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This Should Work: New life for old boots

You will see some strange sights on construction sites. For instance, I’ve seen carpenters cutting their work boots on table saws
PHOTO TSW 36 Ice Boots
Hex-head screws converted these worn-out boots to ice walkers. Photo by Bruce MacNab.

In the old days, there was only one style of work boot. They were made with tough leather that took forever to break in. By the time these boots were stretched and comfortable the plastic soles would be worn out.

Workers used to refurbish their soles by running their boots through a table saw with the blade set low. The shallow saw cuts would re-tread the boots.

Nowadays you can buy fancy work boots that look like they were made for an astronaut. From the start, these boots feel like slippers so there is no need to break them in. But the rubber soles still wear out.

Did you know you can convert your old boots to ice boots? All you need are some hex-head screws.

You’ll want about two dozen screws to make one pair of ice boots. Check the price before you buy these. It’s cheaper to buy a box of 100 screws instead of three packages of 10 screws. You can save the leftover screws for another pair of ice boots or give some to a friend.

Make sure you buy self-drilling screws. These clever little screws drill their own pilot holes.

Don’t buy screws that are too long or they will jab into the bottom of your feet. Depending on the thickness of your soles, you’ll need screws ranging from a ½ inch to ¾ inch in length.

You can use a small wrench or socket set to drive the screws into your boots. It’s much easier to use a nut-driver that fits in your cordless drill. If you don’t have a nut-driver, you can improvise one. Just take the right-sized socket from your socket set and put it in your drill chuck. The smaller sizes will fit most drills.

Insert the screws around the outside edge of the soles.

Now, put on your new ice boots and try them out. How do they feel? Make adjustments to make them more comfortable. Put in extra screws or take out some screws until you have them perfectly balanced.

Take them ice fishing and impress your friends. Keep a pair by your door for the walk to your mailbox.

Don’t forget the most important rule about your homemade ice boots – take them off before you walk across someone’s beautiful hardwood floors!

Bruce MacNab, a Red Seal carpenter, has taught carpentry courses for NSCC and the Guysborough County Adult Learning Association. Visit him online at

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About the Author: Bruce MacNab

Bruce MacNab is the author of the award-winning biography The Metamorphosis: the apprenticeship of Harry Houdini. Raised in Dartmouth, he attended NSCAD and the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology. He now lives alongside Nova Scotia’s Cobequid Mountains
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