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what makes a good shoe and why they cost so much - Page 6

post #76 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Groover View Post
Thanks for the link. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to tour a Northampton factory. I was shown a machine that cut the sole in preparation for a channeled sole, I'm fairly certain this piece of equipment is common amongst those in Northampton that offer a channeled sole, is this a piece of equipment you've seen/used?:
Great! There you go...there's a photo of the machine I was talking about. The one I was thinking of was probably an earlier version...I seem to recall seeing a lithograph somewhere...but all I had really seen before was a shoe that had been channeled using a machine like this one. As far as I know, this machine cuts a channel in from the side at a pre-set depth and entirely parallel to the surface of the outsole. Cutting too deep into the substance of the outsole makes it very difficult to keep the channel cover upright when the outsole is being sewn. So...as I think someone mentioned about another Northampton maker...most of the time a channel cut like this is pretty thin. And in truth affords less protection for the stitches than even a properly cut vertical channel. It is better looking than a vertical channel, however, and will fool the uneducated eye into thinking it is a hand cut channel. I took some photos today and will post them to illustrate how I do it and how this same concept--channeling in from the edge or side--can be made much more protective.
post #77 of 232
Thread Starter 
This first shot is of the hand tool I use for cutting a channel in from the edge. I only use it to begin the cut. This next shot is of the channeler in action... except my hand is not holding the tool. In use, the hand grips the tool like a dagger and downward pressure is applied to the grain surface of the outsole and the tool is pushed forward and around the toe. Of course this is all done after the outsole has been mounted on the shoe and trimmed to the welt and size. Below is the beginning of the channel has been cut and partially opened. The view is from the edge of the outsole. Below the channel has been cut, at an angle, by hand with a very basic hand held shoe knife and then fully opened. The channel cover is wedge shaped--thicker further from the edge. That means that the channel is deeper further from the edge. Below: here the channel has been closed back up. It will be further burnished to close it to near invisibility, left to dry and "set" and then glued shut. it will be almost impossible to detect at that point. When ink and wax is applied and heat burnished into the edge there will be no sign of the channel at all.
post #78 of 232
Thread Starter 
The other way I know to hand channel the outsole is a surface cut. I have seen it begun (and done it) right from the very corner of the grain surface and seen it done as a simple angled incision made at varying distances from the edge. I do it a little differently. I make a vertical cut very close to the edge...maybe one millimeter and I cut down about the same amount. Then I cut at an angle. all of this is done more or less by eye and,again, with a simple shoe knife. This is the start...this shallow incision will be opened as much as it can be and the angled cut begun. Below the channel has been cut and is opened. And finally, below is the shot of the channel closed. Again it will be rubbed to close it up very tightly and allowed to dry. Then glued shut. The little "retaining wall" will be subsumed in the bevel that is produced by edge trimming. Nothing wrong with this way of doing it except that sometimes the edge of the channel can be a little erratic if done as a simple piercing of the surface and sometimes trimming the outsole can leave the edge both a little thin and a little exposed...so the channel has a tendency to perhaps come open a little sooner. Bear in mind that this is my experience and since I have chosen to channel in from the side I have not mastered doing it this way...perhaps all my concerns could be addressed by more experience with this technique and more skill. Both techniques leave the thread deeply embedded in the outsole and should provide generous wear before the threads are ever exposed.
post #79 of 232
A big thank you to the OP for taking the time to share his insight into the shoe trade. Good stuff.

One comment I have is that not all stitched aloft shoes are without channels. I think the norm is to have an open channel to protect the threads. Function for the open channel seems much the same as for closed channel but without the artistry.
post #80 of 232
I have a video to show how a HK shoemaker cut the channel bare hands with just a knife, no other tool. But I don't know how to post it or capture the pics from the video. Any help?
post #81 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishball View Post
I have a video to show how a HK shoemaker cut the channel bare hands with just a knife, no other tool. But I don't know how to post it or capture the pics from the video. Any help?

How big is the video? You can always upload it to youtube if it is not too big.
post #82 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by greekgeek View Post
A big thank you to the OP for taking the time to share his insight into the shoe trade. Good stuff.
You are quite welcome
Quote:
One comment I have is that not all stitched aloft shoes are without channels. I think the norm is to have an open channel to protect the threads. Function for the open channel seems much the same as for closed channel but without the artistry.
In an earlier exchange with Wes Bourne, I believe, I acknowledge the fact that a grooved outsole was indeed superior to an outsole with the stitches sitting proud on the surface. But even with the groove the stitches are immediately--on first wearing--exposed to grit, dust and water borne contaminants. These get into the groove and begin abrading the threads with every step. Every time the shoe flexes. In my part of the country, grit is comprised, to a large extent, of particulated volcanic glass. Imagine what goes on underfoot. The shoe comes down and hits a piece of grit that is about the size of a grain of sand. It goes into the groove and lodges among the threads... What sort of protection does the grooved outsole really afford the threads? I suspect that the answer is "not much" and certainly not even close when compared to a channeled outsole.
post #83 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishball View Post
I have a video to show how a HK shoemaker cut the channel bare hands with just a knife, no other tool. But I don't know how to post it or capture the pics from the video. Any help?
I can't help you much with the video but the second method that I illustrate above is entirely hand work with just a simple shoe knife. Only the eye guides the knife.
post #84 of 232
^^ Good insight, thanks again. Time to check out this thehcc.org of yours
post #85 of 232
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post
Go back to the the bit about all the components working together to make something greater than the sum of the parts but with no component being an expressly weak link. Leather has a temper...a feel and a structural and functional quality...that is like nothing else. When a shoe is made entirely of leather the pieces all work together in harmony so to speak. Rubber soles don't function, or conform, or age ,in the same way as leather does. I have seen, especially in poor quality shoes, where the rubber, as it ages and thins tends to pull apart--to spread. And in doing so it pulls the components of the shoe out of position. So...you have it right and probably said it better than I did.

No, leather will not absorb the stresses on your knees the way crepe soles will. But crepe is a very different animal than a Vibram dress sole, for instance. Of course crepe...even petro-chemical crepe...will wear faster than leather or Vibram/Dainite/Neolite, etc.. You'll have to stay on top of it or risk losing the shoe. Enough repairs or ruined shoes for lack of repair and bespoke might seem cheap.
.

So will crepe conform to the structure of the shoe, but petro-chemical rubbers won't?
post #86 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post
So will crepe conform to the structure of the shoe, but petro-chemical rubbers won't?
Not necessarily, but petro-chemical crepe is a a "foam-like" structure. So it will absorb shocks to the foot and knees better than something that is denser. Natural plantation crepe is bouncy because it is made of natural rubber. But it is probably somewhere in between petro crepe and dense rubber for shock absorption. Plantation crepe is not so dense, however, that it will pull the shoe apart. Petro crepe won't either but it is usually mounted on a mid-sole that is not significantly different than regular dress vibram outsoles.
post #87 of 232
Thread Starter 
continued from another thread...here
Quote:
Originally Posted by RIDER View Post
I thought we were starting a new thread here...... Ok, re: lasts - I don't have a last file on this laptop....maybe when I get to the shop.....but here are some last adjusted specials recently delivered as provo's for MTO boots. These are production lasts from Cortina with build ups based on my sketches. We use Romagnolo and Ifaba for lasts....same as Bill Tippitt. Anyway, if you follow the lines of the instep raise you can see the angle of the instep as standard on production lasts. Now, we are a little more interested in providing a good end result for our customers than winning a blue ribbon at the state fair for an artful last, but this is very effective to help provide a more customized fit for our customers who require it. Regardless, remove the tape, leather and instep raise and you can see different lasts have different standard angles of instep.....don't know that we have one that is straight though. Or maybe I've misunderstood.
I suspect that you and I will never agree on much of this...it is as simple and as juxtaposed as bespoke versus factory paradigms. But...and forgive me if I am misinterpreting...I sense a somewhat inappropriate defensiveness on your part. So allow me to clarify and perhaps smooth a few ruffled feathers... I responded to a member in the thread mentioned at the beginning of this post. It was a little over the top and I was perhaps a little tactless in my choice of words...choosing "expedient" to express a notion more closely related to "convenient" than any other. Not only that, I admit to having gotten sucked into the ensuing conversation...which may not have been entirely appropriate to the thread in which it arose. But never did I criticize your business nor single your shoes out for criticism. I try most assiduously to speak about techniques and methods and not about people or entities. I readily admit that I do not have the insights or the first hand experience to do otherwise...I cannot speak to how you deal with customers or how you run your business. That said, I stand behind all my comments...I try to spend the time necessary to think them through if not pare them down. And I believe "expedient" to have been the appropriate adjective in a generalized context. I read most members posts...especially the one's I am interested in responding to...several times and I try to get a sense of where that person is coming from. I appreciate it when the same courtesy is extended to my remarks. But given the "10 second rule" that exists in so many forums, I sometimes wonder if I am being unreasonable in my expectations. In my remarks about lasts...which was only one small (niggling even) aspect of the point I was making...I referred to lasting machines and made the point that to use a bed laster with an inside cone last required significant human intervention. For those who may have followed us here, the reason is simple...like all machines the bed laster is not only mindless it has a limited "stroke." It cannot pull more leather on one side of the shoe than the other--something that is required for lasting a shoe on an inside cone last. So an operator has to step in and adjust, and fiddle, and pretty soon the job may as well have been done by hand to begin with. I have seen this...I have had it explained to me in great detail...by a fellow who would have like to sell me a bed laster and who actually used one every day in his small manufacturing business. And I have seen numerous models of straight cone lasts--their entire raison d'etre being for use in bed lasters. In your business you may not use straight cone lasts...I did not address your business...or you may hand last the shoes you commission. But the the point I was making--that in the factory context the materials and the techniques will be modified to accommodate the machines long before the machines will be modified to accommodate the requirements of the techniques--is not only valid but nearly axiomatic. After all, lasts are easy and relatively cheap to replace, a bed laster is not. Tying up some loose ends...the photos of lasts that you have posted seem to be sometimes straight and sometimes inside...perhaps it is the angle of the photos or the obscuring build-ups. As far as Bill Tippitt using Romagnolo and Ifaba for lasts, this is news to me...and I speak with Bill on a regular basis...last week as a matter of fact. As far as I know he uses El Arbol and has since time out of mind although he did flirt with a Chinese outfit for a while. This is not to dismiss the possibility that he gets lasts other places but again it is beside the point. If a shoemaker is designing (or commissioning a last for use in a bed laster, the chances are high that the last will be straight cone. For "convenience" sake. If he is using already established models that were originally intended to be used by bespoke makers, the chances are high that the last will have an inside cone. And the original modelmaker will have shaped the cone to his own personal sensibility. Again, as I said in my subsequent remarks in the other thread, I think blake/rapid is a viable, if expedient alternative for RTW shoes--it makes a good solid shoe. I also think that the shoes that srivat posted are very good looking and well made. It doesn't change my point of view...my perspective...all of which is and has been informed by over 35 years making bespoke boots and shoes, full time. I am a shoemaker. It is, I trust, a unique perspective that has the potential to shed some light on what is otherwise a very misunderstood process.
post #88 of 232
Oh man, I learned ,so much here . You should be teaching , you clearly have a disposition for teaching and explaining things in a very clear fashion.
post #89 of 232


Those are some nice ladies boots you have there.
post #90 of 232
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pezzaturra View Post
Oh man, I learned ,so much here . You should be teaching , you clearly have a disposition for teaching and explaining things in a very clear fashion.
Thank you. I do teach and I have written several books on the subject. Of course, that's the whole point of posting here--in the larger world, shoemaking, especially as it is practiced among bespoke makers, is one of those truly arcane subjects that is nearly lost. Even here, among people who are aficionados, there are a lot of gaps in the general knowledge of how shoes are made and even more misconceptions. I've spent a good portion of my career trying to preserve the traditions and the traditional techniques...just to keep it from being forever lost. If I can provide some insights and some food for thought...maybe we've all gained a little.
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