DIY Custom Sized Insoles (poor Man's Dr Scholls)




Hi and welcome to my first instructable.

I thought I would start with something that I use on a daily basis and which has pretty much become a necessity for me.

To start it should be known that I have pretty large feet (size 16 in the US) and due to this size I also tend to experience discomfort in my feet when not properly supported.  Having larger feet it can be difficult to find shoe inserts in my size, often times they run only to a size 13 and in my shoes slide around and leave a sharp edge towards the toes.  My solution was to create my own inserts from cheap readily available materials which I could size however I wanted.  This is my second time creating them so I have had several years to try them out and have found they work quite well for me.

Step 1: Materials

For this project I want to keep the materials pretty simple.  All you really need to do this is your base material and a way to cut the shape.  I prefer the puzzle style cushion mats which I was able to pick up at Harbor Freight for under $10 for a 4 pack.  Even with my size 16 shoe I get quite a lot out of even a single mat so make as many as you want or have time for.  I also experimented with cutting with a rotary tool this time and while it was much easier than a knife and left a cleaner edge I find the knife to be easier to follow the shape.

I did not try myself due to lack of the tool but if available I bet a hot knife/wire would work very well for this.  Just be sure to avoid any volatiles given off from this.  Be sure to do in a well ventilated area.

Step 2: Getting Started

In my case I had a template from last time I did this that I saved, and I would recommend that if you plan on doing this more than once (and have stopped growing).  Just set one aside without wearing for next time.  Using them caused them to change shape quite a bit for me so make sure it is a virgin cutout.

Making a template from scratch was a bit of trial and error.  I used my foot for the template but if you're replacing a stock insole then that would also made a good starting point for figuring out size and shape.  Try a template out and then test fit it in the shoe.  I pretty much eye-balled any changes I wanted from there and by the second cutout I had something that was a good fit.  I opt for a tighter fit in the shoe to prevent slipping.

Once you have your template, mark your lines on the mat in whatever pattern you feel will get you the most usage of material.  Then its just a matter of cutting out with your tool of choice.  The knife is more accurate to my template but the rotary tool made for much smoother edges.  Its really up to whatever your comfortable with.  Either way, always remember to cut away from your body parts, for safety.  Feel free to rotate the mat as necessary for optimal positioning.

One thing to remember, which I actually forgot this time.  Be sure to flip your template for half of your cut outs.  Even though the cushions can be flipped for right or left, its smart to make sure you have matching surfaces on both feet so you need to make opposites.  My mat had one side smooth and the other in a rough texture.  If you forget like me then you will have to do a second mat with the opposite orientation, or live with mismatched inserts in each foot (no thanks).

Step 3: A Few Extra Things.

Please be aware that these may not hold up as well as a store bought support and will not give the proper support that could be had from the store.  These are a cheap alternative and not a complete replacement for those with real need for arch support etc.  In my case the shoes I wear have excellent arch support so the mat material conforms to this and arch support is no problem for me.  They will wear over time as seen in my picture, when you feel they aren't performing as well as you would like, that's when its time to switch them out for the next pair.

They can be worn in either direction depending on whats most comfortable for you.  I usually like the flat side up for ease of sliding my foot in but sometimes the rough side feels almost therapeutic, maybe stimulating blood flow or something.  Whatever you like.

Also use caution when first using them.  As they are so thick they may take some getting used to.  I know I always feel a bit off with even the very small increase in height.  Tying my shoes extra tight seems to help me feel more secure.

Step 4: Final Thoughts

As I said before, these are cheap, custom fit, alternatives that meet my needs.  They may not be for everyone but I wanted to share for anyone that has the same problem as I do.  I find them useful because my shoes often outlast the insoles that are sold with them.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions for improvements or easier methods then I'm all ears, just remember not everyone has access to a cnc router or laser cutter :)  Enjoy.



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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Thank you so much. I was trying all kinds of materials, and didn't dawn upon me to use these type of mats!


    2 years ago

    now this is brilliant. I've got some (4 squares?) of that puzzle type mat that I bought and never used. I will make them today. thanks for the idea! I'm not quite sure how you got away with not slicing them in half, maybe you mentioned it and I missed it. I think i will slice them, myself. the hot knife is a good idea. I know one thing, I am absolutely sick and tired of buying a new pair if insoles every 3 months, at $25/pair


    2 years ago

    This is my third time rewriting this, grrrrr. Okay. I underpronate. I'm broke and can't afford inserts. What do you think of me making these and then putting something underneath the outside of the insert to keep my foot at a slight tilt toward the inside. Do you think this would work? Maybe cotton balls? Don't want it too thick, hence too rigid and much higher than the other side. But enough that I stop walking on the outside of my foot. I've already had to have reconstructive surgery once for the damage this caused to my foot. I CAN'T go through that again. Please help me.... :)

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Mindy, when I got sports orthotics, the dr gave me some foam sheets to do just what you're talking about. It was thinner and firmer than the floor puzzle mat foam, more like craft foam, and I could stack it, cut it, and tape it to the orthotic to keep it in place. You could try it and see if it works for you.


    3 years ago

    I just made a pair of these. I started working as an industrial electrician and working on concrete most of the time. Needless to say my.worn out insoles were killing my feet. I made these and started wearing them today and what a difference it made in the pain ( or lack there of ) in my feet. Thank you for posting this.

    Awesome idea. I have several of these mats sitting, un-used in my shop. I am in the same size 16 boat as you, and have been trying out materials for making replacement insoles. Have you done any running with the floor mat insoles?

    1 reply

    I have done a little running with them but not in a while. The biggest thing I would watch for would be due to their thickness they can feel a bit unstable while running. I would maybe wait till you've worn them in a bit before using for that or if you have some way to kinda pre-wear them. And like I said above, making sure your shoes are pretty tight helps as well.