So you want some new skates but you have limited funds. You’ve also tried on a hundred skates and they all feel too heavy or look ugly. You might also be vegan and the only non-leather skates you can find are either a) beginner skates or b) way out of your price range. The only ones you remotely like the look of are Bonts and they cost about a zillion quid and take a lifetime to arrive. *sigh*
NEVER FEAR, YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN SKATES FOR HARDLY ANY MONEY!
If you’ve got the tools (and a willing life partner/friend), you can mount skate plates to pretty much any shoe providing the sole is stiff and flat enough. Football boots (like these) are great but so are rugby boots, sneakers and I’ve even seen plates mounted to bowling shoes!
My skates are football boots and I love them. They’re super duper lightweight, come in the perfect purple colour and cost less than £30! I paid £100 for a white Magnesium Avenger plates and a spent about £10 on screws & bolts so got myself a fancy new pair of skates for less than £150. BARGAIN!
Fancy giving it a go?
Choosing your boots:
- Find boots that have as little “toe curl” as possible so that they sit flat on your plates. (Although, both recent pairs of mine have had a bit of toe curl and I haven’t found it to be a problem. And the space can be filled in.)
- Think about how you will protect the toe of the boot as well as your actual toes. Football boots tend to be very fitted and thin around the toe. (I’ve just used hockey tape and seem have kept all my toes in tact so far!)
- Make sure the boots aren’t too small! This was my rookie mistake and caused me to lose my big toe nail. Leave a little wriggle room in the toes because otherwise it’s like skating in socks.
- If you get football boots, firm ground boots (like these ones) are best as they have the plastic cleats that can be ground down or cut off to be flat.
- If you get boots with removable metal studs it may be tricky to drill the holes for the plates in the right place. You might be lucky that the holes don’t align with the studs.
- Try and get boots with a stiff sole, although soles can be reinforced with a piece of carbon fibre glued to the bottom.
- Check for heel lift when you try the boots on. If they do lift but you have your heart set on them, you can fashion a strap together to hold your foot in the shoe. Or use laces!
- If you go for sneakers, soft toe ones may wear quickly if you find you scuff that area a lot anyway. I reckon Converse style sneakers with the rubber toe will work well. But you can always protect them with toe guards, snouts and tape.
The great thing about a DIY build is that you can choose the size and positioning of the plate to suit you perfectly. On my old Rebel Avengers, the plate was a size 0 and therefore was mounted slightly short – in other words, the back of your foot hangs over the axels. I found that I would tip backwards all the time and felt unstable. I decided to get bigger plates and mount them further back to give me more stability.
According to Doug Glass, its best to mount the plates no more that 1/4 of an inch away from the back of the boot, making sure the front axles still line up with the ball of your foot. However, plate length, degree and placement is all personal preference!!
You can buy new or secondhand plates or take the plates off your old skates.
Confused about all the degrees and angles that you can get? Me too. But you can read about the differences here.
What You’ll Need:
- Drill + various sized drill bits
- Grinder / stanley blade / scalpel
- Pen/pencils for marking + ruler for centering
- Mounting kit – bolts & nuts at suitable length & size for your plate. (If your boots have a heel you will need longer bolts in the back)
- Socket set
- Phillips screwdriver
- Skate tool
Once you’ve chosen your boots and got all your stuff together, I’ll be back with Part 2 of DIY Derby – Make Your Own Roller Skates.
Treble Maker 909 xx