Tires are all around us. On cars, trucks, trailers, bicycles, and it seems anything else that needs to move efficiently. But what happens to all those tires when they are worn out? Millions of tires are discarded each year with some recycled, some burned as fuel for cement kilns, some crushed to be cover for landfills, and some left to rot in vacant lots. But what if your “worn out” tires can become your next pair of shoes?
My family has a few trailers and every few years these go through tires. Whether these are lost due to nails, blow outs, dry rot or flat spotting they are still no good. The last time I replaced a tire on one of the trailers I wanted to try to turn it into something useful instead of just taking it to a recycler and paying a few dollars to make it disappear. I looked on the Internet and found instructions to turn an old tire into a pair of shoes. The instructions can be found at http://www.hollowtop.com/sandals.htm
This project took a while to get started. There was work to do before I started the project. I made a pair of pucker toe moccassins to cushion between my feet and the tire rubber. These are very comfortable to wear and I would recommend the design to anyone who is considering making moccasins. I believe the instructions I used are from http://www.nativetech.org/clothing/moccasin/mocinstr.html
My first major difficult came in cutting the tread off the tire. A major ‘Thank You’ goes out to Larry, the Stetson University shop technician who helped me use a large band saw to cut the sidewall and tread off the tire bead (the part that seals on the rim).
The cutting of the tread to make the sandals was the next big hurdle. A ‘Thank You’ to the Innovation House for use of their saw which worked well to carve the sandals out from the chunks of tread.
I tried to innovate on the method of making these moccasins by drilling instead of chiseling the holes for straps. It failed miserably. Back to the wood chisel. However, one innovation did work. Instead of straps I used 550 cord because I had some on hand and it worked very well.
Finally, the moccasins were done. When I tried them on these ended up being some of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. Yes, the first day of wearing these required a lot of adjustments to the cordage and tweaking of the sandal sole but after that these fit pretty well. However, these are not much for good looks. As my younger sisters will tell you – these sandals are ugly. Ugly – but comfortable!
So, can someone build their own footwear from tires? Yes. Is it worth the effort? Yes, provided you like to tinker and are willing to invest a good deal of time into building the shoes. Could this change the world? Unlikely, not many people have the time, supplies, skills, and effort to divert to a project like this and these shoes will not outperform a pair of shoes you can buy at the store. Still this has been a great learning experience and hopefully the basis for many more adventures. Always stay thrifty and curious. – Logan
An assembled sandal
An assembled sandal with matching moccasin.
Moccasin and sandal on author’s foot.