How Do I Smooth a Leather Shoe Sole?

Updated February 21, 2017

Wearing leather-soled shoes on rugged terrain may result in deep scratches and gouges on the bottom of the shoe. Damaged leather soles give a shoe unreliable traction and may cause a slip or fall injury. Smoothing the leather back out gives the wearer an even surface that will not catch on pebbles or stair edges. Restore the leather sole of a shoe to a flat and smooth surface by sanding out damage marks in just a few minutes.

Slide the sharp edge of the gouge tool along either side of a deep scratch to remove some of the excess material. Scrape away a thin layer at a time until the area of the scratch is almost even.

Sand the area of the scratch in a circular motion while pressing lightly with a coarse piece of sandpaper. Switch to a medium fine sandpaper to finish smoothing out the leather sole.

Wipe down the shoe's sole with a damp towel to remove all the tiny particles of leather that are were created by the sanding. Allow the shoe to dry with the sole facing up for 20 minutes.

Clean and condition the newly exposed leather on the sole using a quality leather conditioning product. Seek the advice of a shoe repair shop to select the right product and apply according to the manufacturer's directions.


Buffing a leather sole too smooth may cause the shoes to slip on hard and soft surfaces.


Some leather conditioners contain dyes that will stain skin. Wear rubber gloves when using leather dyes.

Things You'll Need

  • Woodcarving gouge tool
  • Coarse sandpaper (40 to 60 grit)
  • Medium fine sandpaper (100 to 120 grit)
  • Towel
  • Leather conditioner
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About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.