ETSY.  But in order for it to be extra special, she wanted it to be hand made.  There were many types out there that were as easy as just getting wood and putting stickers on it.  But I wanted something to do for Evan for Christmas that would be extra special.
When we were looking at wood, I figured oak would be a good choice due to how rich the color would look and how the grains would stand out once stained.  After a trip to Home Depot, we decided on an oak board that was a 1×6.  This would allow for the inch marks as well as numbers at the foot marks.  We decided to have our “ruler” to be 6 1/2 feet tall.
Picking a stain color was tough to do.  We wanted the color to be very close to the color of our hardwoods and cabinets in the kitchen.  After looking at what seemed like 100 different choices, we decided on a satin based stain called Antique Walnut by Minwax.  For this project, a small can was plenty.  The stain calls for the wood to be sanded prior to staining.  It recommends using 220 grit sand paper.
After this was completed, I began to apply the stain to the wood. I ended up applying two coats of stain to the wood to achieve my desired look.  Drying time varies and since I wasn’t in a hurry, I took 4-5 days before the second coat was applied.
Since the spot we elected to put the board on the wall wouldn’t be flush on the floor, we had to measure out how far from the ground the bottom of the board would be.  Once that was completed, the next step was to decide about the inch marks.  After using a spare piece of wood to get an idea, we decided on the following. The foot marks would be 3 1/2 inches long.  The half inch marks would be 2 1/2 inches long.  The quarter inch marks would be 2 inches long and the inch marks would be 1 inch.  After some practice on the spare piece, the marks were made with the ruler on the board, but before I could paint, I had to sand the stained wood one more time.
This next step takes time and patience.  Going back to that spare piece of wood, I practiced for days on getting my brush marks just right and making sure they aren’t too thick or thin. The paint I selected was a semi-gloss based black paint by Glidden.  Nothing major here, just some paint to put on the wood.  I used two different brushes for my marks.  For the foot marks, I used a medium sized flat bristle brush.  For the rest of the marks, I used a small round tip brush.
I bought 4 inch stencils from Hobby Lobby. I initially practiced on spare wood with some of the letters in the pack. I taped them to the wood, but found that the paint would leak through.  So to combat this, I ended up tracing the numbers on the board then painting them by hand, but I had to cut small pieces out of the stencils to make the numbers usable.  I used the small tip brush to trace the edges of the number, then filled in the rest with the larger brush.  This was a fairly easy process that took about 45 minutes.
After the paint had dried, I went back to the saw horses and applied two coats of polyurethane.  I used a satin based finish by Minwax.  We did not want the finish to be shiny so the satin base is the best way to go.  After the second coat had been applied and dried, it was time to put a bow on this gift and get it ready for Santa to deliver.
We mounted the board to a small area that separates our kitchen from our breakfast area. I used 3 inch screws to secure the board into the studs.  I also pre-drilled holes in the board and sheet rock to make this process easier.  And as soon as it was up, we had our first measurement.  Evan stood tall at a whopping 2 feet 6 inches.
If you had to this on a quick schedule, I’d say it would take you about 3-5 days.  The longest part would be waiting on your paint/stain/poly to dry.  But other than that, it can be done pretty quick.
When J.D. isn’t chasing is little boy around he is a realtor with DeSelms Real Estate in Nashville, TN.

DIY: Plyo Box

DIY: Plyo Box

Cost: About $40

Time: 2-3 Hours

Difficulty: Medium 

Want to get some bounce in your legs? This 3-in-1 Plyo Box is just what the Doctor ordered. 3-in-1 means 3 different heights, 20″ inch, 24″ inch and 28″ inch, in one box. How amazing is that! Made out of 3/4″ cabinet grade plywood ensures durability for even the most dedicated fitness enthusiast. So, put on your favorite gym shoes, grab your power tools and lets get to work.

Materials Needed:

  • (1) 8′ x 4′ x 3/4″ piece of cabinet grade plywood
  • Skilsaw or table saw
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil
  • Wood glue
  • Box of 2″ wood screws


  • Dremel Tool
  • Sand paper and dowel or PVC
  • Exacto Knife
  • Poster Board
  • Spray Paint


Step 1: Cut the plywood into the 6 pieces you need. Home Depot or Lowes will do this for you if you do not have your own power tools. Bring this layout so the guys at Home Depot don’t get overloaded with math and Tetris.

  • (2) 28″ x 20″ rectangles
  • (2) 28″ x 22.5″ rectangles
  • (2) 22.5″ x 18.5″ rectangles

Jump box layout

Finished cuts.


Step 2: Do a test build. Set up all the pieces to ensure everything lines up. Re-measure to ensure correct dimensions. Once you glue and screw there is no going back. I pre-drilled holes in all 4 corners for test build ease. See Step 3 for hole placement.


Step 3: Glue and Screw. Measure out and drill pilot holes for your screws. I used 1/16″ bit for pilot holes. Mark and drill 3/8″ from edge to match the seam and 1″ in from corner to prevent the screws from colliding. I used a 5/16″ bit for recess but found it unnecessary.





Step 4: Make a handle. I recommend doing this before you put everything together. I did not. Here is how. I used the 28″x22.5″ piece as the top of the box and the 22.5″x18.5″ as the side I put the handles on. 6″ from the top, centered 12″ from the side. The handle is 1.5″ wide x 5″ long. Rounding the ends adds 3/4″ to each side. I used a cutting bit with my Dremel or you can use a Skill Saw. I rapped some rough sand paper around 3/4″ pvc pipe to smooth the edges.


Step 5: Add your personal touch! This box was made for my wife who runs Virginia Beach Bootcamps. Print your logo, trace it to the poster board, use the Exacto knife to cut it out and spray paint it on. Blamoo!!!


There you have it! Your very own Plyo Box ready for extensive use. Warm up, stretch out and get jumping!! As alway, don’t forget to HYDRATE!


For info on how to make the Slam Ball and Parallettes please click on links. Let me know what you think in the comment section. I hope you liked this tutorial.















How to Build a Slam Ball

Cost: About $30 for an 8 lb and 18lb ball

Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: Easy

This is a fun and inexpensive project. A must have for the avid bootcamper, cross fitter and home fitness enthusiast.


Materials needed:

Rubber Indoor/Outdoor Basketball

Tire Patch Kit

40lb of salt pellets

Power Drill – 1/8” and 3/8” drill bit

Exacto Knife

Scale – I used a small digital food scale and a bathroom scale.

Paint pen or Sharpie


How to Build a Slam Ball –

Step 1: Make a hole in the basket ball.


Choose a flat area of the ball. Avoid the seam so the patch will get a better surface to seal later. Using my power drill, I drilled a pilot hole to let the air out slow using 1/8” bit. I then used the 3/8” bit to make the hole bigger. I cut two small slits with the exacto knife on opposite sides of the hole just big enough for the salt pellet to go through.

Note: I wanted the hole to be small as possible to give the patch maximum surface coverage. This will take more time to fill the ball, but the Slam ball is going to take a beating and I do not want the patch to fail.

Step 2: Fill the ball with salt pellets.

Salt pellets were chosen due to the ease of use, low cost, it won’t spill out if ball is damaged and easier to weigh before putting into ball for exact weight.

Morton System Saver II Salt pellets worked great and were $5 for a 40 lbs. bag at Walmart.

The smaller hole made the work more tedious, but it will be better for the patch work.

Step 3: Weigh your balls.


As the ball got about 3/4 of the way full, I used the bathroom scale to see how much weight I will be able to get into the ball. I then used the food scale to measure out the remaining salt pellets. I finished final weigh in to get an exact 8 lbs and 18 lbs.

Note: My food scale worked great for small weight and ounces, but it only goes to 12 lbs which is why I needed the larger scale for the bigger ball.

Step 4: Patch up the hole.

I used Slime Tire Patch Kit. The largest patch in the kit covered the hole great. Read and follow the directions on the kit. I used a lot of the epoxy glue. Once again, this ball is going to take pounding… Literally… and I don’t want the patch to fail. Allow 24 hours to dry before use.

Step 5: Mark your ball’s weight.


Using a black Sharpie and a gray paint pen I stenciled the weight on the balls where I thought would look the best. My wife will use them for her home gym and park boot camp classes. Her clients like to know how much weight they are picking up a bazilian times.. haha.

There you go. As you can see, making your own slam ball can be inexpensive and rewarding. It does not take a degree in rocket surgery to build, adding another awesome DIY project under your belt. Good luck and have fun.


Fortify the Home 101

Whether you are building new, buying old or renting, you can bet the illusion of security is in the fine print. Most homes are far from secure – with doors that can easily be kicked in, windows broken and few deterrents. I like my stuff and love my family, so keeping the stuff mine and my family safe is a high priority. How do you fortify your home? This post will show some basic add-ons to physically securing your home that will help you sleep at night.

Active security measures:

1.Get a big dog:  Train it


2.Exterior doors:

-Change the locks – In the event that there are other keys out there (ie. previous occupants or construction workers). American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certified Level 1 deadbolt (pick and bump proof) and a lockable door knob for residential or upgrade to commercial grade locks. Top pick

-Fortify the frame with 3” screws and metal shielding. Top pick

– Add a wide angle peep hole.

– Use a metal or wood dowel to block the sliding back door from opening or Foot latch.

– Add a deadbolt (ANSI Level 1) to the door between the garage and living space. Use it.


3. Windows:

– Add a 3” screw to each side of the window frame to keep the whole thing being ripped out with a Halligan tool.

3M Safety & Security film bonded to the window frame.

4. Garage Door:

– Remove manual garage door release cable. Store it nearby as to not lose it. Zip tie the latch to the frame. 

– Attach a garage door security latch

– Attach a padlock to the security latch.

Passive security measures:

5. Exterior lighting: Set up with timers when away. They do not have to be annoying flood lights. solar walk way, accent or drive way lights will do.

6. Security cameras with color and night vision. Wifi enabled to view from smartphone and record video.


7. Monitored Alarm Service: Like ADT or whoever works in your neighborhood. At minimum have a sign out front saying you are monitored (even though you are not) as a deterrent.


8. Really long driveway: Install a seismic sensor that will chime in your house.

9. Hide-a-key:  Use a lock box. Hide the lock box in the back yard or side of the house, anywhere except by the front door.

Feeling safe yet? I hope so. Minimal skill in needed to build a good foundation of home security. Your house will not be a Fort Knox but a burglar will need tools, skill and time to get your goodies. Good luck!


Do you have any additional recommendations? Share them in the comments.


DIY: Parallettes

DIY: Parallettes

Cost: About $40

Time: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Parallettes are great for addition to your home gym. Whether you’re into Crossfit, gymnastics or good ol’ fashion bodyweight routines, this is a must have for the home gym. You can use them for handstand push-ups, push ups, L-sits and many other exercises. Easy to build, lightweight and durable, parallettes are an everyman DIY project.

My wife, a personal trainer and owner of, wanted a new toy for her bootcamp classes and put in her request. I have to earn my home-cooked meals somehow… I give you…home-built parallettes.

Materials Needed:

1 – 10′ x 1.5″ PVC pipes cut into:

12 – 6″ pieces

2 – 24″ pieces

1 – Can PVC cement

4 – 1.5″ 90 degree elbow joints

4 – 1.5″ T joints

8 – 1.5″ PVC caps

1 piece of sandpaper, to clean up edges if you use a hacksaw.

I was able to get everything from Home Depot. You can buy a PVC cutter in the same aisle or ask a employee to cut it for you. They have a high speed cutter that leaves nice edges, plus that’s less work for you. If you do use a hacksaw, you will need to clean up the edges with sandpaper 80-220 grit…shooter’s choice.

Step 1:  Cut the pipe to length and clean up the edges

  10′ x 1.5″ PVC pipes cut into:

       12 – 6″ pieces

       2 – 24″ pieces


Step 2: Glue the 90 degree elbows on to the 24” pieces. Use light glue on the inside outer edge of the angle pieces so the glue is pressed inward.


Note: The glue dries fast and you want the pieces to be aligned. Use the floor as a level and work quickly. The fitting is tight. Once the angles are on the pipe, give it a good tap on the floor to fully seat.


Step 3: Glue the 4 – T-joints on 4 – 6” pieces

Same as before. Light glue and once seated, give it a good tap on the floor to fully seat.

Step 4: Glue the 8 – caps on the remaining 8 – 6” pieces of PVC.


Step 5: Glue the capped pieces onto the T-joints.


Step 6: Glue the legs onto the 24” pieces.

Note: It gets a little tricky to make everything line up perpendicular to each other. Use a angle, a scrap piece of wood or good ol’ Kentucky windage to help line it up.


VUALLA!!!  You have yourself a nice pair…of parallettes. Easy peasy. Now get out your spray paint, paint pen and athletic tape or tennis racket tape to church them up, so you know their yours. Lastly put those bad boys to work! Soon you can use your new found muscles to monkey stomp anyone who even looks at your parallettes wrong.


Let me know what you think. Post your parallette success story, hacks and mods. Good luck and have fun!