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shoe construction...behind the veil

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to explain DW.
    It seems like you've found a pretty unique combination of felt and paste, that is probably even better than what the "old boys" did!
    Kudos to you.
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Doubtful...as I said these things tend to be derivative.

    Yr. Hmb. Svt.
     
  3. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    Thank you Sir--

    Yes, I did understand. Seems like I did a poor job making my points clearer.
    I'll try again. It's a given, paste is far less expensive than rubber cement. I don't have my bills in front of me but by memory rubber cement is approx. $25.00 per gallon. How much would the same quantity of paste cost on a wholesale basis? As DW mentioned paste is only applied to the outside border of the sole and the underside of the welt. No paste is applied to the felt. So, right there look at the savings on one pair let alone a few hundred pair that a factory can turn out in a day. With a cork foot-bed as we all know the cement must be applied to the entire foot-bed and welt. It also gets applied to the entire under belly of the sole. Also, the foot-bed itself is made of a combination of cork and RUBBER CEMENT. So, it's just not attaching the sole where the cement is used. It's also used to MAKE the foot-bed. Consider all of those factors. Do you see how it starts to add up? While considering this keep in mind (and I don't think anyone will disagree with me here) the cost of the amount of felt that goes into a shoe is far less than the cost of a cork foot-bed needed for that same shoe. We haven't even disused freight and storage which add considerably to the expense of using cement.

    Now we get down to the making.....Training? We are not developing software or sending a rocket to the moon. We a talking about teaching somebody how to put paste on a shoe!!!
    I'm certain that's got to be a lot easier than teaching someone how to be a carpenter, plumber, mason or, an electrician. I would venture a guess that teaching a person how to properly paste a shoe is far less involved that teaching that same person how to use an out-sole stitcher. Drying aspect? So what. First, when we are talking about this amount of savings why wouldn't a shoe company (or the industry machinists) invest in R&D to develop a process to speed up the drying process? Or, if that is not viable, set up a separate temp. controlled area in the factory where the paste would have the optimum climate to cure in?

    Please understand, I am not trying to belittle or disparage anybody here. I am in the shoe business and totally respect those that are in it also especially those with a real passion for it.
    I'm just trying to keep it real....

    Finally, some have expressed their OPINION that the factories are ONLY concerned with profit, nothing else. I don't think it's fair to paint the ENTIRE shoe factory industry with the same wide brush. I've said that several times in the past. I base my opinions based on who and what I know, NOT SPECULATION.....

    So, now that we have come 360.....If companies could save all of that money using paste and felt, and they are ONLY concerned about profit, why not make the transition?
    Sorry but I'm not buying the training and/or drying theory. It just doesn't add up to me. It could be that paste won't hold up as well as felt and paste on bespokes. Bespokes are not intended for everyday use as factory made high-grades are. Maybe that's it. Maybe I'm missing something. Either way there must be an answer and I for one would like to know....

    .
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. emptym

    emptym Well-Known Member

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    The point DW was
    Again, I don't think anyone, DW included, said companies could save money using paste and felt.
     
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    This is so silly...have you, Nick, ever tried to resole a shoe using only paste? Or more to the point, have any of your people? Have you sat down to make paste? Most of it has to be cooked and it doesn't last long,

    Of course it's not rocket science, it doesn't require the skills of a scientist...but machines apply cement in factories, and machines are near-as-nevermind brainless. Hell, gemming comes off the roll pre-cemented. Even in small shops such as you manage, cement is slathered on almost without any thought to confining it to a limited area. Or even how thickly it is applied. And that's a fairly common practice in shoe repair, and even shoe maker's shops around the world. That's why cement pots come with wide brushes.

    And cemented pieces are ready for mounting and trimming inside the half hour. Not 12-24 hours worth of clamping or pressing later.

    I repeat--have you ever tried any of this? If not, it is you who is speculating. There is nothing "real" about pretending to knowledge or experience that you don't have.



    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Beyond that, yes, I am someone who has said that factories are concerned primarily with profit. Profit is "Job One." The prime goal. Factories do not exist to satisfy the curiosity or obsessions of an individual craftsman seeking excellence. They exist to produce a given commodity...over and over again. Change, uncertainty and anything that interrupts cash flow or production is looked upon with highly jaundiced eyes.

    But satisfying curiosity and searching for excellence is what Craftsmen (with a capital "C" ) do. It is their raison d'etre. Their reason for living...seriously...and for doing what they do. Raising awareness and understanding and mastery is "Job One" for the Craftsman...regardless the profit margin. That's what drives someone like @duncanbootmaker to make shoes without a sewing machine. It's not like he doesn't know what a sewing machine is or where to get one. That's also what drives him to hand stitch at 48spi--something virtually no one else in the world is seriously striving to do anymore. .

    I highly doubt... I would be more than greatly surprised...if there is a factory or even a collective in existence that can or would indulge the whims of one person to try to eliminate the occlusion we / I talked about in previous posts in this discussion. Or nails in heels. Or simply try to imagine and subsequently address potential problems that may or may not occur years down the road. In fact, I doubt there is anyone in the vast majority of these companies that even thinks about such issues. But that's what individual / artisan shoemakers have Traditionally done...for centuries. It is what factories do not do. Unless market forces and or/ diminishing profits force them to.

    The fact that cements even exist and that they are the preferred adhesive in virtually every shoe factory and shoe repair in the world is testimony enough to the perception that pastes and felt, or paste and individually mounted heels stacks, are not financially viable alternatives for factories. And the same can be said of GY welting and celastic toe and heel stiffeners and leatherboard insoles or paper heel stacks...etc,.etc, ad nauseum..

    And those choices or perhaps we should say "conventions"...so common as to be almost de rigour...are testimony enough that profit is the driving force. And the prime motivation. If the facts are inconvenient...oh well.

    Pastes have been around for centuries. Do you think you are the first person who ever looked at paste, compared it to cements, and thought that paying more for cement and freight looks silly when paste processes are apparently...and superficially... so much less? And what came of that? (hint: the correct answer is more cement).

    Get your hands dirty before you start preaching--a lot of what you say is not based on who you know or what you know, it is based on who and what you want to believe...lack of hard experience notwithstanding.

    In my professional opinion....

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2017
  7. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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  8. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    Fine by me. Prove it. Use numbers and times, whatever, to make your case. I'm starting to think that using paste is just less expensive for a bespoke maker. It may not be economical for the one-off maker to use rubber cement. Shelf life to be considered. Other than that, I see no advantage to the customer in any way, having a shoe built with an un-backed felt foot-bed vs. cement-cork. Rather, I see it as a determent.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    ,

    Do we? From what evidence or experience? Almost all of your experience...and almost to a man, people here who make that claim...comes from RTW shoes or shoes that are sealed off with lavish amounts of neoprene between the insole and the outsole. The flesh side of the outsole is sealed off, for goodness sake! A point @ntempleman seemed to be making in his last post. So how in the world does moisture get into the shoe when the moisture hits that barrier? How does it get past that layer of rubber?

    It can't.

    If it can, it can also get past a layer of Topy or even a full rubber outsole, as well.

    All of which suggest false assumptions somewhere...wishful or magical thinking. Suggesting someone has accepted as gospel what he wants to believe and not what science and / or direct hands-on experience shows.

    There is a scientific principle at work here--something to do with moisture seeking to fill spaces where it is not moist--something you alluded to and the principle behind the idea of breathe-ability and wicking. And it also has something to do with hydrostatic pressure. The point being that there is no direct evidence a supersaturated outsole is the principle culprit for wet feet--if you stand in water for that long the moisture is going to get in around and past the welts and through the upper regardless any kind of rubber barrier.

    I readily admit that a supersaturated outsole with no neoprene barrier is theoretically more prone to seepage...although the principle of hydrostatic pressure does involve gravity...but If you expose your shoes to water that deep or that long, you don't care about your shoes and are probably getting what you deserve.

    And maybe more to the point, moisture...regardless of how little...can't get out, either. It's easy to say that breathe-ability is insignificant when every shoe you've ever been exposed to (or made) has a sealed off rubber bottom. It's also clueless to dismiss breathe-ability and the potential for moisture to wick to the outside through hydrostatic pressure and then turn around and wring your hands about moisture going the other way--against gravity.

    It's leather. It's a luxury item. It requires something other than indifference and brain-dead willful ignorance.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    One small further point...in my direct, hands-on experience as a shoemaker (and admittedly I've not done a blind study), the insoles of shoes that have rubber outsoles...and even shoes with leather outsoles but copious amounts of cement used in construction...tend to turn black and crack sooner than shoes that are allowed to breathe in all dimensions.

    I can't imagine why.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  11. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    You've missed my point....
    Here in part is what Nicholas T. wrote:
    "Much more important is that the filler forms a barrier to prevent water soaking through a saturated outsole and into the insole."
    I agree with that. It's only logical.

    Are you implying that felt by itself will resist or repel moisture without the use of either tar paper or cement or anything else of that nature?
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Not at all--just the contrary.

    I said clearly that "it can't."(such a short sentence and all by itself in the post...how come you missed it?) Perhaps cement will prevent moisture from getting into the shoe. I will...if only for the sake of argument...concede it.

    But if so, it will also prevent moisture from getting out.

    Just as importantly, however, I don't think you've ever seen or dealt with a shoe that didn't have that barrier of cement. You have no experience with that situation. So how do you know moisture will bleed into a shoe that doesn't have a barrier? You don't. All you really know is that if a person wears a shoe in wet conditions long enough, moisture gets in.

    But again, all your experience is with shoes that are made with cement. So the conclusion has to be that if a shoe made with cement will let moisture in, then a shoe with a rubber sole will let moisture in. If the cement and the filler isn't enough to block that moisture, neither will a rubber sole or a sole guard be enough. So the answer has to lie in some other factor. In how and where and under what circumstances a shoe is worn, for instance.

    You know, I have never dissed your experience. I admire your ability to manage others and to keep a business running. I would never tell you how to run your business.

    But the fact is that the view from the desk is different from the view from the bench. The truths of the desk are often diametrically opposed to the truths of the bench. Management has always sought to impose its perspectives on those who actually do the work. To the detriment of both and a great deal of misunderstanding.

    You and I butt heads often. And the reason is that you've never sat at the bench. You've never experienced the truths of doing this work with your own hands. Yet you seem to think you're qualified to refute what the bench and direct hands-on experience teaches us. Has taught me.

    I think it's arrogant and ignorant.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  13. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    Well, thank you for the complement.

    However your accusations of my lack of experience and lack of knowledge has been and always been wrong.
    But, by now I've accepted you're bone-headed POV regarding me. It's actually entertaining to me.
    I've been chased from SF on more than one occasion for defending myself against you.
    It may happen again. If anybody is interested, stay tuned....

    So my question to you DW is this. As I understand you use a felt foot-bed without any barriers to prevent moisture. What prevents excessive moisture from eventually penetrating the out-sole into the unprotected foot-bed and eventually the in-sole?

    To bring it a step further. I prefer my Goodyear welted high-grades (for my own wear) over my Blake-rapids. I just like the way the cork foot-beds migrate and form the insole over Blakes. Flat as a pancake. Never changes.
     
  14. emptym

    emptym Well-Known Member

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    What would you like me to prove? I'm simply letting you that DW did not say what you said he said. You said DW said it would be cheaper for RTW makers to use felt and cement. I'm just saying that DW never said that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    How's that? You've said a number of times, quite explicitly (bragged actually), that you have never even repaired a shoe. And you don't make shoes. Bottom line, that means you don't have any practical, personal, hands-on experience doing the work (even though you'd like people to think otherwise). Now you want to retract that...pretend it was all a joke?

    I'm not accusing you of anything. If I restate what you have admitted, it's not an accusation. Only "keeping things real."

    Only me, myself. I don't make waders. I don't stand in water until I feel it coming in. I wear my shoes in rain often...was up in Portland several weeks ago where it rained 48 hours straight. Did a lot of walking. No problem.

    Hell's bells, shoes were made without cement or any moisture barrier for centuries. Maybe people were just tougher back then...or less pretentious. Or maybe they were magic.

    [Parenthetically, my friend at CWF who makes historically accurate 18th century footwear has gone wading in the ocean in his shoes and not gotten wet feet. Go figure. Someone's assumptions are skewed. ]

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  16. duncanbootmaker

    duncanbootmaker Well-Known Member

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    I'm not using a Vibram tread to save on quality materials on the other side of it (the leather sole), as I will use the best I can for the purpose, but because some of my shoes aren't dress shoes only. They get used hard, and in all environments. At times I'm running on slippery surfaces, and I have a coarse rubber tread on my cycling shoes to keep my feet on the pedals of my 28" and 46" wheeled unicycles (I think you will understand why I don't want my feet clipped to the pedals [​IMG]).

    [​IMG]

    If the owner one of my shoes has a number of other pairs that they rotate, and are used, as DW commented above, in a city, office, dress context, then a plain leather sole will be quite some years before needing replacing (at one day a week, it might be about 7 - 14 years).
    I don't use a cork and latex filler, but instead have a layer of pure wool felt, only bonding the sole, with latex, around the edge of the welt to keep it in place while stitching down.
    Having said that, I am in the process of making a pair of dress loafers for a gentleman, who does want a plain leather sole, probably more for special occasions.
    Cheers
     
  17. duncanbootmaker

    duncanbootmaker Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, didn't realise that there were two more pages of comments after page 105, close to the start of discussion about rubber treads on leather soles. I'm going back to read all the stuff following now; hope it's still relevant.
    Cheers
     
  18. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    https://www.google.com/#q=insane&*

    Curious to read what Duncan has to write. I'm sure it will only be relevant. But, I will assume it will compare hand-made to factory.
     
  19. duncanbootmaker

    duncanbootmaker Well-Known Member

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    I'll try to keep away from directly comparing 'handmade to factory' [​IMG]
    A comment about creaking: In Paul Hasluck's 1896 book it's recommended to sprinkle a little French Chalk (Talc) on the felt filler before putting on the sole, to prevent this.
    When I stack my heels I tend to put a small spot of latex in the middle of each lift, for instant bond, but use paste over the rest of the surface. The pasted area is kept damp while building up the heel and trimming, and it is so much easier hand sewing through the stack when in this state, and doing the hammering up to cover the stitches afterwards, than in earlier times when I latexed across the whole surface of each lift, at which point each layer resisted movement both for the sewing and the hammering up. And the pasted layers do finish and polish up better than layers with cement or latex, where the cement melts under the heat of the finishing tools and smears around. Photos of some of the processes are back on page 95 of this thread
    Cheers
     
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  20. shoefan

    shoefan Well-Known Member

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    Wow, lots of supposition here, to which I will add.

    It seems to me there are two separate but related topics being discussed here: the best way for a shoe to handle the internally-generated moisture (i.e. sweat); and the best way for a shoe to prevent infiltration of water from external sources (puddles, damp soil or walkways, etc). The answer to these questions may be mutually inconsistent, i.e. improving one may negatively affect the other (think rubber boots). Moreover, there are likely to be multiple dimension relating to these issues, which again may be negatively correlated -- e.g. perhaps improving short term moisture management from inside the shoe will negatively affect the long-term durability of the shoe.

    Moisture from the foot will escape from the shoe in at least 3 ways: wicking and evaporation via the socks; absorption by the leather insole and upper lining, with subsequent evaporation via the top surface of the insole and lining; and absorption by the leather insole and subsequent evaporation via the outsole. First, I tend to agree with Nicholas that most evaporation from the insole is likely to be from its top surface when the shoe is off the foot, plus of course evaporation from the open surface of the lining of whatever moisture the lining has absorbed. It just seems very unlikely to me that much water from the foot is going to make its way all the way through the insole, through whatever 'filler' is in the shoe (be it felt or some occlusive material, although in the latter case clearly the likelihood and amount will be much lower), and the through the outsole. Given the existence of 250,000 sweat glands on the foot, I would imagine the insole will be fairly consistently exposed to moisture over its surface; thus, a first question is how much water can an insole absorb and handle? (When I get a chance to get back to shoemaking, I will test this by saturating an insole.) I doubt that many of us have experienced a bespoke leather insole that has been saturated with sweat. So, I just don't see much moisture evaporating via the outsole. To me, this is a very different scenario than water infiltrating the shoe from rain puddles, etc.

    Also, I wonder about the impact of the wool felt or other absorbent filler: while clearly increasing the water-holding capacity of the shoe, does having a moist material sitting between the insole and outsole increase the likelihood of bacterial growth or other issues on the interior surfaces of the insole and outsole? Given wool's inherent 'desire' to reject and spread moisture, I doubt that this would be too much of a problem, but that is assumption. In any event, an interesting question to me.

    Of course, having an occlusive filler will significantly reduce infiltration of water into the shoe; I think, if you care about keeping your feet dry and avoiding infiltration of rainwater, an occlusive material will help -- or, you can wear rubber boots, rubber soles, or whatever.

    Last week, I wandered about London in some C&J GY welted 'hand-grade' shoes in the light rain and damp. After being out and about for 9 hours, my insoles were indeed wet, under the center of my forefoot. This would lead me to conclude that the water did in fact soak through the outsoles, filler, and insoles, since the perimeter of the insoles remained dry. Perhaps the dampness in this area was also caused by a 'pumping' effect of the repeated compression/de-compression of the leather under my joints from the gait cycle. This wetness arose despite the factory-use of cement and a cork-cement slurry as filler. Of course, these insoles are likely to be thinner than a hand-welted insole. Plus, one more difference in these vs. a hand-welted shoe is the presence of a cemented gemming around the perimeter if the insole (and the gymming itself my nowadays be waterproof), so that may explain the dry insole perimeter.

    I have never seen that much reason to worry about or question the use of a Topy or other rubber topping on the outsole; it just doesn't make much logical sense to me that it would cause problems, particularly if there is an occlusive filler. However, it is also hard to reject DW's observation of blackened insoles. Maybe it is a matter of heat dissipation via the outsole, rather than moisture? Another interesting question.

    BTW, Edward Green build their heels layer by layer, or at least they did when I toured their plant.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
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