Growth Chart

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Project by Calmudgeon posted 11-11-2020 05:27 PM 1066 views 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter-in-law asked if I had a board suitable for growth chart for our granddaughter. Guess what happened from there.

My first thought was to replicate the appearance of a 6” wooden ruler. Then somewhere along the way I got the notion to add the vine motif. 13 templates and one custom routing jig later, this is the result. The wooden ruler idea may have been muddled a bit by the graphic addition, but I’m happy enough with the end result anyway.

The board is hard maple, the inlay walnut and red oak. I had to rummage through my stock (100+ board feet or more) of oak to find a board that had enough fine straight grain to achieve the vein effect I wanted on the leaves. I resawed that to about 3/16” of an inch and then spent a day cutting out leaves (third picture). I made 6 different leaves (2 templates each) and then flipped the templates to create mirror images, so no two leaves on the project are exactly the same.

Then I had to machine enough maple scraps to precisely 1/2” thickness for the custom router template to create the ruler tick marks. I bolted these together in the appropriate pattern and use a 1/2” guide bushing with a v-notch bit. (fourth picture)

My initial tests on scrap showed me that the paint I wanted to use for the tick marks bled into the maple, so I sealed around the tick marks with a couple light coats of water-based polyurethane, which allowed me to slop the paint into the notches without being super careful. I couldn’t coat the whole board because I needed to have the areas for the numbers remain absorbent (more on that later). Once the paint dried, I went over the area with a ROS to remove the excess. I’m quite happy with the results.

After sanding everything to 200 grit, I applied the numbers using laser print and acetone (plenty of instructions on this out there on the Intertubes, so I won’t bore you.) The end result isn’t absolute black, but considering that the look I was after was a cheap, mass-produced wooden ruler, I accepted it as appropriate. A side note: the quality of the acetone transfer varies considerably with the quality of the sanding job. The end result here is far better than my test attempts on a poorly sanded board.

All that was left was the finish. I usually spray lacquer on most projects, but I was quite certain lacquer would dissolve and bleed the toner in the numbers, so I went with three coats of water-based polyurethane instead. I did two coats before I did any kind of serious sanding because I didn’t want to chance sanding through and wiping out the numbers.

As always, comments and/or constructive criticism welcomed.

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

4 comments so far

View Andre's profile


5003 posts in 3140 days

#1 posted 11-11-2020 05:53 PM

Very Nice, great job:)

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View TheSnekkerShow's profile


25 posts in 719 days

#2 posted 11-11-2020 08:27 PM

That looks great. I’ve been meaning to make one of these for my fast-growing boy.

-- Ben --

View Ron Stewart's profile

Ron Stewart

339 posts in 3838 days

#3 posted 11-12-2020 01:14 AM

That is great! The vine really dresses it up. I bet your daughter-in-law and son are thrilled with the result.

-- Ron Stewart

View Calmudgeon's profile


586 posts in 2761 days

#4 posted 11-13-2020 02:38 PM

Thanks for the positive comments. I haven’t presented it to my son and daughter-in-law yet. I might just hang onto it until Christmas.

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

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