3D printed shoelace toggle lets kindergartener tighten his own shoes

Larsie, a Thingiverse user and MakerBot owner, whipped up these 3D-printed shoelace-toggles for his kindergarten-aged son's sneakers, helping the lad tighten his own shoes:

Tying knots in shoelaces has got to be one of the most ridiculous activities in the world. It’s difficult to learn as a child,1 the laces always come undone at inconvenient times, you can trip on them when they do, and you never notice until its too late. Thankfully I don’t remember the days when I was frustrated with the vagaries and inefficiencies that are shoelaces. 2

Can you imagine putting yourself in larsie’s son’s place? 3 The poor guy was so frustrated with tying his shoes that he didn’t want to wear them on the way to kindergarten! Thus, today’s MakerBot hero is larsie for leaping into action and realizing he could design and print spring-operated toggles so quickly he could get his child to school on time!


    1. Hook-and-loop fails after a very short time on most shoes, as they use crap materials.  Of course, on a 5-year old, all you need it for is 2 months, because they’re in a new set, but…

  1. I’m a firm believer that every human should acquire a certain set of skills, tying ones shoes is one of those skills. I cannot endorse this post or the ideas behind it.

    1. Not sure I’d be as “harsh” (heh) but I do think that knowing how to tie a bow is important above and beyond shoe operation. 

  2. The hard part, for me, was learning how to properly tie a square bow knot instead of a “granny”…  Once I got that down, laces stayed tied pretty much constantly.  Double knots help, too… so long as you make sure they are square to the original bow as well.  Also-Velcro was much more awesome in theory than in practice.(those hooks attracted lots of carpet fuzz in school)

  3. Seriously? These things are called toggles or cord-locks and are available by the handful at any outdoorsy store. They’re very inexpensive and very handy to have around. I’ve got them stashed away in various drawers in the kitchen and gear bags in the closet. However, I want to know more. Did “larsie” just print these out in 5 minutes after quickly scrounging springs from some other thing? At our house, when it’s time to put on shoes and head out the door to school, it’s time to go. There’s no time to print toggles.

    Besides which, learning to tie shoelaces, while admittedly frustrating sometimes, is just one of those things every primate with opposable thumbs needs to learn. :)

  4. I can actually remember the moment of “ah!” when my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Friedank showed me how to tie my own shoes.  It happened to be in Kindergarten – my own 8 year old didn’t have a Mrs. Friedank, and she didn’t learn until first or second grade.  Keep at it, Larsie jr. – you’ll get it.

  5. We could go on….

    Math was difficult for my son. The poor guy was so frustrated that he’d get annoyed and wouldn’t want to do it! So I 3D-printed him a “digital adding machine” before school. I’m a MakerBot hero!

  6. The problem is with the standard shoelace knot, which is insecure.  There are several very good alternatives which are almost as easy to tie, but don’t come undone until you want them to.
    Here is one example:
    I’ve used the “Turquoise Turtle”  (also on that page) for years on all my shoes and never had a problem regardless of what the laces are made of.

    1. I’ve been using the secure knot on that page for years. It really does work and unties just as easy as the traditional shoe knot.

  7. Man, who knew that shoelaces could be so bootstrappy a subject. 

    The slave-drawn sledge was good enough for my ancestors, and by the various gods, no kid of mine is going to be coddled with one of these newfangled “wheel” thingies!

  8. Surely kids learn to tie shoelaces? And if they get it wrong and trip then it’s a good lesson for them about getting things right. Or am I too much of a bastard?

  9. All you able bodied people with good vision and motor control and your fancy shoe laces can go have a shoelace party or something.

    I couldn’t do better than a granny knot until I was a teenager, and even now my blasted bows are pretty sorry looking. I’ll have a look at some of those alternate knots and see if they’re any easier to tie if one of your hands is unco-operative…

    Velcro is pretty awesome, but you get made fun of for velcro shoe closures after a certain age. I’m not sure if the laces toggle would have spared me heckling, but at least it would be easier to get off than blasted granny knots…

  10. wouldn’t it be cooler to find a more effective way to teach knot-tying? or if the kid was involved in the design process or something? or both? something of utility beyond “here, let me do that for you.”

  11. While it’s cool that this were home-made, they are also purchasable at any fabric store and are bloody cheap.

  12. First – the comments making fun of this are  kinda funny – for a moment. 

    However – tying shoelaces are really challenging for most average, young kids and it can take many five-year-olds 30-45 seconds or so to do it – and- to tighten one’s already tied lace means untying then re-tying the shoelace. 

    Inconvenient on the playground. So inconvenient that many kids say fcuk-it and don’t bother and end up having a shoe flying off the foot or twisting an ankle. In a couple of years their brains and bodies will naturally synch so why not give them an adaptive aid in the meantime? It’s not being soft on them or coddling them. Honest! There are other people – kids and not-so-kids who are not that coordinated due to neurological issues such as dyspraxia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyspraxia  ) Cerebral Palsy or not-quite-clinical clumsiness or lack of coordination. They might be able to tie their shoes after a while or need help with it. Tightening shoelaces means untying and retying — having to untie-retie already tied but loose laces can be a real pain in the arse.The bad-attitude towards adaptive technology that is fashionable amongst certain people really is disgusting.

  13. The fact that a child might need 30 or 45 seconds to tie his shoes is an important one. A crouching, immobile human is an inviting target for tigers and lions. Or robots.

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