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peg o' my heart

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Having recently seen a number of posts extolling pegged outsoles on shoes, I thought a little perspective might go good with your morning coffee.

There's not many makers much less shoe/boot groupies that know more about pegging shoes or boots than I do. No brag...I've been pegging boots for over 40 years, day in and day out. And I've seen how they hold up in wear and repair. I like pegs. I think they are the better/best choice where a vertical fastener...like tacks or nails...would be called for. All my personal footwear is put together with thread and pegs. It bears repeating...I like pegs.

That said, there are some very real reservations that anyone contemplating a pair of pegged shoes should contemplate...

Once upon a time...BC (before cement ...shoemakers had a limited number of options for attaching outsoles. They could sew them on; they could nail them on; and they could peg them on. Pegging and nailing go back a long way--to Roman times, mostly for utilitarian and "rough" work.

NAILS

Nails, of course, will turn on a metal plate or anvil and create a "hook" that embeds itself in the leather. Once the outsole piece is in position, nails may be driven at close and regular intervals with the certain expectation that the sole will stay in place for a reasonable time. Even the flexing of the outsole during walking could not easily dislodge the nails.

But of course iron (most shoemaking tacks and nails are made of iron) rusts and since rust is a "slow fire" the leather can be irretrievably damaged by nails. And since nails are inflexible, that flexing eventually damages the leather even further.

STITCHING

BC, when an outsole was to be stitched to a welt (as in today's welted shoes) a tack or nail was driven through the outsole and insole and into the last to hold the outsole in place. Some glue may have been used to further position the outsole. But such glues were almost always some variation of a starch paste--very temporary, in other words. It was the stitching that held the outsole on and no one was fooling anyone else by claiming otherwise.

PEGS

Pegs do not have the ability to turn over and "clinch" in the substance of the insole. Pegs hold by friction alone. Of course they do not rust either...and so recommend themselves, if used judiciously, for that reason alone. That said, pegs..usually made of a dense hardwood...are almost as inflexible as nails. More, they create a comparatively large hole in the insole and shoe.

Pegging an outsole can be made a little more certain by using two rows of juxtaposed pegs. But except in very moist conditions...constantly moist...pegs will fall out (if only occasionally) simply because the leather tends to contract a bit and the pegs themselves shrink as they dry--all of which contributes to lessening or eliminating the friction that holds the pegs in the outsole. This is further exasperated by the flexing of the shoe which is in direct opposition to the pegs themselves...which again are relatively inflexible.

In the initial stages of pegging an outsole the same problems of positioning and stability present themselves. Again, for the purposes of positioning, glue can be used. And again, it is temporary...and if only one row of pegs is used, very temporary...contributing nothing to the bonding of the outsole to the shoe.

In my years of experience, without the oppositional forces brought to bear by two rows of pegs or without some additional aid/technique such as dipping a peg in cement, a pegged outsole is going to be subject to failure at a greater rate than either of the other two techniques.

The only solution is modern cement--solvent based and petrol-chemically derived.

Ask any shoemaker who regularly pegs shoes as a method of attaching an outsole to do so without using a neoprene-solvent based cement. I suspect few makers, if any, would feel good or certain about the result, much less the longevity.

Which, ultimately begs the question: which is it holding the shoes together--the pegs or the cement?

If a shoe or a boot is to be pegged as a means of attaching the outsole a double row of closely spaced pegs is needed. One row cannot hold the outsole on reliably without the aid of cement. And the pegs need to driven in at such angles that they create an interlocking bond to the insole. And that, in and of itself, creates problems in that it limits the number of outsoles/repairs that can be done...with each successive resoling having to rely on a weaker and more damaged foundation.





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Edited by DWFII - 3/17/13 at 11:45am
post #2 of 6
Very interesting. Thank you for the information.

I noticed that many cowboy boots are half welted half pegged instead of 270/360 degrees welted. What's the primary reason? Half sole resoling?
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

Very interesting. Thank you for the information.

I noticed that many cowboy boots are half welted half pegged instead of 270/360 degrees welted. What's the primary reason? Half sole resoling?

I really don't know the origins of that technique (although it is the way I was taught and still make boots) or the reasons either, for that matter, other than at some point...and Cosimo Luchesse may have been instrumental...it was determined that given the high heel, given the way the waist/shank was cradled and supported in the stirrup, the pegged shank was more stable and more durable than welting in the waist.

Of course, full pegged boots...mostly cheap mass produced goods...were common in the aftermath of the Civil War. The US military experimented extensively with several techniques for sole attachment in the aftermath of Appomattox, rejecting both riveted (nails) and pegged construction methods in favour of inseamed boots. Sydney Brinckerhoff details this experimentation in his monograph Boots and shoes of the Frontier Soldier, 1865-1893.

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Edited by DWFII - 3/17/13 at 12:11pm
post #4 of 6

Interesting reading, thanks for sharing.

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

I really don't know the origins of that technique (although it is the way I was taught and still make boots) or the reasons either, for that matter, other than at some point...and Cosimo Luchesse may have been instrumental...it was determined that given the high heel, given the way the waist/shank was cradled and supported in the stirrup, the pegged shank was more stable and more durable than welting in the waist.

Of course, full pegged boots...mostly cheap mass produced goods...were common in the aftermath of the Civil War. The US military experimented extensively with several techniques for sole attachment in the aftermath of Appomattox, rejecting both riveted (nails) and pegged construction methods in favour of inseamed boots. Sydney Brinkerhof details this experimentation in his monograph Frontier Boots.

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Ah. So it's the way to go for mass manufacturing prior to petrol based glues...

In some of the pegged waist shoes/boots dismantling pictures I have seen, the wood pegs do not completely penetrate the insoles what gives?
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

Ah. So it's the way to go for mass manufacturing prior to petrol based glues...

In some of the pegged waist shoes/boots dismantling pictures I have seen, the wood pegs do not completely penetrate the insoles what gives?

Lots of theories there but esp. if the pegs are driven in opposition to one another they don't need to but barely penetrate the grain surface of the insole...just the tips. That's been my experience.
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