Felt wading boot soles offer amazing grip on the slimiest, slipperiest rocks. But unfortunately, felt soles don’t last forever and will eventually wear out.
However, if you’re willing to play cobbler for a few hours, worn out felt soles can be replaced. Follow these steps to give new life to your favorite wading boots!
1. Get a Felt Replacement Kit and Gather the Tools for the Job
One of the best felt replacement kits on the market is offered by Compleat Angler and is available on Amazon. Check out the Amazon link ->
This kit is better than the rest because the felt soles included are extra large, giving you plenty of material to fit the vast majority of boot sizes.
The resole kit comes with glue but there are several other tools and supplies you’ll need to complete the job.
- Wire brush
- Chisel and/or flat-blade screwdrivers
- Small cheap paintbrush for applying glue
- Knife for cutting felt utility knife or electric carving knife
- Duck tape
- A felt-tip marker or pen
- Packing material or newspaper
Since you’ll be working with toxic and flammable materials, this project is best done out-of-doors in a well-ventilated area.
2. Remove the Old Felt Soles
The most labor-intensive step of resoling your wading boots is removing the old soles. If you want to take a shortcut and save yourself significant time and effort, take your boots to a cobbler to have the old soles ground off. This service usually runs $5 to $10 per sole but is definitely worth the money.
Otherwise, here’s how to remove the old felt soles yourself.
Start at one end of the boot and begin separating the felt from the boot taking care not to damage the midsole. Use your arsenal of tools to slowly pry the old sole away while occasionally dripping acetone onto the glue to dissolve and loosen the bond.
Once you get the bulk of the felt material free, use the wire brush and sandpaper to remove any remnants of felt and glue from the mid-sole. You want it to be very clean to ensure the new sole adheres properly. The more meticulous you are here, the better.
3. Cut the New Felt to Size
Center the sole of your freshly-scraped boot on top of the new slab of felt. Use a felt-tip marker to carefully trace the outline of the boot onto the felt.
Then, use a utility knife or electric carving knife to cut the felt to size along the line. It’s okay to go a little big here as you’ll be able to trim the felt down more precisely after it’s glued to the boot.
4. Prepare the Felt and Boot for Gluing
Bring the fresh-cut felt and boot sole together and use a marker to make several vertical alignment marks across the felt and the boot’s midsole. These will help ensure the felt is perfectly aligned when it’s time to glue.
To maintain the proper shape of your boots during the gluing process, take packing material or crumpled up newspaper and stuff it into the boots. At this point you’re ready to start gluing.
5. Glue on the New Felt Sole
The felt-to-boot gluing process is done in two phases. Having all the materials as supplied in the Compleat Angler Woven Felt Sole with Heel Replacements KIT (Amazon link for convenient price check) is really nice a heel kit and glue are included.
First, use a small paintbrush to apply an even layer of glue to both the new felt sole and the midsole of the boot. Wait 30 minutes to allow the glue to dry WITHOUT sticking the felt onto the boot that comes next.
For the second gluing stage, apply another layer of glue to both the felt and the boot. This time, only wait 10 minutes for the glue to become tacky.
After 10 minutes, place the felt sole glue-side-up on a stable surface. Hold the boot over the felt and carefully press the boot onto the felt starting at the toe and moving to the heel. As you bring the sole and boot together, take extra care to ensure the alignment marks you created match up.
Warning: Once the glue of the felt and boot come into contact you can’t separate them. You have one shot to get it right so take your time!
After you stick the felt to the boot, take a hammer and tap all over the sole to make sure the glue adheres evenly to the entire surface. Focus extra attention on the edges of the boots to keep them from separating in the future.
6. Wrap Boot in Duck Tape and Allow Glue to Cure
Apply strips of duck tape across the new felt sole onto to boot uppers. This will keep firm pressure on the sole as the glue sets and cures. Don’t be afraid to use excessive amounts of tape and pay extra close attention to the edges of the boots.
Let the glue cure for at least 12 hours. When the time is up, remove the duck tape from the boot and you’re almost done!
7. Trim Away Excess Felt Material
Now it’s time for the final detail work. Use either a utility knife or electric carving knife to trim away any overhanging felt material.
That’s all there is to it! As long as you take your time throughout the process and ensure that the glue adheres evenly across the entire surface of the sole, your new felt soles should be just as durable as the ones that originally came on your boots. Be sure to revisit this post in a few seasons when it’s time for another resole!
Check out instructions for cleaning and caring for your wading boots -> HERE.
You can find more information on the interweb at some of the links below.