Applying toe-dip to a curling shoe

During a curling delivery the trailing (hack) leg can produce such significant drag that it can impact the ability of the curler to achieve what coach Bill Tschirhart calls an optimal “window of velocity” during the slide, and hence can impact both the speed and accuracy of the curling stone. Consequently many curling shoes arrive from the manufacturer (Asham, Goldline, Balance Plus) with a toe coating on the hack shoe, made from a tough, hard resin that has a much lower coefficient of friction on the ice than leather. That toe coating is commonly referred to as a “toe dip” and in this article I will illustrate how to apply a toe dip to a shoe that doesn’t have one from the manufacturer. In this case, I’ll apply a toe dip using “Tuff Toe“, distributed by Goldline Curling Supplies in Mississauga, ON, onto a pair of two-tone Asham “Slam” shoes I bought at Asham’s in Winnipeg in early July when our family was home for the summer.

The instructions that come with the Tuff Toe kit are very well-written and the Tuff Toe website has a video where you can watch the coating be applied.

Tips for curling shoes

  • While sanding of the shoe’s toe is essential to ensure good bonding, dye in the leather will still exist no matter how much sanding you do. Getting a “suede” finish with the leather will work well. Make sure you sand with the emery cloth precisely to the edge of the masking tape, so the coating will bond with the leather right to the edge of where it’s applied.
  • Tuff Toe is designed to coat a pair of shoes, so there is enough in the package to coat TWO pair of curling shoes since only the hack shoe requires it. Once opened from the package, the coating does keep for 2-3 weeks, but no longer. The emery cloth can be used for two shoes, but the section of cloth in the package is relatively small – so be careful and use as little as possible as you go. The emery cloth works much better than sandpaper, though the latter will work if you are desperate.
  • Tuff Toe dries fairly fast, usually in under 90 seconds. You have to work fairly quickly as you apply the coating on the shoe in order to get even coverage and have time to smooth the material with a stick before it starts to thicken on the shoe.
  • Use the wooden stick to smooth the coating but don’t overdo it, because as the coating dries you will leave evidence of your smoothing attempts. It’s better to leave it than to over-work the coating. If it doesn’t look right, you can lightly sand the toe again after 24 hours and apply another (thin) coating to even things out.
  • Sometimes the plug on the end of the double syringe gets stuck and adheres to the syringe itself. You can pry it off with a pair of pliers if necessary.
  • Remove the masking tape while the Tuff Toe coating is still a bit wet, so that it doesn’t bond completely to the tape and leave masking tape attached to the shoe and coating.
  • Once you’ve spread the coating, wave the shoe around slowly to prevent drips from forming. It will be dry enough in two minutes, dry to the touch in 30 minutes or less – depending on humidity – and cures fully in 24 hours.

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