$2 Running Shoes




Intro: $2 Running Shoes

Rather than pay a gym membership, it saves time and money to go running outside. Running barefoot, a lot of evidence shows, is how are bodies were meant to run. But I worry about broken glass and gravel, so I need something to protect my tender soles.

I bought some Vibram Five-Fingers that are a tad too small on my right foot, so they crush my toes. I have been running in socks recently but they wear out quickly. So I tried making some running shoes with socks and hot glue. It's ridiculous, but it works, and it was fast to make them.

Materials and tools:
Cardboard to cut foot shape out of
Sharpie to trace feet
Scissors and stapler to build foot molds
1 Pair of socks
About 9 sticks of high temperature hot glue
Camping stove or something else to melt glue
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper or wax paper to melt glue on

Takes about 15-30 minutes

Step 1: Making Cardboard Cutouts of Your Feet

1. Trace your feet out on cardboard with a sharpie*
2. Cut the shapes out with scissors and even them out by stacking them on top of one another.

*I found out that I traced my heels a little too loosely, so the base of the heel of the sock was a little too broad for my feet. Trace the heels of your feet more tightly to achieve a better fit.

Step 2: Add Glue Dipping Handles

1. Cut out and fold two small pieces of cardboard to use as a handles for dipping the socks in the melted hot glue
2. Staple the handles to the heel-end of the cardboard feet
3. Push your cardboard feet into the socks (make sure you don't have two left feet)

Step 3: Melt the Glue and Dip the Socks

Get adult supervision if you need to (I'm 25 but I had my dad help me)

1. Prepare your heat source (I used an outdoor camping stove)
2. Cover your cookie sheet with parchment paper or wax paper
3. Place your glue sticks evenly along the whole length that you need to dip the socks
4. Slowly and carefully melt them on low heat (I burned some of the parchment paper by accident)
5. Once melted, remove the glue from the heat source and press the whole bottom of the sock onto it, remove and check for an even coating (push the sock at every location for a total of about 30 seconds)
6. Dry the glue bottom up*
7. Repeat steps 3-6 for the other sock

*or for #6 you can try setting the socks glue down on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper. As you can see in the last picture in this step, it peels of easily and creates a flat running surface

Step 4: Go for a Run

The shoes take about 5 minutes or so to dry. At this point you should be able to separate them from the cardboard mold and try them on and go for a run. I was able to walk fairly comfortably on gravel. They offer more protection than socks, but less than my Vibram five-fingers. I haven't had a chance to go for a substantial run or to see if they can be machine washed (I'm not gonna machine dry them that's for sure)

I'm excited to try this with toe socks. Or maybe you would like to? Comments welcome!



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116 Discussions


7 years ago on Step 4

I have Just finished my DIY tabi.
tabi is the traditional ninja footwear, like a sock but more firm, less elastic and seperates the big toe from the other toes. I think It's better than a simple sock-in-glue becouse you have better feel of the ground and balance
Plus you can put on flip-flops!
Thanks so much!!

5 replies

they were a mortal pair of black socks, alas! now they are ninja clothing!
also instead of gas stove, I use a hot air gun initially at 190 C (~380 F) but it was going slow so I cranked it up to 350 C (~660 F) to melt the glue in a disposable aluminium tray.
When I was finished with the "main" covering of the sole I did some finishing with the hot air on the sock at 400 C (~750 F) to quickly and locally achieve a smooth clean surface.

Yet i don't recoment going that far with the temp, becouse the glue fumes a little so you need good ventilation, plus one of the socks got charred at a couple of spots and it required some sewing...

Better luck next time

they are great, durable with amazing traction!!!
you sure get to fill a bit of a ninja even wearing them while doing the dishes!

a splosionNical_Critical

Reply 7 years ago on Step 4

Cool thanks for the picture. They look much more attractive than mine.

Also, my glue hardly gets any traction whatsoever (this may be because the soles contain a high concentration of dirt and pebbles) What brand of glue did you use?

Nical_Criticala splosion

Reply 7 years ago on Step 4

I don't know, I just asked for glue sticks, and I took 6 of them. there is a lot of glue left.
Perhaps you should try covering the glue sole with something else, like polystyrene or polyourethane...
I use them mainly indoors, that's why they will be looking good for a long time, plus I am still on a desinging phase. The more I wear them the more flaws I discover. When I will perfect the desing I will deal with durability...


1 year ago

Has anyone tried doing this with waterproof socks?


1 year ago

Brilliant idea!


2 years ago

instead of cardboard can you use old dog/cat mats


3 years ago

if your five fingers are to short in the toes all you have to do is heat the rubber under the toes and slowly stretch them. for mine I used a the end of a scewdriver to push the toes out while I held a lighter underneath. it works great. just go slow and take care not to burn the fabric


3 years ago

Are these legal for cross country? Also, I think that I'll use glow in the dark glue *0*


4 years ago

This is gtreat


4 years ago on Introduction

Nice! How did these hold up? Since they are so inexpensive to make I would imagine you could have new pair every few months. Have you tried silicone caulking dotted or smoothed on the bottom of socks?


I was wondering about using a shoe insert, the kind you buy and cut to fit your shoe that gives a bit of an arch, rather than using just flat cardboard. I live in Asia and this is rubber country. I'm sure I could score a piece of raw rubber. I'm wondering if I could melt it into a liquid and cover a shoe insert with a sock and then dip it in the liquid rubber. Awesome instructable. I'm going to play with this one.

2 replies

The rationale behind barefoot running is that your feet don't need arch support. You'll notice that the fivefingers still conform to your arch in some fashion, but don't provide any structural support. It's worth a try! Go for it.

ps. one of my room mates in college was a materials engineering major and he kept a little rubber tree. I remember him making some rubber when it was about 4 feet tall and all he got from it was a little cherry sized ball of rubber. Pretty cool though!

thanks a splosion for your reply. I'm thinking that if not walking on something hard and flat like a road or concrete, then our feet naturally conform to the surface like the beach or forest floor. But I know if I wear shoes or even flip flops that are perfectly flat on the inside, my feet ache after being on a hard floor, even when shopping. I'm going to try them both; first without and the second with. Thinking about "painting" the hot glue around the very edges for a very clean look after the dipping process. .
Rubber is very prevalent here, I'm sure I could buy a sheet of it in raw form.
thanks again


6 years ago on Introduction

There are products on the market (like plastidip) that require no heat to apply. A few coats of that may make a nice alternative material for the sole of the running sock.

my only question is how would something like plastidip stack up against the glue stick in terms of durability?

If anyone decides to give it a go before I manage to get to the store to buy a can .. let me know your results.


6 years ago on Introduction

I just made myself a pair a few hours ago. I only used about 5 or so sticks (they were quite large though) but that's probably because my feet aren't that big. I also applied the glue directly onto the socks with a glue gun and was able to add a cool design. Overall, I'm quite pleased with them and I thank you for giving me the idea to make them in the first place.


8 years ago on Step 4

Cool idea! Please let us know how many miles you get from them before you have to recoat/replace the socks.

1 reply
a splosionN8Maher

Reply 8 years ago on Step 4

Ok, I will have to keep a journal. Currently 1.5ish miles of running and a lot of walking ouside around the house (I sort of throw them on as sandals to take out the compost or go to the mailbox).