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How to Repair Boot and Shoe soles with Vehicle Tire

Updated on February 19, 2015

Do it yourself!

If you have the time, why not do it yourself? Our society puts too much emphasis on "the easy way out," when fixing things or conquering problems not only makes one feel good about themselves, but it's generally a cheaper option as well. Western society touts throwing away old things, and buying newer, cheaper solutions. So many things can be reused and recycled if we weren't such busy-minded and consumerist-type people.

This project IS simple, but it does require some time to complete. However, in the end you have a working, walking piece of proof that you don't just throw money at your problems, you put your mind and body toward just a wee bit more autonomy in your life.

Items required

  • 1 Vehicle tire (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.), As long as it fits the size of your shoe/boot
  • 1 Pair of boots or shoes
  • 1 Very sharp knife, Exacto knife is best (Especially if the tire has steel cables)
  • 1 High strength glue, (Barge cement, shoe goo, GOOP, etc.)
  • 5-10 (per boot/shoe) clamps, Enough to hold tight the sole to the tire all around the footwear
  • 1 heat gun (optional), To soften/melt sediment from previous sole
  • 1 Sander (optional), Not required but helps create a nicer looking, finished product
Cut across the width for a beginning/finish line
Cut across the width for a beginning/finish line
The knotch cut to make working the blade under easier
The knotch cut to make working the blade under easier
Try and cut above any layers of metal cable. I ended up cutting between two and decided to keep going
Try and cut above any layers of metal cable. I ended up cutting between two and decided to keep going
If you don't cut deep enough you might get some tearing. Obviously try and avoid this
If you don't cut deep enough you might get some tearing. Obviously try and avoid this
On the right: where I began On the left: Finished. You can see the difference.
On the right: where I began On the left: Finished. You can see the difference.
Cutting off the old sole
Cutting off the old sole
Tracing
Tracing
Using a heat gun and a knife afterwards to get rid of as much old sole as I can
Using a heat gun and a knife afterwards to get rid of as much old sole as I can
Mostly clean
Mostly clean
Clamped!
Clamped!
Glued and cut
Glued and cut
Not pretty, but spray paint it or polish it black and who knows?
Not pretty, but spray paint it or polish it black and who knows?

Instructions

  1. Place boot/shoe on the tire and roughly mark how wide you need to cut the tire.
  2. Find a solid position in which to cut into the tire. Personally I worked from multiple angles (especially the initial stage of first getting under the tread). Be SURE to avoid sitting and cutting in a position that would expose your hands/wrists/legs to the blade if you were to slip. I learned this the hard way, and with such sharp blades you could badly hurt yourself if not careful enough
  3. Cut one line across the tire tread, anywhere you would like to start. Creature a knotch on the side of the tire where you would like to start separating the tread from the body of the tire.
  4. Slowly cut continuous lines deeper and deeper into the chosen corner piece until there is enough tread to pull back with pliers. If this tire has steel cables (as most modern vehicle tires do), be sure to avoid cutting into them. On the tire I worked on, I cut past a very thin layer of cables that I ended up not removing from the finished product, and luckily had no issues with.
  5. Keep a firm grip on pliers and pull as you keep cutting evenly. It could be easier to have someone help with either job, but I was able to do it well enough alone.
  6. Eventually you will have cut the width of the tire, and the hardest part is more or less complete. Begin cutting from one side of the tire to the other, while the pliers continue to pull the tread away from the cut. I found cutting on a diagonal down one side of the tread, then doing the same on the other side, worked faster for me than simply cutting evenly across. This may work differently if someone else is pulling at the tread.
  7. Be mindful this could take some time, especially if you are removing the entire length of tread. Work slowly and systematically.
  8. Once the tread has been removed, place boots/shoes onto the tread and mark an area slightly larger than what you need. Initially I simply cut the lengths I wanted and cut off the excess after gluing. (be sure that if you do it this way, to make sure the glue is FIRM before cutting, as you could tear the sole away and need to re-glue)
  9. Roughly cut out the shape required, and before applying glue, make sure the bottom of your boots/shoes and the face of the tread is CLEAN and roughed up (I used a heat gun and knife to clean off the sole of my boots, cleaned with rubbing alcohol) with sandpaper, steel wool, or a steel brush.
  10. Apply the glue of your choice to both surfaces, and stick together, pressing FIRMLY. Taking a hammer to the bottom of the sole may help.
  11. Hold together for as long as is directed on glue instructions, then attach clamps around the boots/shoes, especially in the mid-sole area, front, and back (Or wherever you notice it might not be naturally sticking so well). Adding a weight on top of your boots/shoes is an option to help the overall process.
  12. Leave to cure in a warm location for at least 24 hours (a couple of days to be especially sure).
  13. To give a cleaner look, and rid the footwear of excess rubber, use a sander to smooth the edges.
  14. If your glue is not waterproof, or if you want just a bit more protection and toughness, add another coat of waterproof glue around the seams of the sole and again leave to dry for as long as required.
  15. When you feel as though the glue has cured and dried, wear your creations with pride!

Aftermath

I write this after having 99% completed this project. As you can see in the final pictures, what I have left is not the prettiest glue markings around the seam of the tire tread and the leather sole of my boots. Most of this is "GOOP," which is waterproof, unlike "Barge Cement." I slathered it on, perhaps a little overkill, because personally I don't care what they look like as long as they hold. In a day or two i'll likely spray paint some black only the edge, or just coat the gluey bits with black polish to give a cleaner look.

Overall this project was time consuming, yet interesting, and hell, I did it myself! I would really rather save the $100 or so dollars for a professional shoe repair, unless I was relying on these things for some hardcore work or hiking.

At a later date I will return with an update on how these are performing. My only worry is that the "Barge Cement" I used will not be powerful enough, and separate. But that's for the future to reveal, isn't it?

There are youtube videos covering these very same steps, but I thought a step by step guide would be easier for some. I hope it was written in a way most could understand, and I would be happy to clarify anything that needs such!

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