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Shoe Tree Advice?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, I recently started my shoe collection with a pair of AE Park Avenue and a pair of Santoni bluchers. I have two pairs of cedar shoes trees and expect to purchase more as my shoe collection grows.  A few questions:

 

  • For shoe trees, is cedar always the way to go?

 

  • The trees I currently have: one sofsole that was around $15 and one no-name purchased for about $10. Are these ok for the shoes I have?

 

  • Are there any types of trees that I should avoid because they might somehow damage my shoes?

 

  • Is it safe to assume that a standard spring-loaded shoe tree will fit my shoes, or do I need to search for trees that are more specific to the size/shape of my shoes?

 

  • Any recommendations for trees to purchase or avoid purchasing?

 

Thank you all for your help. 

post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike84 View Post
 

Hey guys, I recently started my shoe collection with a pair of AE Park Avenue and a pair of Santoni bluchers. I have two pairs of cedar shoes trees and expect to purchase more as my shoe collection grows.  A few questions:

 

  • For shoe trees, is cedar always the way to go?

 

  • The trees I currently have: one sofsole that was around $15 and one no-name purchased for about $10. Are these ok for the shoes I have?

 

  • Are there any types of trees that I should avoid because they might somehow damage my shoes?

 

  • Is it safe to assume that a standard spring-loaded shoe tree will fit my shoes, or do I need to search for trees that are more specific to the size/shape of my shoes?

 

  • Any recommendations for trees to purchase or avoid purchasing?

 

Thank you all for your help. 

 

 

Hey @Mike84, if the trees you have fit, they should be fine.  You should be able to tell when sliding them in....if you have to force it to much or you see any bulge points when they are in, they might not be the best fit.  I use these http://www.amazon.com/Woodlore-Adjustable-Mens-Shoe-Tree/dp/B002VWKREO for all shoes I have that didn't come with lasted trees.  They also make a model called the Woodlore Epic that are really nice.  Just get the right size and you'll be good to go.

post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike84 View Post

For shoe trees, is cedar always the way to go?
Generally, yes. Or, more to the point, wooden shoe trees are the way to go, and as a practical matter (and for basically defensible reasons) cedar is the wood nearly always used.
Quote:
The trees I currently have: one sofsole that was around $15 and one no-name purchased for about $10. Are these ok for the shoes I have?
I'm unfamiliar with the "sofsole" brand of shoe trees. And, of course, if all I know of the other pair of trees is that it's "no-name," it's impossible for me to have any specific opinion of them.

So I'd ask you to determine whether they're okay for your shoes. You have the trees to examine, after all. Read up a little on shoe trees, apply that newfound understanding of the subject matter to your two pairs, and decide how they measure up. Shoe trees are basically simple items; judging them isn't exactly rocket science. (Although a fellow I know, who is a retired rocket scientist, tells me that rocket science isn't really rocket science, either.)
Quote:
Are there any types of trees that I should avoid because they might somehow damage my shoes?
It's unlikely - not absolutely impossible, but unlikely - that any shoe trees will harm your shoes. The primary exception would be if you somehow managed to jam a much too large tree into your shoe. For example, if you wear a size 7 shoe, and (don't ask me how) forced an XXL shoe tree into it.

I'd also suggest you avoid plastic trees. No so much because they'll damage your shoes, as because wood genuinely does offer certain advantages over plastic when it comes to shoe trees.
Quote:
Is it safe to assume that a standard spring-loaded shoe tree will fit my shoes, or do I need to search for trees that are more specific to the size/shape of my shoes?
It's generally safe to assume that unless the size is way off or there's something really unusual about the shoes, a standard, wooden, spring-loaded shoe tree will do just fine. While some "premium" trees, or even custom trees matched specifically to a given pair of shoes, may have some theoretical advantages, as a real world, practical matter, these advantages are usually of highly limited importance, and the $10 pair of Woodlore trees picked up on sale at Nordstrom or JAB will - again, in real world use - serve you just fine.

If I were buying a pair of $2500 bespoke shoes, then yeah, I suppose I'd ask the shoemaker to run up a pair of matching bespoke shoe trees for them. Why not? Given the price of the shoes, a few hundred dollars extra for the trees would go all but unnoticed, and while they probably wouldn't - again, in real world terms - be functionally superior to the $10 pair of Woodlore trees, they surely wouldn't be any worse, and they'd make me feel good.
post #4 of 11
Cedar is fine. But cedar isn't a "better" choice of wood, it's just a common choice. Some say it is more porous so better for absorbing moisture. But you aren't going to want moisture buildup in your shoe trees are you?

I've never seen a pair of bespoke shoes or boots with cedar trees or any other porous wood. The majority (but not all) are varnished.
post #5 of 11

I enjoy the Woodlore Cedar Trees...

 

I used to purchase the ones sold at John W. Nordstrom stores... They are very good.

 

However, a few years ago my feet shrank considerably which resulted in my needing new footwear.  To keep the old shoes and new shoes separate and not stretch the shoe (as pointed out by an earlier customer), I now purchase the Woodlore Shoe Trees sold at Lord & Taylor.  Apart from one set being larger/smaller and the the labeling difference, the quality seems just as good.

 

Both could be bought for around $15 during typical sales.  Probably even less if you hunted around... but seriously... they are so cheap I don't need to save another $3 here or there.  I always just buy a matching shoe tree when I buy a new pair of shoes.

 

Most men today seem not to wear them, and they are getting harder to find in some stores... Very sad state of affairs if you ask me....

 

One thing I have wondered is if shoe trees can/should be sanded down or replaced at some point in time since the cedar scent does get absorbed over time by the elements and the shoes.  Anyone have thoughts on that?

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by shopper23 View Post

One thing I have wondered is if shoe trees can/should be sanded down or replaced at some point in time since the cedar scent does get absorbed over time by the elements and the shoes.
Running some fine grit sandpaper over the trees will restore the scent, without altering the trees' size/shape in any meaningful way. So if you want to do this, go ahead; it will do no harm.

Of course, I can't honestly say that I go around sniffing my shoe trees, so the fact that the trees' cedar scent fades isn't much of an issue for me.

As for the cedar scent of your shoe trees keeping away moths (not that moths are much of a problem with regard to shoes, but shoes are often stored in the same closet as one's suits, pants, sweaters, etc.), well... it's not 100% completely useless and an urban legend. But it's sort of questionable in various ways just how much moth protection the shoe trees would provide, to the extent that this can properly be, if not dismissed, at least relegated to the level of a pretty minor factor.

Aside - as GusW points out, most bespoke shoe trees are varnished. So are many non-bespoke, but "extra premium" shoe trees. These will typically have no cedar scent. Nor will they absorb any moisture, the varnish being something of a barrier to air/moisture transfer. They are varnished largely for aesthetic reasons, and may actually be functionally inferior to non-varnished shoe trees in these areas. Of course, the primary role of shoe trees has to do with keeping the shoe's shape, and for this, varnished trees are just as good as the non-varnished kind. And I suppose they're less prone to splintering, should that be of concern to one.

For what little it's worth, I try not to give much thought to shoe trees. I make sure they're not wildly under-sized (over-sized isn't as much of a problem, given that I wear a 13EE shoe). I put them in my shoes once the shoes are off my feet. And that's pretty much that. I stocked up on them a while back, so I have more than enough on hand. I don't sand them, or lubricate them, or do anything much to them beyond simply using them. And they do their job, just fine.

If someone chooses to devote more than the briefest of passing thoughts to shoe trees, so be it. There are people out there who agonize over mother of pearl collar stays vs. gold-plated collar stays, or who spend 10 minutes carefully arranging a pocket square in a jacket pocket. Seems like a waste of time and effort to me, and such unnecessary fussiness strikes me as... well, kind of trying too hard. But if it makes them happy, who am I to criticize?
post #7 of 11

I went with onecedarlane - the mashburn shoe trees & countless shoes trees later, they do the job just fine. They're a little pricey but it comes with free engraving which is kinda cool. I use them unless I buy a shoe with a tree designed for the shoe (and even those, I only want them if they're included). As to whether or not cedar is better than other forms of wood, I have no idea - its definitely cheaper & I can't justify spending north of 100 on a shoe tree.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the thorough advice!

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GusW View Post

Cedar is fine. But cedar isn't a "better" choice of wood, it's just a common choice. Some say it is more porous so better for absorbing moisture. But you aren't going to want moisture buildup in your shoe trees are you?

I've never seen a pair of bespoke shoes or boots with cedar trees or any other porous wood. The majority (but not all) are varnished.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12345Michael54321 View Post


Generally, yes. Or, more to the point, wooden shoe trees are the way to go, and as a practical matter (and for basically defensible reasons) cedar is the wood nearly always used.
I'm unfamiliar with the "sofsole" brand of shoe trees. And, of course, if all I know of the other pair of trees is that it's "no-name," it's impossible for me to have any specific opinion of them.

So I'd ask you to determine whether they're okay for your shoes. You have the trees to examine, after all. Read up a little on shoe trees, apply that newfound understanding of the subject matter to your two pairs, and decide how they measure up. Shoe trees are basically simple items; judging them isn't exactly rocket science. (Although a fellow I know, who is a retired rocket scientist, tells me that rocket science isn't really rocket science, either.)
It's unlikely - not absolutely impossible, but unlikely - that any shoe trees will harm your shoes. The primary exception would be if you somehow managed to jam a much too large tree into your shoe. For example, if you wear a size 7 shoe, and (don't ask me how) forced an XXL shoe tree into it.

I'd also suggest you avoid plastic trees. No so much because they'll damage your shoes, as because wood genuinely does offer certain advantages over plastic when it comes to shoe trees.
It's generally safe to assume that unless the size is way off or there's something really unusual about the shoes, a standard, wooden, spring-loaded shoe tree will do just fine. While some "premium" trees, or even custom trees matched specifically to a given pair of shoes, may have some theoretical advantages, as a real world, practical matter, these advantages are usually of highly limited importance, and the $10 pair of Woodlore trees picked up on sale at Nordstrom or JAB will - again, in real world use - serve you just fine.

If I were buying a pair of $2500 bespoke shoes, then yeah, I suppose I'd ask the shoemaker to run up a pair of matching bespoke shoe trees for them. Why not? Given the price of the shoes, a few hundred dollars extra for the trees would go all but unnoticed, and while they probably wouldn't - again, in real world terms - be functionally superior to the $10 pair of Woodlore trees, they surely wouldn't be any worse, and they'd make me feel good.

Thank you very much for all of this information

post #10 of 11
A few thoughts on shoe trees: I have seen it claimed by knowledgeable people that the business of cedar shoe trees wicking up moisture is pretty much a myth. I am inclined to agree. If cedar trees wicked up moisture from regularly worn shoes, they ought to eventually become soft and rotten, but they don't. I gather that beech or birch (I forget which) is the preferred wood for European trees--just as effective as cedar. The red cedar used in American trees isn't even real cedar, I gather. It's major advantages are that it is readily available, inexpensive, easily worked and smells nice. I will add that all my trees (48 or 49 pairs, I think) are Woodlore cedar.

There is no inherent problem with plastic shoe trees. It's just that plastic trees (at least all the ones I've seen) are invariably dirt-cheap, flimsy affairs. Solidly constructed plastic trees ought to work as well as cedar, but I don't know whether they would offer any price advantage.
post #11 of 11

Some days when I'm wearing certain shoes, I'll get home and put my cedar shoe trees in only to take them out shortly later to put my shoes back on and I'll see damp spots on the wood, so I would argue there certainly is some sort of moisture absorption going on. But I think it has to do with hot the shoes wears, the weather and the socks I'm wearing maybe. Ultimately it probably doesn't matter that much but a) my shoe trees aren't worse off for absorbing years of dampness, b) they are cheaper than new shoes anyway so if they did get moistured out every few years its a smaller cost (although I have 0 evidence of this happening, its not like I have pools of sweat in my feet) and c) shoes trees seem to do a good job but I haven't ever left shoes untreed so I don't have a good baseline.

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