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

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by DWFII, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. j-mac

    j-mac Member

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    DW, our paths have met before.I used to post on the CC forum a few years back .
    I have no problem with the thin stick on sole, shoes are 8 years old and seem fine.
    Just a comment on the bespoke trade here in the UK and Europe, the interest in bespoke making from the younger generation has probably never been stronger, great interest and appreciation for traditional work and attention to detail, I see some excellent work but I think the call for bespoke is smaller now than say in the 70s as price probably is prohibitive for many.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
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  2. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Mac,

    Yes, I know. I remember. You helped me a great deal with my bottom finishing...it was a small detail but one of those "aha" moments.

    I've been on the web for some time as you know...and my devotion, consistent with my membership and directorship of The Honourable Cordwainers' Company (as well as the Guild motto), is to preserving the Trade. That might be a unique, or at least uncommon, perspective.

    Not so much on the CC...which has remained true to its principles...but on other forums (such as FB), I see a lot of that interest you're talking about being channeled towards GY techniques and leatherboard insoles and heels stacks, and celastic toe and heel stiffeners. Expediencies / short cuts, IOW. As well as...maybe even more importantly...indifference to Traditional techniques and Traditional standards of quality.

    Whether the "new breed" knows the difference and just doesn't care, or considers Traditional techniques too difficult to master and too much hassle to fuss with, or just hasn't had enough exposure and experience, is open to question but regardless it doesn't bode well for the future of the Trade...IMO.

    GoodYear Welting is the gold standard here and around the world. As much as I hate to admit it or accept it. So much so that even some handwelted work is called (erroneously) "Goodyear hand welted." And worse, some HW is actually done to gemming ...with all the attendant miseries. I call that "dumbing down" because that's what it is. It's not a step forward, IMO and it doesn't do anything to preserve the Trade or garner due respect for the techniques or those who preserve them in their own hands and hearts.

    IMO...

    In my personal and professional opinion.

    PS and on edit: I'm not tooting my own horn (I'm not even sure it is true) but some people...long term members of this board...will even tell you that until I came along, lo, these many years ago, that most people posting here did not know the difference between GY and HW--did not know that their high-end, very expensive shoes were not made like their Da's or Granda's shoes. Many still don't and too many refuse to care. Which of course is their prerogative, but....

    So, experience (esp. hands-on experience) and time in harness is a big deal. Speaking only for myself, I take some comfort in the notion that perhaps...just perhaps...I've made a small difference--freshening the ocean one "luvin' spoonful" at a time.

    --
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
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  3. sully

    sully Well-Known Member

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    I agree.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  4. Trqmaster

    Trqmaster Well-Known Member

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    So, what does one recommend for heavy toe wearers? We tend to push off too much from our toes and they wear down like no one's business. For me, a new sole will wear half way through at the toe in 2 weeks. So at that point, by the 3rd week, the stitching is already worn. A new sole would be required in 2 months. Seems quite insane to not do something to help reduce this drastic wear.

    I guess part of the wear is due to the stiffness of the leather and perhaps wearing them inside and squatting a lot to increase the flex in the sole may help before walking on concrete.

    Also, from a maker's standpoint, should one have more toe spring instead to reduce this wear? Of course, there is a balance between too much toe spring and aesthetics.

    Toe spring aside, if the shoe were cut closer to the toe shape, would that reduce the toe wear? The extreme example being a shoe shaped exactly around the toes, as ugly as that asymmetrical shape would look.
     
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Several points to your previous version...The Honourable Cordwainers' Company (with which I'm involved as a long time member and on the Board of directors) is not specifically involved with the cowboy boot community. I'm not either, frankly.

    It's true, I have made my living and some part of my reputation making cowboy boots. But as I mentioned in another discussion, it is my firm belief that bootmaking is shoemaking and a maker who can't do both is crippled. I have held that idea for a fairly long time and feel that I am as good a shoemaker as I am a bootmaker, for whatever that's worth. Parenthetically, many UK and continental shoemakers call themselves bootmakers or Bottier(?).

    Of course, I cannot speak to British or West End sensibilities / enthusiasms but even best case scenario, not only are West End enthusiasms a relatively small part of the bigger picture, enthusiasms all too often don't translate into practice. As I said, it could be argued that GY-as-the-gold-standard, as well as what I see on other forums, is, objectively, a more universal meme than either of our limited, anecdotal, druthers.

    Bottom line, I'm from Missouri (the Show-Me State) and all I can do is...hopefully...try to counter that impulse towards indifference and expediency. And for whatever good it does, it probably doesn't do any harm..."one spoonful at a time."

    Which given the alternative, says a lot...IMO.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  6. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    I sympathize...not really sure if it's the entire story but I think a lot of it has to do with shoes being too long (either from poor fit or contemporary styling) poor leather, and yes, maybe toe spring--more toe spring would probably reduce wear, but it's not in fashion.

    Brass nails in the toe? I saw a shoe over in the Japanese thread that had a horseshoe pattern of brass nails in the toe. Looked like a good solution to me.

    But I think...just personal preference...that having a leather toe piece spliced on would be not much more, dollar-wise, than a metal toe plate, better looking (more refined), and better for the shoe. The only possible drawback might be that you might have to do it a couple of times in the same space as putting on one pair of toe plates.

    But frankly, if you're gonna own good shoes, expensive shoes, you have to be more mindful of them and more ready to do maintenance. it comes with the territory. Otherwise, have a rubber sole put on to begin with. Or buy cheaper shoes.

    In my personal opinion you lose 50% of the refinement and aesthetics of a high end shoe when you add toe plates or sole protectors.

    YMMV....
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2016
  7. chogall

    chogall Well-Known Member

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    If anything, you can always have cobblers fix that by adding a leather toe tap/patch piece similar to how they add rubber/steel toe pieces.
     
  8. taxgenius

    taxgenius Well-Known Member

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    What does a leather toe tap look like? Do most cobblers have it?
     
  9. metals37

    metals37 Active Member

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    Can brass nails be put in the sole at the toe on a pair of RTW GY shoes as an alternative to a plate?
     
  10. vmss

    vmss Well-Known Member

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    Carmina shoemaker does it as a standard procedure.
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    If what you are asking about is the same thing I suggested in post #906...

    ...well, once upon a time it was a standard repair technique. IIRC, it was even a sub-category (Invisible Half-sole) in the Silver Cup competitions, back in the day. It is no harder than doing a half sole. It can even be stitched at the join (in channels), with something that might be called a "skin stitch."

    [​IMG]

    You may need to click on the image to see the details (sorry about that...it was early morning when I made it).

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
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  12. Iyor

    Iyor Well-Known Member

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    Would you still have these concerns on double, or thicker soles such as Budapesters? Curious because Enzo Bonafe will not put metal plates on single soles, but will on double upon request.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    Good on Enzo! Seriously. I admired his work before but my estimation is only increased by his POV on this.

    No, I would not still have those concerns. The additional thickness would forestall any possibility of the screws impacting the insole or the inseam...unless half inch or longer screws were used.

    The potential for rust is still there, though, esp. if plated or steel nails are used. But only on the outsoles which, on HW shoes, can be replaced repeatedly without disturbing the fundamental integrity of the shoe.

    I still think you lose some of the beauty and refinement but double-soled shoes are generally considered less dressy anyway.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  14. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    We have done them on single soled Bonafe's. Not a problem.
    As previously mentioned we each have our own perspective. FWIW, Silvano Lattanzi will install Lulu's on their single soled shoes upon request.
     
  15. vmss

    vmss Well-Known Member

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    What they were saying is that bonafe himself will not consider to install them on single soles.
     
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  16. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    Yes I understood that.
    My point is two different perspectives from two well regarded makers.
     
  17. vmss

    vmss Well-Known Member

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    So that means that bonafe does consider the real potential damage on the inseam caused by metal toe plates on single outsoles.
     
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  18. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

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    :fonz:

    That would be my suspicion as well. And those that dismiss the notion out of hand or don't consider it at all...well, I disagree.

    As a professional. As a shoemaker.

    It would, of course, be easier to just not consider anything that inconveniences me and to take the customer's money without comment.

    Some of us, I fear, will always hear what we want to hear.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  19. Iyor

    Iyor Well-Known Member

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    I'm not saying that anything happened, but wouldn't you have to resole after your installation to be sure nothing happened?
     
  20. Nick V.

    Nick V. Well-Known Member

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    Maybe, you'd have to ask him.
    Apparently Lattanzi doesn't see it that way. Then again you would have to ask him as well.
     

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