Originally Posted by dan'l
Hate to derail the the interesting discussion, but seeing this pic reminded me of a question I have for the shoemakers here. That's a metal shank in the right picture, correct? What are the benefits/drawbacks of steel vs. wood vs. leather shanks? I've been reading up a bit on the topic and it seems there are various opinions. Carreducker uses leather for men's shoes:http://carreducker.blogspot.de/2010/10/shanks.html
Theoretically, metal shanks are not needed at heel heights below one inch. I'm not sure I agree with that. But in any case, with any HH above one inch the waist of the shoe is subject to break down and collapse over time (sometimes a relatively small amount of time) and the foot will not be supported as it should be through the arch.
I suspect that this theory was formulated in a time when outsole leather was harder and more rigid than it is today, however.
As far as wood goes, well it's just an expedient compromise between leather (no shank support) and metal, IMO. Eventually, it too will break down, and it doesn't have the rigidity /support of metal, to begin with...at any heel height.
For me the question becomes...given the fundamental superiority of support between metal and all other materials..."why not use metal?" I suspect it's a matter of cost--monetary and time. I'm not looking to compromise quality, even if only marginally or theortetically, nor am I looking for speed. So the answer seems obvious to me.