Leathersmithe’s Making Your Own Sandal Guide

Davy Joel Rippner, a long time sandal maker, was recently reading our post on experimenting with sandals. He directed me to the great article on his site Leathersmithe, which takes you step by step on how to make a pair of sandals using a design that he has refined and used for many years.

We’re pleased to share his article on our blog and hope you it will inspire you to try out sandal-making. Below is the first section of the post:


The design of the LOTR has evolved from the first styles I built in Vancouver, in the late ’60s. There are 3 examples of it in the sepia photo of samples from 1970 when my friends and I opened The Good Earth in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

My design has endured with only minor changes for the 45 years that I’ve made it.

The open-toe “Autumn” design on the right allows one to wear socks with sandals when summer wains. But it is intrinsically less secure than the original between-the-toes design on the left.

I use only oak-tanned cowhide harness leather. Sandal orders require an initial drawing of the foot on cardboard and a 2nd fitting of the arch strap and narrow straps. I’ll take you through the procedure with photos and details of tools and processes required to ensure a good fit and long life of the footwear.


#9 round punch
3/8″ bag or slot punch
#3 or rotary hole punch
#1 & #3 edgers
leather shears
razor knife
hawk bill knife
shoemaker’s hammer
tack hammers
steel anvil or pad
edge wire cutter
edge creaser
small scribe or awl
bone or antler burnisher
strip cutter
flat head & cupped 1/8″ nail sets


saddle soap
horsehair brush
7 – 9 0z oak-tanned harness cowhide for straps
10 & 12 oz oak-tanned harness cowhide for outer & insoles
6 – 15 iron Soletech or Soleflex half-sole
24 – 30 iron Treadair or Soleflex crepe heel
Barge cement & thinner
2 oz. hand shoe tacks
4/8″ or 16 gauge soling nails

Read more about how to make the pattern for these sandals, cut the materials and more on Leathersmithe.com

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