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.