You’ve worn those boots far past their expiration date. You’re ready toss them in the trash and move on into a new pair.
As you can see in the picture above, this pair of Rocky work boots has served me well the two years I owned them. The safety toe I have to used for work is exposed and the boots are no longer in working condition. I own two pair of Rocky Original Ride work boots; one with safety toe, and one without. My personal use pair I have had since 2013, and with a little saddle soap and elbow grease, have maintained their usability.
The work boot pictured above has been rode hard and put away wet.
Amazon links to the boots (I highly recommend):
Rocky Work Boots
Rocky Safety Toe Work Boots
Wasting Good Leather
I always cringe when it comes time to throw out a pair of boots. I typically will wear boots and any other footwear or article of clothing until I resemble something of a scarecrow showing up for garden guard duty. When I wear out a pair of work boots, typically just the toes are worn out (probably due to the fact that I’m always kicking A** in life… Right guys?… Hello?…).
Salvage the Good
Most of the time there is a good chunk of leather left on my boots that is near brand new. In the case of this particular work boots. 3/4 of the boot leather had barely seen the sun and could be saved. The leather you salvage from whatever old boots you may have laying around can be repurposed for any type of leather accessory you can dream of. I have two projects in mind; a cell phone case, and a gun holster. I opted to run this article on the cell phone case because it is something I would use every day.
I used to carry my iphone on a clip on plastic holder that attached to my belt. It seemed like at least once a day, I would bump it and send it tumbling into the dirt. On one particularly expensive summer day last year, I was riding my motorcycle on the highway. I must’ve bumped my little clip and before you know it it was on the highway under the tires of a semi… lesson learned. Since then I haven’t quite found the right place to keep it. I involuntarily upgraded to the Iphone X and it is a bit big to just shove in your front pocket. I also do not trust any of the clip on belt cases any more so it is time to get my hands dirty and create exactly what need.
The tools I used and a few corresponding amazon links to them are as follows:
Separate the good from the bad.
I used a stitch ripper from the leather kit to pull the stitches apart to separate the top good conditioned leather from the cracked bottom leather. I also used an razor knife that came with the kit to saw through some of the parts of the boot that were glued.
Measure twice, cut once
I layed out my phone and did my best to estimate how much leather I would actually need to fit. I then proceeded to scrawl out a straight line using my razor knive with the help of a square. Once I was fairly sure I didn’t short myself, I used some scissors and cut down the line.
Close the Incision
After cutting the boot in half, the different layers of leather and inner fabric on the boot were open and loose. I took some fabric adhesive and slathered it on a popsicle stick and rubbed around the adhesive with a popsicle stick. You can use whatever glue or adhesive you have laying around but I recommend not skipping this step for whatever project you do. Once glued, I clamped the layers to themselves as they dried. Be sure to clue and clamp all sizes and wait the recommended dry time.
Get your groove on
You will need to stitch up the now-glued ends of your leather. I used the grooving tool first followed by this spikey-pencil-of-death tool that you can roll across your groove to mark where you will make your stitch holes. You do not need apply much pressure as the goal of this tool is just to mark where you will puncture the leather with your awl. Lastly on this step, take out the days aggression with this pointy awl. Find your marks you made and tap a hammer on the awl through the leather and onto a block of wood that you slid under. Be sure to go deep enough to accommodate whatever size needle and thread you use.
Snitches get Stitches
(no real significance, it was the best stitch related title I could dream up)
I hand stitched both sides of the leather boot about 1/2″ in from either end of the soon-to-be case.
I have a hard time really explaining how to stitch leather so here is a link someone far better with words and the internet than I am.
How to Hand Stitch Leather
Optional- Tap the completed stitches with a flat smooth hammer head and heat with a propane torch. I used a nylon leather thread that came with the kit. Heating the thread with the torch shrank the thread and tightened up the stitch. Be careful not to burn the thread or the garage down because your wife (if you have one) will be flaming-hot-cheetoes mad.
Flex dem’ leather working muscles
Choose the “uglier” side of the leather and mark out your belt loops. I layed my belt across the case and scratched out a template for where I would stitch. Continue on to stitch the two belt loops and then cut out the insides of the stitch. When you measure out your belt loop holes, leave about an extra 1/4 inch. That will help leave some space when you cut out the centers.
Cut, Punch, and Fasten
I chose to use copper belt rivets from a local hardware store. I used a punch to cut out a hole the size of my rivets. I then put the rivets through the leather and pounded on them with a hammer.
Here is a link on how to install a rivet similar to the ones I used. (it is using metal as an example but the same principles apply to this application)
How to set a rivet
Make it Snappy
I grabbed the Fasteners Kit and selected two snap buttons for closing the top of the case.I followed the included directions in the kit and cut, hammered, and snapped my way to the end product.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of boots of yesterday, the finished case appears!
This was a skill building project that anyone with an old pair of boots and a little motivation can do. Much like the boots I ran into the ground, I intend on using this case for many years!
I used all the same principles outlined in this article and made a matching holster for my Ruger Single Six!