I recently began googling for DIY ways to fix my slick soled 1+ year old Keens (out of warranty), which have become very worn down. After reading up on possible retread methods like gluing actual tread from automobile tires, I decided to see if there was a simpler way to go about giving my Keens their edge once again. I wanted more than the sandpaper or a glue method since I would find myself on river rocks soon and didn't want to find myself cussing out the 100 grit paper. or shoe goo. With Dremel in hand, I laid claim my Keen's tread once again and would like to share with you my pursuit of the perfect retread.
Step 1: Before
As you can see here, my shoes are quite miserable. If they were automobile tires and a police officer was checking them out, I'd surely get a ticket.
Step 2: Use Dremel and Cutting Wheel
A few bits of advise for you if you so choose to be advised. Use proper eye protection, gloves, and a mask. It is also a good idea to wear a long sleeved shirt and other protective clothing as I was pelted by melted rubber throughout the process. Old clothing is a good idea and protect anything around you from melted rubber. The mask is a good idea b/c it gets pretty smokey.
Use the Dremel and Cutting Wheel to cut grooves out of the bottom of the shoe. As you can see, I was using a basic pattern that is perpendicular to the motion of travel. This will allow the shoe to flex a bit more easily and allow for additional traction.
I took several breaks b/c the Dremel did have a tendency to overheat. I had it set to speed #4 most of the time and I wouldn't bear down on it too long before removing the Dremel from the sole to let the engine to cool down as it spun freely. Watch out for the flying hot rubber bits !! This could be prevented by using a spray bottle to spray down the sole as you progress.
Step 3: Match Up Both Shoes
I went ahead and freehanded my lines to match on each shoe, although they are not perfect by any means. If you are concerned about people making fun of your footprints because they don't match then I guess you could create your own template and then use a thin sharpie marker to ensure accuracy and symmetry. I unfortunately, don't have that time to spend on "pretty" details.
Step 4: Wash Them Down
After I was done cutting my grooves, I went ahead and washed down all the particles I could and gave them a quick brush with an old carwash brush I had laying around. I then sent them for a proper wash in the washing machine. I let them wash and then tossed them in my dryer net so they could dry quick in the dryer on high heat. I've realized that the high heat helps to keep the Keens tight and reduce any water pockets in the sole.
I haven't done it yet but I'm probably going to give them a once-over with some 80-100 grit sandpaper so I can rough up the bottom even more.