diy gift idea: luxury metal-tipped shoelaces
This is part of the new craft tutorial series for the holidays. From now until Christmas, I'll be posting unique gift ideas that are suitable for both men and women. Some of these ideas will teach the use of essential tools or techniques, that you may find useful for other projects in the future. If you'd like to keep up with the new tutorials, be sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, or subscribe to the newsletter.
Project #6 - Luxury metal-tipped shoelaces
Shoelaces may be one of the few things that can please anyone. No matter their age or gender, or whether they're a street sneaker or snazzy oxford junkie, they will likely appreciate a fine pair of laces to go with their favorite kicks. These luxurious metal-tipped shoelaces require very little to make, but look wonderfully polished and professional.
The best part of this project is shopping for the pretty ribbons and cords! The lengths to buy will depend on the type of shoe. You can always secretly borrow the laces from the shoes of the gift-receiver. But if not, see below for a guide.
Ribbons or cords for the laces - choose ribbon no wider than 3/8" and round cord no wider that 1/8"
If the shoes have 4-5 holes on each side:
- and both sides are fairly close together, such as the case of oxfords or dress shoes, then 32" is about the average length.
- and both sides are farther apart, such as the case of sneakers or rugged boots, then you need at least 38" per lace.
If the shoes have 2-3 holes on each side:
- and both sides are fairly close together, then 26" is about right.
- and both sides are farther apart, then 32" is about right.
- If the shoes have 4-5 holes on each side:
- Brass tubing of approx. 3mm diameter - commonly found in hardware stores; you'll need only 5/8" per shoelace tip (tip also known as "aglet").
- Plain ol' Scotch tape
- Masking tape / blue painter's tape
- A sharp nail - like a size 6d two-inch nail for example, do not use those tiny ones for hanging pictures
- A jewelry saw or coping saw (see below)
- Emery board or nail filer or 200 grit sandpaper
Cutting brass tubing
Brass tubing is a common material found in hardware stores. They come in all lengths and sizes. To cut them, you use a thin blade saw that is either a jewelry saw or a coping saw. They are both similar, except that jewelry saws often use blades with much finer teeth for precision work. In this case, you only need to cut the tubing, so either tool should work just fine.
You can get a coping saw in hardware stores and a jewelry saw in jewelry supply stores. Get the finest toothed blades you can find, since the tubing is so small.
Mark 5/8" of tubing with a pen. Cut along that line using the saw in a sturdy up and down motion. Because the tubing is hollow, the blade will tend to get caught once partially cut through. When that happens, don't fret! Just pull out the blade and rotate the tubing and start cutting through a different area along that line. Once you're over halfway cut through, you can bend the tubing back and forth to break off the rest. Use that sandpaper or filer to smooth out the ends and remove any sharp edges. If you break a blade while sawing, it's no biggie, just replace it with another. Jewelry saw blades are very easy to break, everyone breaks them all the time! That's why they come in big packs.
This step may take a bit of practice, but it's actually very easy once you've got it!
If using ribbon, at one end, fold the sides toward the middle, then fold it in half again so you get 1/4th its original width. Grab about 1/2" of clear tape and tape around the end tightly, letting a little bit of the tape go over the edge. Make sure to not use too much tape and make it too bulky. If you find that its too hard to thread through the metal tubing, then you should try again with less tape. Different materials will obviously produce difference thicknesses.
The tape is necessary so that you have a stiffer point to thread through the metal aglet and to help grip it once nailed. The extra bit of tape sticking out the end helps to ease the process.
Now thread the end through the aglet, using a twisting motion. It won't feel like you're making much progress until you continue to twist and let the tape crunch up. Keep twisting and pushing it through until the tape is all the way inside. If there are any bits sticking out the end, just trim it off.
Tape the metal aglet tightly onto a sturdy workable surface with painter's tape. Take the nail and hammer and carefully hammer two holes into the aglet. Hold the aglet steady as much as possible while doing so. Sure and steady full swings on the hammer will work better than tapping the nail head gently. The key is to keep the aglet from rotating, and using strong swings (but not too strong!) on the hammer. With a little practice, it becomes a quick and easy step.
Once you've punched the first hole, just punch over the tape on the second hole. The painter's tape is less slippery to use than other kinds of tape.
Now clean off any rough edges on the metal aglet with sandpaper or nailfiler. Proceed to work the other end of the lace the same way, and same for the second lace.
There, fancypants! Look at those shiny, professional looking metal-tipped shoelaces.