When it comes to decorating for your little ones, there are a lot of things that make women say, “Oh, look, that’s so cute!” Then, there are a couple things that make them say, “Oh, wow! You made that? I’m so turned on right now.” I like to call that, “The Money Shot.” Take my word for it, a life size growth chart ruler is one of those easy DIY projects that gets you The Money Shot. It’s very inexpensive and you just need a couple minutes over a couple days and a couple beers if you please.
Tools to start:
1x8x6 piece of wood (I like to use common board. It has a very good tree look and it’s one of the least expensive pieces of wood)
Permanent Markers (One chisel tip and one fine point)
Tri Square (Any straight edge will do, but a tri edge grips the wood and has marks for measuring)
3 Inch Numbered Stencils (There are lots of fonts to choose from)
Turn wood into ruler:
Start the ruler at 6 inches from the ground. That way, when you hang it, it can be over the floorboard AND, you never know, the kid might turn out to be over 6 feet, even though you are not, hence the reason you don’t have an NBA contract. Regardless, draw a line with the chisel tip marker every 3 inches at 1.5 inches long. At every foot, draw the line 2.5 inches long. In the end, the ruler should measure 6.5 feet.
1 play, 2 play, 3 play…
Use the painters tape to hold down the stencils just below each corresponding foot line. Trace the number with the fine tip marker and fill it in. Continue up the ruler to the 6 foot line. Tip: This is a good time to crack open the first beer. It’s a nice distraction between bending over and filling in numbers. Warning: Drink slowly, and always triple check which number you’re marking. Don’t blame me if you mess up the order of 1-6. I didn’t tell you drink the beer, it was just the tip.
Tools to stain:
Gel Stain (I prefer Old Masters brand. You choose your color. I like Natural Walnut.)
Drop Cloth (dude, keep the floor of your garage clean)
Old T-Shirt (I suggest the one from that Team Building Exercise ’99 in her closet)
Rubber Gloves (insert the usual 2-3 rubber glove jokes here)
Get your stain on:
Cut the bottom half of the t-shirt off. This way, if she gets mad, you can explain that you thought it would look great as a cut-off to accentuate her amazingly sexy stomach. Warning: Danger! Tip: Run away! Once you are in the safety of your garage, put on your rubber gloves and chuckle to yourself for obvious reasons. Ball the t-shirt into your hand, and dip it into the stain. Wipe liberally onto the ruler, getting the sides as well. Once you have applied stain to the entire length of the ruler, starting at one end, wipe all the way down without lifting up the t-shirt. This will get rid of all of the start and stop strokes in your staining. Repeat this step until you have covered the entire ruler. At this point, you wait. Tip: Perhaps it’s time for another beer. Give the stain at least 8 hours to dry. Then, for best results, apply one more coat of stain in the same way.
Tools to seal the deal:
Polyurethane (once again, I go with Old Masters interior water based Satin)
White China Bristle Brush (again, your choice, I like to use a stiff brush instead of the foam brush)
Sandpaper (go with 220 grade)
Allow the stained ruler to dry at least 24 hours before applying polyurethane. Stir the polyurethane thoroughly, do NOT shake to mix it. Using the stiff brush, apply the polyurethane liberally, including the sides, in the same way as the staining step. Once done, run the brush down the length of the ruler in a straight line without lifting the brush from start to finish. Once again, this will get rid of your start and stop strokes. Repeat until you have covered the entire ruler. There may be some small bubbles when you are done. Allow 1-2 hours to dry. Tip: This is another good time to crack open a beer. After the 1-2 hours drying time, using the 220 sandpaper, LIGHTLY sand the ruler (with the direction of the grain) to remove any bubbles and give the next coat something to grip. Once done, use the tack cloth to remove any dust from the ruler. Then, repeat the same step coating the ruler with one more layer of finish.
When you are done, allow the ruler to dry for a few days completely before bringing it into the house. It can still have a pretty strong smell. Your completed ruler should look like this.
Now all you have to do is get some hooks to hang it and you’re on your way to The Money Shot.
Just the tips:
Staining and Finishing – Always stain and finish in a well ventilated area. Always use a dust free environment (you know, like a Breaking Bad-style ventilated room) And always go in the direction of the grain.
Polyurethane – Never shake, only stir. You don’t want to allow bubbles to get into the finish, it will be very hard to rub them out… with the sandpaper. (ouch)
Expert? – I am NOT an expert. If you aren’t sure, you can always ask at the store. Men stopped being weird about asking questions a long time ago. Suck it up.
Happy DIY-ing, my friend.