This instructable is WAY longer than needed, but that's part of the fun of making these things.
The thing about kids is they grow. And they also enjoy tracking how much they grow. The problem with being adults, is that we sometimes have to move. While a door jam or behind a door is often a good place to mark your kids heights, it's not usually practical to cut out a big piece of drywall or start peeling off trim to take with you to your next home. Here is a quick and easy, no major tools required, growth chart that you can take with you where ever you end up. And it looks styling to boot.
This is my go to gift for baby showers and first birthdays. It costs less than $12 to make, is super unique, and is something they will have forever.
Here is the finished one I made for my daughters first birthday. My plan is to mark it every birthday by placing a current picture of her at the the growth mark.
The materials needed for this instructable:
- 6"-10" x 6' board. (the type of wood doesn't matter, neither does the width really but try and get one as flat and straight as possible so it sits flush on your wall)
- some wood stain (I just used what I had laying around, it's a slightly tinted translucent polyurethane, white wash would look nice too)
- some sandpaper or a sanding block
- dollar store shelf liner (for making a name stencil)
- 1.5" number stencils (or live dangerously and freehand it)
- exacto knife
- large ruler/tape measure
- carpenters square (if you don't have one just use a book or some piece of square material)
- black sharpie
- some paint and brushes (I used my airbrush because it makes feel better about owning a $100 airbrush that I've only used 4x, Dollar store paint and brushes work fine)
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Step 1: Aquire a Board
Home Depot, Lowes, they all have boards. I just get the cheapest one that has nice grain. I did an Oak one for my daughter, but really it doesn't look any better than cheap clearance boards. I cap mine at 6' because I barely clear 5'. You're going to mount this 6" up the wall. So unless you foresee your kid surpassing 6'6", this should do. If your kid grows past 6'6" then you've got "bigger" problems ;)
Once you have your handy dandy hunk of wood, you should probably sand off your edges. Kids are durable, but best not to end their birthday with splinters and tears.
Step 2: Paint
I like that it looks like a yard stick, so I prefer to use a clear polyurethane or whatever I have kicking around. However, you could also dilute some white paint in some water and whitewash it. That will give it a grainy white look.
I would like to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to things, but I also like the ease of using these dollar store brushes that you can throw in the trash. Polyurethane is a pain to clean off without solvents
Give it several coats. You want a nice sheen to it. Kids have grubby little hands, this way you can wipe off their paw prints
Step 3: Meanwhile, It's Stencil Time
Instead of watching the paint dry, you can get started on a stencil.
Open up word, pick a fancy font and make yourself a nice big nameplate. Make sure you pick a font that's easy to cutout. And also spell the kids name right. It would be awkward to show up to a baby shower with a hand made gift and the kids name spelled wrong.
If you go to a craft store, you can get some Frisket. It's expensive, but works really well. I prefer to go to the dollar store and buy some white shelf liner. It works the same, and is about 1/12 the price. Don't forget we're making a kids growth chart, not recreating the Mona Lisa here.
Cut yourself a square of the shelf liner slightly smaller than a piece of paper. Then scotch tape that piece of liner (paper backing down) to a piece of card stock. This is just to help it feed through the printer. If you really wanted to get fancy, you can mirror your text and print on the back of the shelf liner. It's paper and will stop things from smudging as you cut it out. For me, I just dealt with the smudging. This is one time use stencil anyways.
Cut out your letters and make sure you save any bits like the middle of the 'A' and the 'O'
Free your stencil from the card stock
Step 4: Marking Your Increments
Now it's time to mark our increments. This is a multi step process that goes quite quickly
First, you want to take a pencil or chalk and mark one inch increments. You can do CMs if that's how you roll. In Canada we generally refer to height in imperial units for general conversation (or I do). At 6" up, mark differently. Then do that every 12" from there on. These will be your foot markers. The reason we start 6" up is because you will mount this 6" off the ground. So your first mark at 6" wil be your 1' mark. This is so we don't interfere with any baseboards when mounting.
Now, take your carpenters square, or anything square and at every mark, make a one inch line with your sharpie. When you get to the foot marks, make 2" lines. These lines can really be any length. We're not building a space shuttle here, no need for exactness. I use a sharpie because it's much faster and cleaner looking. You could very well paint each line too. This is faster, crisper and more accurate. Also dries much quicker and less likely to smudge
Step 5: Name Stenciling
Now we can break out our super awesome stencil we made. Stick it on there somewhere in the middle. Don't forget any little pieces you cut out of the middle of letters. If you're going to airbrush like I did, mask off the surrounding area for over spray
I mixed up some black paint and extender and painted away. If you're using brushes, it's better to do a few coats so it doesn't run. I forgot to turn down my airbrush when I did the name, and it bled a bit. I ended up outlining it with white later to hide the bleed marks.
Step 6: Number Stenciling
Now it's time to stencil on all your numbers. If you're a real rebel, a risk taker, you can go ahead and free hand them on. When it comes to freehand writing, I have the abilities of a slightly artistic chimp. It's barely legible and never consistency and I also shake. So I use a stencil. If you're using a brush, I would use a foam sponge brush and just dab it on. This will stop paint from running under your stencil
Step 7: And There You Have It
let your paint dry. Most paints dry within an hour.
drill a hole top and bottom for a screw to pass through
Measure 1' up the wall and make a mark
line your 1' mark up on the board with the 1' mark on the wall and mark your screw holes on the drywall. I also recommend using a level
If you're mounting to drywall, I would use a drywall plug. Drill your hole in the drywall (and by drill I mean poke a hole with a screwdriver/punch), put in your drywall plug and screw your board into that. It would likely be bad (and later funny) if this fell on one of your kids.
Now you just need to line up Jr, make their growth mark and place a little picture, repeat every year and send it with them when they finally move out.
I hope you found this instructable fun and interesting!