Introduction: Sole Mat
I noticed recently that I had some old sneakers lying around my house that were no longer in use and instead of throwing them out I wanted to do something with them. At the same time I also noticed that my door mat was looking pretty beat up. So I decided to use the soles from old sneakers to make a cool looking door mat.
This project doesn't require many supplies and it's a great way to let your creative side out. The best part is the project is easy - after all I did it so you definitely can too. There's not much of a time commitment and I'm pretty sure your neighbor is not going to have this same door mat - so if you want to be unique and reuse old shoes instead of just throwing them out and have fun all at the same time then I think you've come to the right place!
Okay let's get started with my first Instructable!
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Step 1: Supplies
What you'll need to kick this project off:
- Old Sneakers (I used 6 pairs for my mat)
- A good pair of scissors (I had a pair of SuperPro that worked great)
- Door mat (You could definitely use one that you already have but mine was not looking too good so I picked one up for $3)
- Astroturf (I used free samples I had from Home Depot)
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue sticks (I went through about 60)
- Paper big enough to sketch your mat design on
- Marker or Pen
- Hacksaw or Radial Arm Saw
Step 2: Let's Get Cutting
Get your pair of sturdy scissors and have at your old shoes. Start by cutting off just the top part of the sneaker so that pretty much only the sole is left. I found it was best to start at the side of the sneaker and go toward the front and end at the back because the back of the sneaker was usually the toughest to cut so being able to freely position your scissors when you get to the back is very helpful. I also found cutting into the sneakers was fun because you can get the sense of how the sneaker was put together and find some interesting materials that are used in sneakers (Spoiler alert: you get to find even more interesting materials when you actually cut through the soles in a later step).
Once you can detach the top part of the sneaker from the sole, it's time to start trimming around the top edge of the sole to make it as flat as possible. You are going to want to take note of which pair of sneakers are the flattest- that's because as you are probably finding out some soles are tougher to get flat than others so the pair that are the flattest are probably your winners for the center of the mat because they will be the ones that will be flush to the mat and will in turn glue the best.
You could throw away the tops of the sneakers that you cut away since we are not going to utilize them in the remainder of this project, or if you want to completely recycle the whole sneaker I would suggest you head on over to a great Instructable made by a friend of mine who uses the tops of sneakers to create Kickin' Mitts!
Step 3: Design Your Mat
Before you can create your masterpiece you must have some sort of vision. Here is how I came up with my design:
Begin by tracing the border of the mat on paper so that you will know how pieces will fit together. It can also be helpful to draw a horizontal and vertical line running through the middle of the mat on the paper so you know where the center of the mat is for your design.
Trace the outline of the soles of the pair of sneakers you want to have centered on the mat. I would suggest using the pair that you are able to cut the flattest. Draw a box around the two outlined soles that will represent where the astroturf will be glued. Outside of the box on the remainder of the mat sketch out the size and placement of where you want the other shoe soles to go on the mat so that they create a cool border design.
Based off of the size of the cut pieces of sole creating the border and their shape, the size you want the astroturf area to be, and the size of your two middle soles - you will either need more or less shoes than me for your door mat design. I'm guessing you will probably need more shoes than me though because I used my friend's basketball shoes which happen to be a size 16.
Step 4: Mark the Cuts on Soles
Still got that paper with the beautiful design you made for your sneaker door mat? Good. Go grab it. I found the best way to mark where the cuts should be made on the sneaker soles is to actually cut into the design you sketched out and tape the individual shapes that construct the border of the mat onto the soles. If you want certain aspects of a sneaker sole to be together after it is cut then make sure to mark the sole in a fashion that will allow that. You need to keep some space between the paper shapes that you tape to the bottom of the sneaker soles (for instance I knew I was going to lose an 1/8 inch every time I ran my radial saw through the sole) but try your best to utilize as much of the sole as possible so you are truly recycling most of the sneaker and so you don't need a lot more sneakers than necessary to create your design.
*Remember there should be a pair of sneaker soles that do not have any paper on them that are prepping them for cutting because you need two whole sneaker soles for the center of the door mat.
Step 5: Saw Into Soles
There are two options when it comes to sawing into the sneaker soles - you can use a hacksaw or a radial arm saw. The pro of using a hacksaw is that you get a phenomenal workout, the con is that it will take some time to finish all the cuts. The pro of using a radial arm saw is that it takes minutes to finish all the cuts. Considering that I already worked out today, I went with the radial arm saw. Please be cautious and adhere to all safety procedures when operating either type of saw.
Don't worry if the soles are not the exact same height when you cut them out. The cut out soles being slightly uneven will aid in getting stuff off of the bottom of people's shoes when they wipe their feet. Oh and when you are done cutting a piece of sneaker sole, do yourself a favor and take a look at the different materials that go into different sneaker soles - it's pretty interesting in my opinion to see how our feet are supported.
Step 6: Cut the Astroturf
The only element of our mat that we haven't addressed yet is the astroturf. The best way to know how to cut your astroturf is to lay out the soles that you just cut around the border of the mat in your design pattern (this will also help you ensure that all the soles are cut properly and fit together). Once the soles are laid around the outside, place the astroturf so that it fits in the box that remains in the middle of the mat. Now tape paper on top of the astroturf. Next place your two whole sneaker soles in the center of the mat and trace around the sneaker soles onto the paper below.
Remove the astroturf with the paper taped to it and cut along the lines that you just traced. This will ensure that the astroturf fits perfectly around the center sneaker soles! One sample layer of astroturf won't be high enough to enable a person to utilize its brushing power when they wipe their feet. So you will need to cut another layer of astroturf in the same design as the one you just cut. I found the easiest way to do this was to put a layer of astroturf on top of the layer you just cut and use the layer that is already cut as the pattern of how to cut the second layer of astroturf.
Step 7: Get Your Glue Gun
All those pieces of cut sneaker sole look great laid out on your mat - there is only one problem - they aren't attached to the mat. So let's grab the glue gun and get to it.
A quick side note: Before starting this project I tested out different adhesives on a sneaker sole and a sample of a mat and found that a hot glue gun performed pretty much the same as products such as Liquid Nails when I simulated the friction that would occur when wiping one's feet on a door mat. Since performance was equal, I went with a hot glue gun which is the adhesive that would cost the least for this project.
Okay grab a piece of sneaker sole off of your mat - apply enough hot glue to cover the part of the sole that would be inside the sneaker - and return it to the place you had it laid out on the mat. Keep your fingers pressed down on the sole for 5 - 10 seconds to ensure it is in contact with the mat. When you are finished hot gluing all of the pieces of sole that make up the border of the mat, it's time to glue the two whole soles to the middle of the mat. You have to be fairly quick when applying the hot glue to the entire sole and I would suggest ending your hot glue application in the same area that you started your hot glue application so that area is heated up again right before you place the sole on the mat. Keep your hands pressed down on the entire sole for about 1 - 2 minutes to be certain that the entire sole took to the mat.
Once all the sneaker soles are glued to the mat, move on to gluing the astroturf layers that you cut out last step. Hot glue the coinciding astroturf layers to each other before gluing them to the mat. The reason you want to do this is to ensure that these two astroturf layers fit in with the design that you already glued. If the astroturf doesn't fit in perfectly - don't worry! You can easily trim it with scissors to match the correct fit. The fit looks good? Alright now you can hot glue the combined astroturf layers to the mat in much the same manner that you glued the pieces of sneaker sole to the mat.
Step 8: Finishing Touches and Enjoyment
We're almost there! You can hot glue some more astroturf on top of some of the soles to make a cool design that fits you or a saying that you think captures the essence of your door mat - in either scenario you create more brushing area for people to wipe their feet on.
Since all the sneakers I recycled were Nike and because I think it lets the person about to come into your house know that you would appreciate it if they wiped their feet before entering - I cut out of the astroturf the famous Nike slogan "JUST DO IT". Again you can do any design that you feel captures your door mat! Tape paper to the astroturf and trace a design and then cut along the lines that you just traced. Once you have your astroturf design cut out - it is time to hot glue again. Apply enough hot glue to cover the back of the astroturf and then place it on the door mat where you would like. Maintain pressure on top of the astroturf for 5 - 10 seconds to ensure that the astroturf sticks properly. If you are following my design - cut two strips of astroturf to place on top of the two whole soles in the middle of the mat . This will allow people to brush their feet on those whole sneaker soles in the center of the mat.
Well done! You just made your very own door mat made out of old soles. Take a moment to relish in the unique creation that your hard work just yielded. I hope you enjoyed the project! And if you have a moment I would love to see your door mat masterpieces or hear any comments on how my first Instructable went. Cheers!