Introduction: Turn Your Leather Work Boots Into Severe Duty Boots

Picture of Turn Your Leather Work Boots Into Severe Duty Boots

If you have a physically demanding job like I do, you know how important good work boots are. You want boots that are comfortable, will last as long as possible so you get your money's worth, and will handle A LOT of abuse.

For my job, where I literally jog around on asphalt and concrete all day long out in the elements, be it a thunderstorm or 103F heatwave, I choose Georgia Boot 8" Wedge Sole Steel Toe #G8342.

As much as I really like these boots, I've found they could still use some extra modifications to make them last even longer. The modifications I will show you include welt sealing, water-proofing, and armoring the leather over the steel toe.

Note: I am not paid to endorse any product in these pictures, nor do I work for the companies that make these products.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Products you will need to get (I found all four at Fleet Farm for about $27):

1. Welt-Seal (good for many uses)
2. Sno-Seal (if your boots are not already water-proof; good for many uses)
3. Toe Armor by Red Wing Shoes (good for about two pairs of boots)
4. Shoe polish applicator for the Sno-Seal (not shown in picture)

Additional household items to round up:
1. pen or Sharpee marker
2. tape (optional)
3. Paper towels
4. blow-dryer (optional)

Step 2: Planning Time and Preparation

This instructable will work on both new and used boots, but if you are using used boots, make sure to clean them up real good first.

If your boots have a warranty, check with the manufacturer as to whether this will affect the warranty.

Read the directions on all the products to be used.

Applying Welt-Seal requires a ventilated work area because of the acetone.

Being that the Toe Armor needs to dry for 24 hours before use, plan to do this project at least two days before you will be using them. I work monday through friday, and did this project on a saturday.

Set aside at least a couple hours to do this project. It doesn't take that long to do each step but you will need to let each applied compound enough time to dry.

Also, don't do this on your dining room table! As it is a somewhat messy job, use a work table. I used a card table.

Step 3: Remove the Laces

Remove the boot laces.

Step 4: Sealing the Welt

Picture of Sealing the Welt

Lay each boot on one side, and, while following the directions on the tube of Welt-Seal, run a bead along the welt (where the leather meets the sole). You do not need to run a finger along the bead to smooth it out; Welt-Seal will soak in as it dries. Let the beads dry for about 20 minutes, then turn the boots over and run a bead along those sides as well. Let dry another 20 minutes.

Step 5: Mark the Toe

Picture of Mark the Toe


Use a pen or Sharpee to mark a dotted line outlining the edge of the steel to under the leather. If your boots are not steel toes, just make an outline similar to mine.

Step 6: Water-proofing

Picture of Water-proofing

Apply a LIBERAL amount of Sno-Seal to the entire leather surface of the boot. I personally choose not to cover the outline of the steel toe, as i am unsure as to how the Toe Armor will adhere to the boot afterwards.

Work the Sno-Seal into every nook and cranny you can find; leather seams, inside the eyelet flaps, the tongue, and so on.

Use a blowdryer to "melt" the Sno-Seal into the boot. Wipe off excess oil with paper towels (I personally just leave the excess oil on as I am unconcerned about runoff as after my first day of using the boots at work, it will wear off on its own).

Step 7: Scuff the Toes

Picture of Scuff the Toes

Included in the Red Wing Toe Armor kit is a patch of sandpaper. Use the sandpaper to scuff the leather over the toe inside the marked outline.

Step 8: 1st Coat of Toe Armor

Picture of 1st Coat of Toe Armor

This part can be rather messy so place paper towels under your boots to catch splatter.If you are concerned about the look of your work boots and don't want drips of Toe Armor running down the sides of the soles, cut some lengths of tape to cover the sides of the soles.

First, use the stir stick found in the Toe Armor kit to stir the compound for about a minute.

Apply a thin first coat of Toe Armor to each boot with the applicator found in the Toe Armor kit.

Let dry (roughly ten minutes) until dry to the touch.

Step 9: 2nd Coat of Toe Armor

Picture of 2nd Coat of Toe Armor

After the first coat has dried, stir the compound again for another minute, and use the applicator to put a LIBERAL amount of Toe Armor over the first coat. I also cover the sole stitching as well.

Let dry for 24 hours.

Step 10: Finished Product

Picture of Finished Product

24 hours later, put the laces back in.

you now have a pair of boots capable of handling abuse above and beyond what they were designed for!

Comments

say best work boots (author)2015-12-08

I'm a carpenter who had suffered from an accident, which makes my foot injured. After than I began to pay more attention to safety shoes, in order to find the best work boots, I've done a blog focus on safety shoes so as to rouse more people's attention to wear safety boots in workplace.

bestworkbootsco (author)2015-11-30

This is some great advice to help you get a little bit extra out of your work boots. Even the highest quality of boots can use some extra attention to allow you to not have to replace them regularly. Best Work Boots customers can take these tips to help them save some money in the long term by not having to potentially replace the yearly.

How long my boots will last is always the big question. We need it to be comfortable, waterproof and also be safe wearing them. I was more focused on Most Comfortable Work Boots but your tips will help lot of us get our money's worth.

MyBootprint (author)2015-07-01

Even though appearance is on the back of our minds when we discuss work boots... isn't there a way to make those book look a little bit better at the end? They look like they've just been dragged though a mud pond. We discuss ones of the best safety boots at MyBootprint , and would like to refrain from ruining their nice look. Isn't it possible to improve the look? Maybe polish them a little bit, or use black or matching color toe armor?

Work Boot Critic (author)2015-05-20

There is also some nice techniques in Work Boot Critic to maintain and enhance the longevity of your work boot. But, of course the advice made in this post also very good advice. Regular caring with some handy things definitely made a good difference.

sinus.pi (author)2015-04-20

Handling abuse, maybe, but boy do they look odd now... Isn't there a way to polish that scruffy toe-guard area, sand it down a bit, fill with some more color-matching cream?

DeeDeeH (author)2015-02-19

Today, there are a number of
safety and non slip shoe designer and manufacturer. It’s up to you what to
choose. Competition arises. The question is, does the product affordable? Does
the life span of the product longer than others? Based on my experience, http://workshoecity.com has all these
characteristics. Try to visit their site. It’s Superb! ;)

nfrascone (author)2011-08-18

KG's Boot guard, is a great toe protector, goes on and cures, like rhino liner. I have had great luck with this on steel toe red wings

matfam (author)2011-07-31

I am a service tech and spend many hours on my knees. I find the toe armor to be worthless for protecting the toes of my boots. I use glue-on toe caps and get good life out of them,

slice_rulz (author)2011-07-26

as someone who uses steel to boot on the regular i would argue that the Toe Armor would actually work well like this. the biggest problem i always have with steel toes is that the leather wears away on the toe faster on top of the steel then anywhere else on the boot from kicking stuff with the toe. nice work.

Jiggsy (author)2011-07-25

I'm notorious for destroying shoes, be they cheap beaters or pricey name brands. I recently bought a pair of Ultimate Contractor's Boots from Duluth Trading Company. Great boots, except they are not waterproof nor steel toed. I'll likely use your Instructable as a guide for waterproofing, but I wonder if the Toe Armor would be a waste of time one these. Any thoughts?

ClassAct (author)Jiggsy2011-07-25

Jiggsy,

I would still use the Toe Armor, but in a different way. See, the name itself I think is somewhat misleading, as it is not a substitute for steel toes, it simply helps deflect cuts, nicks, abrasions, and so on. Toe Armor is flexible, and the first time I've seen it used was on soft toe leather boots.

However, you have Moc-Toe boots. My experience with this style is that the front of the toe below and including the Moc ring takes the most damage to the leather. I have not tried Toe Armor on Moc-toe boots myself, but what I would do is first outline the toe area *below* the Moc ring, and put Toe Armor on that part only. Once dried, use them for a day or two to see how it works out, and if need be, fill in the top with more Toe Armor.

Hope this helps!

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