Vans Custom Roller Skates Build, start to finish

A video of a custom Vans build with my friend Alea


This post uses affiliate links.

Recently, my friend Alea asked me to help her build a set of custom Vans aggressive roller skates. I said, "Yes of course, and can I film it?" The result is not so much a direct tutorial (I forgot to list what tools you need, etc) and more an example of one way to build custom roller skates. But it does include advice on how to mount roller skates in general, as well as Vans specific tips.

You can find the video of the full custom Vans quad roller skate build here!

UPDATE: I made a more linear, proper tutorial-style video of a Vans build . Sadly, this one is without Alea, just boring me.

This post serves to accompany the video, and provide notes on details that might have been glossed over in filming.

What Do You Need to Make Roller Skates from Vans Shoes?


  • Shoes
  • Aluminum Insole (Can be bought online, or made from an aluminum sheet)
  • Aluminum sheet, at least 1.5mm but better if can find 2mm (only if making aluminum insole yourself)
  • Roller Skate Plates
  • Mounting hardware (Can be for roller skates, skateboards, or from a hardware store)
  • Sharpie or paint pen
  • Duct tape or superglue
  • Optional but very helpful
  • Masking tape


  • Drill and standard drill bits
  • Jigsaw, gloves, mask, tool lube, sanding block or sponge (only if making aluminum insole, not necessary if buying insole from shop)
  • Screwdriver, same head as mounting hardware
  • Wrench, same size as mounting nuts
  • 1 nail
  • Hammer or other heavy hitting object
  • Optional but very helpful
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Back nut spanner
  • Right angle screwdriver or ratchet
Cutting Aluminum for an aggressive park roller skate insole
Cutting Aluminum for a roller skate insole. Image © Michela Dai Zovi

How to Make an Aluminum Insole for Park Roller Skates

This part super sucks and it's not fun at all, if you don't have good tools. I think it's not so bad if you have a power sander to shape the aluminum better, but all I have is a jigsaw and that can be really annoying to use to shape the aluminum. You can watch us struggling with this on the video starting from 1:10


  1. Remove your insole from the shoe, and trace on aluminum sheet
  2. Using a jigsaw and a blade meant for cutting aluminum, cut slightly inside the lines you just drew, so that your alumunium insole will be slightly smaller than the actual insole. If the aluminum insole is the same size or larger, it will be difficult to fit inside the shoe and may cut into the lining.
  3. Make sure to use proper safety, such as wearing gloves, goggles, and a mask, to shield yourself from aluminum dust
  4. Try to hold aluminum as stable as possible to minimize shaking
  5. Sand your aluminum insoles with a sanding block or sponge, to remove sharp edges
  6. Be sure to clean up aluminum dust; it is highly flammable

How to Mount Roller Skate Plates to Vans Shoes

Mounting roller skate plates to Vans shoes is fairly similar to mounting plates to regular roller skate shoes, but there are a few Vans-specific annoyances to avoid. Starting from 4:50 we discuss plate placement, which is the same whether you're mounting on shoes or boots. BUT starting from 6:44 I do give Vans-specific tips about how to deal with the waffle sole, and how to drill into the aluminum insole, without getting your holes in the wrong place. I highly recommend you watch.

In a nutshell, with a Vans build, or any sneaker build, you've got 2 problems:

  • A waffle sole that won't let you drill where you want
  • A need to get the holes in the aluminum insole in the right place

The waffle sole problem can be solved by using a soldering iron to burn a hole in the rubber, where you want to drill. But we chose to solve both problems at once by temporarily attaching the insole to the outside of the shoe sole, and drilling through that. In the video you'll see us wrapping duct tape around the shoe, but you could also just dab a little bit of superglue on the sole and do it that way. This will give you a flat surface to drill through, and will prevent the insole from pushing upwards like it will if you put it inside the shoe and try to drill from the outside of the shoe.


  1. Attach your insole to the outside of the shoe, on the bottom of the sole. I recommend superglue or duct tape.
  2. Put masking tape over the areas where you think you will want to drill. This is so you can remove it if you change your mind about plate placement, so you won't get confused over multiple marks.
  3. Using a Sharpie or paint pen, mark on the masking tape where you would like to drill.
  4. When you are sure the marks are correct, make small indentations in the insole with a nail and a hammer, or other heavy hitting object. This is just so your drill bit will stay in place when you start to drill.
  5. Start with a small drill bit and work your way wider, until you use a bit that is the width of the mounting hardware you will use. Before drilling, decide how deep into the shoe your drill should go before it will go too far, and put tape on the drill bit so you will not go farther than that point. See video, starting from 12:05.
  6. Repeat with all holes on both shoes.
  7. When all holes are drilled, use a countersink on the aluminum insole so the mounting hardware won't stick out so prominently.
  8. Put insole inside shoe, plates on bottom, and insert hardware. This is where the back nut spanner and right angle screwdriver or ratchet come in handy. I like to use the spanner to hold the bolts in place from the bottom, while I use a drill to screw in from the top of the shoe. The right angle screwdriver/ratchet are helpful to hold the hardware in place from inside the shoe, at the toes.
  9. If your hardware is too long, you may need to trim it down with a saw or the bolt breakoff tool that is made by Sure Grip. On the other hand the bolt breakoff tool is basically just a metal straw, and you can do the same thing with a nut spanner. If you break the bolt, be sure to sand or hammer any sharp edges.
  10. Enjoy!

That's it. Have fun, and please tag me on Insta (@rollerskaterevival) if this helped you personalize your skates!