Introduction: Turn Your Leather Work Boots Into Severe Duty Boots
If you have a physically demanding job like I do, you know how important good work boots are. You want boots that are comfortable, will last as long as possible so you get your money's worth, and will handle A LOT of abuse.
For my job, where I literally jog around on asphalt and concrete all day long out in the elements, be it a thunderstorm or 103F heatwave, I choose Georgia Boot 8" Wedge Sole Steel Toe #G8342.
As much as I really like these boots, I've found they could still use some extra modifications to make them last even longer. The modifications I will show you include welt sealing, water-proofing, and armoring the leather over the steel toe.
Note: I am not paid to endorse any product in these pictures, nor do I work for the companies that make these products.
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Step 1: Supplies
Products you will need to get (I found all four at Fleet Farm for about $27):
1. Welt-Seal (good for many uses)
2. Sno-Seal (if your boots are not already water-proof; good for many uses)
3. Toe Armor by Red Wing Shoes (good for about two pairs of boots)
4. Shoe polish applicator for the Sno-Seal (not shown in picture)
Additional household items to round up:
1. pen or Sharpee marker
2. tape (optional)
3. Paper towels
4. blow-dryer (optional)
Step 2: Planning Time and Preparation
This instructable will work on both new and used boots, but if you are using used boots, make sure to clean them up real good first.
If your boots have a warranty, check with the manufacturer as to whether this will affect the warranty.
Read the directions on all the products to be used.
Applying Welt-Seal requires a ventilated work area because of the acetone.
Being that the Toe Armor needs to dry for 24 hours before use, plan to do this project at least two days before you will be using them. I work monday through friday, and did this project on a saturday.
Set aside at least a couple hours to do this project. It doesn't take that long to do each step but you will need to let each applied compound enough time to dry.
Also, don't do this on your dining room table! As it is a somewhat messy job, use a work table. I used a card table.
Step 3: Remove the Laces
Remove the boot laces.
Step 4: Sealing the Welt
Lay each boot on one side, and, while following the directions on the tube of Welt-Seal, run a bead along the welt (where the leather meets the sole). You do not need to run a finger along the bead to smooth it out; Welt-Seal will soak in as it dries. Let the beads dry for about 20 minutes, then turn the boots over and run a bead along those sides as well. Let dry another 20 minutes.
Step 5: Mark the Toe
Use a pen or Sharpee to mark a dotted line outlining the edge of the steel to under the leather. If your boots are not steel toes, just make an outline similar to mine.
Step 6: Water-proofing
Apply a LIBERAL amount of Sno-Seal to the entire leather surface of the boot. I personally choose not to cover the outline of the steel toe, as i am unsure as to how the Toe Armor will adhere to the boot afterwards.
Work the Sno-Seal into every nook and cranny you can find; leather seams, inside the eyelet flaps, the tongue, and so on.
Use a blowdryer to "melt" the Sno-Seal into the boot. Wipe off excess oil with paper towels (I personally just leave the excess oil on as I am unconcerned about runoff as after my first day of using the boots at work, it will wear off on its own).
Step 7: Scuff the Toes
Included in the Red Wing Toe Armor kit is a patch of sandpaper. Use the sandpaper to scuff the leather over the toe inside the marked outline.
Step 8: 1st Coat of Toe Armor
This part can be rather messy so place paper towels under your boots to catch splatter.If you are concerned about the look of your work boots and don't want drips of Toe Armor running down the sides of the soles, cut some lengths of tape to cover the sides of the soles.
First, use the stir stick found in the Toe Armor kit to stir the compound for about a minute.
Apply a thin first coat of Toe Armor to each boot with the applicator found in the Toe Armor kit.
Let dry (roughly ten minutes) until dry to the touch.
Step 9: 2nd Coat of Toe Armor
After the first coat has dried, stir the compound again for another minute, and use the applicator to put a LIBERAL amount of Toe Armor over the first coat. I also cover the sole stitching as well.
Let dry for 24 hours.
Step 10: Finished Product
24 hours later, put the laces back in.
you now have a pair of boots capable of handling abuse above and beyond what they were designed for!