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Shoemaking Techniques and Traditions--"...these foolish things..." - Page 58

post #856 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JermynStreet View Post

What is the most challenging shoe design to make for an experienced maker? When experienced cordwainers are evaluating other cordwainers' work, what details do you focus on to determine if the maker has the "right stuff?"

I can't speak for every maker but I suspect that it often depends on the leather more than the design itself. And that it also varies from maker to maker.

Generally speaking, however, it is not the style nor design specifically that I find difficult, it is the details. And, most importantly, the way the details add up to create the whole--the gestalt. This speaks to the second part of your question but also to the whole issue of quality and finesse and excellence. And it encompasses so much ...both visible and invisible...that it's hard to quantify.

Consumers either refine their eye or they don't. If they do, they notice "wobbles" in stitching, for instance, or broguing that is not evenly spaced or perpendicular to the line of stitching. All the superficial stuff...but stuff that is visible.

Most don't concern themselves with the invisible things--the construction techniques, choice of materials, etc.. But those are the very things that a good maker obsesses about....along with the superficial stuff.

And some of those things...esp. the superficial stuff...have been discussed in the opening posts of this thread.

Going back to styles...there are some styles that are ostensibly more difficult than others, of course. But again, the leather is a factor as well as the skill and experience that the maker brings to the table. Sometimes a difficult style can be pulled off but it begs the question if it should have even been attempted simply because the leather wasn't suitable for that style. Almost any whole cut (much less but esp, seamless wholecut)...from oxfords to pull on boots presents difficulties (and limitations) that are out of the ordinary. I've seen seamless ankle boots, for instance, that I admired (maybe even gobsmacked by) on one level and, on another level, had deep reservations about simply because the leather looked stressed.

I've seen shoes that were in your face with technique, such as gosier stitching, for example, which simply looked clumsy and crude to my eyes. Yet it is hard to find fault in a shoe such as this one--one of the finest shoes I've ever seen posted here, impeccable workmanship from top to bottom:



edited for punctuation and clarity
Edited by DWFII - 3/15/16 at 6:54am
post #857 of 1710


DW, do you know what leather is being used in this beauty?.

 

PS.-My book has arrived from India. I love the drawings. Could not be most happy!! Thanks.

post #858 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapasman View Post

DW, do you know what leather is being used in this beauty?.

I don't but @ntempleman does.
Quote:
PS.-My book has arrived from India. I love the drawings. Could not be most happy!! Thanks.

What book was that?...you're welcome.
post #859 of 1710
Humbled.

I believe it's a wax butt from Bakers - and please everybody order some, as they wont make up my brown backorder unti they've got enough to make it worthwhile.
post #860 of 1710
"Dictionary of leather working tools and ....".
Thanks
post #861 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zapasman View Post

"Dictionary of leather working tools and ....".
Thanks

cheers.gif

Yes, great book...one of the "must haves"
post #862 of 1710

Great and very instructive thread!  Thank you.


Edited by cypi2 - 3/15/16 at 10:22pm
post #863 of 1710
Quote:
Originally Posted by DWFII View Post


 And then came the rubber toplift and then the rubber heel and then the autosoler. There was never a better example of technology working to cheapen an otherwise reasonable technique.

An autosoler drives a wire (from a roll) and clinches it so that it can function as a nail. Trouble is many shoe repairmen figured out they could step on the pedal and hold it down and the autosoler would drive wires like a machine gun spitting out bullets. Ending up with so many wires in the shoe that the customer didn't dare go anywhere near an auto wrecking yard for fear the magnet would pull him off his feet. I've seen so many good shoes ruined like this that I associate full rubber heels with expediency and cheap. And wouldn't under any circumstances allow an autosoler in my shop or anywhere near shoes that I cared about.

 

As usual, more fascinating information from DW. Can I ask you to elaborate on this? Is the problem with the autosoler just that it is not the way it would be done by hand? When you were describing the large number of nails in the heel, I pictured the classic Florsheim look, which I did not think was problematic. Does an excess of nails in some way cause deterioration of the heel? Is the effect different for rubber vs leather?

 

In terms of wear, is there a difference between rubber and leather? Do leather heels (below the top lift) last longer than rubber? 

post #864 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

As usual, more fascinating information from DW. Can I ask you to elaborate on this? Is the problem with the autosoler just that it is not the way it would be done by hand? When you were describing the large number of nails in the heel, I pictured the classic Florsheim look, which I did not think was problematic. Does an excess of nails in some way cause deterioration of the heel? Is the effect different for rubber vs leather?

In terms of wear, is there a difference between rubber and leather? Do leather heels (below the top lift) last longer than rubber? 

It's not so much that it is 'not the way it would be done by hand." Personally, I try to avoid any nails or metal which might come into contact with moisture from the foot. So except for the brass nails that hold the toplift in place, I don't use nails. Period. But other makers...good makers...don't share my concerns or fastidiousness(?) in that regard.

Steel or iron nails rust when they come into contact with moisture...esp. the salty moisture of perspiration. Rust is an oxidative process, much like a slow fire, and will first blacken any vegetable tanned leather around it and then turn it brittle, as if it had been burned to a crispy critter.

Too many nails only compounds and hastens the process. I have seen shoes where when the heel was pulled the insole underneath crumbled into powder and fragments. And the leather stack itself couldn't abide another nail without breaking into puzzle pieces.

Again, too often the autosoler is used as a imaginary machine gun.

The old Florsheims...if we're talking about the same thing...had many square iron nails holding the toplift onto the stack (probably had a few nails holding the stack onto the shoe, as well). They were there to prevent wear and didn't actually go into the shoe. It's really not the same thing although even there balckened and brittle leather can be a problem albeit generally limited to the toplift.

Autosolers were / are most commonly intended to drive a wire that clinches subsurface to the grain side of the insole. As such they are exposed to moisture from the foot.

100+ nails in a shoe is certain to cause problems...if only to make sure you sink if you fall into the swimming pool.

As far as which lasts longer, it depends--it depends upon how you define and determine when a heel needs to be replaced. Certainly rubber, by its nature tends to be a bit more resistant to abrasion. But most people tend to wear a full rubber wheel (a "whole heel") longer and further down than they would a leather heels before replacing it.

Personally, I think the case can be made that a leather heel stack is more stable and, esp. if no nails are used to attach it to the shoe, will last as long or longer than heels, be they rubber or leather or plastic or paperboard, that are nailed.

--
Edited by DWFII - 3/16/16 at 8:44am
post #865 of 1710
What about metal toe plate and screwes will that also make the leather around it bristle and a certain moment the metal toe plate or screwes falls off as the leather bristles and cannot hold the screwes with time?
post #866 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vmss View Post

What about metal toe plate and screwes will that also make the leather around it bristle and a certain moment the metal toe plate or screwes falls off as the leather bristles and cannot hold the screwes with time?

Eventually--it's not an unknown...or uncommon, for that matter...problem.

Having said that, it is well known that I don't like metal toeplates (or heel plates). I think they tend to damage the inseam and cut threads everywhere the screws are driven. Beyond that, they cheapen the shoe, IMO (although cheap shoes probably deserve cheap solutions. That's my personal...and professional...opinion.

As I said above, others may disagree. I would simply point out that I have a different perspective and a different level of fastidiousness about these things than most and from that perspective anything that might weaken or damage the shoe is unacceptable...for me. That's why I don't use any nails to attach the heel.
post #867 of 1710

DW. A model of clarity, as usual.

 

So the autosoler problem concerned nailing a solid rubber heel all the way to the insole? I gather for leather heels the assembly process is attach the heel stack to the shoe, then attach the toplift to the heel stack? This prevents having a nail that goes all the way from the outside to the insole, correct? But if one used a solid rubber heel, then the nails would have to go all the way.

 

Does anyone attach rubber heels with a leather-like approach-a base attached to the shoe, then a toplift attached to the base? Would a rubber base hold up to removing and replacing the toplift?

 

Is the problem the rust of the nails- which could be avoided by using different materials, or water wicking along the nail to directly degrade the insole- which would be the case with anything that went all the way through?

 

I find that all leather wears so fast that heel taps are mandatory. But I like the feel both of leather with heel tap and with rubber. Different, but I cannot say one is better. A rubber toplift over a leather heel stack also feels different than all rubber- at least to me. 

post #868 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbhdnhdbh View Post

DW. A model of clarity, as usual.

So the autosoler problem concerned nailing a solid rubber heel all the way to the insole? I gather for leather heels the assembly process is attach the heel stack to the shoe, then attach the toplift to the heel stack? This prevents having a nail that goes all the way from the outside to the insole, correct? But if one used a solid rubber heel, then the nails would have to go all the way.

Sometimes (maybe most of the time), esp. in factories, the whole stack is attached at one time. This almost mandates that the nails (or wires) go all the way through the insole and be clinched on a metal plate that is affixed to the last. That's the real reason why heel pads and sockliners are used--to cover something,...like nails.
Quote:
Is the problem the rust of the nails- which could be avoided by using different materials, or water wicking along the nail to directly degrade the insole- which would be the case with anything that went all the way through?


Mostly the metal. But as the shoe "works" and the nails loosen a little some intrusion of moisture is possible, if not probable. Brass nails (which don't rust) solve the problem as long as they are solid brass and not just brass plated. But brass is soft and it is expensive...by a long margin...compared to iron.

Quote:
I find that all leather wears so fast that heel taps are mandatory. But I like the feel both of leather with heel tap and with rubber. Different, but I cannot say one is better. A rubber toplift over a leather heel stack also feels different than all rubber- at least to me. 

Yes, and most good makers use a solid leather heel stack with a "combination" toplift--rubber about where you would mount a heel plate. Why this isn't a good solution at the toe as well defies logic....IMO.

--
post #869 of 1710
I've never seen 100+ wire nails in a shoe. 30-40 would be on the high end from my experience.
Still that's enough to cause the damage mentioned earlier.
Agreed, autosolers have a rapid fire if they are not used properly. Personally, I don't like or use them either.
However, If used like a machine gun that will likely cause the driver to snap causing the blade to get damaged. A re-built blade costs approx. $400.00.
When attaching a rubber heel (base) -or- full heel the heel is attached from inside the shoe into the bottom of the rubber heel. The wire nails don't go through the entire heel. And, the length of the wire nail can can be adjusted.
I like the brass nails for toplifts as well. Since they are soft they wear approx at the same rate as the leather on the lift. This prevents the heel from slipping (as the steel nails do). Also brass will prevent the nails from scratching softer floors. They are a lot more expensive though.
Edward Green and Weston are just two brands that use flush mounted metal toe plates when customers request them. I would not call them cheap shoes calling for a cheap solution. I don't know why they would offer a product that would be harmful to their own product either.
post #870 of 1710
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick V. View Post

...

Here we go again...did it ever occur to you that even if we were doing the same work, and even if you were doing the work yourownself, with your own two hands, that we would have different perspectives on all this?

Everything your business does is "after-the-fact." Your people are thinking about remedies for problems and wear. They...you...are not thinking about avoiding the problems in the first place. If you all did that you'd be cutting your own throats.

So what good does it do to jump in here and contradict my answer to a question that was asked specifically of me?

Esp. given the context, it doesn't lend you any credibility. It's just looking for, and making, trouble. I see you lurking...lurking...and I know sure as rain in spring you're gonna jump in, uninvited, with something contrary and mostly beside-the-point. You never disappoint in that regard.

This is a thread about shoemaking, not shoe repair...much less what is essentially, and entirely, hands-free managing a shoe repair.
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