Screw Shoes (Traction Device: Not Barefoot Running Craze)

Material List

Shoes, Drill, Drill Bit, and Screws

  •  A pair of running shoes (old ones work just as well as new ones*)
  • A drill (do what ever you can to track one of these down.  Putting the screws in by hand will test you paitience in a fasion similar to a two year old throwing a tantrum)
  • A 1/4 inch socket bit. (see above for reasons why it is needed)
  • A box of #6 3/8 inch sheet metal screws.
 * Old shoes will work just fine for winter running shoes.  There is less jarring when running on the soft winter snow so you can get by with a slightly more worn shoe.

How to make Screw Shoes

The areas circled in red are the areas to place screws.

Take the shoe sole side up and determine where you are going to place your screws.  If you are using an old pair of shoes the areas worn down the most are the ideal spots for screws.  The picture above shows where these areas are on an old pair of running shoes.  Your shoes might have a slightly different wear pattern.  Now take your drill. (If you do not have a drill you should really consider getting one, even if it means having a conversation with you slighlty creepy neighbor.  Whatever you have to go through to secure the drill will be worth it.)

Screws needed for making screw shoes

Now that you have your drill in hand and a new best friend in your neighbor, grab your box of screws.  Open the screws and begin screwing them in to the bottom of the shoe.  You want to place the screw screw side towards the sole of the shoe.  The head of the screw is what will provide traction not the actual screw.

This is how you get the screws into the shoe.

Screw ready to be placed on the shoe

When screwing the screws into the shoe be careful to avoid areas of the shoe that contain either gel or air.  You do not want to drill or screw into these areas and pop or drain them.  The 3/8 size screw gives you enough bite into the soul of the shoe and will not fall out easily.  Don’t worry about feeling the screw tips are you run.  I’ve made screw shoes out of minimalist training shoes in years past and have yet to run a screw through the footbed.

Finished product ready for winter running

After a short while you should have a pair of shoes that looks like the picture above.  There is no magic number on how many screws you should use. The pair below contains around 23 per shoe.  It was my first attempt at making the shoes and I put too many in.  My pair last year conained about 12 or so per shoe and this number gave me adequate traction for the season.  Anywhere from 12 to an entire box of screws will provide the traction you need.  You can decide how many screws you want to add.

Now sit back and marvel at your new pair of screw shoes.  It is perfectly acceptable to hold them up for all to see and give yourself copius pats on the back.

Some Final Advice.

There is some maitenance reaquired in screw shoes ecpecially when running a lot of miles in the winter time.  You need to keep an eye on the wear of the screw heads.  If they wear out to much you will have a hard time getting them out come spring.  Replace them before the screw head completely wears flat.  Some screws will also fall out on occasion so keep an eye on the bottom of your shoes and replace screws as needed.

Do not leave the shoes sitting on any entry way floor.  Salt plus water equals rust forming on screws and you will have rust marks from the screws on your floor as a result.  Trust me on this one.


5 thoughts on “Screw Shoes (Traction Device: Not Barefoot Running Craze)

  1. Thank you for the tutorial! This is just what I needed after almost landing on my butt in the ice today. I think I’m going to try to waterproof my screw shoes with some rubberized coating stuff I bought in the paint department at Lowe’s too. Happy running!

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