When I asked my local mukluk makers if they would resole my otherwise healthy mukluks they said no. When I asked If they would tell me what they used originally to coat the bottom to make the soles they said no. Since the leather was starting to wear through this left me with two options: buy new ones, or resole them somehow. A while back a friend of mine told me that you could use 3M 5200, a caulking normally used for below the water boat repair applications. The first time I used it I could only find white, so that’s what I used. It lasted about 5 years. This year I found mahogany and I think once the shine wears off it will look great.
It also comes in black, which I think would look good on any color mukluk.
This method will describe what I think is the easiest way to repair your mukluks. Though it will not be like the original, it will be tough and work well. How good it looks at the end mostly depends upon your patience and care.
During the resole I needed to repair some of the leather on the heel. Easy! I turned the mukluks inside out, took a piece of leather scrap I had lying around, cut it to a round shape, and used contact cement to glue it on. I decided to glue the patch because of the location. I didn’t want a bump there from the stitching.
Once the glue cured I turned the mukluk right side out again and started the resole.
To do this resole you’ll need:
- 3m product 5200 in white, dark brown, black, or mahogany. You can get this in several sizes. You’ll want the regular caulking gun sized tube.
- Warmish temperatures. You’ll also want to do this somewhere outside or in a garage due to the fumes released.
- To clean the soles well
- A spreading tool like a butter knife or wood applicator.
- Masking tape
- Time. It takes several days to fully cure.
- A work platform (see photos)
- Wax paper
- Small stiff paint brush
Step 1: Clean & Dry I just scrub with soap and water and a brush. Dry completely. Then clean with rubbing alcohol to help clean any oils off from your hands, etc.
As an additional step (I recommend it) you can clean off old rubber and stubborn stains/dirt with a wire brush or an electric wire wheel. This is what I would do to best insure a good physical bond between the old and new material. If using an electric wheel use a very light touch!
Step 2: Tape sides, if desired. I didn’t bother this time, but this stuff is STICKY so you may want to protect the areas of the mukluk that you don’t want the 5200 to get on. It won’t come off so be careful! I suggest bringing at least a thin layer up the side of the boot to help the sole stick, to keep slush off the leather, and to keep debris from getting between the old and new sole.
Step 3: Apply Use a caulking gun to dispense the 5200 onto the soles, and a hard spatula tool to spread it around and up the sides as far as you want to go. It may run if you spread it on too thick. You can come back in a couple of hours and add to it, so don’t put too much on at once. The tube says it lasts 24 hours or so once opened, but I’ve found that if kept cold, then warmed up when about to use, it lasts a lot longer. Step 3 may be a 24 hour process, depending upon how thick you want to build up the sole and the temperature of your work space.
Step 4: Tread. I’ve found that when only used in very cold conditions the 5200 grips and I don’t need tread. However when stepping out of a warm house onto snow, or in snow 25 degrees F or above it can get very slick, so I recommend doing the tread.
There are several ways to do this. If it’s not too worn you can just push the material into the old tread thinly so it doesn’t clog the patte
rn. Use a stiff piece of plastic/whatever for a spreader.
You can also apply the goo thicker, then dust with talcum power, and then cover the sole with clear plastic wrap and push into the material to make your tread. Pencil-width dowels can be used to insert the tread. Leave them there with the boots right side up on wax paper to cure. When cured simply peel the plastic wrap off.
The method that I now use is to create the tread pattern on the old sole. Squeeze a tread pattern out along the bottom, leaving it raised up as much as you want. Let it cure for 24 hours. Then come back and cover the entire sole with a thin layer of the material. This will seal the tread pattern into the new layer and prevent the tread from breaking off.
Step 5: Dry Time I keep the mukluks on the work stand and allow to dry slowly. Room temps are fine.
Another method is to put them right side up on to wax paper. Any sags along the edge onto the wax paper can be trimmed later once dry. If you keep your layers thin and even you won’t have a problem. I like this method for creating more flattened, even treads, which is good if you are wearing your mukluks on pavement or hard floors.
Since I wrote this blog I have gotten so many positive responses, and folks asked if I would do it for them, so I started to do just that. For me to do your repair it will cost you between $50 & $75. If you have any questions or would like a quote you can send send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with photos if needed.