Steel Shank and Its Use: Shank vs Steel Plate

Steel Shank and Its Use Shank vs Steel Plate

When people wear shoes, they often forget about the various parts of it. When you ask a person to name them, they will usually just point to the sole of the shoe and the body. However, shoes actually have a lot of parts to ensure that the person using them is comfortable and safe. This is where the shank comes in.

What is a Shank?

The shank is actually a piece of metal or other hard substance in the middle of your shoe. It is between the insole and outsole and acts as a way to support the foot. This is because its location at the narrowest part of the shoe allows it to help support the arch of a person’s foot.

Most shanks are made of steel. Steel is the best material for shanks since it is durable and yet flexible. As a support for the foot, being able to bend with the shoe ensures that the support it provides does not make the wearer uncomfortable.


Here are a few common questions about the steel shanks that pop up often.

Do I really need a shank?

This is a pretty common question and the answer to it is a big no. A shank is pretty optional. There are other choices for getting support. However, you’ll need to know that shanks are sometimes automatically found in some footwear.

A good example is boots. Bootmakers like their products to be a bit tougher than their brother shoes. This is why most boots you buy have a shank placed inside by the bootmaker to stiffen up the sole.

How do I place one?

If you’re planning to get a shank yourself and add it to your shoe, it is easy enough to do. Shanks are available at any shoe supply store. However, adding them to your shoe depends on how permanent you want it to be.

If you want the shank to be always there, you’ll need to go to a shoe specialist. Most major cities have a store that specializes in repairing shoes. Go there and request a shank to be added to your shoe.

Sometimes, you want to be able to remove the shank. That’s where buying the shank separately and insole comes in. Place the shank inside the shoe then cover it up with the insole. This is not as steady as the other method and may require constant adjustments of the shank.

What materials are shanks available in?

The traditional material for shanks is metal. In the past, steel was the choice of materials because it was pretty durable. Stainless steel is now the current choice because it retains the durability of the original, while also being a lot more flexible.

However, there are other materials to choose from. One of the more popular alternatives is wood. Cheap and easy to make, wooden shanks are a bit less durable. Their main advantage is that the right wood can be more flexible than steel while also being lighter.

A more futuristic alternative is carbon fiber. Carbon fiber shanks combine the best of wood and steel. They are flexible yet durable. The main problem with them is that they tend to be a lot more expensive than your basic shanks. Fiberglass and plastic are also popular choices, though they are a bit more brittle than carbon fiber.

Are shanks really heavy?

The main reason why a lot of people don’t want shanks in their shoes is the idea that they will make it a lot heavier and are uncomfortable. The truth is, you probably won’t notice the presence of the shank.

The Steel Plate Question

One of the main reasons that bootmakers use for placing a shank is protective purposes. Boots are usually for work purposes and having an extra layer of protection can stop sharp objects from piercing the sole of the boots.

However, a steel plate would be better. Some bootmakers place a steel sole instead of the normal shank and it actually works better as protection. What it does not do is grant proper support to the feet.

So the next time you think about choosing between a shank or a steel plate, you should consider what you prefer more: better support or better protection.