The Geek Toolbox — Item #14 Sugru (and a Giveaway!)

Geek Culture

Shoes HolesShoes Holes

I recently wrote about a new scooter that we had transitioned my two-year-old son to use. The old scooter had him sitting a bit low to the ground and was causing some major wear on his shoes, specifically near the big toe. The constant pushing off on the gravel of our cul-de-sac was eating away at the material of the shoe, and by sitting him a bit higher on the new scooter, he began pushing with the bottom of the foot rather than the tips of the shoes.

Well, our son has now discovered the concept of time-sharing, as he is now bouncing back and forth between the new and old scooters. And his shoes are taking a beating… I’m including a nice close-up photo here so you can see the damage.

A lot of folks would just say throw some duct tape on them and forget about it, but even the toughness of duct tape doesn’t do so well when the point of application is being scraped 40 times per minute over gravel. And the constant pressure on the duct tape from different points causes the tape to peel back and rip and just wear out too fast. A better, longer-lasting solution was needed if we didn’t want to throw out the shoes.

Enter Sugru. I discovered Sugru a few years back when I placed an order for the very first batch they produced. Sugru is cool stuff — it’s moldable like dough but when it cures (24 hours or more) it hardens and becomes rubber-like in both feel and flex. And it sticks to anything! Cloth, metal, glass… you name it, and it’ll stick. For this reason, a lot of folks use it to make repairs to things. Sugru is proud of how users repair plastics, metal tools, and much more with the material. I’ve used it to put little rubber beads on the handles of some of my favorite tools to help improve the grip. Be sure to check out the Sugru website to see all sorts of craziness with which people have used Sugru.

And now Sugru is going to (hopefully) help me save my son’s shoes.

First LayerFirst Layer

I started out by applying a single layer of yellow (Sugru comes in black, white, yellow, blue, and red — and colors can be mixed to create other colors) to each shoe. I did this to create a patch that would cover the hole and to show up when the top layer (to be applied next) started to wear off. After 24+ hours, the yellow cured and was firmly attached to both cloth and rubber of the shoes.

Next, I mixed one package of black with one package of white for each shoe. This made a nice, big blob of grey that closely matched the color of the original bottom and nose of the shoes. Previously when using Sugru, I’d sometimes notice my fingerprints in the dried material, but recently at Maker Faire I watched a demonstration and heard a good tip — wet your finger to smooth out the Sugru — that worked great. The ends of the shoes are smooth and the edges of the Sugru blend much better with the original materials (cloth and rubber). The color match is quite good, and I’m very happy with the final results.


One DoneOne Done

Now, I know it won’t last… but I’ve got one inner patch (yellow) and one outer patch (very thick) so I’m hoping this buys me a few more weeks or months of usage with the shoes. When this stuff hardens, it’s tough! The first time I used Sugru on my son’s shoes to do this I only used one layer, and it was thin… and that got me almost two weeks of additional wear before the Sugru was history. I’ve got basically 3x the thickness now than in that original layer I put on, so I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll last much longer this time around. Once the 3 layers are cured, I’ll probably also put a bunch of little dots or ridges on it for traction and they’ll wear off first letting me know when it’s time to consider adding another outer layer.

If you’re looking around the Sugru site, be sure to look for how users are using it to reinforce the charging cables of iPhones and iPads (and other mobile devices). Because Sugru is flexible, it’ll still allow for the cables to bend, but it’ll also keep the point where the cable meets the connector from breaking apart and possibly exposing wire. A nice hack!


The folks over at Sugru have a nice Father’s Day promotion going right now — buy one pack for your dad (with 8x mini packs inside) and one for yourself and get a really cool poster! You can find more details here, but don’t wait too long as the number of posters available is dwindling fast.

Sugru PosterSugru Poster

Bonus Item #1 — one really good tip for when you’re done with the little Sugru mini packs — save the big foil package! It’s got a great waterproof seal, and these bags are great for holding electronics components, nuts and bolts, etc. Reuse!

Original Sugru!Original Sugru!

Bonus Item #2 — I’m also including a photo here of two little mini packs I dug out of my workbench… they date back to 2009 (I believe) when I was one of the lucky ones to be able to get the first batch of Sugru. The foil packs had stickers on them originally, hand-placed if I understand correctly. The packages are still soft, but Sugru does have a shelf-life (about 6 months – 8 months if stored in the fridge) so these are out of date but nice to have as a (soft) piece of history.

Bonus Item #3 — A last minute addition! Sugru is giving away one of the Father’s Day promotions to one lucky commenter. Post a comment telling Sugru what you’d use Sugru for to repair/upgrade/modify/create. We’ll pick an entry at random and send the winner two packages (8x mini packs in each) and the poster. All comments must be in by 11:59pm PDT June 17, 2012 (Father’s Day). Winner will be contacted via email for shipping information.

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