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.
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.