Tire Sandals, Pt 3




Making sandals out of old tires is cheap, environmentally friendly and a lot of fun (although if you do it in the middle of summer, it's equally sweaty).

There's a few more details here than other versions, but others are worth the read.

The original industructable is here. Check this site, though, for the granddaddy of tire sandal pages,though.

Step 1: Cut the Tire

Of course, your first step is to get a tire. Try your local freecycle group or craigslist for a tire somebody wants to get rid of.

I used a reciprocating saw to start with. Keep pouring water on the tire to make it easier to cut. Most tires have metal bands on the insides--you'll have to cut these out first.

Use the saw to cut across the tire first, then cut the bands out. If you get a wide truck tire, I recommend cutting the sidewalls off too--they get in the way and you'll have to cut them off anyway.

Make a pattern using a shoe that you like--make sure you've got plenty of room on the sides of your feet--you'll need 1/8-1/4" later.

Cut off a piece of the tire a bit larger than your pattern.

Step 2: Cut Out Your Pattern

Cut out your pattern using a chisel and hammer. Put your chisel where you want to cut and whack with the hammer till the chisel goes all the way through. The first time you whack it, you'll think it won't go (and if your chisel is REALLY dull, it won't), but keep whacking, and you'll get it--it should take about 3-5 hits. You'll want to have some that you can ruin (or something that the chisel won't hurt) underneath the piece to catch the chisel when it comes through.

I tried using the reciprocating saw for this step, too. It works ok if you have a good way to clamp down the piece you're working on so it doesn't vibrate.

I didn't have a good way to do, so it ended up being a huge hassle and very difficult to be exact.

Using a chisel is less work (although it takes a lot longer), and you can be a lot more exact.

According to the big tire sandal pagebig tire sandal page, using a bandsaw is just as hard or harder as well.

Step 3: Cut Holes for the Straps

Using your chisel, punch holes for the straps as close to the edge of the sandals as you dare.

You'd be suprised how tough the tire is, so you can really get away with getting really close to the edge (granted, I'm not sure how mine will wear, but I'm not worried about them at all).

Then, using a utility knife, but the tread out from the strap hole to the edge of the sandal. This keeps the strap off the ground, at least a little bit, so you're not walking on it.

You might want to also use your utility knife to enlarge the strap hole. The hardest part of making these sandals is pushing the straps through, so cutting a little extra probably wouldn't hurt.

Step 4: Install the Straps

I bought dog leashes from Big Lots for $1.50 each. I used one on each sandal with very little waste.

You need to cut the stitching on the leash so you're left with a straight strap.

Then get a tiny screwdriver and a decent-sized flathead. Use the tiny one to wedge open the first slot for your straps and the flathead to push it through.

The toe strap should run down into the sole, then come over and across. If you do it the other way, it's really difficult to adjust the toe strap when it's on your foot--you have to take your sandal off to adjust it.

I got both sides of the toe strap pushed through, and adjusted to what I thought would be about the right length (it's one piece that runs around my heel). Then I cut the strap and pushed the remainder through the heel slots. I left the heels strap uncut till I sewed the buckle on.

Step 5: Sew the Straps

I bought the buckles for $1.50 each at Hobby Lobby. I looked for a pull-adjustable strap like on my Chacos, but couldn't find one in my blue-collar town.

I sewed the buckle on the large strap first. Then I ran the strap around my heel and clipped it, then cut the heel spacer straps. These straps are basically just loops. They're NOT the same length, b/c I wanted the strap to avoid the bony parts of my ankle.

I pulled the outside of the spacer strap up to the heel strap, then pulled the inside up, over the heel strap and down, then sewed through it, so I ended up sewing through 3 layers.

I made these a little longer than they should have been, which works better than making them too short, since they pull the heel strap down if they're too short.

Step 6: Done!

Put your sandals on and enjoy. Overall, I think they're going to be pretty tough, even though I used polyester threads and cut through the tire to secure the sandals.

Here's one more link for another designanother design. I haven't figured out how to do this with webbing though. And boy howdy does it look involved.



    • Fat Challenge

      Fat Challenge
    • Jewelry Challenge

      Jewelry Challenge
    • Pie Contest

      Pie Contest

    16 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    An idea: when chiseling your tire, allow for tabs where you would attach straps, make slots in those tabs, then cut the tabs through the rubber down to, but not through, the cloth webbing, so the tabs turn upward without difficulty and now you can thread your straps through. The more tabs, the more options. Cut off the useless tabs when you find a strap design you like. I like to use old bike tubes, cut into strips, for straps, which you can also braid. Being stretchy does away with adjustment issues.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I did Tire Sandals Pt. 2. How did I miss this? Good work. It looks like you thought through the straps a bit more than I did. They look really secure. Since it is 96 degrees today, I'm working on another pair using a motorcycle tire I found. Also, anyone planning to make a pair, I cannot caution you enough about practicing safe cutting. There are numerous ways to really hurt yourself with a utility razor and a tough cutting job. Think it through and be safe.


    9 years ago on Step 1

    I've found it's easier to use a temporary spare tire. These little throw-away spares aren't made with steel belts so cut and shape a little easier. They are the closest to the old polyester and nylon tires used by Mexicans, Vietnamese, Africans and Indians that popularized this functional footwear. The only drawback is the tires are narrow and more curved than a regular tire, but they do flatten out with time.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    The link for the Vietnamese Tire Sandals has given me a few ideas. The webbing really doesn't look that tough, since instead of threading it through the tire you're cutting all the way through and tying it on the other side. I have been hoping to imitate the Chacos style of webbing, and that design comes really close! I just want to know how to be able to do it w/o punching all the way through the sole. Seems impossible without a little layering and a lot of glue! Any ideas?

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I dunno. this design is ok, but it doesn't fit on my feet the way as well as my Chacos do--the straps slide down the arch of my feet towards my toes, rather than sitting up by my ankles like they should. I dunno if a 2nd layer of tire with glue would work or not. The worst part is that it would mean that you'd have to cut more, which is, of course, the worst part ;)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I hope to make a pair soon, all I need is to find another tire. The current one I have is much much too thick to work with. I've never posted an instructable, but there's a first time for everything.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    nice, you did everything right except "buying" the strap & buckles


    11 years ago on Step 2

    For doing the rough cut, I've had a lot of luck using a sharp knife and holding the tire in tension. The tension is really important, otherwise you get bupkis

    3 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Step 2

    how do you keep the tension up? I don't have a vise, so that's out. Any other good ideas?


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    park a car on it, have a friend pull while you cut, hey maybe make him a pair at the same time so he has a reason to help.


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 2

    I step on the tire with one foot, pull with one hand, and cut with the other hand. A friend is also useful here --me


    11 years ago on Introduction

    dremel style tools really make some steps a lot easier.you can cut and use the router bits to clean up the sides.