I've needed a shoehorn for awhile, so I made this simple one from a piece of bamboo I had lying around.
I made it in the shape of a stylized sword, similar to those made of foam rubber used in a children's play fighting sport called "chanbara" here in Japan. I could not find any instructables on shoehorns, so here's mine. This shoehorn is easy to make, so I'll be making a few for friends as gifts as well.
(Click on the [i] at the top left of photos to see an enlarged version.)
- Piece of bamboo (mine was a 42 cm length from a 5 cm diameter piece)
- Strong knife (fixed blade is best)
- File (or a Dremel tool / grinder if available)
Step 1: Cutting the Bamboo
Any narrower than that would be too rounded to fit into your shoe.
Dry bamboo is preferable as green bamboo may split when it dries out.
First I cut the bamboo with the handsaw to the desired length (42 cm in my case).
(I cut it with the intention of using the "node" between sections as the hilt of the sword.)
Step 2: Splitting the Bamboo
You could cut the bamboo using something like a band saw, but it is quite easy to slice with a knife.
Just notch the end so the knife does not slip. You can use a hammer or piece of wood to hit the knife (hold firmly) to start the initial crack.
I rested the end not being cut on the ground, and pushed the knife down from the top.
Once the bamboo has cracked, you can rock the knife back and forth as you push down (never pull it toward your body).
Step 3: Finishing Up
My piece of bamboo is a few years old, but a newer piece will probably be somewhat cleaner.
You can use a file or rasp to shape it, but I used a Dremel tool with a sanding drum attachment which goes much faster.
In the 3rd photo you can see a gradation as the tip needs to be thin enough to fit into your shoe (no more than about 3 mm thick at the very end).
Once you have it shaped, finish up with sandpaper to smooth the edges (I used 180 grit).
Bamboo can be finished using a variety of oils (tung for example), in which case you will need to use sandpaper with a finer grit.
Here's another shoehorn (using a spoon) Instructable for those of you that do not have bamboo handy.