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try to soften the steel (heat and do not quench)
I use p-cord laces on all my boots being that i am a boy-scout you never know when you may need it. I find that if you are using steel toed boots out at least 10 ft on each foot (so you can wrap the p-cord around the ankle a couple of times) I've found that using the outer sheath of the p-cord works for tennis shoes better then all of it (keep in mind this reduces the overall load bearing strength to 200 lbs? i may be wrong) At any rate I my self do not like to use shoelaces except in my bowling shoes because i do not where those that often.