Originally Posted by Mike84
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.
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.)
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.
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.