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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 92

post #1366 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

There are quite a few people who seem to appreciate what I try to do. More...in this thread at least...than those who don't. And I can't adequately put into words how much I value them.

That said there are always those who feel threatened or put off by confidence or ideas that they don't understand or aren't in control of. Most of the people I get into it with have been dogging my heels since I came on SF. Nick, Bengal Stripe, chogal...actively....and a few others who have either put me on their ignore list or given up trying to convince me that their unfounded sense of entitlement trumps first hand experience.

Every time I see one of these folks' username in the Currently Viewing area, I expect to be dissed, discounted or disagreed with, regardless of any objective reason. Just a matter of time.

===================================================================

As for heel height...there are not many things that a non-shoemaker can do to determine if the heel height is correct. For that you need to put the original last back in the shoe. At which point, a check of the location in the forepart where the outsole is resting on ground, can tell you if the shoe is properly balanced. The properly balance shoe needs to rest at the tread line...line, not approximate region. Of course, there is more to it than that...a shoe needs to be balanced lengthwise as well as width-wise.

Personally, I don't hold with the heel sitting much off of flush with ground but there are some makers who build with a heel spring. I have asked but never gotten much in the way of an answer from those who take this approach, perhaps because it is simply something they learned or intuit as being useful, not something they can articulate. I don't know and can't say one way or the other if there is any benefit in setting the heel askew. But I can't find any logic in it myself, unless it has to do with not putting a metal shank in the shoe--as a foil to arch/waist collapse.

Often times, however...for various reasons...a shoe that has been worn will seem to sit off-kilter in the heel--as if it had heel spring built in. And when they are taken in for repair, the kindly (but ill-informed) and saintly-looking old cobbler will take it upon himself to "correct" the problem. To make the shoe "better." So he grinds the perceived heel spring off. Or he adds another layer...for whatever reason...never considering that he might be altering not just the maker's intent but the gait of the owner of the shoes as well. Not to mention the structural integrity of the shoe.

But without the original last, the best intentioned cobbler doesn't know how the shoe should be balanced anymore than the consumer does.

Hope that helps...

--

DW,
Thanks for that explanation. It was quite clear indeed.
However I'm not very sure what a few terms mean...
Pardon me, but what is a tread line, and how do I locate this line on my shoes.
Also, when you say that a shoe must be balanced both length-wise and width-wise, do you mean that when you look at the shoe end on, it should not be canting / tilting to either side... ?
I know you've talked about this ad nauseum, but if let's say you looked at a shoe, and the forepart of the shoe was sitting so flat that there is zero toe spring, could you also perhaps infer that the heel has been built up too high for the last?

Thanks in advance.
post #1367 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

DW,
Thanks for that explanation. It was quite clear indeed.
However I'm not very sure what a few terms mean...
Pardon me, but what is a tread line, and how do I locate this line on my shoes.

Ah! Now we're starting to get into the Art and the Mysterie (a catch-all phase that refers to title of an old, old book about shoemaking).

The tread line is an imaginary line that runs across the plantar surface of the foot corresponding, roughly, to the joint between the ends of each of the metatarsal heads and the proximal phalanges. I suppose it might also be called the joint line. Or the ball-of-the-foot line. It is the line along which the foot bends. I think it was Golding that said that it was usually at a 17° degree angle to the centerline of the foot, IIRC.
Quote:
Also, when you say that a shoe must be balanced both length-wise and width-wise, do you mean that when you look at the shoe end on, it should not be canting / tilting to either side... ?

Yes and no...it is a little more complicated than that but that's the right idea.Theoretically, a well designed last will sit on the read line just to the medial side of the centerline of the last. This point corresponds to the LOMA--Line of Muscular Action. Some last are designed and made such that the plane of the heel is canted upward on the medial side when the last is balanced correctly. This seems counter intuitive to some but even the healthy foot is often happier in that position and it is a foil to pronation.
Quote:
I know you've talked about this ad nauseum, but if let's say you looked at a shoe, and the forepart of the shoe was sitting so flat that there is zero toe spring, could you also perhaps infer that the heel has been built up too high for the last?

No, not necessarily, First, many modern day lasts have very little toe spring. Theoretically this creates more and deeper wrinkles as the shoe is worn but it is the current fashion and doesn't mean that the heel is too tall. Again, the only way is to put the last back in the shoe and check for where the forepart is touching ground...like the floor or a shelf. If the forepart touches further forward than the treadline the heel is too high and the last was not respected...either in the making or in a repair job.

However, if the shoe touches well forward of the treadline even without the last in it, something is amiss. And it is a good initial guess that that the shoe was improperly balanced. But we have to be careful simply because the way the materials from which the shoe was made and even the way the shoes are stored, potentially have an impact in this regard.

And the opposite is also true--if the shoe is wearing extensively behind the metatarsal heads (well into the waist) chances are also good that something is wrong or has been changed.

I need to reiterate that without the last these are all guesses and can also sometimes be indications of improper fit.

That said, it is not always easy for the non-shoemaker to determine exactly where the treadline should be...with or without the last.
post #1368 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

Ah! Now we're starting to get into the Art and the Mysterie (a catch-all phase that refers to title of an old, old book about shoemaking).

The tread line is an imaginary line that runs across the plantar surface of the foot corresponding, roughly, to the joint between the ends of each of the metatarsal heads and the proximal phalanges. I suppose it might also be called the joint line. Or the ball-of-the-foot line. It is the line along which the foot bends. I think it was Golding that said that it was usually at a 17° degree angle to the centerline of the foot, IIRC.
Yes and no...it is a little more complicated than that but that's the right idea.Theoretically, a well designed last will sit on the read line just to the medial side of the centerline of the last. This point corresponds to the LOMA--Line of Muscular Action. Some last are designed and made such that the plane of the heel is canted upward on the medial side when the last is balanced correctly. This seems counter intuitive to some but even the healthy foot is often happier in that position and it is a foil to pronation.
No, not necessarily, First, many modern day lasts have very little toe spring. Theoretically this creates more and deeper wrinkles as the shoe is worn but it is the current fashion and doesn't mean that the heel is too tall. Again, the only way is to put the last back in the shoe and check for where the forepart is touching ground...like the floor or a shelf. If the forepart touches further forward than the treadline the heel is too high and the last was not respected...either in the making or in a repair job.

However, if the shoe touches well forward of the treadline even without the last in it, something is amiss. And it is a good initial guess that that the shoe was improperly balanced. But we have to be careful simply because the way the materials from which the shoe was made and even the way the shoes are stored, potentially have an impact in this regard.

And the opposite is also true--if the shoe is wearing extensively behind the metatarsal heads (well into the waist) chances are also good that something is wrong or has been changed.

I need to reiterate that without the last these are all guesses and can also sometimes be indications of improper fit.

That said, it is not always easy for the non-shoemaker to determine exactly where the treadline should be...with or without the last.

Many thanks once again DW.
This post gave me quite a lot to think about. And just made me respect bespoke makers a whole lot more.
I am not an expert on feet but I do have a working knowledge of anatomy. And based on your description, the tread line, a line connecting the metatarsophalangeal joints of all 5 toes is in fact, actually not a straight line but more like a gentle outward curve with the apex usually at the second toe.
Looking at a (RTW) last I have at home, it seems like this line is not apparent.
And now I'm trying to think. A bespoke maker has to remember where this line is (for his client), translate that into making his last, and then add on the insole, the filler, the outsole, and finally calculate how high the heel should be, so that the final shoe sits and balances right on this fine line.... is truly an "engineering" feat nothing short of miraculous.
Respect.... truly.
Considering that, and also the different phases of walking. I also realise how brilliant early last makers were. Because just by placing the foot in the shoe and doing nothing else, the 2 points of contact with the ground, would be the heel and the tread line, with the foot in a position of just very slight plantarflexion. This would roughly coincide with the "stance" phase of walking with probably just the slightest bit of toe off. I imagine this would give us pretty good biomechanical advantage.
Quite miraculous, how brilliant this is...
Furthermore, your discussion on the heel height, toe spring and also how a properly fitted shoe should sit, also relates to what you've talked about in a few much earlier posts in different threads. About why metal toe tips and double leather soles should NOT be needed, in a pair of PROPERLY fitting shoes. I used to blame my gait for me chewing up the toes on my leather soles, and maybe it might still be partially the case, but with this new information you've just shared, I now agree that it's definitely more a question of proper fit and biomechanics that will give rise to sole with more or less pretty even wear.
post #1369 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

Many thanks once again DW.
This post gave me quite a lot to think about. And just made me respect bespoke makers a whole lot more.
I am not an expert on feet but I do have a working knowledge of anatomy. And based on your description, the tread line, a line connecting the metatarsophalangeal joints of all 5 toes is in fact, actually not a straight line but more like a gentle outward curve with the apex usually at the second toe.
Looking at a (RTW) last I have at home, it seems like this line is not apparent. Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
And now I'm trying to think. A bespoke maker has to remember where this line is (for his client), translate that into making his last, and then add on the insole, the filler, the outsole, and finally calculate how high the heel should be, so that the final shoe sits and balances right on this fine line.... is truly an "engineering" feat nothing short of miraculous.
Respect.... truly.
Considering that, and also the different phases of walking. I also realise how brilliant early last makers were. Because just by placing the foot in the shoe and doing nothing else, the 2 points of contact with the ground, would be the heel and the tread line, with the foot in a position of just very slight plantarflexion. This would roughly coincide with the "stance" phase of walking with probably just the slightest bit of toe off. I imagine this would give us pretty good biomechanical advantage.
Quite miraculous, how brilliant this is...
Furthermore, your discussion on the heel height, toe spring and also how a properly fitted shoe should sit, also relates to what you've talked about in a few much earlier posts in different threads. About why metal toe tips and double leather soles should NOT be needed, in a pair of PROPERLY fitting shoes. I used to blame my gait for me chewing up the toes on my leather soles, and maybe it might still be partially the case, but with this new information you've just shared, I now agree that it's definitely more a question of proper fit and biomechanics that will give rise to sole with more or less pretty even wear.

I didn't know your background with regard to anatomy.

Yes, you're absolutely correct about the curve of the metatarsal phalangeal joints.

However, the method I was taught, and work with, doesn't take that curve into consideration, really. And actually, I've never seen curved joint lines on the worksheets of other makers, either. It has always been a straight line to connect the medial ball joint with the lateral ball joint. This is the treadline.

The line of muscular action runs roughly between the first and second metatarsal heads (on a "normal," average, foot) to the center of the back of the heel. Again, entirely imaginary but in theory the average of a series of vectors which describe the movement and the forces the foot is subject to during gait.

A lot of this is derived directly or by implication / intuition from Victorian shoemakers such as Swaysland and Golding (although IIRC, he was a bit later). Many of whom spent their lives trying to codify the foot and reduce it to mathematically precise and reproducible formulae. The best of it, IMO--Sabbage's Sectionizer--is still very workable and apropos to fitting the foot.

None of it describes real life feet however and a maker must see it as a framework rather than a set of hard and fast rules.

I'll tell you what I find fascinating...how many makers through the centuries have become really good fitters without a lick of formal training in anatomy and / or biomechanics. Which is not to say they didn't spend their lives studying the foot and its relationship to the shoe.

Almost in passing, I would observe that the treadline is not apparent on any last although it is implied and even codified into every graded last. But IMO, as a bespoke maker, it's almost irrelevant unless the last is tailored to a specific foot. We find the treadline on the footprint. Like wise the LOMA. the last is created, or modded/modeled to meet those parameters, that foot, not the other way around...as could be argued in the case of RTW.

--
Edited by DWFII - 5/12/16 at 8:43pm
post #1370 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


I didn't know your background with regard to anatomy.

Yes, you're absolutely correct about the curve of the metatarsal phalangeal joints.

However, the method I was taught, and work with, doesn't take that curve into consideration, really. And actually, I've never seen curved joint lines on the worksheets of other makers, either. It has always been a straight line to connect the medial ball joint with the lateral ball joint. This is the treadline.

The line of muscular action runs roughly between the first and second metatarsal heads (on a "normal," average, foot) to the center of the back of the heel. Again, entirely imaginary but in theory the average of a series of vectors which describe the movement and the forces the foot is subject to during gait.

A lot of this is derived directly or by implication / intuition from Victorian shoemakers such as Swaysland and Golding (although IIRC, he was a bit later). Many of whom spent their lives trying to codify the foot and reduce it to mathematically precise and reproducible formulae. The best of it, IMO--Sabbage's Sectionizer--is still very workable and apropos to fitting the foot.

None of it describes real life feet however and a maker must see it as a framework rather than a set of hard and fast rules.

I'll tell you what I find fascinating...how many makers through the centuries have become really good fitters without a lick of formal training in anatomy and / or biomechanics. Which is not to say they didn't spend their lives studying the foot and its relationship to the shoe.

Almost in passing, I would observe that the treadline is not apparent on any last although it is implied and even codified into every graded last. But IMO, as a bespoke maker, it's almost irrelevant unless the last is tailored to a specific foot. We find the treadline on the footprint. Like wise the LOMA. the last is created, or modded/modeled to meet those parameters, that foot, not the other way around...as could be argued in the case of RTW.

--

Again, thanks for elaborating.

I do agree, it's quite amazing how people from centuries ago figured things out without the help of modern science and computers.

And unfortunately, how far we might have fallen since....

I think a lot of parallels can also be drawn in other fields, architecture, astronomy, on how many discoveries were already made a long time ago, and "lost" with time...... only to be "rediscovered" again, and us realising that people long before us had already known this. 

post #1371 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

About why metal toe tips and double leather soles should NOT be needed, in a pair of PROPERLY fitting shoes. I used to blame my gait for me chewing up the toes on my leather soles, and maybe it might still be partially the case, but with this new information you've just shared, I now agree that it's definitely more a question of proper fit and biomechanics that will give rise to sole with more or less pretty even wear.

If I were you, I wouldn’t be too hasty in my conclusions.

Here is a picture of the bottom on a bespoke shoe made by John Lobb (Paris) for forum member ’agjiffy’. There can be little doubt that JLP is one of the finest (and most expensive) shoemaking firms in the world. This shoe will have been produced over a bespoke last (from scratch), made for agjiffy and no-one else in the world.

Quote:
Originally Posted by agjiffy View Post

Those are bespoke. It is based on the '98 St Crepin but these are a bespoke version.


Here is another pair of agjiffy’s JLP bespoke shoes (presumably made over the same last) after some, but not excessive wear. Nevertheless the tips show extensive toe chewing, exposing already the stitches around the toe. It’s fair to presume, in a year’s time the tips will be chewed down to the welt causing serious damage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by agjiffy View Post





I’ve heard this dismissed as being caused by excessive length of the shoe/last, but agjiffy is very specific that the JLP shoes are shorter and snugger in fit than other of his bespoke shoes by different makers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by agjiffy View Post

They do a great job. The really amazing thing is how close JLP fits the shoe to your foot. Below is JLP lined up against cleverley and Koji Suzuki. The Lobb is about two inches smaller. It's as if they want to do something fundamentally different from other makers. For me at least the fit is levels above anything else


Quote:
Originally Posted by agjiffy View Post

I'm not saying length has to do with fit. I'm just saying that Lobb Paris tries to deemphasize the foot and cuts the shoe much closer to the foot than other makers (your "second skin" reference). That goes for the whole shoe, although length is the way in which its most visible to the naked eye. As for whether that correlates to fit, it depends on what you like. I'm sure there are some who like a roomier feel, although I bet Lobb could do that as well. I'm just saying that as a stylistic matter, Lobb makes a smaller and closer shoe. I imagine that leaves less room for error, but I'm not a shoemaker.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderMarch View Post

I know you've talked about this ad nauseum, but if let's say you looked at a shoe, and the forepart of the shoe was sitting so flat that there is zero toe spring, could you also perhaps infer that the heel has been built up too high for the last

Most of the shoes with (almost) zero toe spring will have seen, would have been bespoke sample shoes by French makers, like Jimenez or JLP. I remember, a few years ago Corthay had a trunk show in London, displaying his ready-to-wear and bespoke samples. The RTW had a conventional toe spring, while the bespoke samples had virtually none, lying on the table like a plank of wood. I asked him about that and he said he was doing it for the samples because it made them look more attractive. If I were to order a bespoke shoe, the last produced for me would have a more conventional toe spring. And if you look at agjiffi's JLP shoes, they were not made with zero toe spring

When you design or make a last you can decide on whatever toe spring or heel pitch you feel is appropriate (independent of each other). If you use an existing last, the relationship is fixed. Just like a playground see-saw, if one side goes down, the other one goes up.
post #1372 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post

I’ve heard this dismissed as being caused by excessive length of the shoe/last, but agjiffy is very specific that the JLP shoes are shorter and snugger in fit than other of his bespoke shoes by different makers.

It's really hard to see the damage you're referring to from these thumbnails. But given that your interpretation is on point, clearly length is not an issue. That said, no one has ever claimed that length is the whole story. But it is certainly a potential culprit. The mechanics of gait and the way the shoe itself responds to walking demands that length be suspected.Along with fit and the idiosyncrasies of an individual's gait. Clearly the foot itself doesn't need toe plates nor do moccasins.

And a further factor might be the temper of the insole, outsole and even the toes stiffener.

That said toe spring itself could be the culprit. With more toe spring the toe of the shoe is in contact with the ground for less time and at a less weighted portion of the walking sequence than a shoe with less toe spring. It's also worth noting that reduced or too little toe spring doesn't have to be zero toe spring.
Quote:
When you design or make a last you can decide on whatever toe spring or heel pitch you feel is appropriate (independent of each other). If you use an existing last, the relationship is fixed. Just like a playground see-saw, if one side goes down, the other one goes up.

Sure you can. You can do damn near anything you want but the question is "should you?" There are always consequences. Just because you decide a lower toe spring is appropriate, doesn't mean there is no effect or even a good effect. And while it is true that using partially turned blanks of wood or even standard lasts leaves you with a more or less fixed toe spring and heel height (not really or always true) that doesn't mean it's not a good thing. It's not like such parameters are pulled out of a hat by some shoe groupie. These factors have evolved over a long period of time and are usually a result of a great deal of study.

One of the reasons I like starting with a standard last is that toe spring, heel pitch and bottom radius are controlled. Are reliable. And the lasts are precise mirror images of each other. No subtle variation or deviation between the two.

You have belaboured the point that handwelting is subject to all the vagaries of human nature and human failure and that, in your opinion, poor hand welting is worse than GY. I disagree--it's clearly a value judgement that is bereft of hands-on experience and ignores the salient aspects such as the materials and techniques that go into each technique. But that is neither here nor there. It simply illustrates the contradiction in your thinking. If handwelting can be so variable and so bad depending on the person doing it, it is reasonable and logical to assume that the same applies to hand carved lasts. At least a lathe-turned last is consistent.

What a maker does with it makes all the difference.

--
Edited by DWFII - 5/13/16 at 6:05am
post #1373 of 1710
When I make a last, I do a curved treadline. It really just involves a bit of work on the bottom of the last.

Most bespoke last makers whom I know tend to put the center of the last's toe aligned with the center of the second toe, or even the space between the second and third toes. This changes the centerline of the last a bit, relative to what DW refers to as the Line of Muscular Action. The bespoke last makers with whom I've spoken don't really pay attention to the LOMA. Centering the last's toe on the LOMA leads to a last with greater 'swing,' in general giving more of a 'banana' shape to the last.
post #1374 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post



One of the reasons I like starting with a standard last is that toe spring, heel pitch and bottom radius are controlled. Are reliable. And the lasts are precise mirror images of each other. No subtle variation or deviation between the two.

You have belaboured the point that handwelting is subject to all the vagaries of human nature and human failure and that, in your opinion, poor hand welting is worse than GY. I disagree--it's clearly a value judgement that is bereft of hands-on experience and ignores the salient aspects such as the materials and techniques that go into each technique. But that is neither here nor there. It simply illustrates the contradiction in your thinking. If handwelting can be so variable and so bad depending on the person doing it, it is reasonable and logical to assume that the same applies to hand carved lasts. At least a lathe-turned last is consistent.

What a maker does with it makes all the difference.

Well, I am not sure it is as simple as that. I'm not going to get into the debate of good GYW vs. poor hand-welting, but it seems to me that the issue there is which will have greater impact on the performance of the shoe -- durability, long-term maintenance of last shape, perhaps benefits of filler vs. no filler.

The issue of consistency of the lasts is, IMO, a bit different. In other words, if there is inconsistency in some areas (e.g. bottom radius) between a pair of lasts, is there any detriment to the customer? Will it affect his gait, his comfort, etc? I'm not sure the answer is yes. Furthermore, generally, there is variance between the customer's two feet, so the lasts inherently have to be different to be correctly fitted.

So, again for example, if you have two feet, with a different joint width and hence insole width, what is the 'correct' bottom radius. Should the two radii be the same, leading the wider last to have the feather line higher off the ground than the narrower ? Or, should the two lasts have the feather line the same height off the ground, thereby necessitating a different bottom radius for the two lasts? If you believe the latter, then the bottom radius of a fitted-up factory last must be altered, or one cannot achieve this outcome.

One thing that several bespoke last makers have told me is that they believe the work on the bottom of their lasts is what provides the greatest fit benefits to their customers. I think it is a reluctance in changing the last bottoms when working with factory lasts that may be the biggest downside in fitting up factory lasts.
post #1375 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoefan View Post

When I make a last, I do a curved treadline. It really just involves a bit of work on the bottom of the last.

I'd very much like to see how one of your lasts with a curved treadline compares with a last without. That said, you would I suspect acknowledge that the treadline ...whether curved or straight...is anchored at the medial ball joint and the lateral joint, respectively. At least the way I learned... and all the books I've read suggest...that the heel to ball measurement is determined by the length from the back of the heel to the medial ball joint. So I'm not sure how you model the curved treadline of the foot in the last when you cannot see it.

Quote:
Most bespoke last makers whom I know tend to put the center of the last's toe aligned with the center of the second toe, or even the space between the second and third toes. This changes the centerline of the last a bit, relative to what DW refers to as the Line of Muscular Action. The bespoke last makers with whom I've spoken don't really pay attention to the LOMA.Centering the last's toe on the LOMA leads to a last with greater 'swing,' in general giving more of a 'banana' shape to the last.

Closer to the way the foot really is. A theory embodied by the Munson last. In fact, I have often heard that European lasts tend to swing more than commercialized American lasts. In an effort, presumably, to create a more healthy last (and a more healthy foot).

For myself...I have some, admittedly slight but nevertheless some, acquaintance with vector theory and I suspect that there is relevance and probably the closest we will ever get, non-digitally, to modeling the foot while it is in motion.

--
Edited by DWFII - 5/13/16 at 6:50am
post #1376 of 1710
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shoefan View Post

Well, I am not sure it is as simple as that. I'm not going to get into the debate of good GYW vs. poor hand-welting, but it seems to me that the issue there is which will have greater impact on the performance of the shoe -- durability, long-term maintenance of last shape, perhaps benefits of filler vs. no filler.

The issue of consistency of the lasts is, IMO, a bit different. In other words, if there is inconsistency in some areas (e.g. bottom radius) between a pair of lasts, is there any detriment to the customer? Will it affect his gait, his comfort, etc? I'm not sure the answer is yes. Furthermore, generally, there is variance between the customer's two feet, so the lasts inherently have to be different to be correctly fitted.

So, again for example, if you have two feet, with a different joint width and hence insole width, what is the 'correct' bottom radius. Should the two radii be the same, leading the wider last to have the feather line higher off the ground than the narrower ? Or, should the two lasts have the feather line the same height off the ground, thereby necessitating a different bottom radius for the two lasts? If you believe the latter, then the bottom radius of a fitted-up factory last must be altered, or one cannot achieve this outcome.

One thing that several bespoke last makers have told me is that they believe the work on the bottom of their lasts is what provides the greatest fit benefits to their customers. I think it is a reluctance in changing the last bottoms when working with factory lasts that may be the biggest downside in fitting up factory lasts.

All that's probably true but even with the best last maker carving from a block of wood there can be some discrepancies--not from consistency, but from the actual contours of the foot. Each individual foot. Discrepancies that are at variance from the actual foot. It's always an approximation, IOW. The foot itself however, is designed to deal with irregularities underfoot. So, all other things being optimal, that probably doesn't matter. But if it doesn't matter then it doesn't matter if the bottom radii are identical either...all other things being optimal.

So which is preferable? A pair of factory lasts that don't model the perceived, interpreted(?) details of the individual foot very well but are identical or a pair of hand carved lasts that may not, probably don't, model the foot very well either?

It is perhaps worth remembering that bottom radii are always and even more of an approximation simply because the plantar aspect of the foot doesn't have any, or even regular, radii. A well-respected model maker, told me years ago that the radii on the bottom of a last were there not because they model the foot but because the perform useful or aesthetic functions for the shoe.

Two other points...aspects of the bottom of a last other than the radii are more critical...such as HB length and the degree in the heel and the toes spring. All these are far more variable and far more subject to accidental variation on a hand carved last than on a factory last. Depending on the lastmaker, of course.

But as you suggest there is nothing to prevent the bespoke maker modding factory lasts from recognizing and altering the bottom of a last. To me it seems only logical to start with parameters you can rely on and make the modifications than shoot for maybe.

Finally, I think my saddlemaking experience colours my perspective here. Not the saddlemaking per se but the opinion of the farriers I talked with when taking my training. I have been told repeatedly that a poor job of shoeing a horse can cripple it. And even slight discrepancies--a little too much shaving here, not enough there...can make a critical difference. In some ways making shoes is the same thing and neither approach is immune to such considerations. So would you rather wear a shoe that was made on a last by someone who was perhaps not a master last maker and made mistakes, errors of judgement..."too much shaving here, too little there"...or one where the bottom aspect is consistent and regular and a proven factor...albeit with the modifications the bespoke shoemaker adds to the last?

Which is preferable?

I don't know that there's an answer but to discount one approach...perhaps simply out of a misplaced parochialism...is to to discount the makers.

--
post #1377 of 1710
Thread Starter 
There's another point that I think is worth remembering in this context--we don't make shoes from casts of the feet.

There is no cone on a foot, no featherline, no comb, no toe spring, no heel pitch. And to the degree that these things exist on a last with some putative correspondence to actual foot topography, they are often altered, extended, squeezed, narrowed, etc. to shape the shoe, to perform a function not strictly congruent with foot shape.

It is always good to model the foot as closely as possible but that possibility is not absolute. And there is always the expectation that one one way or another, the foot will have to accommodate itself to the shoe rather than vice versa.
post #1378 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

All that's probably true but even with the best last maker carving from a block of wood there can be some discrepancies--not from consistency, but from the actual contours of the foot. Each individual foot. Discrepancies that are at variance from the actual foot. It's always an approximation, IOW. The foot itself however, is designed to deal with irregularities underfoot. So, all other things being optimal, that probably doesn't matter. But if it doesn't matter then it doesn't matter if the bottom radii are identical either...all other things being optimal.

So which is preferable? A pair of factory lasts that don't model the perceived, interpreted(?) details of the individual foot very well but are identical or a pair of hand carved lasts that may not, probably don't, model the foot very well either?

It is perhaps worth remembering that bottom radii are always and even more of an approximation simply because the plantar aspect of the foot doesn't have any, or even regular, radii. A well-respected model maker, told me years ago that the radii on the bottom of a last were there not because they model the foot but because the perform useful or aesthetic functions for the shoe.

Two other points...aspects of the bottom of a last other than the radii are more critical...such as HB length and the degree in the heel and the toes spring. All these are far more variable and far more subject to accidental variation on a hand carved last than on a factory last. Depending on the lastmaker, of course.

But as you suggest there is nothing to prevent the bespoke maker modding factory lasts from recognizing and altering the bottom of a last. To me it seems only logical to start with parameters you can rely on and make the modifications than shoot for maybe.

Finally, I think my saddlemaking experience colours my perspective here. Not the saddlemaking per se but the opinion of the farriers I talked with when taking my training. I have been told repeatedly that a poor job of shoeing a horse can cripple it. And even slight discrepancies--a little too much shaving here, not enough there...can make a critical difference. In some ways making shoes is the same thing and neither approach is immune to such considerations. So would you rather wear a shoe that was made on a last by someone who was perhaps not a master last maker and made mistakes, errors of judgement..."too much shaving here, too little there"...or one where the bottom aspect is consistent and regular and a proven factor...albeit with the modifications the bespoke shoemaker adds to the last?

Which is preferable?

I don't know that there's an answer but to discount one approach...perhaps simply out of a misplaced parochialism...is to to discount the makers.

--
Don't know if that last sentence is aimed at me, but I don't think I discounted any approach, simply was asking some questions and giving some thoughts based on your earlier assertions....

A few follow-up thoughts. First, of course pretty much any last maker (in my experience at least) would agree that HB is the first and most important measure; to me, that is a given, but it also doesn't address the modified factory vs. bespoke-from-scratch last question. Clearly either approach can do this correctly, or not, depending on the skill of the maker/modifier. You've previously asserted (and I agree) that toe spring is an aesthetic decision, so how will a slight variance in toe spring affect the wearer? And, I would submit, making toe spring match up is a pretty straightforward process in last making. I don't think many last makers would not pay attention to this very obvious detail, and variations are quite apparent.

Second, I think we can acknowledge that most people, perhaps the overwhelming majority of people, are walking around in mis-fit shoes, and most of them are not suffering from crippling injuries to their feet. So, perhaps that might suggest that a misfit is not so damaging. Assuming, arguendo, that is that case, then I would submit that any decent last maker's product, tuned to the customer's specific measurements, tracings, etc., will be far superior to what the average human is walking around in today, and any unintentional variances across a pair of bespoke lasts are unlikely to have a hugely deleterious impact on the wearer (putting aside specific orthopedic cases wherein a misfit can have profound consequences, e.g. with diabetic feet).

Third, granting that the last varies from the foot (e.g. bottom radius, height of cone vs. the foot's instep, and others), then it follows to ask the question: what deleterious consequences will arise due small variances between lasts in those inherent deviations?

And one follow up question: what bottom modifications you do make to when fitting up factory lasts? Do you 'cut' the bottom of the last if, for example, someone's pedograph shows a very high instep with virtually no print in the instep/waist? If you do, is that last one you can reuse for future customers? In your experience/exposure to others (mostly bootmakers, I guess), do folks who are fitting up lasts mess around with the last bottoms?

At the end of the day, it seems to me, either a fitted up factory last or a bespoke last will, as you say, vary from the foot in some ways. Furthermore, and I agree, there is likely to be some variance across a pair of bespoke lasts, even for an identical pair of feet. However, no two feet are identical. So, either there will be variance across a pair of fitted up lasts or, by definition, one of those lasts is suboptimal. So, to me, the ultimate question becomes: which approach leads to better fitting shoes: a pair of bespoke lasts, each one made to the specific characteristics of the foot, but with some natural/unintended variances across the two lasts, or a pair of fitted up factory lasts, with greater consistency in some parameters, but with perhaps different variances from the customer's feet vs. the from-scratch bespoke lasts? At the end of the day, a lot will probably depend on the skill of the last maker/modifier. However, I think you and I reach a different generalized conclusion as to the answer to the foregoing question. I don't think either of us can prove things one way or the other, though perhaps we can continue to educate each other.
post #1379 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shoefan View Post

Don't know if that last sentence is aimed at me, but I don't think I discounted any approach, simply was asking some questions and giving some thoughts based on your earlier assertions....

No, not aimed at you. Thank you for "asking."
Quote:
A few follow-up thoughts. First, of course pretty much any last maker (in my experience at least) would agree that HB is the first and most important measure; to me, that is a given, but it also doesn't address the modified factory vs. bespoke-from-scratch last question. Clearly either approach can do this correctly, or not, depending on the skill of the maker/modifier. You've previously asserted (and I agree) that toe spring is an aesthetic decision, so how will a slight variance in toe spring affect the wearer? And, I would submit, making toe spring match up is a pretty straightforward process in last making. I don't think many last makers would not pay attention to this very obvious detail, and variations are quite apparent.

I'm not sure it would be a significant factor in carving a last, either, esp. for the very skilled--but I don't know for sure. That said, and the reason I cite it is that it relates back to the OP of this particular strand...regarding toe spring and heel height and toe plates etc.. Perhaps for the reader as well as myself you could elaborate and describe how you make sure the toe spring is identical. Myself I am having an hard time imagining any effective or reliable method that doesn't take the whole forepart and the treadline into consideration.
Quote:
Second, I think we can acknowledge that most people, perhaps the overwhelming majority of people, are walking around in mis-fit shoes, and most of them are not suffering from crippling injuries to their feet
.

Yet. Feet are nothing if not wonderfully adaptable and strong. They have to be. That said, fallen metatarsal arches, or even bunion or hammer toes, etc., don't develop overnight. I literally takes years as the feet of many women attest to. But as adaptable as they are, they are not indestructible. And once damaged, the only cure...and a poor one at that...is often surgery or is not remediable.
Quote:
So, perhaps that might suggest that a misfit is not so damaging. Assuming, arguendo, that is that case, then I would submit that any decent last maker's product, tuned to the customer's specific measurements, tracings, etc., will be far superior to what the average human is walking around in today, and any unintentional variances across a pair of bespoke lasts are unlikely to have a hugely deleterious impact on the wearer (putting aside specific orthopedic cases wherein a misfit can have profound consequences, e.g. with diabetic feet).

Third, granting that the last varies from the foot (e.g. bottom radius, height of cone vs. the foot's instep, and others), then it follows to ask the question: what deleterious consequences will arise due small variances between lasts in those inherent deviations?

Exactly...probably none in my opinion...all other things being optimal, But perhaps (?) what you're missing is that esp. since feet are designed to accommodate irregularities underfoot, a less than stringent or even a symmetrical approach to bottom shape is no more deleterious than a modeled bottom with variations not precisely congruent with the foot.

Quote:
And one follow up question: what bottom modifications you do make to when fitting up factory lasts? Do you 'cut' the bottom of the last if, for example, someone's pedograph shows a very high instep with virtually no print in the instep/waist? If you do, is that last one you can reuse for future customers? In your experience/exposure to others (mostly bootmakers, I guess), do folks who are fitting up lasts mess around with the last bottoms?

Yes I do. I even take note of unusually heavy imprinting of met heads and occasionally place build ups to accommodate them. My own feet naturally (nothing pathological) pronate slightly and I have a very low arch. I have a build-ups in the waist/arch of my lasts to model this. I do not think, however, that this is always necessary despite the foot topography or prints. Much of it has to do with the type of shoe or boot being made. And heel height.

But this is no different from a maker (and many, even those carving their own lasts, take this approach) ignoring the foot print...if one is even taken. Or ignoring, not even recording, the long heel measurement. Part of what agjiffy was describing and "raving" about (presumably because it was different from other shoes he had), was the closeness of fit (which, FWIW, I approve of). Both of which--the footprint and the long heel---would have been critical to that closeness. Or it's happenstance.

As for other makers...it depends on the maker...just like anything else. Just like it depends on the lastmaker/carver. But as a general rule I suspect you're correct--modeling the bottom is not common among those who work with factory lasts. I myself don't give it the weight I give other factors such as HB, unless I see something that alerts me to the necessity--low arches, fallen met heads, etc..
Quote:
At the end of the day, it seems to me, either a fitted up factory last or a bespoke last will, as you say, vary from the foot in some ways. Furthermore, and I agree, there is likely to be some variance across a pair of bespoke lasts, even for an identical pair of feet. However, no two feet are identical. So, either there will be variance across a pair of fitted up lasts or, by definition, one of those lasts is suboptimal. So, to me, the ultimate question becomes: which approach leads to better fitting shoes: a pair of bespoke lasts, each one made to the specific characteristics of the foot, but with some natural/unintended variances across the two lasts, or a pair of fitted up factory lasts, with greater consistency in some parameters, but with perhaps different variances from the customer's feet vs. the from-scratch bespoke lasts? At the end of the day, a lot will probably depend on the skill of the last maker/modifier. However, I think you and I reach a different generalized conclusion as to the answer to the foregoing question. I don't think either of us can prove things one way or the other, though perhaps we can continue to educate each other.

I like this whole sentence and the sentiment behind it. Sincerely. I am hopeful that you will be so kind as to follow up on my request to see the way you cut (?) a curved treadline into the bottom of a last esp. as compared to a last where that has not been done.

Finally, I have said many times that I admire and deeply respect those of you who carve lasts...even if you are starting from a pre-shaped rough cut. I wish I had that skill. I was not trained that way, however, and despite my attempts to do so...yes, I have tried both approaches...I keep coming back to my old same old. It's what I know. It works. I sincerely am not trying to prove my way is better. The closest I come to that is to reject, categorically, that in the right hands either way is adequate. That there can be an almost perfect equivalency...in the right hands. In some respects, I think you have to have done both...to the point of skill...before you can objectively and legitimately make a valid comparison.
post #1380 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post

No, not aimed at you. Thank you for "asking."
I'm not sure it would be a significant factor in carving a last, either, esp. for the very skilled--but I don't know for sure. That said, and the reason I cite it is that it relates back to the OP of this particular strand...regarding toe spring and heel height and toe plates etc.. Perhaps for the reader as well as myself you could elaborate and describe how you make sure the toe spring is identical. Myself I am having an hard time imagining any effective or reliable method that doesn't take the whole forepart and the treadline into consideration.
I raise the two lasts, with toes facing each other, to the proper heel height. Do the toes' heights line up or not?
.
Quote:
Yet. Feet are nothing if not wonderfully adaptable and strong. They have to be. That said, fallen metatarsal arches, or even bunion or hammer toes, etc., don't develop overnight. I literally takes years as the feet of many women attest to. But as adaptable as they are, they are not indestructible. And once damaged, the only cure...and a poor one at that...is often surgery or is not remediable.
Exactly...probably none in my opinion...all other things being optimal, But perhaps (?) what you're missing is that esp. since feet are designed to accommodate irregularities underfoot, a less than stringent or even a symmetrical approach to bottom shape is no more deleterious than a modeled bottom with variations not precisely congruent with the foot.
Yes I do. I even take note of unusually heavy imprinting of met heads and occasionally place build ups to accommodate them. My own feet naturally (nothing pathological) pronate slightly and I have a very low arch. I have a build-ups in the waist/arch of my lasts to model this. I do not think, however, that this is always necessary despite the foot topography or prints. Much of it has to do with the type of shoe or boot being made. And heel height.

But this is no different from a maker (and many, even those carving their own lasts, take this approach) ignoring the foot print...if one is even taken. Or ignoring, not even recording, the long heel measurement. Part of what agjiffy was describing and "raving" about (presumably because it was different from other shoes he had), was the closeness of fit (which, FWIW, I approve of). Both of which--the footprint and the long heel---would have been critical to that closeness. Or it's happenstance.
A couple of comments here. First, last makers who have measured thousand of feet and who have subsequently fitted shoes made on lasts for those feet perhaps know what they need to do for the last bottoms, without having an imprint. If one were to take a look at the notes they take, they often make notations as to special characteristics needed on the last bottom. Also, many will do a tracing of the instep, heel, outside waist, and joint with the pencil held at a 30 degree angle which will give good information about the bottom of the foot. So, just because they don't use a pedograph doesn't mean they ignore the unique characteristics of the sole of the foot. Likewise, if one does a fitter and subsequently modifies the last (and knows what one is doing), the absence of a LH measurement doesn't mean the last doesn't have the right LH. And, fwiw, the last maker I observed most closely does take a SH and LH measurement.
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As for other makers...it depends on the maker...just like anything else. Just like it depends on the lastmaker/carver. But as a general rule I suspect you're correct--modeling the bottom is not common among those who work with factory lasts. I myself don't give it the weight I give other factors such as HB, unless I see something that alerts me to the necessity--low arches, fallen met heads, etc..
Again, all I can cite is the comments of people with cumulatively perhaps 75 years in the trade that the last bottom has a huge impact on fit and comfort.
Quote:
Sincerely. I am hopeful that you will be so kind as to follow up on my request to see the way you cut (?) a curved treadline into the bottom of a last esp. as compared to a last where that has not been done.
I don't know exactly how/why this is confusing. And, I'm not saying others, even factory lasts, don't have a curved treadline. The treadline is where the last bottom contacts the ground when when heel is raised to the proper height, i.e. where the last is tangent to the ground when the last is at the proper heel height. So, the treadline can be seen by, e.g. having a ruler held at the back of the last at heel height, and 'traced' across the forefoot, seeing where it contacts the last. Or, you can put some chalk on a flat surface, the last on that surface at the proper heel height, and sort of roll the last back and forth across the surface to see, based on the chalk, where the last meets the ground across the width of the insole.

When one is making the last, you will mark out the inside and outside joints. Then, you can mark out the shape of the treadline you want connecting those two points. I was taught to make the treadline somewhat flat (heel to toe) for say 1/2", bracketing the joint. Then, you simply work the bottom of the last fore and aft of that treadline so that the treadline is the point of tangency to the ground when you have the correct heel height.

I am including below a picture of some drawings I've done to try to show what I mean. Part 1 is to show the last profile, and to show the joint location and heel height and toe spring (note that I am defining heel height at the rear, not at the front of the heel). Part 2 is to show the typical point of contact, at the joint, across the width of the last (per your earlier description regarding proper heel height and angle, with which I agree). And Part 3 shows the curved treadline marked out, so the bottom of the last can be worked to achieve this treadline. This picture also features what I notate as a metatarsal hollow, which, when inplemented, creates a met. pad effect for the insole. I have seen some older factory lasts with a similar hollow.

photo last bottoms001_zpsu5rvupmj.jpg
Quote:
Finally, I have said many times that I admire and deeply respect those of you who carve lasts...even if you are starting from a pre-shaped rough cut. I wish I had that skill. I was not trained that way, however, and despite my attempts to do so...yes, I have tried both approaches...I keep coming back to my old same old. It's what I know. It works. I sincerely am not trying to prove my way is better. The closest I come to that is to reject, categorically, that in the right hands either way is adequate. That there can be an almost perfect equivalency...in the right hands. In some respects, I think you have to have done both...to the point of skill...before you can objectively and legitimately make a valid comparison.

Edited by shoefan - 5/13/16 at 10:22am
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