Metal Tubing Aglet
Small gauge metal tubing, which can be found at hobby suppliers, makes an extremely tough and durable aglet. This
is ideal if you're particularly hard on your aglets (eg. on football boots or skate shoes).
Choose a size of tubing that will fit snugly over the existing aglet (usually 3 to 4 mm). Cut a short piece
the same length as your current aglet, using a very fine toothed hacksaw or a power tool like a Dremel with a
metal cutting disc.
Slip the tubing over the current aglet. Keeping the existing aglet underneath forms a more secure result, plus
it's a lot easier than trying to force a thick shoelace into a thin tube!
Hammer a small nail into the side of the tubing, then remove it, leaving a small indentation that will hold the
tubing in place. For extra security, do this a couple of times. You could also use glue inside the tubing.
The above method relies on securing the metal aglet over the top of the existing aglet. If you will be shortening
the shoelace, one or both of the existing aglets will be cut off, and the nail hole indentations may not provide
enough grip to securely hold the aglet onto the shoelace. Instead, the metal tubing can be crimped directly to the
Crimp Method - Step 1:
Slip the metal tubing (brass in this example) over the end of the shoelace; it may help to "twist" it on. If either
end still has an existing aglet, it's easier to slip the tubing over that aglet
before cutting it off.
Crimp Method - Step 2:
Crimp the tubing lengthwise, using special crimping pliers or by improvising with a vise, a hammer, and something
thin to press into the length of the aglet.
Custom Aglet Crimping Pliers:
I've built my own custom aglet crimping pliers by cutting a rounded groove into one jaw of an old pair of pliers,
then attaching a strong, thin piece of metal (eg. spring steel) to the other jaw, which presses the length of the
aglet into the groove. The resulting aglets were very neat yet totally secure. Despite vigorous attempts, I've yet
to pull off one of these crimped aglets!
Custom Aglet Crimping Anvil:
I also created this simpler "anvil", consisting of a block of metal (eg. aluminium), a hole drilled through it to
fit the metal tubing, a slot cut along the length of the hole, and a strong, thin piece of metal. Secure the "anvil"
to a workbench, feed the shoelace + tubing into the hole in the anvil, place the metal "chisel" into the slot and
tap gently with a hammer to crimp the tubing.
What Sort of Tubing?
I've found metal tubing in brass, copper and aluminium. Of these, brass is the hardest while aluminium is the
softest. Of course, you can also visit a jewellery supplier and buy tubing made of precious metals like silver,
gold and even platinum!
I've also found "Bootlace Ferrules" (the uninsulated variety) in nickel plated, silver plated and even gold plated.
These are normally used in electrical work to finish wires and cables that will be fed into terminal blocks. Their
main advantage is that they are already cut to length. Their main disadvantage is that they are difficult to buy in
retail quantities (I had to buy a box of 1,000 from an electronics wholesaler). You can also buy crimping pliers
specifically for bootlace ferrules, but they are pretty expensive!
Metal tubing is generally available in continuous lengths and is often sold in imperial sizes such as 1/8"
(3 mm), 5/32" (4 mm) or 3/16" (5 mm).
Brass tubing starts out golden, but without a protective coating of lacquer it will tarninsh to a light tan, while
copper tubing tarnishes to a reddish brown. Aluminium tubing may dull to a whitish silver, while anodized aluminium
tubing is available in a whole range of bright, metallic colors.
Buy Metal Tubing from SmallParts.com:
Buy brass tubing
Buy copper tubing
Buy aluminium tubing
Note that some ice skating rinks forbid the use of metal aglets for fear they might fall off onto the ice and
become a danger to other skaters.