Saturday, March 2, 2013

Toe Guards - simple

So I'm a new derby girl, right, on a totally newly formed team, the Sitka Sound Slayers. The first day of practice, I showed up in my new gear, really not knowing anything about anything. My gear was a Christmas gift, saving me from my tendency towards over-analysis and under-decision-making. But that meant I knew even less about what I was wearing-- unable to participate in the gear chit chat going on, unable to answer what kind of skates I had on (Riedell Darts), if they were leather or PVC (PVC), or did I have hard or soft wheels (hard, 92a). I also noticed that almost everyone else had a strip of leather over their skate toes, and I did not.

When I got home, I hopped onto ye olde internets and did a little research. I discovered that one wrecks one's skate toes when one falls, hence the need for reinforcement. I discovered I could buy toe guards for a mere $8 (plus shipping, 'cuz, y'know, I live on an island in Alaska), or there were much fancier toe guards for $20-30 that looked like they might not slip to the side like the strips. I looked at both of them and thought, "I can make those!" I found a hand drawn pattern on the Internet, cut it out in paper, and found it wanting. And so here I am. I planned to just make the fitted toe cap style, but the fact is, we were starting to fall in practice, my toes were getting scuffed, and I needed to protect them now! February was a bit of a tough month, so I didn't have time to engineer the capped toe protectors I wanted. Strips it was!

So for my debut post, I present to you, DIY strip toe guards, complete with a pattern. Pretty basic if you're used to DIYing it, but it'll be nice to not have to reinvent the pattern.

Toe Guard Strip Pattern

DIY Roller Skate Toe Guards

About 8x6" square of durable no-fray material. Leather is probably best, we'll see how vinyl holds up.
Sharp scissors
X-Acto knife
Cutting mat or scrap corrugated cardboard
Leather/fabric hole punch (optional)

1. Print pattern. Adjust print size as necessary so that the box is exactly 1" square.
2. Cut outline of pattern. Fold in half lengthwise to cut out toe stop hole.
3. Trace outline onto leather.  Trace toe stop hole onto pattern.
4. Using sharp scissors, cut out toe stop.
5. Using knife (and a cutting mat or piece of scrap cardboard), cut out toe hole. Alternately, you can just cut along the + and poke the toe stop through that.
6. If desired, trim length of toe cover to one or two holes.
7a. For a generic fit, mark lace hole positions by poking a pencil through the small circles and mark the leather. Punch holes using leather punch (2nd to largest size on mine), or stick your X-Acto blade in and spin it to make a hole.
7b. For a custom fit, install toe cover on the toe stop on skate. The nut and washer go against the skate; the toe guard goes between the stop and the nut. Mark hole positions slightly lower (closer to toe) than lace holes and about 1/2" in. Cut holes as in 7a.
8. Install toe guards using your preferred lacing technique! Be sure to install it very tightly, lacing through guard holes that are lower than the eyelets your lace is going through to pull it tight. Vinyl especially will stretch, but so will lighter weight leather.

You can see the prototypes installed on my skates above. The 3-hole one is not stretched very much; I expect it to slip next time we practice. The 2-hole one is trimmed, and stretched tightly over the skate toe. I used the custom fit method for both, but used that placement to place the holes on the pattern. I used sparkle vinyl left from the skate bag I made (upcoming post!), and once I am happy with the prototypes I'll make some out of leather. I'm curious to see how long the vinyl lasts, and if it marks up the gym floor.

Up Next: Sparkle Vinyl Skate Bag (and why that was the worst material I could have chosen)


  1. I'm curious how the vinyl toe guards are holding up....I have some glitter vinyl in our team colors and would LOVE to make myself some toe guards....but worried about how they will be against the floor when you slide....thoughts?

  2. So far so good... with the caveat that I've been using them for less than 6 weeks, 3 hours a week, and not in a bout situation. We're just starting out, so we only do a couple contact drills a week and not a whole lot of falling. I did notice that they're not marking the floor, though, and the colored leather ones do. The shiny vinyl is scratched, but otherwise they look good. They slide side to side a little, but no more than the leather ones as far as I can tell. I just need to get around to making the full toe covers!

  3. That is great!! I may have to try that for my new skates...regular toe guards aren't fitting well, and I too was worried about the vinyl marking up the floor--THANK YOU!

  4. Thankyou for the great ideas, I cut up some 3/4 gym pants and made them into 'lift and separate' shorts, the elastic on the butt makes a huge difference in how they look, awesesome!

  5. Curious to hear about your bag! Did you make it?

  6. I did make the bag! it's the Amy Butler Weekender bag in sparkle vinyl. It was kind of a pain but I really love it. I need to go back and redo the lining... I've been slacking on my posts!