Improving the Old Huaraches — Homemade Running Sandals

making huaraches

Pulling the stitches snug tucks them out of harm’s way.

Another Job for Speedy Stitcher! Early in the summer I fixed my huaraches with Shoe Goo. That worked pretty well but eventually did fail. Maybe there was too much road dust on the old huaraches even after a good scrubbing, but something prevented a permanent bond. After the toes began to peel away I dug out the Speedy Stitcher and tried again. This works much better, but the ultimate solution may involve brand new materials without any trace of road dust or foot grease. That will be my next footgear project, I suppose, a combination of Shoe Goo and Vibram, with Speedy Stitcher construction. For now the old huaraches are holding up.

If you’ve not used a Speedy Stitcher before, you may think it’s difficult. That’s not true. The Speedy Stitcher is an old patented harness-maker’s tool, something you might carry in a saddlebag for emergency saddle or bridle repairs on that long commute to El Paso. When we shifted over to cars, the demand for such tools dropped a bit, but the Speedy Stitcher is still available if you ask for it or track it down. You just have to know about it first or you’d never look for such a thing. But query the clerk at any country hardware store and he’ll probably have a few gathering dust on a back shelf.

making huaraches

Strange fashion look but a fairly neat and functional job.

I spent about an hour stitching my sandals together and it wasn’t a hard job since the remainder of the shoe goo was still holding everything in place. If you don’t have a solid grip and aren’t used to manual work, clamping the parts in a bench vise helps, but it’s possible to stitch very tough materials like vibram and shoe leather without any of that. The technique is simple and the thread supplied with the tool is strong. I still have a roll of the old waxed linen thread but the new tool comes with waxed polyester. If you run out and don’t want to wait for the new supply to come in the mail, you can wind the old spool with the thickest waxed dental floss available and make do. OK, it’s probably easier to work with but it’s also thinner and pulling it tight might cut through some materials. Adapt and conquer.

The Speedy Stitcher makes a chain stitch. You push the threaded needle through the material and pull a couple of feet of thread out the other side. Then you pull the needle back and make a stitch. A tug on the needle reveals a loop of thread, and you thread the loose end through. Pull the needle out, pull the stitch tight, and repeat. End a row by stitching back through the same holes a few times. If you run short of thread on the free end you can tie a new piece on. The knot interferes only a little bit and eventually disappears into the work piece.

You’ll get the hang of it quickly.

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About JTHats

Avid backpacker and outdoorsman with old skills and interests in old ways of doing things; equally fascinated by electronics, from the days of Sputnik, to the Zilog Z80A, to the present day of black box circuitry. Sixty years of experience with growing my own food and living simply. Certified electronics technician, professional woodturner, woodcarver, and graduate of two military survival courses -- Arctic and Jungle.

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