These are hard wooden sandals with two "teeth" (ha in Japanese) that raise the wearer above the ground and allow for an interesting step and sound. There are still Japanese elders who have fond memories of the time when the streets of Japan were still alive with the clack of geta and after figuring out what these shoes were called and their historic significance, I decided it would be fun to make my own pair. They're pretty easy to make and when you're done you'll have a set of geta that are custom-fit for your feet, as well as some of the noisiest shoes this side of Chuckie Finster.
Step 1: Measurements
Step 2: Materials and Tools
- 2' of red oak 2"x2"
- 2' of red oak 1/2"x6"
- 2' 1/4" red oak dowel
- cotton piping (optional)
- 1/4" nylon rope
- wood glue
Step 3: Cutting the Teeth and Sole
If you're working with a circular saw you can forgo shaving off the 5mm or so difference the calculator gives between the 2x2's width and the ideal width of the teeth. Make sure the extra width is on the inside of the teeth, making the gap between the teeth shorter so the outside measurement of the teeth is correct.
If you have access to a full workshop then using a planer on the soles to get them to the ideal thickness is nice as well, though as long as the thickness is around 1/2" it should be fine. I messed up on mine and used 1" thick red oak, and they still came out fine if a bit heavier than they would have otherwise been, so there's wiggle room in the measurements.
Step 4: Attaching Teeth to Sole
Once the glue has dried and set you can add the dowels that keep everything very tight and add a bit of style to the geta as well. About 1" in on each side of each tooth drill a hole for a peg. This is two holes per tooth, eight total. I used a 15/64 inch bit since my 1/4 inch bit sprouted legs and ran away, but this wound up being a happy coincidence since the hole being slightly undersized meant when I hammered in the dowel it was so snugly it didn't need glue. You could use a 1/4" bit as well and use your best judgment as to if it needs glue. The basic body of the geta are now done, and it's time to add the thongs.
Step 5: That Thong Tha Thong Thong Thong...
Luckily for us though the hole's in the center, easy to measure, hard to mess up. Mark your hole as measured in the geta calculator, then drill it out with a large enough bit for two pieces of the rope to go through. I used a 5/16 bit and wallowed the hole a little to make it an oblong.
For the back holes you want them to be just behind the front of the back tooth coming down at an angle that leads to the gap between the teeth on the bottom of the sole. Be careful that you don't drill into the back tooth as the bit comes through the bottom as I did on one of mine.
To thread the thongs slide one end of the rope through each of the back thong holes up through the top, then together through the middle hole. Tie a knot on the underside of the middle hole to hold the thong in place and cut off any excess, sealing the ends with a lighter to prevent fraying. Test the fit similarly to make sure they're not too tight or too lose before your tie the knot.
The thongs are 33" each on mine, this should be a good starting size for others as well, but I'd say start with something more like 38 each to give yourself room to trim them down. It's easier to cut away excess than to add more on later. If you like you can add cotton piping over your nylon rope now to give it added softness and color. measure and adjust your rope to size, then cut a piece of piping an inch or so longer so you can sew the ends of it up after you slide the rope into it.
Step 6: Additional Finishing
The geta I've made aren't the only style there is though. There are single tooth geta (tengu geta), and ones which have a front tooth that comes forward more like a normal shoe. There are geta with very thin and tall teeth for when it's wet or rainy out, and geta-style sandals made from more modern materials. Make yours however you like, there's plenty of room for playing with the design once you've got the basics down.