Introduction: Handmade Leather Sandals (Modern Roman/Biblical Style)
I will describe how to craft a pair of handmade leather sandals, with a modernized Biblical/Roman theme.
This is actually quite an easy build, requiring little prior knowledge of leatherworking, and your leatherworking skills will improve as a result. Let's begin.
Step 1: Materials/Tools
NOTE.) I found all of these items at Hobby Lobby, but other craft stores might have this stuff.
- Thick Leather
(The kind used for belts/holsters)
(Hobby Lobby sells leather scraps of varying sizes and thicknesses)
- Leather Straps
(You'll use them for the sandal laces)
- Thick Cord
(For Sewing Leather Pieces Together)
(I used Wax Coated Cotton Thread)
- Leather Hole Punching Tool
(For piercing the holes into the leather so you can sew pieces together)
(For hammering the holes)
- Thick Needle
(Think about the needle you'd need for sewing thick cord through holes in leather)
- Strong Scissors
(Whatever Scissors you think will cut through leather)
(I used my 18gauge shears, but that's overkill. Maybe regular Scissors will work. Just as long as they can cut leather.)
- Utility Knife/XactoKnife
- Barge All Purpose Cement
(The best glue for leather)
- Leather Dye
(I used Fiebing's Low Voc Dark Brown Leather Dye)
- Leather Conditioner
(I used Fiebing's 4 Way Care Leather Conditioner)
Step 2: Draw Design, Make Cardboard Prototype, and Draw Templates
Draw up the sandal design you want to make. Create a cardboard prototype of the sandal.
After you have your prototype, dismantle it and trace the pieces to make templates, which you'll use to cut out leather shapes.
If you want to use my sandal design, I have provided the file to my templates. I wear a size 10.5 shoe, so be sure to scale the template images to your foot.
From this point onward, I will be referring to my design as I speak about how to make the sandals.
Step 3: Cut Out Leather Pieces
Trace the templates into the leather and cut out the pieces.
Step 4: Rough Up Sole Layer Faces Which Will Be Glued Together
Because you will glue the layers of your sole go make your sole, to ensure that they better stick together, use a knife to rough up the faces which will be stuck together, so that the glue can attach to various crevices and bumps.
NOTE.) It will be layered with the smooth side facing up, and the rough side facing down, for more traction when walking and comfortability for the foot.
The top sole layer is the piece that looks like a foot, but has pieces flaring out of the heel.
The mid and bottom sole layers will be simply the pieces that look like a foot.
The templates will be labeled.
Step 5: Glue Top and Mid Sole Layers Together, and Begin Attaching Straps
Use the Barge Cement to glue the top sole layer and the middle sole layer together. Do NOT glue the bottom sole layer on YET.
Hammer out your holes through the leather so that you can sew on the strap pieces.
Step 6: Heel Pieces
Sew the heel pieces into their respective shapes; Sew the flaps together. I don't know how to professionally sew, so I just used an "X" pattern. Be sure to drop a little bit of Superglue on your knots so it's more durable.
The top sole layer has flaring pieces. Bend those flaps upwards, and poke holes through them so that you can sew the heel piece onto it. Superglue your knots.
Step 7: Attach Laces
Find where your big toe will be on the sandal. Drill a hole where the webbing between your big toe and foretoe is, like any other sandal would place it.
Get two long laces, and tape the ends together. Like a needle, put the lace ends into the hole, so it emerges from the other side. Carve a little ditch so that it can lie flat on the other side. Superglue it down, and add duct tape for stability.
Now you can lace your sandal.
Step 8: Cut Lace Slits on Straps
Use your Utility Knife or Xacto Knife to cut two vertical lines in the straps. Those will be the Slits your laces lace through.
NOTE.) Cut in the direction away from yourself. Never cut towards yourself, unless you want to stab yourself.
Step 9: Attach Bottom Sole Layer, and Sew All Sole Layers Together
Use the Barge Cement to glue the bottom sole piece to the sole, which will hide the ugliness of the knots.
Hammer holes around the perimeter of the sandal, about a quarter of an inch inwards. Then sew 'in-and-out' through those holes.
Step 10: Final Trimming and Sanding
Sand and trim the edges. Final touchups.
If you wish, you can shape the corners of the straps to be curved.
You can freely wear them as they are if you wish. But if you wish to stain and condition, then continue on with this instructable.
Step 11: Optional.) Stain and Condition Leather
To give it a nice color you want, you can stain it. I used Dark Brown. But you can stain it however you want.
To strengthen, preserve, and give a nice gleam to the leather, I gave it a coat of Conditioner.
Step 12: Wear Your Sandals
If you have gotten to this point, you are finished. You may now wear your sandals in public.
The sandals I made are actually quite comfortable to wear. They are very durable as well. On top of it all, they age fantastically. The color of the leather remains beautiful, and eventually the sandal conforms to the shape of your unique foot.
I highly suggest attempting this project.