July 10, 2019

Dremel drill: 8 Ways to Use This Shoemaking Tool

When you start making shoes, the number of shoemaking tools that you can use can be very confusing.To use the most of the tools you need certain skills and experience to use them correctly. To know more about shoemaking tools for beginners in shoemaking I recommend to read this post: “Beginners in Shoemaking Tools and Materials Definitive Guide 2023

I hear a lot of stories from beginners that struggle to skive their uppers properly just because they don’t know how to work with shoemaking knife.

As most of the shoemaking tools will take you a certain amount of time to learn how to use, there is one tool that can help you to overcome most of the beginner’s obstacles.

I am talking about Dremel drill. This is maybe “by the book” not the real shoemaking tool, but it will get the job done.

You should understand that the use of the Dremel will not deny the use of a traditional shoemaking tool good for sanding, the shoemaking rasp. Working with the rasp you will have better control and in certain cases it would be better to work with the rasp.

For example, in the finishing of the shoe sole edge with the welt  it is better to use rasp.

FIn this step of bespoke shoemaking you will need to sand extra of the shoe sole and welt and to smooth the edge. So with the Dremel you can create bumpes and uneven surface. That’s why to flattaen the shoe sole edge it would be better to work with the traditional shoemaking rasp.

Note:  you can buy this rasp in my online shoemaking store together with other very useful shoemaking tools and materials.

Now, in this post, I will show you 8 best ways to use Dremel drill in shoemaking.


How to use this shoemaking tool

1.  Send the lasted shoe bottom – before we will attach the sole to the bottom of the shoe we must send the bottom to allow good and strong attachment.
In the industry, they use large shoe sanding machines for this task, but you can use dremel drill to get the same result, fast and easy.


2. Sole edge finishing – in bespoke shoemaking they use irons to smooth the edges of the sole and this is the proper shoemaking tool for the job.

Good alternative for shoemaking irons is the Dremel drill. You can use a different sanding paper grits to smooth the edge. For example, you can start from grit 120 to shape the edge of the sole and move on until grit 1000.

Note: Unlike in bespoke shoemaking you will need to finish the edge of your shoe sole before you will attach it.


3. Shaping stacked leather heel – when building your stacked heel on the bottom of the shoe (in the process and at the end), you need to cut the extra leather and to shape the heel, so it will match your shoe.

For this task you need experience and proper skill to use your shoemaking knife, otherwise, you could cut your upper.

Dremel drill will help you to cut the edges and to shape the heel in the way you want.



4. Ready made heel – I usually against using ready made heels for your shoes, but if you still want to use them, Dremel drill will give you the best solution.

The problem with ready made heels is that in most cases they will not fit your last, so you will need to shape them.

For example, if  the heel seat of your ready made heel is too flat, you can use dremel to shape the right curve on the heel.



5. Skiving the sole – I don’t recommend it as the right way to skive the sole and the proper shoemaking tool for it is the skiving knife, but this could be a solution too.

Let’s say you don’t have good shoemaking knife or in most cases, don’t know how to use it, so to make the sole edges thinner you can sand them with dremel.

Note: it will take you more time to “skive” the sole with dremel and it will be messy.

6. Shape your insole – in my courses we create insoles using shank board and texon board. You need to shape both cardboards on the sides and on the bottom so that the insole will match perfectly the feather line and to be flat on the bottom.

It is very important to do this work properly to get beautiful look of your footwear and comfort as well.

Unlike any other shoemaking tool, dremel drill will be perfect for this work.



7. Wooden heel: shape and finish – dremel drill will be great solution for working on your wooden heel.

We work on creating our wooden heel in a moccasin course, and after cutting the right measurements of our wood heel the obvious tool for me will be dremel drill.

It will help me to shape the edges with a little afford and especially will be great solution in creating the heel seat.



8. Shoe last corrections – sometimes you will need to make some changes to your last.

It could be too narrow for your feet, so you will need to add vegetable tanned leather on the last.

You need to shape and smooth the vegetable tanned leather, so it will have the same shape as your last.

With Dremel drill you can control how much you sand, so it will be perfect for this type of work.




Dremel drill

Before working with dremel drill it is very important to use your goggles and mask. Safety is very important, so take it seriously.

There are different models of dremel drill, I personally use Dremel 300. I think it have enough power for all my shoemaking needs.


I am very open to using unorthodox tools instead of ordinary shoemaking tools and materials. Now, I would like to hear from you what are the other tools you use in your shoemaking work?

Comment below and share.

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Sveta Kletina

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    1. I am not dremel expert and you can see very good explanations on dremel website about different part for their drill. Regarding the use of dremel in shoemaking, as I mentioned most of them in this post, you can actually see in some of my youtube (free) videos. Sure I show the full process in my courses.

  1. Thank you so much for this posting. I have many Dremel tools but only thought to use the tool for drilling holes. These 8 methods help me tremendously. Again, THANK YOU.

  2. Hi Sveta,

    I just wanted to thank you so very much for taking the time to share your shoemaking knowledge online. I have searched far and wide for opportunities to learn this craft as I want to make shoes for a living. I’ve found some sources, but this is the best, BY FAR, online resource that’s comprehensive and easy to follow. I plan on becoming a member soon. I have just spent so much money on buying materials and my last and sewing machine. I’ll have to wait, but I absolutely plan on taking full advantage of your site and information.

    Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Long Island, NY

  3. Even though I’m still quite new to shoemaking, I’ve used a few unorthodox tools already:
    (1) a tool called “The Purple Thang”. (Look for it on Amazon under the Crafts/Sewing area.) It’s a purple plastic stick with a slight bend on one end and a flat piece on the other end. I normally use it as a helpful tool when I’m sewing clothes but it’s been very handy for applying glue to small areas on the leather that a brush can’t fit into and also for manipulating the leather as I sew around curves for my shoes.
    (2) short, metal hair styling clips — the ones that are totally flat on one side and can be opened/closed at the end easily. I use them to “pin” my leather together in preparation for gluing or sewing. They don’t leave any marks and are small enough and strong enough to hold layers of leather together.

    Thanks for the details on the many ways to use the Dremel. I bought a cordless Dremel when I got started with your shoemaking lessons and I really love all the different ways I can use it.

    1. Hi Jenny,
      Both of your tools are awesome! Especially I loved “the purple thang”! When i need to glue small part I usually use an awl. Thanks for your comment.

  4. This is quite impressive. Insttead of the dremel drill, i use a bench grinding machine for the same purposes. It has two sides so i attach grit 120 to one side and grit 1000 to the other side, its always convinient because its always on a bench and you can hold whatever you have with both hands. Its also a common tool in the Nigerian shoe making industry

  5. I use a bench sander in much the same way, for a lot of these things. Especially for shaping shank board, sole bend leather, and cleaning up my fiberglass shank/epoxy insoles! I also use it for shaping wooden heels. The 2″ diameter rounded end on the bench sander is much smaller than the official shoe repair machines, so I can get much tighter curves, and it costs way less (and takes up less space), too. I also made my own lasting stand out of a piece of scrap wood, a plumbing flange, and section of threaded pipe.

  6. Praise God Dear Sveta Kletina. Thanks for great work You are doing. You have enlightened my Knowledge about the issue of Shoe Making. God Bless You.

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