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Leather Quality and Properties - Page 69

post #1021 of 1235
Well, first some background...Traditionally shoemakers have used linen yarn to create the thread that holds the shoe, welt and upper to the insole. Actually the technique was used almost in every instance where stitching was wanted. but let's just focus on the inseam.

Once upon a time linen or hemp was pretty common for all kinds of work. And it was pretty good stuff. My wife spins and I've seen raw flax that has individual fibers that were 36" long. The longer the "staple" (the fibers) the better the thread that will be made will hold up and the stronger it will be.

Since WWI probably the quality of linen has fallen with each passing year. About 4-5 years ago, The last of the most famous and reliable Irish linen mills closed down. But before that, linen yarn coming from even the best of those mills was comprised of fibers that were seldom over three inches long. Lots of reason for this but mechanization had a lot to do with it in one way or the other.

The upshot is that the linen yarn was not strong. Not Tradition strong.

Shoemakers Traditionally twisted together 8-10 stands of #10 linen yarn to create an inseaming thread. It was waxed with pine pitch and pine tar ameliorated with cod or whale oil and beeswax. Most of these ingredients were widely available during the age of tall ships and, in fact, the last company to produce pine pitch in the US was Rausch Naval Yards in Louisiana.

The wax was used to not only protect the thread (which is organic after all) from the beasties that live on the foot and in the shoe, but to seal the holes in the insole that the thread passed through--the wax heating up when pulled through the holes and solidifying again as it cooled.. And it was tremendously sticky and once the stitch was tightened it was damn near impossible to pull out.

Good linen yarn is not readily available anymore. I have boxes of it from before WWII and I hoard it.

In recent years shoemakers--from the factory to the bespoke maker have had to look for new materials. Dacron has emerged as a relatively viable alternative--it doesn't stretch as much as nylon but it is admittedly not as "tight" (unyielding) as linen or hemp.

I use dacron thread instead of linen for my inseam. It is available. It is immensely strong. It won't rot.

I switched about 15 years ago...after an eye-opening series of events with a pair of boots I made for a farrier (horse-shoer). And, as with the split bristle technique, have been instrumental in helping to evolve and promulgate this procedure.

The drawback is that it doesn't hold the wax near as well as the linen (although some recipes for wax work better than others) but to counter-balance that, it doesn't need the anti-bacterial properties of the wax either. And if a stitch is given a "twist" as it is pulled tight, the locking properties of the wax will be more than sufficient for the purpose.

So...I tell you all this because, as with the boar's bristle / nylon bristle conundrum, the materials may have changed (out of pure and unadulterated necessity) but the techniques are still valid and unimpeachable.

Some way had to be devised to preserve the Traditions as much as possible.

I'll post some photos and another video link later this evening...after I get back from walking the dog.

--
Edited by DWFII - 1/20/14 at 4:23pm
post #1022 of 1235
Linen yarn is loosely twisted and may be unraveled at any point by rolling it on the knee or using the palm of the hand to untwist it. This creates a very fine tapering in that one particular strand which then may be combined with other strands to create a long taper called the "taw."

This cannot be done with dacron...it comes in rolls of 8 strands twisted into a cord and each strand is comprised of many fibers that are effectively infinitely long.

As a consequence the taper--the taw--must be created by other means.

The first step is to unravel the dacron cord:



Each of these stands, in turn, must be "unraveled"



And tapered...





All these tapered ends are then re-twisted together and the whole thread is waxed to create a "waxed end."



The split bristle



is then mounted as shown in the following video:

http://www.bootmaker.coml/pics/styleforum/mounting the split bristle.wmv

The result is visually identical...and functionally comparable...to the Traditional boar's bristle and linen method. And is undeniably far stronger, as well as impervious to rot.

Hope this helps.

--
Edited by DWFII - 1/20/14 at 4:19pm
post #1023 of 1235

DW-

 

I couldn't learn in 100 years what you have learnt in 40. Amazing info. Also, I love the occupational last name information. I used to date a girl and we'd play the game of identifying occupational last names; farrier is one I'll add to the list when I play it again with a new one. Thanks for your contribution.

post #1024 of 1235
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Linen yarn is loosely twisted and may be unraveled at any point by rolling it on the knee or using the palm of the hand to untwist it. ........................................ ......................



Thanks so much for all this information and having taken the time to put it all down. I will need to take the time to reread thoroughly.
post #1025 of 1235
DW - When making shoes (as opposed to cowboy boots), how do you get around the problem with the limited length of the Dacron threads?

These threads are designed for inseaming cowboy boots which are traditionally inseamed from ball (of the foot) to ball. Shoes and continental boots (unless they're Saint Crispin) are inseamed breast (of the heel) to breast: they might even (relatively seldom) be welted all the way round. Unless they expanded their production program in recent years, that Dacron stuff doesn't come any longer than 8 feet. which for breast to breast work restricts it to something like up to a size 8 or so.

Also, do you reduce the number of threads and use it for outsoling?

Janne Melkersson is quite fond of that Dacron stuff and when I saw him a few years back, a scrounged a few threads to give them to one of the top English makers, who is very conscious about making shoes in the 'English tradition' (no love for DW's 'no iron nails' rule here). He played around with it and I thought he would hate the stuff, but he quite liked it although he complained about it's stretchiness as he never had the feeling of having it pulled tight enough.

For what it's worth, I believe, all shoemakers using natural fibre have changed over now from linen to hemp.
post #1026 of 1235

Mr Street, what you are describing, I think, is 'nominal determinism', where the name seems to dictate the occupation. I have a colleague called Dr Fish and he is a marine biologist. 

 

Thelonius, I think you are talking about 'experiential learning' - learning by or from experience. My PhD, some 25 years ago was about this. Arguably, all skills learning is of this sort; skills can't really be learned from a book. Also, it is probably important to 'overlearn' skills - to practice them until they are demonstrated without thinking. However, skills still need to be practiced. I play jazz and blues piano. If I take a week off or if I think about what I am doing at the keyboard, I see a significant drop off in skill level. The high-level demonstration of a particular skill is probably an 'unconscious' activity. 

 

This seems a bit off topic, but I would imagine that shoe making is all about these forms of learning and practice.  I expect that DW's skills as a shoemaker mean that he can work quickly, accurately, and with very considerable artistic ability. I bet those things weren't learnt out of a book. 

post #1027 of 1235
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post

DW - When making shoes (as opposed to cowboy boots), how do you get around the problem with the limited length of the Dacron threads?

These threads are designed for inseaming cowboy boots which are traditionally inseamed from ball (of the foot) to ball. Shoes and continental boots (unless they're Saint Crispin) are inseamed breast (of the heel) to breast: they might even (relatively seldom) be welted all the way round. Unless they expanded their production program in recent years, that Dacron stuff doesn't come any longer than 8 feet. which for breast to breast work restricts it to something like up to a size 8 or so.

Simply not true. The threads you have seen or are familiar with...and which are invariably tapered and waxed with paraffin, not a good hand wax...may be limited in that fashion (although I was told, way back when, that they were originally "designed" for stitching moccasin plugs not inseaming).

But the dacron I use comes on a roll....200 yards? The roll is roughly 4" x 10" on a one inch tube.

It is not cut into lengths and it is not waxed.

I cut the dacron in 12'-14' lengths--that's plenty long for a size 14 shoe inseamed all the way around...heel breast to heel breast and stitched through the heelseat with several feet of thread left over--as in the photos I recently posted of the burgundy ostrich jodhpurs.

DSCF1567.JPG


And yes, I use the same stuff for sewing the outsole but in three cord rather than eight cord.

I am familiar with what you describe..have a large bundle in my shop and wouldn't use it unless it was an emergency.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post

Janne Melkersson is quite fond of that Dacron stuff and when I saw him a few years back, a scrounged a few threads to give them to one of the top English makers, who is very conscious about making shoes in the 'English tradition' (no love for DW's 'no iron nails' rule here). He played around with it and I thought he would hate the stuff, but he quite liked it although he complained about it's stretchiness as he never had the feeling of having it pulled tight enough.

Like any new material, you just need to adapt to the dacron--use a pine rosin based wax and make a lock in the stitch. If the problem was as extreme as all that, you'd see "grinning" in my inseaming work. Not gonna happen. And I'm not surprised Janne likes it but I'm not surprised he's having trouble with it either, esp if he's using the prewaxed stuff. Paraffin is no substitute for hand wax.

And DW's "no iron nails" rule does not pretend to be English tradition--simply common sense, best practices and providing for longevity against all possibilities. As much as I admire...hell, even worship English Traditions--willingly acknowledging them as the foundation of all my work and techniques...I don't believe that they are the be all end all and I don't think "best practice" means ignoring weaknesses and limitations inherent in any material and or any technique, English or not. All the reasons for using a nail could be addressed by brass nails rather than iron...and the whole, possible, rust / carbonization-of-the-insole issue put to bed. That would be "best (or at least better) practices". Besides pegs may very well pre-date nails...in the English tradition...anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post

For what it's worth, I believe, all shoemakers using natural fibre have changed over now from linen to hemp.

FWIW, I've seen, purchased, and used hemp yarn. Most of what I got was not real hemp...including some I got from a shoemaker in England...but rather just linen re-labeled as hemp. Lots of confusion about that even among shoemakers.

And the yarn I knew for certain was hemp, was unusable with traditional hand waxes. It was coarse and more of the fibers ended up embedded in the wax than were left on the thread. I would love to purchase a ball of real, certified ...maybe even wet spun...#10 hemp yarn. Even if I never used it I'd still like to play with it. But who know? I might even switch again if I thought the benefits outweighed the weaknesses.

In any case, the yarn I got from England, that was touted as "hemp," wasn't any stronger or long fibered than the pre-war Irish linen I have.

--
Edited by DWFII - 1/21/14 at 7:25am
post #1028 of 1235
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

The threads you have seen or are familiar with...and which are invariably tapered and waxed with paraffin, not a good hand wax...may be limited in that fashion......I am familiar with what you describe..have a large bundle in my shop and wouldn't use it unless it was an emergency........

Yes, that's the stuff I've come across: it's supplied cut, waxed, and comes in colours like natural, tan, dk brown and is tapered at either end, making it look like angel's hair.

But be honest, that Dacron stuff is hardly environmentally friendly. Fancy in a thousand years, they pull one of those threads out of the ground., like a tape worm in all it's undiminished 12 feet length and say: "That was a shoe in the early 2000s".

But, to quote Madame de Pompadour: "Après nous le déluge!" biggrin.gif
post #1029 of 1235
Quote:
Originally Posted by Munky View Post

Mr Street, what you are describing, I think, is 'nominal determinism', where the name seems to dictate the occupation. I have a colleague called Dr Fish and he is a marine biologist. 

Thelonius, I think you are talking about 'experiential learning' - learning by or from experience. My PhD, some 25 years ago was about this. Arguably, all skills learning is of this sort; skills can't really be learned from a book. Also, it is probably important to 'overlearn' skills - to practice them until they are demonstrated without thinking. However, skills still need to be practiced. I play jazz and blues piano. If I take a week off or if I think about what I am doing at the keyboard, I see a significant drop off in skill level. The high-level demonstration of a particular skill is probably an 'unconscious' activity. 

This seems a bit off topic, but I would imagine that shoe making is all about these forms of learning and practice.  I expect that DW's skills as a shoemaker mean that he can work quickly, accurately, and with very considerable artistic ability. I bet those things weren't learnt out of a book. 

Dear Munky, thanks for your input. I can't elaborate here, and probably haven't the competence. What your saying sounds fine to me, except that in my own case something else happened. Continual use of certain techniques, and the machines themselves, actually showed me that my premise was wrong. I didn't observe what I was hoping to, but unexpectedly was shown some other truth. It's not just a matter of becoming faster or more efficient, but something deeper relating to understanding of what is being done. I imagine this is still experiential learning however. But, as you say, this is off subject, and I will get back to following the interesting thread............
Edited by thelonius - 1/21/14 at 7:45am
post #1030 of 1235
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post

Yes, that's the stuff I've come across: it's supplied cut, waxed, and comes in colours like natural, tan, dk brown and is tapered at either end, making it look like angel's hair.

But be honest, that Dacron stuff is hardly environmentally friendly. Fancy in a thousand years, they pull one of those threads out of the ground., like a tape worm in all it's undiminished 12 feet length and say: "That was a shoe in the early 2000s".

But, to quote Madame de Pompadour: "Après nous le déluge!" biggrin.gif

Not as bad as contact cement, or the matrix that binds the granulated cork for bottom filling, nor yet the rubber used in outsoles and heel lifts. But I agree, it's not the most environmentally friendly. When you come to it though, hemp and flax that is processed by machines rather than human hands is neither strong nor particularly environmentally friendly, either.

As said, if good hemp was available I'd consider switching yet again.

--
Edited by DWFII - 1/21/14 at 8:17am
post #1031 of 1235
Bengal,

BTW...energized by the discussion --esp. the bit about environmental friendliness--I tracked down a source of #10 (although it's a metric 10), long fibered, wet spun, single ply, 100% natural (not bleached) hemp coming out of Romania. I have spool coming.

It will be interesting to see how it holds up both in the making and in the wearing.
post #1032 of 1235
If you want to make me a test pair for review I'd gladly be the guinea pig. smile.gif
post #1033 of 1235
Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickBOOTH View Post

If you want to make me a test pair for review I'd gladly be the guinea pig. smile.gif

bounce2.gif

I think, instead of paying all that money for a new pair, you should take a course...build your own. You'd be glad you did.
post #1034 of 1235
The Carredrucker people are teaching one right in my neighborhood. I'd have to take a considerable time off work to do so. It is also $4,500, which I have said in the past is well worth it.
post #1035 of 1235

I've been following this thread and wanted to say thank you to everyone for the excellent discussion!

 

DW, have you ever tried vectran instead of dacron? It supposedly doesn't stretch, but I don't know if it is available as thread thin enough for the stitching you do.

 

I was also wondering if someone can explain the wrinkling in a pair of shoes I have. It seems to be defect in the leather, but I didn't see any examples quite like it in this thread. (Apologies if it was there and I just missed it.). The wrinkling is only on the right foot's monk strap, while the left foot is fine.

 

 

 

 

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