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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 74

post #1096 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirling View Post


Although you are certainly not the only person to use language such as "bullshit," I would appreciate it if you don't direct it at me. It is fine that you vehemently disagree with me, but I really do feel that this would be a better forum if we all avoided crude language. If I have ever used crude language toward you, I apologize sincerely.

I am not some huge fan of complete free-market capitalism, sometimes it doesn't yield the best outcome for society. That said, I know a lot of well-intentioned regulations have created more problems than they solved.

Whether we like it or not, technology will make most the jobs of today obsolete sooner or later. Again, I am not saying this is a good thing; I just predict that to be the case. Although some people will be able to get jobs as high-end software architects, corporate lawyers, and such, there won't be enough of those jobs to go around. Plus, some people just don't have what it takes to do that kind of work. So, what will all those good, decent people do, when robots are cleaning hotel rooms, driving cars, and picking vegetables in the field? I assert that making high-quality products with their hands, providing the human touch, will be a reasonable option for a small number of them. Of course, a lot of people won't be good at that either, so they better be darn friendly and congenial, because I don't know what they're going to do other than work as servants for the aforementioned folk. Well, I guess some could be teachers. smile.gif (No, seriously, teaching is one of the most noble professions, so please don't take my joke that way.)

 

Overall for the past decade or so there's little enterprising technology innovations that boosts productivity.  Instead all those great talks in the Valley are mostly value destruction and self cannibalizing price competitions; i.e., sharing economy, SaaS, or regulatory arbitrage, instead of hard tech improvements like solid states and AI.

 

Technology will indeed making a lot of the jobs today obsolete.  Just like it did when it made shoemaking obsolete.  But unfortunately not everyone can be trained as code monkey compare to physical laborers or service providers.  And there will always be cases where human touch is still essential; i.e., the well endowed will likely to prefer a human nurse to a robot nurse, handmade shoes to injection mold Crocs, or Vinyl record to Spotify streaming.

 

Do you know that, according to RIAA, total vinyl sales in 2015 is greater than all streaming music ad revenue combined, including Spotify, SoundCloud, Youtube, etc?  Maybe one day the overall bespoke shoe sales will be greater than luxury RTW shoe sales, but that's pretty far stretched goal.

post #1097 of 1710

What is your opinion about attaching the shank (metal/wood) to the insole just with adhesive or any kind of shoemaker´s resin instead of doing it with the thread?. I understand that not many HW shoes use the thread. I have even seen a shank clinched to the insole with  one small screw.

post #1098 of 1710

I've been a shoemaker in and around the west end of London for 42 years and this is my take on the nails v pegs debate.I use nails of various kinds and metals.I understand the tradition for pegs came from the work boot /country style of shoes and boots and was used in eastern Europe a lot ( and still is ). Pegs were probably all that was available and wood to make them was all around ,I imagine in the old west days in America things may have been similar, in fact in my time I worked with a polish maker who straightened his old lasting nails to re use them as they were so valuable to him.

The shoes I get to see and make have the heel lifts nailed on ,some of the heavier styles have stitched seats using varied methods( welted seat ,norwegian, german seat )  but the heel lifts are still nailed on.

I have repaired , remade, stripped down many boots and shoes  over the years and have not found the nails to cause any major damage, you do get a black mark around the hole but it is not eaten away, any leather that is not in good condition would be replaced what ever method is used.

Pegging is traditional in some countries and work forms but is just one method ,not all makers today work the same way nor did they historically so different 'traditions ' developed. I don't say one is superior to the other , none of it is written in stone.          

post #1099 of 1710
Thread Starter 
The thing about all this is that our perceptions and biases aren't always reality. Personally, I see nails as being cruder than pegs. Again, it probably has to do with my woodworking experience--seeing finely made cabinetry using pegs rather than nails. In early America forged nails were an expedient way to make all manner of wooden things. Pegs, dovetails and other devices were preferred. Nails...esp.exposed nails were often an eyesore simply because they were so obviously out of place in wood.

Leather is not wood, of course, and perhaps the sensibilities of those early craftsmen don't apply...although wood and leather have been used together time out of mind. But I agree these are probably mostly a matter of perception.

That said, I suspect it is my analytical mind (damn me) that says "what reason is there to favour one over the other?" A choice must be made--every shoemaker faces that choice, just as they face a number of other choices. And each choice is a turning point, to some degree. So how do we make that choice? Whimsy? Forced by circumstance?

For instance, I can explain why I favour / choose pegs...above and beyond aesthetics...why I think pegs create a good "vertical fastener" without the drawbacks of nails. (Even if it is slower and more tedious to peg than to nail.) I can speak to the reasons why I do not like nails...again, other than personal preferences...but I am not seeing / hearing the justifications for using nails.

Mac @j-mac...your Polish maker may have just been carrying on a long tradition (from medieval times and before) of shoemakers having a very limited number (a dozen +/-) of lasting nails in their kit...all of which were intended to be straightened and used over and over again.

Beyond that, while it is tempting to associate pegs with rustic folk and limited resources, I'm not sure the evidence supports that perspective. Once humanity sallied through that portal into the Iron Age, nails became increasingly commonplace.The Romans used nails to construct their footwear and the Legions are famous for their iron hobnails. Anywhere there were horses being shod, swords being forged or penannular brooches being made, making a nail was almost an afterthought.

Making pegs however, was a fairly time and labour intensive procedure especially in the 19th century. A special plane was even invented to make it easier to do.

As for the benighted American West and pegs in footwear, Sydney Brinkerhoff penned a monograph for the Arizona Historical Society, entitled Boots and Shoes of the Frontier Soldier:1865-1893 (which I have mentioned here before) in which he explores the various methods of sole attachment used on military footwear post the Late Unpleasantness (the American Civil War)--from nails to pegs to stitching. Of course, stitching fared the best (eventually becoming the "standard" in the last quarter of the century) but depending on the conditions, nails didn't get much love from either the soldier or the author. Even ringed brass cable "screws" (aka "French rivets," IIRC) tended to destroy the leather insoles into which they were driven....and work their way upward sufficiently to cut and lacerate the foot.

Again, as makers, we all must make those choices for ourselves. But I hope ...and am determined for myownself...that they are not made on passing fancy.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 4/6/16 at 8:17am
post #1100 of 1710

Yes a maker has to choose, I choose nails you choose pegs.The reason I choose nails is that I don't encounter the same damage you have seen , I like the way they hold work together solidly and when I repair the shoes I don't find wear and tear to be anything but normal ,so that is my reason to use them.

The Polish guy straightened his ordinary lasting nails because his experience in WW2 and prison camps made it a must as resources were scarce and being a good shoe or bootmaker in a prison camp was a good way of staying alive.

The majority of makers I come across ( and I meet a lot ), think about the work they do, they 'analyze' why and what materials they use,  it's not a passing fancy at all . We all have differences in our work methods hopefully the shoes we produce meet client's expectations.

post #1101 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by j-mac View Post

Yes a maker has to choose, I choose nails you choose pegs.The reason I choose nails is that I don't encounter the same damage you have seen , I like the way they hold work together solidly and when I repair the shoes I don't find wear and tear to be anything but normal ,so that is my reason to use them.
The Polish guy straightened his ordinary lasting nails because his experience in WW2 and prison camps made it a must as resources were scarce and being a good shoe or bootmaker in a prison camp was a good way of staying alive.
The majority of makers I come across ( and I meet a lot ), think about the work they do, they 'analyze' why and what materials they use,  it's not a passing fancy at all . We all have differences in our work methods hopefully the shoes we produce meet client's expectations.

I am not faulting you for choosing nails. I am seeking to understand your thinking. The suggestion was made...offhand I am sure...that neither is superior to the other. Which begs the question of why you or I make the choices we make.

I understand that you have not seen what I have seen in this regard. Maybe my repair experiences give me some insights and perspectives that a pure maker doesn't have? No matter, I sincerely thank you for acknowledging that it might be so--that I am relating real experiences that I have had, and consequently don't have to scrounge up photographic evidence to support my assertions.

I meant, and mean, no offense but my remarks about "passing fancy" were only to suggest that "I do it because that's the way I do it." doesn't reveal much. If we don't...or can't...even acknowledge that nails do rust, incontrovertibly, and that rust is destructive to vegetable tanned leather, then, in my mind we too casually dismiss the most important information we need to make a choice.

Let me ask you...you say the reason you choose nails is because you "like the way they hold work together solidly." Fair enough (although not quite what I was hoping for).

But have you ever pegged a heel together? Do you have any evidence, or even individual experience, that pegs don't hold work together just as solidly? Just as solidly as nails?

I've been pegging shoes and boots for near on 45 years+. In the waist for boots...and heel seats and heels on both shoes and boots up to 2-1/4" height ...and I've never had a heel come apart, even in extreme weather and under the duress of hard riding. That said, I know the weaknesses of pegging and will be (and have been) the first to admit to them. Here and elsewhere.

I also have seen nails used on manufactured boots and shoes in similar if not identical circumstances and I know both the solidity that you speak of (often because of rust and the clinching of the nail) and the weaknesses (for much the same reasons).

I admit the weaknesses of pegs...I'd like to have some insights into why the inherent weaknesses of nails (specifically the rusting issue, which is a scientific fact) don't matter. And esp. don't matter to people...such as Nicholas and yourself...who, and whose opinions, I respect.

edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 4/6/16 at 10:16am
post #1102 of 1710
So, in terms of heel stacks and their attachment, I am not sure I have heard a reason why nails are better than pegs, other than that they potentially make rebuilds easier or that they save time or they are somehow less expensive, overall. Do pegs when used by a skilled maker ever break or rot? Do pegs fail in any conditions more frequently than nails do?

It would make sense to me that a man who makes boots for people who spend a lot of time outdoors might be more familiar with the effects of challenging conditions, as compared to men who spend most of their time making dress shoes for wealthy men, who probably wear something different when visiting the country. Nobody expects dress shoes to do well in rough conditions, so they probably put them through a lot less, than guys who figure boots, even expensive ones, are meant to be worn in even wet conditions while caring for one's horses or riding them. It would also seem that boots being slid in and out of stirrups would place more stress on heels, or, at the least, a different stress on them.

As a guy who knows nothing about shoemaking, I am just commenting on what has been said in this thread and asking questions so I can learn a little more about the topic from a consumer's point-of-view.

One issue is how a person represents himself and his products. If I say "I make good shoes; here's what they cost; they should work well for you," I can cut plenty of corners and improve efficiency as long as the product functions "okay." If I say, "I make some of the finest shoes in the world, with all the best methods, and charge 20 times what a basically functional shoe would cost because this takes a lot of extra time and expertise" then I darn well better have a reason beyond something being "good enough" for using it in my products.

So, how about somebody tell me why I would want nails, instead of pegs, in the heels of my shoes? Otherwise, I can only take DW's word for it, based on his experience, that pegs are slightly better.

Edit: I wrote this while DW made the above post, so it doesn't incorporate that information.
post #1103 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirling View Post

So, in terms of heel stacks and their attachment, I am not sure I have heard a reason why nails are better than pegs, other than that they potentially make rebuilds easier or that they save time or they are somehow less expensive, overall. Do pegs when used by a skilled maker ever break or rot? Do pegs fail in any conditions more frequently than nails do?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
It would make sense to me that a man who makes boots for people who spend a lot of time outdoors might be more familiar with the effects of challenging conditions, as compared to men who spend most of their time making dress shoes for wealthy men, who probably wear something different when visiting the country. Nobody expects dress shoes to do well in rough conditions, so they probably put them through a lot less, than guys who figure boots, even expensive ones, are meant to be worn in even wet conditions while caring for one's horses or riding them. It would also seem that boots being slid in and out of stirrups would place more stress on heels, or, at the least, a different stress on them.

As a guy who knows nothing about shoemaking, I am just commenting on what has been said in this thread and asking questions so I can learn a little more about the topic from a consumer's point-of-view.

One issue is how a person represents himself and his products. If I say "I make good shoes; here's what they cost; they should work well for you," I can cut plenty of corners and improve efficiency as long as the product functions "okay." If I say, "I make some of the finest shoes in the world, with all the best methods, and charge 20 times what a basically functional shoe would cost because this takes a lot of extra time and expertise" then I darn well better have a reason beyond something being "good enough" for using it in my products.

So, how about somebody tell me why I would want nails, instead of pegs, in the heels of my shoes? Otherwise, I can only take DW's word for it, based on his experience, that pegs are slightly better.

Edit: I wrote this while DW made the above post, so it doesn't incorporate that information
.

Those are good questions...I think you've driven to the heart of the matter.

Two points of clarification...one in response to your question in the first paragraph. Yes, pegs are at risk in very dry conditions..such as the Arizona desert (a point Brinkerhoff makes). Balancing that is that they hold extremely well in moist or wet conditions--they swell up and hold even better. Foot perspiration is usually sufficient to keep them swollen...again except in very dry environments.

I don't want to give the impression that I am advocating pegs over nails (even if in my heart of hearts, I probably am) simply because I want to keep an open mind about this. I want to learn and believe I can learn from almost anyone. Saying outright that pegs are better than nails suggest a bias that precludes other data...just as dismissing the rust issues precludes any other perspectives.

That said, I will again observe that IMO neither is a perfect solution for mounting heel seats or outsoles or heel stacks. Pegs have their strengths, nails have their strengths.Stitching has its strengths. They are different. We each must decide whether, in any given situation, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses.
post #1104 of 1710
Can pegs be treated in some way to make them withstand dry conditions better?
post #1105 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirling View Post

Can pegs be treated in some way to make them withstand dry conditions better?

I've heard of peg wax...never seen nor known what it was. I used to think dipping then in hot pine tar would help...and maybe it does but all these additives simply make the peg more slippery. It's the old frog in the well scenario--one brick up, two back.
post #1106 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


I am not faulting you for choosing nails. I am seeking to understand your thinking. The suggestion was made...offhand I am sure...that neither is superior to the other...which begs the question of why you or I make the choices we make.

I understand that you have not seen what I have seen in this regard. Maybe my repair experiences give me some insights and perspectives that a pure maker doesn't have? No matter, I sincerely thank you for acknowledging that it might be so--that I am relating real experiences that I have had, and consequently don't have to scrounge up photographic evidence to support my assertions.

I meant, and mean, no offense but my remarks about "passing fancy" were only to suggest that "I do it because that's the way I do it" don't reveal much. If we don't...or can't...even acknowledge that nails do rust, incontrovertibly, and that rust is destructive to vegetable tanned leather, then, in my mind we too casually dismiss the most important information we need to make a choice.

Let me ask you...you say the reason you choose nails is because you "like the way they hold work together solidly." Fair enough (although not quite what i was hoping for) but have you ever pegged a heel together? Do you have any evidence, or even individual experience, that pegs don't hold work together just as solidly?

I've been pegging shoes and boots for near on 45 years+. In the waist for boots and heels up to 2-1/4" height with nothing but pegs...and never had a heel come apart, even in extreme weather and under the duress of hard riding. That said, I know the weaknesses of pegging and will be (and have been) the first to admit to them. Here and elsewhere.

I also have seen nails used on manufactured boots and shoes in similar if not identical circumstances and I know both the solidity that you speak of (often because of rust and.the clinching of the nail) and the weaknesses (for much the same reasons).

I admit the weaknesses of pegs...I'd like to have some insights into why the inherent weaknesses of nails (specifically the rusting issue which is a scientific fact) don't matter. and esp. don't matter to people...such as Nicholas and yourself...who, and whose opinions, I respect.

I'm sure your boot heels are excellent and yes I have pegged heels together  I prefer nails , the rust issue has not degraded shoes I have worked on  maybe the beeswax is a help.

I have worked repairing  pre my formal training and also in my early years to suppliment my income.Every material has weaknesses, wood rots , leather cracks and rots, metals degrade.

I put shoes together with the best materialsI can find  and workmanship to my best ability ,if I see a method that I think will improve things I change my ways, it's not that weaknesses in materials don't matter to me but I trust in what I have  seen works and has stood the test of time for me.

I can't really speak for manufactured shoes as the quality of materials varies so much and I'm sure many leave a lot to be desired.

I guess I have a lot to learn and only have limited time to ponder here, shoemaking demands time, lots of it and I have shoes to make. I contribute my opinion and experience to give another angle on the subject. I leave it to better men than me to resolve the question.

post #1107 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by j-mac View Post

I guess I have a lot to learn and only have limited time to ponder here, shoemaking demands time, lots of it and I have shoes to make. I contribute my opinion and experience to give another angle on the subject. I leave it to better men than me to resolve the question.

We all can learn.

I'm 70 years old and while I stay busy at shoes and boots much of the time, I've slowed down considerably. And, sadly but probably inevitably, I sometimes feel that I'm spending as much time dealing with medical issues as any other "leisure" pursuit.

That said, with age comes a more spiritual, more contemplative perspective. And that's as it should be, I think.
post #1108 of 1710
For a shoemaker who had not regularly worked with pegs, but who was experienced and talented, how long would it take to learn to use pegs well, so that he might be able to satisfy the request of customer who wanted his shoes made with them? Is it something that one could one learn on one's own or would one need to have a skilled peg user there in person to teach their use?
post #1109 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirling View Post

For a shoemaker who had not regularly worked with pegs, but who was experienced and talented, how long would it take to learn to use pegs well, so that he might be able to satisfy the request of customer who wanted his shoes made with them? Is it something that one could one learn on one's own or would one need to have a skilled peg user there in person to teach their use?

It's not a matter of skill really...no more than driving a nail is. It takes a knack but all that is just practice.

What it requires mostly is time. It probably takes 3-4 times as much time/work as driving a nail.
post #1110 of 1710

@Nick V. probably has seen the most shoes being repaired on this forum to chime in regarding nail rusting issues. But then @DWFII will just discrediting his experiences as he's not a shoemaker nor worked on every single pair of shoes in his shop.

As a consumer I had bad experiences with outsole pegs coming loose/falling out but never nails or toe plate screws.


Edited by chogall - 4/6/16 at 1:25pm
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