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How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

See how to make a DIY growth chart ruler for the whole family!

Keep everyone’s heights recorded on the same life-size ruler AND include pictures to make it a living historical family record and keepsake!

Bonus: You can take the growth chart ruler with you if you move, unlike markings on a door frame! 

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

How To Make a Growth Chart Ruler w/ Yearly Photos

If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen some giant growth chart rulers pop up periodically as you scroll.

I’ve been eyeing them for forever a while, but after checking out some pre-made ones on Etsy, I got a little sticker shock.

No way was I paying $100+ including shipping for one of these!

I mean they’re super cute, but not that cute.

Then my little DIY light bulb went off…why don’t I just make my own??

I mean I’ve never stained wood before or used vinyl, but hey, there’s a first time for everything.

Plus, it would be the perfect first project for my new Silhouette Cameo.

And since my son was getting ready to turn one, there was no time like the present!

DIY Growth Chart Ruler Supplies

So, one Saturday morning, my husband, my son, and I took a trip to our neighborhood Lowe’s in search of supplies.

I ended up going with a pre-cut board (I believe it was listed as Whiteboard) that was 1″ x 10″ x 6 ‘, and it was only around $9.

Next, we gathered up the rest of my supplies. Luckily, we had a bunch of what I needed already on hand.

Here’s a total list of supplies that I used for this DIY growth chart ruler project:

{Sidenote: You obviously do not NEED to use vinyl for this project.

You can simply measure out the markings with a ruler and then paint them on by hand, or even use stickers or stencils from online or a craft store.

There are also lots of sellers on Etsy and Amazon that sell the precut vinyl sets too, in case you want to semi-DIY the growth chart ruler but just not that step.}

Step 1: Sand the Wooden Board

Later that day while The Hubs started smoking some ribs for dinner, I started sanding the board.

I first used a heavy grade sand paper and a hand-held electric sander on both sides and all the edges, then did two rounds of sanding with a finer grade (220) paper.

Sanding a wood board to make a DIY family growth chart ruler!

Since The Hubs and I were both doing projects outside, we brought our 11-month-old son, Rowan, out in his high chair to get some fresh air as well.

He LOVES being outside, so he was completely content just watching us as we worked.

Man, I love this kid.  

Rowan from Where The Smiles Have Been!

Step 2: Stain or Paint the Wooden Board

After the board was sanded and as smooth as Rowan’s cute little hiney, it was time to stain.

You could also paint the board instead of staining it, and I later did that too with my niece’s Alice in Wonderland growth chart ruler!

I set up our foldable saw horses in the garage and got my supplies ready.

Staining a wood board to make a DIY family growth chart ruler!

After I read the directions and shook the can up like it was a Polaroid picture (any Outkast fans out there?), I was ready to get my stain on.

Since I had never stained before, I turned the board over to its not-so-pretty side (it had some glue that just didn’t want to come off) and did a few test spots to both practice my technique and to see how long I should leave the stain on before wiping it off.

The directions on the can said to leave the stain on for 1-2 minutes before wiping, so I tested areas at both those times.

However, I wasn’t quite happy with either of those colors, so I decided to try five minutes.

I really liked how the stain looked, so that’s what I ended up going with for the other (real) side.

Staining a wood board to make a DIY family growth chart ruler!

Since I had now perfected my technique and determined the time I was going to use, I flipped the board over and got to work.

I simply dabbed a corner of my rag straight into the can then started wiping it on the board.

The stain is very thin and the board soaks it up quickly, so I had to reload my rag quite often.

I just spread the stain around in little sections at a time, making sure that all areas (and edges) were thoroughly covered.

Staining a wood board to make a DIY family growth chart ruler!

Using the clock on my phone to (sort of) keep track of how much time had passed, once the five-minute mark was reached, I went back with a different clean rag to start wiping it off.

It was more like drying the board, so this step was easy peasy.

Staining a wood board to make a DIY family growth chart ruler!


First time staining looks like a success and only took maybe a half hour from start to finish.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Step 3: Create Growth Chart Ruler Markings

Now that the board was nice and stained, it was time for the growth chart ruler markings.

I had just gotten my Silhouette Cameo a few weeks earlier as a surprise birthday gift from The Hubs (thank you honey!) and I was just DYING to do a project with vinyl…and this was it!

So I spent a couple hours one night creating the markings in the Silhouette Studio software.

This was easy but mind-numbing because math…and you can find out where to snag the FREE cut file below to save yourself the hassle!

Since the board is 6′ tall and we were going to hang it flat against the wall, we had to allow some room for the baseboard.

Therefore, I started the bottom markings at 6″ and then finished the top at 6’6″.

I then cut the growth chart markings out on Silhouette brand matte black vinyl.

Making a DIY growth chart ruler with vinyl!

NOTE: Since first publishing this post, I have fallen in love my Silhouette Cameo even more and have used it for all kinds of different projects using all kinds of materials.

For this project and really any type using vinyl, I would recommend using Oracal vinyl as opposed to Silhouette brand.

There’s nothing wrong with Silhouette brand vinyl per se, but Oracal is just the best quality and adheres so much more smoothly and easily.

After cutting the growth chart markings out and weeding away the excess vinyl, was I a happy lady when everything turned out to be correct!

Who says women aren’t good at math?? Pfft.

I cut the markings into sections to make them easier to align and work with, then set them aside for the moment.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

When I first undertook this project, I had intended for it to be Rowan’s personal ruler that would have his name and be hung in his room and would only include his heights.

However, I started thinking that it would be rather nice to have this be a family ruler that would include my and The Hub’s heights as well as those of any future child[ren] we may have, and also be displayed in a main living area.

UPDATE: We’ve added one more boy to our brood!

I’m big on personalized and custom home decor (that’s what makes a house a home, isn’t it?), and I love the idea of having this living historical record of our family in one place that I can look at and be filled with joy over the years.

So, this became a FAMILY growth chart ruler.

For our family name, I cut out the vinyl in both black and silver to create a layered look.

I chose these colors since they’re pretty classic and they’ll (hopefully) go with any color scheme we have over the years.

Vinyl decals to make a DIY family growth chart ruler!

Like I said, this was my very first time ever working with vinyl, so I was very nervous about layering the two colors.

I was nearly spiraling into panic mode at the thought of the silver outline not being even on every letter!

The horror! *insert screaming emoji*

But I cut out registration marks (those rectangles at the top of each piece) and they led to perfect alignment…wahoo!

Vinyl decals to make a DIY growth chart ruler!

Make sure you check out my tutorial for how to easily make layered vinyl decals for all the deets on registration marks and more!

How to layer vinyl and make a vinyl decal!

Step 4: Apply the Vinyl Growth Chart Ruler Markings & Family Name

Now that everything was cut and ready, it was time to align and then apply the vinyl decals on the board.

First, transfer paper was applied overtop every vinyl piece to make application quick and easy and ensure that all the pieces stayed aligned.

Then, starting with the 6″ line (at the bottom of the piece with the #1), I lined it up with the corner of the board and secured it with painter’s tape so it was nice and flush with the edge.

I then grabbed the next strip (the one with the #2), and, using my normal-size ruler, measured out one inch from the last line on the first section to the first line of the second section to make sure they were evenly and accurately spaced.

It was then also secured with painter’s tape.

I repeated this process all the way to the top, and everything lined up beautifully.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Next I placed our three name pieces.

I pretty much just eye-balled them, but I did use the ruler to make sure the capital letters (and “y” in “Family”) were all 1/2″ from the edge of the board and that no part was overlapping any of the other markings.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Now it was time to apply the vinyl.

This was the part I was most nervous about.

The mere thought of having a single piece not being perfectly lined up with the rest sent shivers down my spine.

Nobody else would probably even notice it but I WOULD KNOW!

And it would haunt me for the rest of my life.

Overly dramatic? Yes.

But my first-timer fears were for naught because applying the vinyl was actually pretty simple.

Isn’t that how life tends to go?

I worked in very small sections and pulled the backing off the vinyl by lifting the vinyl up with the transfer paper.

The backing was then cut away with scissors, and since the painter’s tape was holding everything else in place, I could simply lay the markings right back down and apply the vinyl decals to their final resting spots.

Seriously, don’t stress about this part!

Applying vinyl to make a DIY growth chart ruler!

To make sure everything was really stuck on the board good, I scraped over top the vinyl with my scraper tool before pulling up the transfer paper.

If any vinyl started to pull back up with the transfer paper, I just laid it back on the board and give it some more scraping.

This is why I now recommend using Oracal vinyl instead of Silhouette brand…it sticks so much better!

Applying vinyl to make a DIY growth chart ruler!

After removing the transfer paper and leaving the vinyl behind on the wood, everything was looking perfect!

Applying vinyl to make a DIY growth chart ruler!

I then simply repeated the application process for the rest of the growth chart markings, including the three family name words:

  1. Lifted vinyl up
  2. Cut away the backing
  3. Laid vinyl down
  4. Scraped
  5. Pulled transfer paper up
  6. Smiled with satisfaction
Applying vinyl to make a DIY growth chart ruler!

Step 5: Seal the Growth Chart Ruler Board

Now that the vinyl decals were added and the board was looking like the giant ruler I’d hoped for, it was time to seal everything.

I chose to use polycrylic for this step after researching sealants and read that it’s really up to you if you seal, and if so, what you use.

Some people say you shouldn’t seal vinyl (especially with aerosol sealants) because that can cause the vinyl to bubble and peel.

Others say seal with whatever you want.

So it’s really whatev. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I wanted to seal the board to err on the side of protection and longevity.

Sealant = More protection from curious prying little fingers.

Plus, the sealant gives everything a nice subtle gleam.

Also, I didn’t want to have to worry about any yellowing over time that can happen with polyurethane, so polycrylic it was!

Sealing a wood board with vinyl using polycrylic!

The directions on the polycrylic said to stir, not shake (like a backwards James Bond drink) and apply with a synthetic brush, so I readied my supplies.

Notice on the pictures above and below how dull and flat the board looks, even with the vinyl applied.

A subtle, glossy sheen was definitely needed!

Sealing a wood board with vinyl using polycrylic!

The polycrylic is very thin and looks milky in the can but dries crystal clear.

Sealing a wood board with vinyl using polycrylic!

After giving the can a nice stir, I dipped my brush in then began applying it to the board in long even strokes, going with the grain of the wood.

It went on very smoothly, although it did like to drip over the edges, so I had to be extra aware and remember to go back over the edges and remove any drippings.

Sealing a wood board with vinyl using polycrylic!

The directions said to wait two hours between coats, so I did the first coat during Rowan’s morning nap, the second coat during his afternoon slumber, then the third and final coat after dinner.

I let it sit for a few more hours in the garage, then brought it inside.

The directions also said to sand in between each coat, but I decided to skip that step and took my chances.

I just didn’t want to chance messing up the vinyl I had worked so hard at.

And now, the DIY growth chart ruler itself is finally finished!

All that’s left is hanging it on our wall and then starting up with the yearly photos to capture Rowan’s growth and development.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Step 6: Hang the Growth Chart Ruler

Next up was hanging the growth chart ruler (finally!) and we chose to hang it in our dining room.

I’m not a big fan of putting a bunch of holes in our walls so we decided to hang the board using some heavy duty Command Strips.

The ones we picked up can hold up to 16 lbs., and the board weighed 9 lbs. (yes, I weighed it just to be safe), so we put two at the top and the other two in the center, that way we can pull the board off from the bottom when we eventually move.

UPDATE: we moved and took the growth chart ruler with us then changed the ruler’s location one more time!

How to hang a growth chart ruler wood board!

Optional Step: Prepare for the Yearly Photos

Now that the actual growth chart ruler was finished and hung, I needed to decide how I planned on marking our family members’ heights.

I don’t want to just take a Sharpie and draw a line for each annual height recording.

No, that would be too ho-hum and typical.

Plus, my handwriting = yikes.

I also thought of using vinyl decals to mark each age and actually cut some out, but decided to go a different path entire.

Age arrow maker vinyl decals for a growth chart ruler!

Instead, I want to take pictures of each measurement and then tape the photos at the corresponding height.

That way, the board will sort of act as a giant photo collage as well as a height and growth recorder.

So I thought it would be fun to make some mini Polaroid-esque frames.

Everything is better miniaturized, right?

They would obviously frame the pics, but I can also write the family member’s name, age, and height on them.

Too perfect!

So I fired up my Silhouette Cameo again and cut out the frames in some heavy-duty white cardstock.

Mini Polaroid-type frames cut out of white card stock to use with a family growth chart ruler!

Now I needed to take and then print out pictures of the three of us standing in front of the newly hung growth chart ruler, plus a pic from when Rowan was born to include his birth height.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

After the pics were printed as 2.25″ x 2.25″ sizes, I simply taped a mini Polaroid frame to the front, wrote down our details, and hung them on the board with some super cute polka dot washi tape.

Yearly family photos to use with a Growth Chart Ruler!

Our Finished DIY Growth Chart Ruler!

Now this family growth chart ruler is what I call a successful DIY project!

Not too shabby, especially for it being my very first time working with wood AND vinyl.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!
How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Aren’t these mini pictures just the cutest??

They add the perfect personalization to this growth chart ruler and are way more interesting than just a plain Sharpie mark or generic vinyl decal.

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Mom and Dad are also included towards the top!

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Family Growth Chart Ruler Update: Year 3!

Rowan has now just turned three (I can’t believe it!), so we’ve updated our growth chart ruler with a couple more photos!

Plus, we moved into a new house earlier this year and this board looks just as lovely in our new kitchen.

I’m SO happy I decided to make this growth chart ruler on a moveable board instead of just marking our heights on a door frame that would obviously get left behind and lost forever with every move!

How To Make a DIY Growth Chart Ruler with Yearly Photos + FREE Cut File!

Family Growth Chart Ruler Update: Many Years Later!

We moved the family growth chart ruler again, this time to our hallway family command center!

Hallway Family Command Center | Where The Smiles Have Been #commandcenter #familycommandcenter #home #organization #mealplanning #planner #cleaning #cleaningchecklist #chorechart #calendar #backtoschool #schoolorganization #growthchart #beforeandafter

See all those lovely additional photos of both our boys through the years??

Hallway Family Command Center | Where The Smiles Have Been #commandcenter #familycommandcenter #home #organization #mealplanning #planner #cleaning #cleaningchecklist #chorechart #calendar #backtoschool #schoolorganization #growthchart #beforeandafter

Snag the FREE Growth Chart Ruler Cut File!

I had SO many people asking for the cut file that I created for the growth chart ruler’s markings, I decided to go ahead and offer it for free to all my lovely readers!

If you have a Silhouette or another cutting machine and would like to create your own growth chart ruler, head over here to download the FREE cut file!

These DIY growth chart rulers make great gift ideas, like this Alice In Wonderland growth chart ruler I made for my niece!

You can use this cut file to either make a growth chart ruler on a board like I did, or just apply the vinyl directly onto a wall…lots of options!

FREE! DIY Growth Chart Ruler Cut File!

If You Enjoyed This…

Make sure you check out my Project Gallery for lots of other crafty creations, including more Silhouette fun and cute kiddo keepsakes!

Colorful Grandkids Make Life Grand Wood Sign Photo Display | Where The Smiles Have Been
Make Your Own Illustrated Family Portrait - No Drawing Skills Required! | Where The Smiles Have Been #portrait #familyportrait #Photoshop #Illustrator #graphicdesign #homedecor #giftidea #wedding #Christmascard #profilepic
How to install board and batten wall with hooks and personalized wooden names

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Where The Smiles Have Been | Crafts. DIY. Home. Mom Life.


Thursday 6th of September 2018

Hi, I know this is an older post but was wondering if you could remember the font? I need to add up to 7ft :)


Wednesday 26th of April 2017

Hi, Thanks for sharing your tutorial & cut file! Do you know if you can write on the board with a Sharpie or other permanent marker? I am trying to figure out what type of finish to use so I can long-term track heights of multiple kiddos. Thanks!

Karen Seymore

Wednesday 5th of April 2017

i was unable to download the file. any ideas on the growth chart.


Thursday 6th of April 2017

Did you click the link from the download post?:

Once you're there, click on the download link which will take you to a Google Drive page, then click on the blue download button. I just tried and it's working just fine. Hope this helps!


Saturday 5th of December 2015

I just got my Silhouette Cameo II and downloaded the cut file for the ruler (thank you). When I open it on the design page the images go outside the 12x12 square on the screen and I don't know how to move it to put half on that page and the other half on the another. Advice?


1st Birthday Project: DIY Giant Ruler Growth Chart

Wednesday 28th of October 2015

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