Saturday, 9 November 2013

Project Skate - part 1

One of the problems with being a DIYer (and I’m sure many of you will relate to this) is that you get to a point where you feel as though you may as well hand-make everything.  You start to mentally reverse engineer almost everything you see, and a never ending list of future projects sits permanently in your mind.

That is why I decided that I was going to acquire a new pair of roller skates the hard way… I’d obviously watched a few too many roller skate building tutorials online - but once the idea was in my head I, simply, could not get it out of my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the skates, especially the fact that they’re ‘tailored’ to me, but as this was my first skate project, I tripped over a few unexpected hurdles, no pun intended, (one of which was, admittedly, a dead power drill) - which led to a bit of frustration - which then led to a bit of ‘mood shopping’…

Anyway, this ‘tutorial’ should ensure that whoever decides to do the same shouldn’t have to do it ‘the hard way’ ;-)

These were my tools and supplies:

One old pair of roller-skates 
One pair of skate shoes/trainers
One skate tool or ratchet
One pair of Sure-Grip insoles
One 15mm spanner/wrench
One 10mm spanner/wrench
Electric drill
Marker pens/pencils
4mm bolts and washers, and nuts (if needed)
Hack saw (if needed)
Locktite Threadlocker 

I started by removing the wheels.  I had to hold one of the nuts with the 15mm spanner while using the skate tool to loosen the other.

I then proceeded to remove the skate plate from the boot, and set the boot to one side.

I took the skate shoe and removed the insole.  I then placed the skate plate (from the old roller skates) on the sole of one of the skate shoes, and, when I was sure that I had it in the right place, marked the sole through the screw holes.  

I repeated this action with the second shoe; luckily for me, the sole had a very distinct pattern, so it was fairly easy for me to tell if I was getting a good match on both shoes.

Then, with the help of my Hubby, I drilled the holes in the shoes.  We stuffed the shoe with scrap fabric to ensure that we didn’t drill into the upper.

The next step was placing the Sure Grip insole into the shoe and marking through the holes I had just made, so that the drilling process could be repeated.

This is one of the hurdles…  I removed the screws from the old skates, and the next item on the agenda was to, simply, transfer those screws into the new shoes.  However, as you can see from the first picture, the original skates were more street hockey than roller disco.  They had quite a prominent heel, and a very thin sole at the front.  This meant that the screw plate for the heel was too long and the one for the front was so short it didn’t even penetrate the shoe let alone reaching the skate plate.  I discovered this at around 10pm - that’ll teach me for not planning ahead….

The following day I made a trip to our local ironmongers and bought a handful of bolts, nuts and washers.  I wasn’t entirely sure of the length, so I decided that too long is easier to deal with than too short. You can always cut down. but you can't cut up...

A little bit of elbow grease and they all fitted in nicely :-)  The original insoles then went back in as the bolts I had to use for the front were not flat headed.  I also decided to lace the shoes back up while they were still static.

On goes the plate and out comes the hacksaw… 

This is also the time to add some kind of adhesive to the bolts as the vibration you’ll create whilst using the skate will cause the nuts to unwind.

Almost there - just gotta get the wheels back on… 


On the ‘night of the ill fitting screws’ and after what seemed like a lot of effort, I decided that I couldn’t put those cheapo, crunchy wheels onto my new skates (they were the sort of wheels that have the bearings sealed so that there’s no real way to clean or oil them properly, making them both difficult and slightly dangerous) which is where the ‘mood shopping’ comes in…

I headed off to and treated myself to a full set of new Ventronic 'Ventro Pro' wheels and Kate’s Skates ABEC 7 bearings and….


I am LOVING these!!!  

Now, what can I make with those old wheels? ;-)


If you’re eager to do something similar, but don’t have an old pair of skates to hand (and you’re not keen on trawling through Ebay) then you can build a set of skates from the ground up with the separate components.  Almost all of these can be found at Kate’s Skates, the insoles can be found at Skate Attack:

Bearings (they usually come in packs of eight and you’ll need sixteen for a full set of wheels)
A pair of skate shoes or trainers
Suregrip insoles (or a piece of wood or metal cut to the same shape and size as the shoe’s original insole)

Happy Rolling!