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In my childhood home, the wall next to the laundry room door was covered with a series of marks and dates. A few times a year my mother would tell me to stand up tall with my shoulders back up against the wall, a cereal box would be placed on top of my head and a line drawn where it touched. Each line was dated and another addition to the history of my growth was created. At the age of 12 my family moved out of that house and all that history was painted over by the next inhabitants. While at the time it seemed like more of a nuisance to have my height marked regularly, today it's a missing piece of my personal history I would love to have kept.

A broken tape measure may be the end of the tool as a whole, but not its parts. not wanting to throw away a perfectly good piece of measured steel It struck me that a piece of tape measure would be perfect for recording the growth of children.

Bill of Materials:
-1 6”x 0.75” board 5’ or longer greater
-1 Tape measurer
-Wood Glue
-Picture hanger
-Felt Pads

Suggested Tools:
-Table Saw
-Chisel
-Screw driver
-Scissors
-Sand paper
-Polyurethane
-Hammer
-Picture hanger
-Pads
-Chop saw or hand saw
 
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Step 1: Step 1

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Disassemble the tape measure carefully.  Begin by removing the 5 screws that hold the casing together.  Make sure to keep a hand on the case so it doesn’t pop open.  Open the casing slowly, to make sure it doesn’t pop out.  Remove the coil from the casing (that’s the white part) and put a finger on the tape to keep it coiled up. Slowly unroll the tape in a safe place (remember it’s as long as the  tape says it is, so it’s best to do this in the garage or outside.)

Step 2: Step 2

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Using your scissors cut the tape into more manageable pieces.  We recommend leaving about 6” on either side of the 6’ you want to end up with just to make sure you have it right.  You can easily cut the rest of the tape into manageable size pieces, and save it for more fun projects later.

Step 3: Step 3

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Next we head to the Table saw.  We’re going to be making a dadoe (or a groove) in the wood that is ½” deep and 15/16” wide.  If you have a dadoe blade it’s simple to set it up and do this, if not it’ll take a little longer but isn’t too difficult.  Set the height of your blade to ½”, and if necessary remove your safety cover.  Set the Fence on your saw at 1.5” and run your first line.  Set the fence to 2 5/16” and run your second line.  The second measurement is ⅛ smaller than what the groove actually is because the blade width adds the additional ⅛ of an inch. (we messed up our first board trying to add 15/16 to the first measurement).  Continue to bump the fence in ⅛” at a time and run lines till the gap has been mostly cleared out.  This takes 7-8 passes, and if you want less cleanup you can do it in 1/16” increments.  Make sure to wear safety goggles and use a push stick when using the table saw.

Step 4: Step 4

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Using a chisel clear the remnants from the groove.  This may take more work depending on how many passes you did.  Once the groove is cleared out you’re ready to cut to length

Step 5: Step 5

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Measure to 6’ on your board and using a chop saw (or hand saw if desired) cut the board to length.

Step 6: Step 6

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Take a square of 150 grit sandpaper and run it along all of the edges of the board (this is called breaking the edges).  This should remove burrs and also make the board more pleasant to touch.  When you’re done with the edges give the whole front and back a good rub with the sandpaper (or use an electric sander if you have one).

Step 7: Step 7

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Wipe all the dust and dirt off of the board.  If you think your board is particularly dirty you can use a rag with a little mineral spirits on it to get it clean, but make sure to wait till it fully dries before beginning the finishing.  Brush or rub the wood with a light coat of polyurethane (or paint, or lacquer, or your preferred finish), make sure not to get it into the groove.  Once the poly (or whatever) dries, lightly sand with 220 to remove the raised grain, and then recoat.  you can coat the back if desired, but it isn’t necessary.  You can recoat till you’re happy, but a slightly rougher finish will take pen marks better than a glossy one.  You can decorate the board any way you want, but remember you’ll have to change what you use to write with depending on color and finish.

Step 8: Step 8

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Once the finish is dry it’s time to insert the tape measure.  Make sure the tape is the same length of the board and trim accordingly. (We put the tape over the groove and trimmed it there).  Run a bead of glue down the center of the groove.  Place the tape over the center of the groove and press it firmly into the groove.  The tape should flex into the groove and then hold itself inside (The glue is so it won’t move after you’re done).  Make sure to start with one end in the right spot because it’s hard to move once it’s in there.   Allow the glue to dry overnight with the board horizontal so the glue doesn’t drip out.

Step 9: Step 9

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Once the glue has dried you can attach a picture frame hanger to the backside.  Measure up 5 feet from the bottom of the board and make a mark, then use a tape to make a mark in the center of the board.  Attach your hanger around this center point.   Add the two pads at the bottom of the board so the base doesn’t mark up your wall.

Step 10: Step 10

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To hang on the wall, measure up 6’ and put a nail or other hanger in the wall (since the board starts at 1 foot, and the hanger is 5’ from the bottom, this should mean your board is hanging in the right spot).  Double check with a working tape measure.

Step 11: Step 11

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Once it’s hung begin documenting your family’s growth.  Kids around 12 months should be able to stand(with help) and you can begin recording their progress.  Many styles of marks exists, but I prefer name and date (when you have a second child the name is really necessary, and sometimes it’s fun to give each child their own color too).  Lighter colors work well with regular pens, darker colors require paint pens, or metallic sharpees.  Pencil will possibly wipe away, and ink needs to be left to dry  depending on the finish.
What a great simple idea.
This is such an awesome idea! Lovely photos too :)