1. Welcome to the new Styleforum!

    We hope you’re as excited as we are to hang out in the new place. There are more new features that we’ll announce in the near future, but for now we hope you’ll enjoy the new site.

    We are currently fine-tuning the forum for your browsing pleasure, so bear with any lingering dust as we work to make Styleforum even more awesome than it was.

    Oh, and don’t forget to head over to the Styleforum Journal, because we’re giving away two pairs of Carmina shoes to celebrate our move!

    Please address any questions about using the new forum to support@styleforum.net

    Cheers,

    The Styleforum Team

    Dismiss Notice

Hand lasted vs machine lasted

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Tidybeard, Feb 23, 2010.

  1. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,205
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    I read in an archive that in London the workers were more specialized than that and that certain shops were famed for particular work. Many of the old firms were originally known as bootmakers because boots were the footwear of the day ,with shoes becoming more popular later. Womens work was also often made from kidskin and baby calf as well as fabrics I would be very interested to see a John Lobb attempt at a western style cowboy boot. Have you found high end shoemaking easy, does it involve more or less time or skill, can we see some sample pics of shoes please.
    I am too tired to dig this out for you and I really don't feel like self-promoting in this thread. But search for posts with my name as originator--you may find several. Nothing is easy...my first pairs of shoes were abominations despite the technical aspects of them. My first pair of boots were crude in every way possible. After nearly 40 years in this Trade, I'm still learning...the day I stop learning I'll just reach out and pull the sod the rest of the way over.
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,205
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    Your opinions have overall been treated with a lot of good will, respect and interest. - B
    You're absolutely right and for that I am grateful. But there's always one or two and insofar as it's the same one or two, it's damn tiring and frustrating to have to cross the same unnecessary minefield time and again. My problem is that I don't have the sense god gave a trout to avoid the suspicious fly when I've already been hooked a half dozen times. "I'm a steak, I'm not a trout, I'm a steak, I'm not a trout."
     
  3. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    12,589
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Location:
    The American Gardens Building, West 81st
    DWFII,

    You make good points, and I generally take the opinion of experience professionals over anyone, when it applies to there trade, but I also realize that there are a wide range of opinions amongst professionals in a given field. I appreciate that you're here answers questions for us.
     
  4. mr monty

    mr monty Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,793
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2002
    Location:
    Naptown (Indianapolis)
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,205
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    Er, do we have any suggestions?
    Maybe I can summarize.... Hand lasting can address issues of uneven temper and/or stretch, which, in the normal course of things, machine lasting cannot. Hand lasting brings an awareness of position and tensions and balance to a shoe that machine lasting ordinarily does not. An inside cone last (generally accepted as better fitting than a straight-cone last) can be hand lasted much more easily and accurately than machine lasted. A hand lasted shoe seldom needs to be "ironed" (heat treated) to bring the leather to the wood. The photos introduced at the beginning of this thread do not illustrate hand-lasting as the term is ordinarily understood within the Trade. A hand lasted shoe, done poorly, is a travesty. A machine lasted shoe, done poorly, is an abomination. A hand lasted shoe, done well, is not immediately identifiable as hand lasted as opposed to machine lasted. A machine lasted shoe, done well, is not immediately identifiable as such. During wear discrepancies that may have been covered up in the factory may become glaringly apparent. Make sense?
     
  6. bigbris1

    bigbris1 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,345
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Location:
    Opulence
    I think Vass are somehow "nicer" but I can't explain quite why.
    You take that back!!
     
  7. emptym

    emptym Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,319
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    This thread is a tragedy.
    I see furo went to the Mafoofan School of Debate. DWFII, I see where you are coming from. Would love to discuss offline IRL if you are ever around.
    +1 to the above. And to the the below, that would be a conversation worth listening to.
     
  8. Tidybeard

    Tidybeard Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    493
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2007
    Maybe I can summarize....

    Hand lasting can address issues of uneven temper and/or stretch, which, in the normal course of things, machine lasting cannot.

    Hand lasting brings an awareness of position and tensions and balance to a shoe that machine lasting ordinarily does not.

    An inside cone last (generally accepted as better fitting than a straight-cone last) can be hand lasted much more easily and accurately than machine lasted.

    A hand lasted shoe seldom needs to be "ironed" (heat treated) to bring the leather to the wood.

    The photos introduced at the beginning of this thread do not illustrate hand-lasting as the term is ordinarily understood within the Trade.

    A hand lasted shoe, done poorly, is a travesty.

    A machine lasted shoe, done poorly, is an abomination.

    A hand lasted shoe, done well, is not immediately identifiable as hand lasted as opposed to machine lasted.

    A machine lasted shoe, done well, is not immediately identifiable as such. During wear discrepancies that may have been covered up in the factory may become glaringly apparent.

    Make sense?


    Yes it does, thank you very much.
     
  9. apropos

    apropos Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,455
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2008
    In essence, we've come all this way (128 posts) to say that the only advantage of a hand lasted shoe is that it is potentially better than a machine lasted one and that this advantage may not even be readily apparent? Wow. [​IMG]
     
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,205
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    In essence, we've come all this way (128 posts) to say that the only advantage of a hand lasted shoe is that it is potentially better than a machine lasted one and that this advantage may not even be readily apparent? Wow. [​IMG]
    It's my fault...I don't believe that grunts and hoots convey all that much information. I'm not even sure that obscure, pithy epigrams communicate much either. That's just me... But perhaps it would be wise to bear in mind that seat belts potentially save lives; reading for content here on Style Forum you might potentially learn something; getting up in the morning might potentially affect the rest of your life.... Maximizing the potential for "good" is a survival trait. Ignoring the potential for failure invariably makes you a loser...if not dinner. And in passing, I might point out that it is the things that are not readily apparent that are the most important. Focusing only on the superficial is at the heart of our cultural malaise. It is also what separates mediocrity from quality. If a maker (of anything) will not give full and thoughtful attention to the things that will not be seen, little of real significance or substance will be accorded to what can be seen--only enough to beguile the uneducated eye. Thus the advertising industry. Buildings, people, shoes...seldom break down from the outside in.
     
  11. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,383
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Here's a way to settle this debate (if the participants are willing):

    We select a member of the forum that has a prestigious shoe collection. Someone that we agree would be unbiased and has vast knowledge of footwear.
    We all chip in to have DWFII make him a pair of shoes or boots.
    DWFII posts pics along the way. This way we can actually see the details described that are unseen in the final product.
    Upon completion the member compares the look, feel, and, fit to their favorites.

    Any takers?
     
  12. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,187
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    In essence, we've come all this way (128 posts) to say that the only advantage of a hand lasted shoe is that it is potentially better than a machine lasted one and that this advantage may not even be readily apparent?

    Wow. [​IMG]


    Exactly. That was my point about 3-5 pages ago. There is a difference in discussing the PROBABILITY of higher quality and INTRINSIC quality.

    The hand lasted shoe is of no higher quality intrinsically than the machine lasted shoe. If both are done correctly the results are equal.
     
  13. RJman

    RJman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    18,647
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2004
    Location:
    In the not too distant future
    Here's a way to settle this debate (if the participants are willing):

    We select a member of the forum that has a prestigious shoe collection. Someone that we agree would be unbiased and has vast knowledge of footwear.
    We all chip in to have DWFII make him a pair of shoes or boots.
    DWFII posts pics along the way. This way we can actually see the details described that are unseen in the final product.
    Upon completion the member compares the look, feel, and, fit to their favorites.

    Any takers?


    I volunteer [​IMG]
     
  14. LynahFaithful

    LynahFaithful Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    371
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2009
    Exactly. That was my point about 3-5 pages ago. There is a difference in discussing the PROBABILITY of higher quality and INTRINSIC quality.

    The hand lasted shoe is of no higher quality intrinsically than the machine lasted shoe. If both are done correctly the results are equal.



    Furo - You have still missed the point. All other things being equal, in essence, a hand lasted shoe, done correctly, will be better because the human laster makes judgments about the leather, etc. during the lasting process that a machine cannot. Human lasting machine operators can make judgements on the set up, but once that shoe is in the machine, the action is done and it won't be changed. The hand laster has the ability to make changes corrections etc. based upon his judgment of what he sees during the lasting process. The results are not going to be equal. In addition, DWFII has been talking about other things that you cannot see..such as gemming..that turn machine lasted shoes, or even some hand lasted shoes into lower quality. You may not be able to see the difference, but that doesn't mean that it is not there, nor does it mean that they are equal.

    Steve Squyres, the Cornell astronomer in charge of the Mars Rover project said it best - he was asked in a news conference whether he would prefer to make the Mars exploration with humans or the rovers, and he immediately said humans because humans can make judgements about what to do, where to go, how to navigate, etc. in the space of a few seconds that would take the people on earth working the rovers a month or more to do. But, it is far more costly for humans to make the trip and so you substitute machines for humans for expediency sake. The rovers are absolutlely fantasic and have done a marvelous job, but they are only a substitute for humans.
     
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,205
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    Exactly. That was my point about 3-5 pages ago. There is a difference in discussing the PROBABILITY of higher quality and INTRINSIC quality. The hand lasted shoe is of no higher quality intrinsically than the machine lasted shoe. If both are done correctly the results are equal.
    I can't decide whether to put you on the block list or not. But I've never done that in the 20 (?) years I've been on the Internet and maybe, just maybe you really are looking to understand...just in the most annoying abrasive manner possible....[​IMG] Let me see if I can distill something that you may not have the perspective to understand (no offense) and maybe I don't have the language to convey... Any craftsman, any shoemaker worth his salt (theoretically even factory owners)...again, worth his salt...will do everything in his power to anticipate problems and to forestall them. And any shoemaker worth his salt will ceaselessly try, discard, and ultimately choose among techniques and materials to obtain the best results. All this has to do with probabilities and potentialities and things unseen and unknown except through experience and intuition. But it is an attempt...always...to ensure the best possible outcome and the best possible product. It is also the difference between mediocrity and quality. Everything flows from that one, almost inchoate, impulse...the search for excellence, perhaps. If it doesn't exist in a person...in a shoemaker...nothing will be in balance. Stitches will be too far apart. Patterns and leather choices...and just the general level of refinement...will all seem one degree widdershins (Bengal-Stripe). Generally, that shoemaker will fall by the wayside. But sometimes they buy machines to cover the technical flaws and hire people to do the design work. And then it doesn't matter because in the end, the goal (job one) becomes making money and not making shoes. And the impulse to create the best...the search for excellence...is subsumed in the search for efficiency, marketability, and profit. I would ask that you think about this. I would ask that you consider the possibility that you don't have a frame of reference to understand it well enough to criticize it. I would ask you to accept the possibility that it is a valid point of view...perhaps the only one that a craftsman can have and still survive. I would ask...even though I know it is too much too ask...that you reconsider everything I have written on this forum in that light.
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,205
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    Furo - You have still missed the point. All other things being equal, in essence, a hand lasted shoe, done correctly, will be better because the human laster makes judgments about the leather, etc. during the lasting process that a machine cannot. Human lasting machine operators can make judgements on the set up, but once that shoe is in the machine, the action is done and it won't be changed. The hand laster has the ability to make changes corrections etc. based upon his judgment of what he sees during the lasting process. The results are not going to be equal. In addition, DWFII has been talking about other things that you cannot see..such as gemming..that turn machine lasted shoes, or even some hand lasted shoes into lower quality. You may not be able to see the difference, but that doesn't mean that it is not there, nor does it mean that they are equal. Steve Squyres, the Cornell astronomer in charge of the Mars Rover project said it best - he was asked in a news conference whether he would prefer to make the Mars exploration with humans or the rovers, and he immediately said humans because humans can make judgements about what to do, where to go, how to navigate, etc. in the space of a few seconds that would take the people on earth working the rovers a month or more to do. But, it is far more costly for humans to make the trip and so you substitute machines for humans for expediency sake. The rovers are absolutlely fantasic and have done a marvelous job, but they are only a substitute for humans.
    +1000 [​IMG]
     
  17. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,187
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Furo - You have still missed the point. All other things being equal, in essence, a hand lasted shoe, done correctly, will be better because the human laster makes judgments about the leather, etc. during the lasting process that a machine cannot.

    Sorry, but all things being equal, you're wrong.

    The point is, if done correctly, the results of both methods will be equal. Note the key words in the sentence "if done correctly."

    Your point about a human making judgements immediately implies that the machine would be doing something incorrectly whereas the human does not. So your point is thus moot.
     
  18. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,187
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    I can't decide whether to put you on the block list or not.

    Be my guest. In fact, I prefer that.

    Then maybe you'll just see the exact same point that Bengal Stripe (someone who's opinion actually counts to you) made here when he said:


    Actually, I don’t think that that particular ‘how-it's-done’ is important at all. Nor is it important whether a shoe is hand- or machine lasted as long as it is lasted correctly.
     
  19. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,205
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    Be my guest. In fact, I prefer that. Then maybe you'll just see the exact same point that Bengal Stripe (someone who's opinion actually counts to you) made here when he said:
    There's no hope is there? You're a lawyer and I'm a just a simple shoemaker. And for all I admire Bengal-Stripe...he is not a shoemaker, either.
     
  20. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,187
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    There's no hope is there?

    I guess not. You should block me.

    I also find it funny that in bengal's very same post he makes the analogy regarding a haircut, and yet when I bring up pottery to make a similar point, you deride it as non-sequitur

    You're a lawyer and I'm a just a simple shoemaker.

    I'm no lawyer.

    And for all I admire Bengal-Stripe...he is not a shoemaker, either.

    That's right, which reminds me of your previous quote here:
    Those who have never made shoes don't get a voice in this...neither do those who have only casually toured a workshop or factory.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by