In our throwaway culture, it’s no surprise that most shoes are poorly made. The average American is content to wear cheap tennis shoes that don’t last more than a few hundred miles of walking, and the shoe companies are more than happy to produce footwear that needs to be constantly replaced. And they get away with making these garbage shoes, because so many Americans live sedentary lives, and they don’t do a whole lot of walking in the first place.
But for those of us who do like to get off the couch every now and then, high quality footwear is a must. Personally, I could wear down a typical pair of Payless shoes in less than 6 months. It’s such a colossal waste of money to go through footwear like that.
However, even really high quality shoes and boots will wear down eventually. You can prolong their lifespan by having the treads replaced, which is sometimes fairly expensive. Or you can retread them yourself with an old car tire.
Most people have never considered doing this, but it’s a very cheap way to make footwear last a very long time. Consider the fact that your typical car tire is responsible for carrying thousands of pounds over tens of thousands of miles. If you could put that kind of rubber on the bottom of your shoe, there’s good chance that the tread will outlast the everything else.
So if you have a well worn pair of shoes or boots that you’d like to refurbish on the cheap, take a look at the video below. Since there isn’t any narration, afterward I’ll fill you in on a few important facts that you need to know.
The first thing you see these guys doing in the video is stripping the tread off the tire. As you can see, this is definitely a two man job, and can be done with a knife or a box-cutter, and a pair of pliers. This is an essential step, because modern car tires contain a belt of steel wires under the tread that is impossible to cut through without power tools. And even if you could cut through it, you don’t want all that steel to weigh down your shoes.
After tracing the shape of the boot print onto the tire, they sand down the back side of the tire tread and the surface of shoe tread. This will give the glue a better surface to adhere to. Unfortunately most people don’t own a belt sander as seen in the video, but a palm sander or a dremel tool with a sandpaper attachment would also work pretty well. I should add that it’s a good idea to wear eye protection throughout this process, and a disposable respirator wouldn’t hurt either.
Next is the part where the tread is glued onto the shoe. The guy in the video is not using ordinary shoe goo, and you shouldn’t either. That stuff is better suited for small repairs. The person who posted the video mentioned in the comments, that they’re actually using a product called Barge Cement, which is a popular adhesive for repairing shoes. And yes, hammering the tread does help it adhere to the shoe. Barge Cement is a strong product, but it’s also a bit tricky to work with. Read the instructions carefully and do your research before using Barge Cement. It will make the difference between a shoe that falls apart in a week, or lasts for years.
Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.
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