Introduction: How to Polish Your Shoes Like an Absolute Psycho

Picture of How to Polish Your Shoes Like an Absolute Psycho

Now I take great care of my boots, because I was an army cadet, an air cadets and I wear boots to death, it's a quirk on the upside I can run faster than most people in my boots and barefoot (on the beach for example) I my stride gains a foot and a bit...

But and this is a big but, I get bored while polishing them and so at some point I acquired an electric shoe polisher but it's not much fun and it's definitely not got enough power, no I need much more than four C cells buffing my boots and the flaming parade gloss just isn't all that cool or fun, you just end up with melted shoe polish burnt into your skin, enter the bored jackalope...

Step 1: Get Bored, Feel the Need to Polish Your Shoes, Fast...

Picture of Get Bored, Feel the Need to Polish Your Shoes, Fast...

So after deciding to polish my boots I passed one of the things in the picture, it's just a soft cotton attachment for that shoe polisher... It's a good thing in itself and it leaves a nice shine but it's just not good enough. So for all of three seconds I brainstormed... Bang it hit much like you'd expect, a 600 watt drill is downstairs, with hammer action for when the going gets tough, it has lots of power we drill holes in the house with that surely it would be enough to polish my shoes... But how do I get a small plastic buffer wheel on to the end.

I went to the toolbox but my hopes were dashed at the first hurdle because the hexagonal screwdriver fittings were too small, I considered taking a hacksaw to an allen key, again not great then I spied the thing in the first picture, thats a 1/8 inch adapter for small socketsto use with your screwdriver, due to the ball bearing it fits tight... I have a plan already...

Step 2: My Plan Failed Completely

Picture of My Plan Failed Completely

For half a second it all went well, then the buffer wheel became a flying, fuzzy coaster of death, it escaped the socket bit and started pinging around the room for a bit.

So back to the drawing board? Hell no I figured hot glue could fix it so I cut a small lump off a glue stick and stuck it in the hole, I took out my recently repaired jet lighter and heated the end of the socket bit up enough to melt the glue and shoved it in. A few minutes later it was stuck solid...

Step 3: Dead Reckoning... Kinda, a Bit

Picture of Dead Reckoning... Kinda, a Bit
I apologize for the poor video quality, I'm still on the old baby canon A60 and it's crap at video, though the effect is immediately noticeable and a high shine is around 30 seconds away. I was sad about the sound on the video because that drill is a true doom bringing old jobbie that does your knees in then steal your eardrums... Watch the boots and you can see them become shinier and light reflecting off them

The video is a bit of a let down but it's really fun to do this, but I found it a bit messy, tiny flecks of polish now dot the cupboard in an obvious pattern.

Step 4: Enjoy Your Polishing Capabilities.

Picture of Enjoy Your Polishing Capabilities.

Now I know it's not a big project or something but I just reduced what could be up to an hour of hard graft to mere seconds, and that was two layers on and polished in under a minute... The shine is really even and they somehow look blacker than when you bull them.


tinker234 (author)2012-03-01

wonder if i could do this with a dremel

Should work alright...


Shadow13! (author)2011-08-15

Ingenious! I wish you had made this back when I was in Civil Air Patrol.

bdl (author)2008-01-16

You should avoid parade gloss as it contains paraffin which will never give you a truly quality shine. Try to find the original Kiwi Plain black polish. High wax content and the only polish allowed on the boots of Her Majesty's Brigade of Guards.

superhornt (author)bdl2010-10-01

i use normal kiwi black polish for mine- with a layer of kiwi parade gloss every 5-10 layers. it works well.

demonduck132 (author)bdl2009-04-15

Ariat boot creme is the best. And it's more fun

killerjackalope (author)bdl2008-01-16

I know this but parade gloss was all I had for the video I use the kiwi plain black on the top but the parade gloss makes a good seal against cracking, also with this idea it gets the black mirror effect any way, so plain black could be giving flawless reflections...

moGuyver (author)killerjackalope2008-05-20

bdl is right -- original Kiwi is the only way to go. A heat gun has always had the best results for me to shine my non-poromeric low quarters (and, until the US Army phased in the ACU, boots as well) followed by tedious spit-shining with cotton balls. I once made the mistake of using a parade gloss base coat. Plain Kiwi will not polish over it at all (using heat), and I had to scrape down to the bare leather with a knife to start over again.

killerjackalope (author)moGuyver2008-05-20

use the heat gun to drive the paraffin out if you make that mistake, I used it for illustration, I actually use kiwi original...

survivalist (author)2009-10-15

I only use parade gloss prestige and my boots are way shinier than urs ican see myself smiling in them.....................  :)

godfreyandthandi (author)2009-09-15

you see, this is why i use terra's at cadets :)

lisa1345 (author)2009-02-21

very good post!, just one question- does it have the potenional to fully bull your boot? or just a general shine?

killerjackalope (author)lisa13452009-02-22

I made a new version of it so I could fully bull my boot, I don't have my drill at the moment though...

jueston (author)2008-05-20

i used to put a good thick coat of kiwi on there, then use a lighter to melt it all, then rub it in a little, and melt it again, then use a rag to rub it in one more time, and then use a buffer tip on my dremel like you did. that was a pretty good system. it didn't really matter though, cuz i would always mess up my perfectly spitshined boots 15 minutes after i put them on anyways... if you want 15 minutes of immaculate shine though, floor wax is the best thing, a couple coats of that and your boots will blind people, but it doesn't bend so it cracks after a little while... i have never seen a shortcut create as good of results as spending hours with a rag swirling away in little tiny circles bringing the boot to a high gloss...

bujo0 (author)jueston2009-01-10

ya, but burnshining a little tricky to do, most people i've seen try it, including myself, end up burning the leather, or not melting the polish enough, and the floor wax trick only ever works once, it ruins the polish. buffing with a drill is ok, but nothing can beat a few months of hard work and spitshining, my old parade boots still have a shine and i havn't touched them in years

killarowa (author)jueston2008-07-15

Yep... floor wax.... just a dipped cotton ball and add a few coats, moving the cotton ball in long, one way strokes (you get less bubbles that way) Boots shine like glass immediately!

killerjackalope (author)jueston2008-05-20

I pulled a polishing cloth over the buffer bit I created, did some high speed spit shining, now i have that look in a few minutes...

masterochicken (author)2008-07-05

I've actually never really polished my Corcorans. I should do this.
I'm adding.

Ah cheers, more crazy 'ibles that work for a bit of fun... Plus that added toughstuff bit...

finfan7 (author)2008-03-02

I went small scale with this project (dremel) and used it to get a few detail areas I usually miss polishing the normal way. I now have a couple questions for all the boot freaks here. My boots see a lot of use (and abuse) so now my right boot has a few cracks in the leather and a spot in the front where the leather came up and a thin layer peeled away across the toe. The questions, "Is there any way to fix the cracks in the side? And will the scrape/peel in the front buff out if I keep goin' at it over and over?"

killerjackalope (author)finfan72008-03-03

I used have a pair of boots that had a triangular slice into them and it flapped up alot, I put some polish underneath with my finger then polished all in a sinslge direction over it for a while slowly it became invisible... Do you mean cracks like where the shoes bend or cracks like holes where the shoes bend? Also if the scrape peel isnt too deep you could try getting your can of polish warm and rubbing the polish into and over it, almostt like tiny scale filler. After that let the polish cool down and then brush off, it just gets the most polish as deep in to the cut,. I had a pair of kittens that loved a certain pair of boots and they put little scratches all over them, a few coats of polish cleaned 'em up nicely and only one scratch was visible after.

finfan7 (author)killerjackalope2008-03-05

The cracks are on the area where the leather folds and go about half to three quarters of the way through. And as for the toe scrape I figured I would just polish over and over until it smooths out. thanks

killerjackalope (author)finfan72008-03-06

You might have waited a bit too long on the cracks but there's a chance that rubbing in a good bit of polish and keeping the cracks soft might help keep the boots alive longer.

finfan7 (author)killerjackalope2008-03-06

thanks for all the advise but upon closer inspection it seems like it might just be time to re-boot. I tried doing the toe buffing to clean up the stripping but found that all that was left was a thin layer of glue on top of the steel. Now I have metal peeking out as well as the cracks and folds so I will probably be going to find a new pair soon enough. thanks for the advise though.

killerjackalope (author)finfan72008-03-06

Ah well, remember to polish them alot while breaking them in, it makes them a bit softer and easy to break in...

ve2vfd (author)2008-01-16

I use the power buffer (to wax my car) with a polishing wool pad to wax my uniform shoes... they shine a LOT when I'm done :D

killerjackalope (author)ve2vfd2008-01-16

Yeah I thought of that aswell, that little wheel is great becasue you polish pretty much every part of the shoes easily... *drifts off in to shiny boots of leather...

Killerjackalope, As a member of the Base Honor Guard at McConnell AFB, I would recommend switching waxes. I use Lincoln wax. It's a little more expensive of a wax, but it is well worth it. Kiwi Parade Gloss is considered a crap wax among Honor Guard members. Also, I warm my boots from the inside using a heat gun. This allows for the pores of the leather to expand. In addition, I always take the heat gun to the outside for a little. Your idea is clever and pretty much the same thing as commercially available polishers, but it never gets the same shine that good spit polish will. Keep up the work and good luck.

dchall8 (author)Pkranger882008-01-16

I agree with Pkranger88. The mechanical technique is fine for getting polish off but don't expect to see your teeth reflecting in the shoe. Most people don't care about spit shine, but it is a marvel to behold.

killerjackalope (author)dchall82008-02-07

Yep that's true but i've been working on a lazy way to do the bulling (we used water and any super soft natural fibred fabric available) my only guess is using a jigsaw/recripocating saw. Really though the effort involved make the whole mechanised bit pointless for the bulling. By the way I can see my teeth in them, not nearly as well as my parade shoes though, our whole squadron has mirror finishes due to a high standard of uniform checks. I may do an instructable on ironing a proper crease in to trousers and doing a shirt properly, brazzards are easy though, unless you used iron on badges. Try having trousers that either sit open like a box or flat at your creases rather than the seams, also I can iron my jeans without one crease (but I don't bother)

As i said I prefer Kiwi plain black which is perfectly capable of the same results as lincoln, though lincoln shines quicker it isn't as resilient to abuse IMO. Another use for the parade gloss is simply as a base and heater, spread the gloss on thick, spray deo/ethanol on and light until the paraffin in it is burnt off then apply a thick coat of plain black real polish and buff, the result is a good deep shine and the boots stay crack free for ages. another one to quickly shine a pair of boots that are previously well polished is to spray deo i repeat deo, not antiperspirant on until the flammable liquids are pooling, light them and walk around on fire the solvents are burning while the heat is causing the outermost pollish to melt/cool/melt quickly due to evaporitave effects, not any use on scuffs but on simple tarnishing like walking around in wet jeans it will make them about half as shiny as they were after polishing... Though the best way still is the good old buffing and bulling (same thing until the drip test is achieved) you know when you drip water on and it busrts in to tiny droplets on the boot.

saites2001 (author)2008-01-16

I've considered doing this before, but I've always stuck to the tried and true method of spit shinning (maybe I'll release an instructable on that . . .)

tomorrow Im going to give bulling a go with this system, the buffer wheel is definitely soft enough, it's softer than the polishing cloth I used before hand, if the wheel isn't any use I'll be making an attachment for the cloth that whips out in circle creating the exact same effect on the leather as the cloth would, or I'll get the recprocating saw out and on the go, and do it true to life mechanical polishing.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-16

Awesome idea killjackalope guy! I would have never thought of this.. by the way, what is a jackalope? :-O

big rabbit with horns... Cheers it took me about 1 and 1/2 to 3 seconds to come up with this, the other involved the rabbit, it runs around your feet in circles bruching against more than enough to so the polishing.

microman171 (author)2008-01-16

Nice instrucatable :D Great Idea!

Thanks it's actually great fun to use aswell with the plus of saving me a half an hour a week or so, I polish my boots a minimum of once a week because I wear them almost every day of the week.

gamer (author)2008-01-16

any pics of the finished boots?

killerjackalope (author)gamer2008-01-16

I'll stick some up, sorry I forgot to add them... You'll see tomorrow, camera's charging... I was taking art photos today.

smilgy (author)2008-01-16

very nice, my school shoes are mucky right now so i should polish them ur way :) offtopic i hav the same cloths as u

About This Instructable




Bio: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.
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