How to Change the Soles of Shoes From Rubber to Leather

Written by joshua roberts
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Although rubber shoes can be comfortable and functional, a leather sole can often make a shoe appear to be of higher quality. The old time styles of these stacked and pressed shoe bottoms cannot be imitated by any other substance, and many individuals are looking to make the switch these days. Since a pair of leather-soled shoes can fetch a fairly high price in stores, it might be best to work on changing out the soles on shoes you already own before trying to purchase a new rack of shoes. According to Joe Freeman of Joe's Shoe Services in Nashville, Tennessee, the steps are not as difficult as you might think.

Skill level:
Challenging

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Things you need

  • Cobbling thread
  • Cobbling needle
  • Cobbler's glue
  • Sharp knife or cobbler's hook
  • Neutral shoe polish
  • Metal or wooden shoe last in your foot size

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Inspect the shoe sole to determine whether or not the project is viable on your particular shoe model. Some rubber soles are heat welded or glued to the shoe, and these cannot be resoled. However, according to Freeman, many rubber-soled shoes do have the characteristic welt construction that lends itself to either sole material. Look for stitching in the crevice where the sole meets the leather of the shoe; if it's there, you can proceed.

  2. 2

    Remove the welt stitching using a sharp knife or cobbler's hook. Be careful not to gouge the leather. Once the stitching is removed, gently begin to lift the shoe upper away from the shoe sole. Use your knife to help separate the two as the pressure of walking might have caused the two to adhere together somewhat tightly.

  3. 3

    Recondition the leather of the upper once you've successfully removed the shoe upper from the sole. Use neutral shoe polish and thoroughly clean and buff the leather. This will lend flexibility to the leather during the final process.

  4. 4

    Obtain a leather sole that works for your shoe model and size. Several manufacturers make them, and you'll be able to find one that suits your tastes and budget.

  5. 5

    Place the metal or wooden last in the shoe upper and use a shoe horn to wedge it in place. This stretches the upper, making the stitching process more precise and durable.

  6. 6

    Take the cobbling needle and begin to work your way around the shoe. Stitches should run from the underside of the sole where there is a preformed channel that you can follow. This takes some patience and strength, and it might be useful to have a ball peen hammer nearby to gently tap the needle through the stacked leather sole. Once finished, tie off your thread and remove the last.

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