Video: How to Make Kids Growth Chart Ruler
April Wilkerson designs and builds a grown chart for her nephew. The growth chart ruler is a great gift for new or current parents and allows you to have a memento to keep for years.
You can find more great projects and techniques from April Wilkerson at her website.
April Wilkerson: In this video, I'm going to be showing you how I made this growth chart ruler for my baby nephew Noah. Now, I already have a video out showing how I used to make these, where I would burn in all of the markings. However, this one, I took a little bit different of approach. I used a router to carve in all of the markings.
Stay tuned if you're interested in seeing the process. Since I'll be using a router, the first thing I needed to do was make a template to follow. I grabbed a half-inch sheet of plywood, then set a ruler down, and then made a pencil mark at every inch. Then I would go a quarter-inch above and then also below that quarter-inch marking so that I could come back with a combination square and extend those markings to the links needed.
It was my intention to cut this template out using my router, but I couldn't find my Meyers gauge to my router stand. Instead, I use the bandsaw to cut it all out, and it worked out fine.
You just need to make sure that your lines are straight, so I use the fence on the bandsaw. Now, in order for the router to follow the template, you need to install something called a guide bushing. I'm not extremely familiar with these, but it was really straightforward. I just removed the plastic base on my router, inserted the adapter, and then reinstalled that plastic base. Now, I have a place for that guide bushing to be installed. That very center portion that looks like an outie belly button will follow your template, while the router bit inside makes the cut.
Now, anytime I make a ruler, I always start them off at six inches. This is so you can mount the ruler six inches off the ground and not have any interference issues with your existing baseboard, the ruler simply mounted above it. After clamping everything down, I set the depth of my bit, which honestly, I eyeballed it, but it's around a quarter of an inch, and then I just started following the template.
Whenever it came time to move the template, I would line up the foot markings. I would put the foot mark that I routered in in the center of the first foot marking from the template, if that makes sense. Then I would also make sure that the front of the template was nice and flush with the board, ensuring that the lines would be caught in nice and straight. Having a template to follow made this entire process only take around 20 minutes. If you're interested, I am selling these templates on my website. There's a link for you down in the description below. This being my first time to router in the markings though, and I was very pleased with the results.
I grabbed my combination square once again and started lining out where I wanted the numbers to be. Everything on these rulers is honestly just a personal preference. I put my number sideways, but, of course, you could always put them vertical. These are just some standard three-inch stencils that I found at Hobby Lobby years ago. After getting all of the numbers traced, I then grabbed my router with the same quarter-inch fit in it and started carving them out as well.
Now, I'm pretty good at free handing. I was really comfortable using the router freehand in order to follow my line and to carve out these numbers. However, if you're not as comfortable free-handing, Rockler makes an excellent interlocking stencil system that these guide bushings can follow. This is actually a wonderful project for them. If you want to check those out, I'll leave you a link in the description. Even though I think my free-handed ones came out looking nice, it would go way quicker using a template.
After carving out each number, I came back with some sandpaper and on a few of them, even a chisel in order just to make it look a little bit sharper. Then I moved on to making his name. Now, I didn't have any letter stencils. I simply made my own stencil. I did this by printing off his name onto some regular paper, then using some clear packing tape to go over the front and back of it. My Exacto knives have also gone missing since the move. I used a box blade in order to cut them out so that I could then set the paper in place and trace out his name onto the board.
After using the router once again to carve that out, I gave the entire board a really good vacuum to make sure that all the sawdust was removed so that I could then come back with some black spray paint and paint in all of the markings, making sure I didn't miss any spots on the sidewalls of the markings. Once the paint was all dry, I grabbed my random orbital sander and sanded the entire board until the only thing black was the recessed markings. I was pleasantly surprised at just how quick this part of the project went.
For the sides, I didn't mess with sanding though. I went over to my tables and took off the smallest amount possible just to remove that black edging. For this one, I'm giving it a coat of stain. Since it is pine and tends to be a little bit splotchy, I made sure to use a pre wood conditioner first and then applied one coat of-- I believe this one's called Early American. After the stain was dry, I applied a coat of wipe-on poly to both the front and the back.
That's going to be it for this project. I really think that these make a great do-it-yourself gift for just about anybody with small children, but if you get one, just remember to mount it six inches off the ground so that it's accurate. That's it for this one. I hope that you enjoyed it, and I will see you soon.