Art, DIY, Family Life, Home Decor

How to Make a Wood Burned Growth Chart

Family traditions are such a beautiful way of passing down the significance of life’s daily events from generation to generation.

I have so many sweet memories of my family’s traditions; my mom always worked so hard to keep them alive in our household.  One of my favorites is a practice that I still carry on for my children, and I would love if they carried on for theirs.

I can still remember my mother asking us to stand with straight backs, feet against the wall so that she could get an accurate measurement of just how much we had grown since our last marking.  Something about seeing how much I had shot up over a certain span of time bubbled up a tremendous amount of excitement in me as a child.  My kids get every bit as thrilled as I did when I ask them to please stand soldier style, back touching the wall.

A few years ago I was shopping online and stumbled upon wooden growth charts on  I loved the idea.  My mom had always measured me on a fixated part of the house that she couldn’t take with her from home to home.  The idea of having a movable keepsake to remember each of my children’s milestones appealed a great deal to me.

There were so many choices on Etsy, I just couldn’t find thee one.  I knew that I didn’t want the measurements to be painted on, or be vinyl attachments.  I wanted it to look old, vintage.

After searching awhile, I found a couple of Etsy shops that sold wood burned growth charts.  I knew deep down that I could make my own, but for some reason the wood burning intimidated me.

I finally contacted an Etsy shop owner, and worked with her to customize a wood burned growth chart just for our family.  She did a fantastic job.

Once it arrived and I inspected the growth chart, my hunch was confirmed.  I could totally make one of these puppies in an afternoon.

As soon as I started my blog, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making one of these and show others just how easy and inexpensive they are to make.

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First off, I purchased a six foot long pine board at Lowes.  The sticker actually reads .75″X11.25″X6′ TOP CHOICE.

I laid out my boards side by side so that I could copy the measurements.  I used a ruler and a yardstick to make my measurements.  You obviously won’t have a board to copy off of, but I will give you all of the measurements that you will need.

An assistant is not necessarily required for this project, but definitely an option.  My sidekick wanted to be sure that I had plenty of sharpened pencils for our growth chart measurements.

I made two straight lines that ran down the entire length of the left side of the board, parallel to one another.  These lines running the length of the board will not be visible on the final product.  They are just guidelines so that all of your markings running perpendicular (every inch) to the edge of your board will have a nice stopping point.

The shorter line measured 1.75″ from the edge.

Don’t pay attention to the perpendicular marks in the picture just yet.  This is just to show you the purpose of the lines running parallel to the edge of the board.  Again, these two long lines running the length of the board are just the stopping points; the guidelines.

The longer line measured (roughly) 3.5″ from the edge.

Once I had the two lines running the length of the board drawn, I started with marking each inch on the growth chart.  These are the lines that will be visible.

Don’t forget to start your growth chart measurements at 6″.  This is to allow for the woodwork in your home.  If your baseboard is taller than 6″, you will have to adjust accordingly.

There is a pattern with the marks that run perpendicular to the left edge of the board:  Short line, short line, long line, and repeat until you run out of board.

I also measured to see where to begin the name.

The last letter in our name was roughly 2.5″ from the top edge of the board.

And 1.5″ from the right edge of the board.

Once I measured the height of the letters in our last name (which were about 2.5″ tall) I opened up a free photo editing site and typed out my letters.  “Team” was the font “Nixie One” at 80.  “PURDY” was a font called “Trocchi” at 72.  The numbers were “Droid Serif” at 225.  I saved them as a PDF and printed in the landscape format.  I cut out the numbers and name.

I then chalked the back of the prints and laid them out where I wanted them and taped them down on my board.

Using a pen (anything that can apply good pressure), I traced the numbers to make a chalk transfer onto the board.

I then went over it with a pencil, just so that I could see the lines better while wood burning.

Now for the fun part.

I found my wood burner here.  I was very happy with the way it performed.

After I finished with all of the wood burning, I erased my pencil lines.  Which, in hindsight wasn’t necessary because I ended up sanding the board, which eliminated any leftover pencil marks.

I took the board outside and hit it with a hammer, screw driver, drill bits, and other random things I could find to rough it up a bit.  My daughter always looks at me with a very troubled face and asks why I want everything to look old.  She never understands.  Maybe some day.

After I aged the board a bit, I sanded it with a fine grit sand paper just a touch to get it ready for stain.

I used a wood conditioner because it’s a pine board.  You can find it here.  This isn’t a necessary step.  I just think it helps the stain to take better to the board.

Now for the stain.  I used Minwax English Chestnut.  You can find it here.

After the stain dried completely, I added a couple coats of polycrylic.  You can find it here:

And that’s it!  Super easy!  I know you can do it!  Let me know how you get along with your growth chart!

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Thanks so much for reading!



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2 thoughts on “How to Make a Wood Burned Growth Chart

  1. Do you happen to know if there is a particular pen that works well over water based polycrylic fir marking heights?

    1. That’s a great question and I’m not exactly sure. I use a small carving tool and carve my kid’s initials and the date right into the board.

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