Shop Shoe Recommendations


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'Allo, long time no woodtalk.

I've been getting back into lathework, and while it's been fun, it has also been hell on my feet. I normally wear a pair of birkenstocks when out in the shop, and I've got a double layer of HF foam in front of the lathe station, over the concrete.

The birkenstocks however don't provide quite enough arch or heel support for long sessions standing in one spot infront of the lathe, and the sandals have been especially troublesome when I've been lathing brass and end up with showers of little metal shards all over my feet.

I can obviously wear my normal out-and-about hiking shoes, but as I have a garage shop, I find myself running in and out of the house a lot and would very much prefer something that I can slip on and off at the door.

So, I'm looking for recommendations on good supportive shoes for the shop, preferably slip-ons.

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Hey bud, glad to see you back! Sorry I can’t offer any suggestions as 95% of my shop work is barefooted. The other 5% would be to the temperature. I’m sure if I were cutting metal, I would take a different stance on footwear! 

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I suggest ditching the foam floor pads, and replace them with a 'horse stall' mat from somewhere like tractor supply co. I used one one the concrete when I worked in my garage, it makes a huge difference, regardless of foortwear. The mats are very firm, and treat your body more like it is standing in your back yard. 

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12 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

I suggest ditching the foam floor pads, and replace them with a 'horse stall' mat from somewhere like tractor supply co. I used one one the concrete when I worked in my garage, it makes a huge difference, regardless of foortwear. The mats are very firm, and treat your body more like it is standing in your back yard. 

I agree with getting rid of your mats.  You are sort of thinking backwards by doubling them.  In doing that you are making them too cushy and they aren't giving you any support.  Mates are good but they need to be good quality too.  

The horse mates are good.  I use the tiles from Rubber Flooring Inc.  and really like them.

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8 hours ago, Chet said:
I agree with getting rid of your mates.  

Wait, don't do that!  We only just got you back :).  

I spend a lot of my time turning wood.  My lathe sits on a cold concrete floor and I have bad feet, so I can relate.  

I think you're putting the right foot forward on this question.  Getting into good foot wear is the first step.  For me I shop at The Walking Company, the New Balance Store and San Antonio Shoe Co.  They may not have the right glass slippers for you, but a few places to consider if you need some recommendations.

Even though I have had to fork out for "good" shoes I usually still end up needing to purchase arch supporting inserts for most of my shoes.  So it's something I also throw out there for your consideration.

And lastly, I've realized that, for me at least, the support wears out before the shoe does.  So while the lathe might be a one time purchase, my shoes, like sandpaper, are consumables.

Floor mats are also an important issue.  I also use a double layer of rubber "puzzle" mat (also from HF).  And when my wife is turning I have to put down a third layer (she's short).   I definitely find that 3 layers is very marshmallowy, and not comfortable for me.  I sometimes wonder if one layer would be more comfortable than two.  It is an easy experiment to do, but I've been too lazy to bend over and pick up one layer (and I'm used to the height).  But you should definitely try out some different configurations.  Horse stall mats and re-used fitness center flooring have both been highly recommended by others here over the years.  My wife has mats in the kitchen that are quite thick, so kitchen suppliers might be another resource.  

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I suffer from lower back pain if I stand a lot.  I recently switch to Georgia Boots Giant Revamped Romeo shoes. They have helped a lot.  They have very comfortable insoles and the slight heal heal with back pain. I find I can stand a lot longer than before with no pain. I got min at Coastal Farm Supply for less than $100.

 

GB00320_LARGE.jpg

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Ooh, those shoes like they might be just the ticket. Something easy to slip on and off.

I played around with reducing the foam to one layer. Didn't seem to make much difference in the short term.

Sounds like I should also schedule a trip out to tractor supply. I did some looking and didn't turn up anything better for price that delivers.

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20 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

I suggest ditching the foam floor pads, and replace them with a 'horse stall' mat from somewhere like tractor supply co. I used one one the concrete when I worked in my garage, it makes a huge difference, regardless of foortwear. The mats are very firm, and treat your body more like it is standing in your back yard. 

I just went to Tractor Supply's website. They have a few. Any specific mat that you recommend?

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The horse mats are 3/4" thick, 4' x 8' and are heavy as hell.  Once you get them placed, they stay put.  They do have one problem that I found,  they off gas for a week or so, and it's not a pleasant smell. The other thing I discovered is that being 3/4" thick there are tripping possibilities. So, they have to be laid so that your feet don't contact that edge.

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16 minutes ago, RichardA said:

Thanks hey do have one problem that I found,  they off gas for a week or so, and it's not a pleasant smell. 

I bet, especially if they are previously used horse mats! :D

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Looking at my nearby TS, they have 4' x 6' x 3/4”, and 3' x 4' x 1/2".

Right now I'm trying to decide how much difference the two thicknesses might make, as the smaller sections would be way easier to maneuver around my shop and fit into my lathe nook.

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I used one of the 4x6 x 3/4 mats, but sliced it into 2x6 with a razor knife to lay along the sides of my workbench. Like Rick mentioned, they do not have tapered edges, so tripping is a distinct hazard. But they are firm enough that most mobile tools can roll across them without issue, so completely carpeting the floor isn't out of the question. Plus, you'll never chip a dropped chisel again!

The razor knife worked well to cut the rubber, but required some effort. I never had a dropped too leave any visible mark, they just bounce off. Since moving into my shed shop (plywood floor), the mat is now used as a bed liner in my pickup. The wood floor is much kinder to my back, but after a work session of more than a couple hours, I start considering the mat again. Eight of the 4x6 mats would cover the entire floor.

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I've never worn them, but you might want to check out Crocs. Chefs and nurses love them and they're on their feet all day. I quickly looked and it seems like you can get them without the holes so you can keep your feet clean. Should be super easy to get off and on if you flip the heel thing over.

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Not the craziest idea on the crocs. I just got a couple horse stall mats last night, so I'm going to get those laid down and see how well they work. Also burned through my shop budget with a new lathe on short notice, so shoes will probably need to wait for the next paycheck.

Thanks for the advice everyone!

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The easy way to cut stall mats is to put a 2x4, on edge under the cut line, and walk along with your knees, with one on each side to help open up the cut as you make it with a fresh blade in a utility knife.  A good looking female in high heels works too, using the heels to hold the mat down.

Shoes are so individual, that I don't see how one person can recommend any to someone else.  I live in certain models of Nike running shoes, and anything else shortens my work day noticeably, even different shoe models of the same brand.

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4 minutes ago, Tom King said:

The easy way to cut stall mats is to put a 2x4, on edge under the cut line, and walk along with your knees, with one on each side to help open up the cut as you make it with a fresh blade in a utility knife.  A good looking female in high heels works too, using the heels to hold the mat down.

Shoes are so individual, that I don't see how one person can recommend any to someone else.  I live in certain models of Nike running shoes, and anything else shortens my work day noticeably, even different shoe models of the same brand.

Mostly looking for recommendations as a place to start looking. Crocs are obviously everywhere, but I hadn't considered a pair of Chelsea boots like rainjer recommended. I feel you on the individual qualities of shoes. I've been wearing Merrell Moab 2's for a decade, and I still can't reliably buy their other shoes and trust they'll offer the correct support (looking at you World Vues).

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5 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Crocs are pretty inexpensive, but don't fit well in larger sizes (I wear a 13 EEE).

You have a good understanding! 

5 hours ago, Tom King said:

A good looking female in high heels works too, using the heels to hold the mat down.

You have me believing you’ve been down that well traveled road! :D

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Merrell has a wide variety of slip on shoes.   I have a pair of Jungle Mocs and use them for walking the dog and such.   Easy to slip on, and comfortable.   But the specific shoe is maybe going to depend on what you want as they have different soles, waterproof or not, etc.

https://www.merrell.com/US/en/mens-slip-on-shoes/

Now I also have a pair of Merrell Moab 2's like BonPacific mentioned and they're awesome and have good support.   But the Jungle Mocs didn't have very good support, so...

If you are looking for better arch support then... Superfeet insoles.  I had a guy at the shoe store recommend them to me, and I was skeptical but they have been awesome.  They have survived multiple shoes for me... I just swap them as I get new shoes.   The Green ones are kind of the general purpose ones and I have them in my Jungle Mocs.   They were like $30 when I bought 'em, but worth every penny.

https://www.superfeet.com/'

 

Oh yeah and since I've gotten lazy in my old age(Just joined AARP this year!), there is nothing like a long shoe horn!  So I can put my slip on shoes without having to bend over.   We buy them at Ikea, but you can also find steel ones online.

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/omsorg-shoehorn-black-40421230/

 

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I suffer from lower back issues. I wear in and out of the shop Teva sandals.  The amount of cushion is just right. They are so adjustable they can fir most feet. I live in warm Florida so most of the time is no socks. But now there is a chill so I use socks. If that is too cold still I don't work.

On 1/1/2021 at 9:03 PM, Coop said:

95% of my shop work is barefooted.

Coop, you may also want to try some Teva's. I did have an issue once. I was buying plywood and gripped the edge to lift and it slipped. Got my big toe. No break and was better in a few weeks.

I hardly use any other shoes.

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Well, after a week of the stall mats (and making myself go out and do at least a little turning every evening) I can say they were a massive improvement over the old foam. My knees and legs thank you all.

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