Introduction: Chain Link High Heels
I originally created these shoes for a class assignment. The assignment was to modify an existing pair of women's shoes into another style. I found a photoshopped image online which I really liked and decided to use it as my inspiration.
Please note: For this project you should have a basic grasp of power tools and a solid grasp on mig welding. If you want your shoes to be stand-able, you should be pretty confident in your abilities to weld. This instructable is about the overall process, and does not cover the finer points of welding.
For this project you will need:
A pair of high heel shoes (Dime a dozen at thrift stores!)
Access to a Mig Welder
Fiberglass and resin
Some scrap wood
18 gauge mild sheet steel
Spray glue (I prefer spray 77)
A band saw or jig saw
Vice grip plier clamps.
Metal cutting band saw or a hack saw or a grinder with a cutting disc
Grinder with an abrasive disc
a dremel tool with an abrasive bit
some red fabric
hot glue gun.
short screws--I used 1/2 inch long
Step 1: Pick and Trace Your Shoes!
The first thing you are going to want to do is to choose and trace your shoes. I wanted to choose a pair that had a nice looking profile. What we are going to do is pop off the heel and ((carefully)) peel away the leather on the underside of one shoe (i.e. the leather that makes contact with the floor). There might be some nails sticking out from where you popped off the heel--pull those out with some pliers. Discard the heel, Save the leather.
You also want to carefully remove the insoles from the shoes. Set these aside--you will need them later.
Turn the shoe on its side onto your scrap of plywood and take a tracing of the arch profile--it is important to be as accurate as possible--be sure to use a sharp pencil and trace carefully.
Now take the scrap of leather you peeled off earlier and use it to start your paper pattern for the metal sole. Trace around the leather, and then line it up with the underside of the shoe. Carefully get a tracing of the rest of the sole, including the back part of the shoe where you popped off the heel.
Step 2: Transfer and Cut Out Your Tracings
Now we must transfer and cut out our tracings. Take the tracing of your arch and use your bandsaw or jigsaw to cut it out. It is important to do this as accurately as possible, so go slowly. I suggest leaving some flat bits on the other side to give you a surface to clamp to.
Take your paper tracing of the soles and transfer it to your 18 gauge steel. You are going to want to cut out two of these. I found a metal band saw was the most efficient tool to cut these out. Once they are cut out, be sure to use your grinder to take care of any sharp edges.
Step 3: Cut and Weld Up Your Chain!
Its time to start cutting and welding up your chain! I knew that I wanted these shoes to be functional (re: bear weight) by the time I was finished, so I chose to use a heavier steel chain that I found while digging around for supplies.
After predetermining what I wanted the finished height of my shoes to be, I measured out my chain into link blanks and cut it apart with bolt cutters. This will make it a little more manageable to weld.
Now I found the easiest way to do this was to clamp a piece of rod in my vice (be sure it is level) and simply hang the chain off of it. Now your chain is hanging level for you. Go down and tack weld it where ever you see the links making contact with each other.
I welded my chain links at all points of contact on all sides--again, I know I want these shoes to support a person.
Step 4: Bend Steel Soles Into Shape
Its time to bend your steel soles to the contour of your shoe. Take your plywood template, and clamp up your steel sole to it with vice grips.Line it up with that tick mark you made earlier, and clamp your steel sole to the plywood template. You might need a few sets of vice grips, but it should conform fairly easily to the profile.
Step 5: Attach Your Chain
Its time to attach your chain--take the chain link blanks from earlier and cut them down to size. Be sure to cut them so that the cut is square and level--this is important so that the shoe will sit flat on the ground.I used a metal bandsaw, but you could also use a grinder with a cut off disc. Once that is done you can weld your chain to the bottoms of your steel soles.
Be sure you are periodically checking that your soles sit level. I had to fiddle with mine a little bit--it was a simple matter of taking a bastard file and removing a little material here and there if necessary.
Step 6: Fiberglass Reinforcement!
Now its time to reinforce the bottoms of your heels. This is where you are going to want to wear your respirator and long sleeves. Cut out your fiberglass to the profile of the entire bottom of the shoe and carefully apply resin. You might want to tape off the rest of the shoe to protect it until the fiberglass dries.
Once the fiberglass is fully cured, carefully sand away any extra bits using your dremel tool. Again, be sure to wear all appropriate protective gear!
Step 7: Drill Your Holes, and Attach Your Soles!
Now you want to drill out holes for your screws into your steel soles. I was not entirely sure where my chain was going to sit at the beginning, so I drilled my holes after the soles were contoured and welded. I lined up my shoe with the steel sole and marked about 1/2 inch in from the edge with a sharpie where I wanted screw holes. You might find it easier to drill your holes before you shape your steel soles.
Once your holes are drilled, you can start screwing your steel soles into the fiberglass reinforced heels. The screws are probably going to poke up through the bottom of the shoe--that's okay--if that happens you can go in with your dremel tool and grind away the pokey bits--you don't want your wearer to have any sharp bits poking into their feet.
Step 8: Paint That Bad Boy!
Now its time to tape off and paint! Unscrew your soles from the shoes, tape off your steel soles, and spray paint as desired. I went with red for the sole and black for the chain.
Step 9: Make Your Insoles
For the insoles, you are going to want the original insole we set aside from earlier. Place this onto your craft foam and trace it, then cut out two of them with your scissors.
Hit these with a spritz of your spray glue, and place them on your red fabric. Cut out around the perimeter, leaving about a 1/2 inch to 1 inch margin.
Take your hot glue gun and start wrapping the fabric around the edges of your craft foam, gluing it down as you go along. Be sure to have your glue gun on a low setting, otherwise the glue will melt the craft foam.
Step 10: Attach Your Insoles and Wear Those Puppies!
Once your insoles are done, go on ahead and hot glue them into your shoes.
Your shoes are now ready to wear or display!