Have you ever wanted your very own pair of custom sneaker skates!? I know I have! I’ve been seeing them pop up in all sorts of places; Wizard of Oz skater Synaptic Kid was skating on soccer boots, Disco Stew plays, refs and vert skates on sneakers and Fink does gets up to all sorts of jamming mischief on his funky blue boots. My team mate Captain Smirk got some custom sneakers made up by Disco and they look great, in fact I think all these people’s skates look great and really add a personal touch to their style and I really wanted to have a crack at doing a pair myself.
After lots of research I gathered all the material and tools I needed and set aside an entire day to get them done. I took photos along the way to show the process I went through. All up I’d say it took me about 8 hours, I learned a lot during the build and know how I could make them better and build them faster next time…
I started by making sure I had everything I needed in one place and then planned out the process. A word about shoe selection; you need shoes that you can pull the tongue quite far out or that you can get your hand inside of very easily. It i best if the shoes have a solid and flat sole, so that there is support for your foot when you skate and the plate doesn’t just tear through the sole.
I removed the inner soles from the shoes and traced out the shaped onto sheet metal. I used .9mm stainless steel to add integrity to the sole of the shoe and provide a position to place bolts through the rubber sole of the shoe. After marking the outline I cut the shape out using aviation snips. NOTE; much better to use a power tool here I think, cutting through all that steel was very difficult and took a long time.
The plan was to have a metal plate both inside and outside to sandwich the sole, but this didn’t end up happening because drilling through stainless steel turned out to be an absolute mission. Next time I will either go with a less dense metal like aluminum or get a correct drill bit. After I had the steel plates cut it was time to figure out where the plate would be aligned to the boot and mark it all out so I could start drilling holes. I traced the outline of the shoe onto paper and then taped the steel plate in place in the middle of the outline. I took a perpendicular line off the bottom of the sole, a 90 degree line off that, running along the inside edge of the sole. I worked out how far forward I would like the plate to sit and then used my two lines to ensure it was straight and in the center of the shoe. I think this is what I was most happy with in my build, the skates roll very straight due to the accurate placement of the plate.
Once I had the placement of the plate sorted, I was able to mark out the drill locations. Something that is worth doing is double checking your holes every time you drill, align them up with the the holes in your plate, sole and steel plate to make sure all your holes are in line otherwise you won’t get the bolts through.
After drilling the holes, I cut the steel plate off just at the toe knuckles so that the steel wouldn’t bend in awkward ways when toe jamming or tripping! I’d like to use a thicker metal in order to countersink the bolts and not have them sticking out like this. But once the inner sole was put back in I can barely feel them on my foot.
Once holes were drilled in the plate I marked their placement onto the sole of the shoe and drilled through the rubber with EXTREME caution not to damage the top of the shoe. As there was rubber and material I had to go back and forth through this multiple times to make the hole clean enough for the bolt to go through.
A fun shot of all the scrap metal left over! By this stage it was just a matter of bolting everything together and that went reasonably smoothly. I would recommend getting bolts that are too long and cutting them down once the plate is mounted otherwise you run the risk of not having the length to get the washer, spring washer and nut in place.
Aaaaand here they are!
Showing the plate (need to cut that front bolt down) and jam plug stylin’
It was a fun project to work on but be VERY frustrating at certain points, certainly requiring patience. I’ve got a couple ideas for other builds, I’d like to see some really large and bright Nike Pumps and something I think would look great is a pair of dress shoes turned into skates.