5 basic tools to get started with shoemaking

Although there are many tools and specialised pieces of equipment or machinery that can be used when making shoes, you'll be happy to know that very few are needed to get started with making your own shoes at home. In fact, Atelier Louise patterns are designed to use as few specialised tools as possible so that it's easier for you to begin making your own shoes. 

If you would like to put your own beginner's shoemaking toolkit together, here are the top 5 items I recommend you include: 

1. A utility knife

With its blades changed regularly so that it is always sharp, a utility knife works very well for cutting out your leather and soling materials. For thicker substances such as veg tanned leather (for insoles) and soling, you may need to run your knife along the cutting line two or three times. Just be patient with it, and remember to always cut parallel to your body (not towards yourself, in case the knife slips). 

2. A cutting mat

If you sew, you possibly already have a self-healing cutting mat among your sewing supplies. This will protect the surface you are working on when cutting out your leather or soling. 

3. A hole punch

You can purchase individual hole punches that each cut a different sized hole and require a hammer to punch them. However, a rotary punch, as pictured above, is a great alternative, enabling you to punch holes in a variety of sizes using just the one piece of equipment. As well as making the holes you'll need for eyelets, buckles and other attachments, you can use the hole punch in combination with your utility knife to cut slots for sandal straps. 

4. Glueing brush

Any basic craft or painting brush will work for applying glue. I normally use one that has the bristles approximately 1.5cm/ 1/2in wide, but whatever size you find comfortable to work with and have available is fine. 

5. Sandpaper

It's useful to have a couple of grades of sandpaper in your toolkit. A rougher grade can be used to prepare leather and soling for glueing, and a finer grade sandpaper helps to smooth and give a nice finish to the edges of your insoles and soles. 

Yes, the five items listed above really are all you need to get started with making your own sandals at home, and they should all be readily available at your local craft, haberdashery or hardware store. Happy shoemaking!