NOTE:  I found this post here, and thought it inter­est­ing enough as a DIY project you can file in the back of your head or put on your USB dri­ve to car­ry around with you:

This seems sort of odd…but in a post dis­as­ter world that may not get back to pro­duc­ing things like shoes very quick­ly, a skill like this can mean the dif­fer­ence between life and death for you and your fam­i­ly. This is how many peo­ple made shoes in Ger­many post-WW2. (see com­ment at the end of the arti­cle)

Make Your own Tire San­dals
I’m hard on shoes. It’s not uncom­mon for me to go through half a dozen pairs of shoes, or more, each year. I main­tain an active lifestyle, hik­ing, play­ing, camp­ing, and work­ing. Water wears out a shoe quick­er than any­thing else. A few trips in and out of the creeks, pud­dles, and swamps, and they just come unglued.

If I do not hap­pen to dis­solve my shoes in water, then I wear out the soles on grav­el. It has always amazed me that tire com­pa­nies can man­u­fac­ture a tire and war­ran­ty the tread for some 50,000 miles, yet I can wear out the sole on any ordi­nary shoe in less than a year. How come we can­not buy a shoe with a 50,000 mile war­ran­ty?

Real­ly, I have nev­er been quite sat­is­fied with con­ven­tion­al shoes, and it’s not just because I wear them out so eas­i­ly. Most­ly it is because I do a lot of camp­ing, and ordi­nary shoes have a lot of draw­backs for this type of lifestyle. For one thing, I tend to rot my feet out each sum­mer. Shoes are like incu­ba­tors, hold­ing in the dirt and sweat at warm tem­per­a­tures, and cul­tur­ing all kinds of fun­gus and bac­te­ria. Walk­ing through a lit­tle bit of water once or twice a day just com­pounds the prob­lem, mak­ing it near­ly impos­si­ble to dry out the shoes. My feet even rot when I take care of them, wash­ing and dry­ing my crusty socks each day.

While I am at it, I have oth­er com­plaints too. You see, I do a lot of prim­i­tive camp­ing, build­ing my own shel­ters, start­ing fires with­out match­es, gath­er­ing wild foods–that sort of thing. To me this type of camp­ing is a way of get­ting close to nature, by par­tic­i­pat­ing in nature, instead of mere­ly camp­ing in it. I like to touch nature, and I feel so removed in a pair of ordi­nary shoes.

I go bare­foot as much as I can, but like most peo­ple, I have ten­der feet–because I don’t go bare foot all the time. Moc­casins are ide­al for camp­ing, at least to a point. I can real­ly feel the earth through them, and it has a pro­found psy­cho­log­i­cal on me, mak­ing me feel so much more in tune with my sur­round­ings. The trou­ble with moc­casins is they wear out–fast. It takes me about eight hours of phys­i­cal labor to tan a deer hide, sev­er­al more hours to stitch a pair of moc­casins, and gen­er­al­ly one or two days of hik­ing to wear the first hole in them. The holes always start at the tough­est points on your foot, so they are not ini­tial­ly a prob­lem. You can get sev­er­al more days of hik­ing in before you have to stitch in a new sole. Still, that is not a very long time at all. I have heard that some Native Amer­i­cans car­ried mul­ti­ple pairs of moc­casins on jour­neys and spent each evening around the camp­fire fix­ing them.

I may prac­tice prim­i­tive camp­ing, but I also have to face the mod­ern real­i­ties of the clock. My camp­ing trips are typ­i­cal­ly short, and full. I always have a lot of things I want to do while I am out. Fix­ing my moc­casins every day is not one of them.

To solve that prob­lem, I have tried over the years many mar­riages between buck­skin and rub­ber to make last­ing soles on my moc­casins. The “paint-on” sole, a mix­ture of ground up tires and Barge Cement glue, does not work all that well. It helps, but even that wears through quite quick­ly under harsh con­di­tions, and the rub­ber coat­ing makes it dif­fi­cult to dry out the leather of the moc­casins. More so, they are not very patch­able once a hole gets start­ed.

I have also tried work­ing with the “crepe soles”, a thick sheet of rub­ber cement that you can buy, cut, and glue to the bot­toms of shoes. The prob­lem I had with these is that my foot no longer stayed in the right place on my moc­casins. My foot was typ­i­cal­ly slid­ing off the back edge of the sole.

After all these life-long prob­lems with shoes, I was ecsta­t­ic to learn of some­thing that actu­al­ly did work. My friend Jack Fee and I were prepar­ing to go out on a three-week expe­di­tion in the moun­tains. He made a new back­pack for the trip, and I made some new moc­casins. The best idea I had left to try for pro­tect­ing the soles was a mix­ture of pine pitch, char­coal, and dried manure. I fig­ured I could eas­i­ly dope a lit­tle fresh mate­r­i­al on the soles each night at camp to keep them from wear­ing out. I thought I was on to some­thing, and the fin­ished sole even looked good. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I wore com­plete­ly through the pitch in two short city blocks, on a test run. I was out of a plan before we had even begun our expe­di­tion.

Jack then told me a sto­ry about Indi­ans from Mex­i­co com­ing to the Unit­ed States and win­ning foot races in san­dals cut from tires. I’ve been inter­est­ed in using tire soles before, but it seemed like I would have to glue or stitch the tire to the moc­casins. I had rea­son to doubt that it would work. I also once had a pair of tire san­dals, made in Mex­i­co, where the leather lac­ing was nailed to the tire soles. Those came apart with­in a cou­ple of days.

Jack had nev­er seen the tire san­dals that were report­ed­ly used by the Mex­i­can Indi­ans, but decid­ed to see what he could do any­way. I have to say I was quite impressed with the final prod­uct, a sort of Teva-style san­dal.

I was most impressed with the fact that there was no glue, and no stitch­ing or strap­ping on the bot­tom of the sole where they would be exposed to the ground. Instead he cut the sole with some side tabs out of the tire as one con­tigu­ous piece. The first mod­el was a lit­tle crude in appear­ance, but was amaz­ing­ly com­fort­able. I too had to make a pair for the expe­di­tion.

The field tests of our san­dals were quite excit­ing. The tire san­dal and moc­casin com­bi­na­tion meant we had “mod­u­lar” shoes. We wore both the moc­casins and the soles when hik­ing, and then just one or the oth­er around camp. We could use just the moc­casins for stalk­ing, or just the tires for walk­ing in water. We climbed 10,000 foot peaks twice and gen­er­al­ly just put on the miles. I did not wear socks, and nev­er washed my moc­casins, but my feet were in healthy con­di­tion for the dura­tion of the trip– a first for me.

We did find that we would get blis­ters if we wore just the tires for any sig­nif­i­cant hik­ing, but we seemed to have no prob­lems when the tires were worn in com­bi­na­tion with moc­casins, or with a cou­ple pairs of heavy socks. I was amazed at how com­fort­able these san­dals were, par­tic­u­lar­ly because I once wore con­ven­tion­al hik­ing boots on a 500 mile walk across Mon­tana, with severe blis­ter­ing for the first 250 miles of the trip. Our new type of footwear gave me a free­dom and com­fort I had been search­ing for for a decade.

Our pro­to­type san­dals were crude, but effec­tive. Since then, I have devel­oped the idea some more, into the tire san­dals shown in these pic­tures. The most sig­nif­i­cant mod­i­fi­ca­tion was the addi­tion of the tab at the very back of the san­dals. That tab is not nor­mal­ly nec­es­sary, except in water. With­out it your feet tend to slide for­ward off the front of the soles when the tires are wet. That back tab holds your foot secure­ly in place. I also added the rub­ber buck­les, and did away with the rope and buck­skin ties of our ear­ly mod­els.

Also for our pro­to­types we just traced around a pair of con­ven­tion­al Tevas onto a tire, and start­ed from there. I have since devel­oped a sys­tem for cre­at­ing a pat­tern to match your own foot. Plan on spend­ing most of an entire day mak­ing your first pair. You will get faster as you make more.

Mak­ing Your Tire San­dals
First, place either foot in the cen­ter of a large piece of paper, at least an 8 1/2 x 14. Trace around your foot, being care­ful at all times to keep the pen­cil straight up and down. Next make a mark on each side, direct­ly down from the point on your ankles (A) (see pat­tern at the end of this web page). Also make a mark at the point along the inside of your foot, direct­ly back from your big toe (B).

Remove your foot from the pat­tern. Now sketch a big­ger out­line around the trac­ing of your foot. Add about 3/8 inch for the toes and sides, but not to the back. Then use a ruler and bisect the pat­tern length­wise, extend­ing the line three inch­es past the heel. This serves as a guide to help you sketch the rear tab accu­rate­ly. Now con­nect the marks you made by your ankles (A), extend­ing a line three inch­es beyond each side of the pat­tern. These tabs will be sketched in front of this line. Also draw a line for the front tabs, extend­ing from the sin­gle mark (B) across the pat­tern, per­pen­dic­u­lar to the line that bisects the foot length­wise.

The posi­tion­ing of all these tabs is quite vari­able, and you can choose to move them for­ward or back, or at angles to one anoth­er, and all usu­al­ly work, although the arrange­ment I have sug­gest­ed may work more con­sis­tent­ly. Prob­lems usu­al­ly arise with the front set of tabs. When at angles across the pat­tern they can twist a lit­tle and dig into your foot. If the tabs are moved for­ward or back then the edges can dig into that point (B) on the inside of your foot. That point is more pro­nounced on some peo­ple’s feet than on oth­ers.

Now sketch in the five tabs, as shown on the pat­tern. These tabs are sized width-wise for 3/4 inch wide strap­ping, and should be made accord­ing to the approx­i­mate dimen­sions I’ve writ­ten in on the pat­tern, regard­less of how big or small the foot. If any­thing you might make some adjust­ments length-wise, adjust­ing for par­tic­u­lar­ly large or small feet. Final­ly, sketch in the holes that you will cut out to thread the strap­ping through. This just helps you remem­ber to cut them the right direc­tion when you get to that stage. Cut the pat­tern out, and it can be used for both san­dals, assum­ing your feet are fair­ly sim­i­lar to one anoth­er.

As for tires, I would rec­om­mend truck tires, rather than car tires. The “cor­ner” of any tire, where the side­walls and tread come togeth­er, is always much thick­er than the rest. You can work with that thick­ness in the tabs of the san­dals, but not in the sole itself. Pick­up tires are typ­i­cal­ly wide enough to work with, and you can make about three pair of san­dals from one tire.

Most impor­tant­ly, always use tires that do not have steel cables run­ning through them. All tires have some kind of fibrous rein­force­ment in them, typ­i­cal­ly nylon or ray­on threads. Most of the new­er tires also have a lay­er of steel cables, which is not work­able at all. Still, there are a few bil­lion of the old­er tires around with­out steel cables, so you should not have to look too far to find some. Just look on the side­walls of the tire and it will be print­ed there how many plies of nylon, ray­on, or steel are imbed­ded in the rub­ber.

We used sim­ple util­i­ty knives to cut out our first san­dals. Doing it this way you can trace around the pat­tern on the out­side of the tire and start cut­ting. How­ev­er, I must say this is very labo­ri­ous and not much fun. It is hard work, and you could eas­i­ly slip and cut your­self with the util­i­ty knife. Along the way I have dis­cov­ered that it is much eas­i­er and more enjoy­able to cut tires using sharp wood chis­els or a band­saw.

To do the chis­el or band­saw method you must first remove a sec­tion of tire. This allows you to run the piece through the band­saw, or to put it on a wood­en block, where you can chis­el from the inside out.

A cir­cu­lar saw works fair­ly well for cut­ting tires, except that it cre­ates a lot of blue-black smoke, and binds fre­quent­ly. Cut out a piece that is at least a half inch longer than your pat­tern, and save as much of the side­walls as you rea­son­ably can. These are use­ful lat­er for mak­ing the buck­les. Do not try cut­ting through the inner edge of the tire, which has an imbed­ded steel band to fit the tire snug against the rim.

Now, trace the pat­tern on the inside of the tire, being cer­tain that the pat­tern is cen­tered and straight on the tire. Even a slight 1/2 inch angle along the length of a san­dal can cause prob­lems when you wear it.

I’ve done sep­a­rate tests, cut­ting out the san­dals with chis­els and with a band­saw, and the band­saw method is only a lit­tle faster. A good set of wood chis­els works just fine if you do not have the band­saw.

I would sug­gest mak­ing only one san­dal at a time, and com­plet­ing it. Fin­ish the one and try it on; you might think of some mod­i­fi­ca­tions to improve the next one. Few of my pairs of san­dals are exact­ly iden­ti­cal, as I usu­al­ly find some new idea to try on that sec­ond san­dal.

The next step, after cut­ting out the san­dal, is to thin the four side tabs. The tabs are gen­er­al­ly cut from that “cor­ner” on the tire, where there is a thick lump of tread. These are eas­i­est to thin on a band­saw. You can, how­ev­er, do a crude but ade­quate job by cut­ting the lump down with some care­ful chis­el­ing or with a sharp knife. Thin down as close as you can to the nylon/rayon plies, with­out actu­al­ly cut­ting any of them. This step is not easy by any method I have found, and I typ­i­cal­ly leave 1/8 to 1/4 inch of rub­ber cov­er­ing the plies, for a total thick­ness of up to half an inch. That is still quite thick, but thin enough to work.

Now, to make the tabs flex upward, take a razor blade and slice straight into the tread of the tire at the joint where the tab attach­es. Slice in all the way until the plies inside are exposed. Be care­ful not to cut into those fibers.

Chis­el out each of the eye­lets, where the strap­ping will be thread­ed through. For this I use a 1 inch chis­el and a 1/4 inch chis­el. Be care­ful to not cut too close to the edge. If you break out the side of a tab, then you gen­er­al­ly have to start all over. Also cut a set of buck­les from the side­walls of the tire. These are easy to do.

For strap­ping, I use a sort of a nylon har­ness strap­ping, avail­able at farm and ranch sup­ply stores. 3/4 inch wide strap­ping works well with the one inch slots. Cut pieces that are extra long, you can trim them off after you thread them through. Use a match, and melt the end of the nylon strap to secure the threads. To do the back strap, thread through the hole marked point © on the pat­tern and stitch an inch or so of the strap back on itself. Thread around through the oth­er eye­lets, through the buck­le, through the oth­er hole on the first tab, and once again through the buck­le. The front strap should be thread­ed through the buck­le, through both eye­lets, and back through the buck­le again. This sys­tem is a lit­tle hard to adjust, but once set, I find I can slip my foot in and out, with­out hav­ing to tight­en or loosen them.

The fin­ished san­dals should be com­fort­able to wear, although you may need to do some fine-tun­ing to get them right. For any seri­ous hik­ing you should wear a cou­ple heavy pairs of socks, or moc­casins, or bring along some mole­skin.

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