Fix Your Keens With Gorilla Steel!




Introduction: Fix Your Keens With Gorilla Steel!

In this Instructable, we will fix a pair of "Keen" sandals with Gorilla Glue and steel staples.

A method I like to describe as "steel reinforced adhesive." This technique is particularly effective on fabric repairs as the polyurethane based glue foams as it cures and penetrates the fabric while the steel staples maintain pressure and keep registration of the item being glued.

I've used this method to join all sort of load bearing fabric from dog leashes to camera straps. A one inch bond can easily support my 200 and change pounds and I have never had a repair fail yet.

Step 1: What Are Keens?

I have never been a flip flop or sandal kind of guy. I never liked a pair of shoes that I could not effectively use to run (not that I'm paranoid, but sometimes you just need to run). One toe stub would send me straight back to hiking boots and the athlete's foot infection to which I'm prone.

However, my wife talked me into a set of Keens and I never looked back. Keens are a lightweight, open frame shoe with solid foot bed support, a secure fit and a protected toe box. They are washable and provide superior ventilation which keeps fungal infections at bay. They are fair weather shoes, but can be at least 3 season shoes when worn with sox.

They remind me of the Roman Caligae...the shoe of most centurions wore when marching around Europe, mid-East and Africa. In fact, I don't see why the Keen company does not use this obvious similarity in their advertising? My tag line would be,

"The Romans conquered the known world in their Caligae, where will you go in your Keens?"

The downside of Keens are small. The open frame lets gravel and grit enter easily which means stopping and getting rid of that painful rock often. Also, they can cause the, "heartbreak of Tiger-Feet." These are some strange tan lines that can cause some puzzled looks in the shower room. I imagine that Roman legionaries had the same problem.

Step 2: The Problem

For whatever reason, poor design or simple wear and tear, my Keens have started to come apart where the ankle strap meets the footbed. The stitching is failing at six of the eight attachment points.

Lacking an industrial strength sewing machine or the patience to hand sew problem area, I decided to repair the area with adhesive reinforced with steel staples.

Step 3: Prepare the Shoes

1. Wash the shoes so no grit or dirt is present. Keens do fine in the washing machine, but let them air dry. For this particular method, you can leave the shoes damp as Gorilla glue needs the moisture to cure.

2. Cut away and stray threads.

3. If not already damp from washing, use a moist rag to dampen the area of the repair. Just damp, not soaking wet!

Step 4: Glue It Up

1. Squeeze a small amount of Gorilla glue between the fabric of the shoe. The glue will foam up to 3x the amount you apply, so use sparingly. You will have plenty of time to adjust if necessary. The glue takes 30 to 60 minutes to foam up fully.

Step 5: Staple It Down

1. Use a stapler to secure the fabric in place. Simply staple where the stitching was before it failed.

2. Use the stapler in such a way that the flat part of the staple is facing your foot and the grasping side of the staple is facing the outside of the shoe.

3. Once you are satisfied with your stapling job, use a pair of pliers to crush the staples as flat as possible. The normal stapler mode leaves the staples with a slight thickness. You want the staple as flat as possible.

Step 6: Clamp It

1. Optional in this case as the staples are doing the major clamping in this process. However, I used some bulldog clamps to flatten the area where I did not have staples.

Step 7: Wait....

1. The Gorilla glue will take about 30 minutes to foam up and really grab hold of the fabric. Don't be tempted to try it out though. The glue reaches its full strength over 24 hours, so leave it at least overnight before you handle the shoe.

2. If you used too much glue and it has foamed up out of the repair area, you can clean it up with a cotton swab.

Step 8: Observe Your Handiwork

1. Once everything is cured, look at the repair. If any hardened glue is still visible, you can cut it off with a razor knife, or let be. Who is going to be looking that hard at your shoes anyway?

2. The staples should stay in the repair for strength. However, if you feel something poking your feet, you can try and flatten it with some pliers or just remove the staple by yanking it out. You should not damage the bond too much with this procedure.

Step 9: Conquer the World!

Enjoy your freshly repaired shoes! I have had good luck with this technique in the past and am confident that the repair will last the useable life of the shoe.

I'll update this Instructable if I run into any problems with my test case.

Now, go out and conquer the world!

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    6 Discussions


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I used "rust resistant" staples which are really just stainless steel staples. I think most modern staples are stainless steel. In the old days when regular steel was used, papers that were stored for a long time with those staples tended to rust and stain the document. If you look through old papers, sometimes you can see this phenomenon. These days, we don't have to worry as much.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent fix! I think this must be a common issue with these sandals...

    Mine are due up for some attention as well:


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm, and looks like the exact same spot. Someone might want to get on the phone to the Keens people.


    5 years ago

    I have had keens from the time they first came out. recentl y mine have been slowly destroyed and now I can continue wearing them.