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

Sole Welting

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Quarantanove, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. Quarantanove

    Quarantanove Member

    Messages:
    14
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    I know that hand welting is more durable than goodyear machine welting, but what are the aesthetic differences between the two?

    Thank you!
     
  2. jerrybrowne

    jerrybrowne Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,899
    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2009
    

    You are stirring up a hornet's nest here.....
     
  3. Quarantanove

    Quarantanove Member

    Messages:
    14
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    Ha! Wasn't my intention. So not a definite answer, then?
     
  4. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,441
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    London, UK
    There are no aesthetic differences.

    The welting ('inseam') is hidden inside the finished shoe. It is on the underside of the insole and covered by the outsole.

    You can distinguish visibly (or with your fingertips) between the two as the hand welting leaves a row of dimples on the top of the insole.
     
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,207
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    This is a generalization. Whether hand welting leaves any visual or tactile evidence is largely dependent upon the quality of the leather insole, substance of the of the insole, the weight of the awl, and the technique used for inseaming.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,441
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    London, UK
    Insole, supplied by the Baker tannery, (allegedly the best in the world) with dimples and nail holes around the periphery. This is a (quite rare) ‘insole up in waist’. Due to a remake of the shoe, this insole was redundant, still showing the remnants of the cobbler’s thread where the welt was once stitched on.

    [​IMG]

    Explanation of the nail holes: The centre ones are used to attach the insole to the last and will also be present in factory-made shoes. The outer nails (typical of handmade shoes) are placed to mould the damp insole to the bottom shape of the bespoke last (commercial lasts have rather flat bottoms).

    [​IMG]

    Top: Insole in the ‘blocking’ stage.

    Bottom: fully prepared insole with ‘feather’ (ditch) and ‘holdall’ (dam) and all pre-poked awl holes in place.
     
    4 people like this.
  7. Quarantanove

    Quarantanove Member

    Messages:
    14
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,207
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    This reminded me of what George Bernard Shaw said about the English and Americans-- "...two people separated by a common language."

    But in this case something more basic is going on, I'm afraid. Call it the gulf between experience and aspiration.

    Here is an illustration that appears in R.A. Salaman's Dictionary of Leather-Working Tools c.1700-1950, George Allen & Unwin, London--perhaps the definitive work of its kind...and eminently British.

    The terminology used is correct... feather, holdfast, and channel. (although the illustrator calls the channel a "channel and feather," it will be noted that this is corrected in the accompanying descriptions).

    While admittedly not important in the larger scheme of things, there is a proper and traditional lexicon...recognized by English-speaking shoemakers worldwide...that is, if nothing else, useful for conveying accurate information.

    [click to enlarge]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  9. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,441
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    London, UK
    

    J.H. Thornton - eminently British - talks about an outside and an inside feather. For him the channel is a preparatory step to reach the result, which are two feathers forming a holdfast..

    [​IMG]



    "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,207
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Again experience versus aspiration...Thornton was writing in the 1950's and primarily from the perspective of mass manufacturing...although he did touch upon some, few, handwelting techniques. I think you have to know the context.

    Beyond that the words 'feather" and "channel" and esp. "holdfast" (as opposed to "holdall") go back time out of mind and are the traditional and correct terms. I have no problem with "inside channel" and "outside channel" as confusing as that can be to the tyro. But when you know...from experience...that the "feather" is cut along the "featherline" of the last, it becomes far more specific and accurate. And then there is no need to distinguish the outside channel from the inside channel because the feather can only be the feather and the channel can only be the channel.

    And the "holdfast" is never going to be anything but what it is.

    In my opinion, there's too much misinformation and confusion bandied about...here and on the 'net in general...by well-meaning (perhaps) people who don't really know...I mean gut level, scars-on-the-hands, know...what they are talking about.

    Admiration, aspiration, & fandom, are all well and good but only if it is knowledge that has been earned.

    In my opinion...
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  11. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,441
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2002
    Location:
    London, UK
    

    Actually, chapter 19 in Thornton, titled "Handwelting" was written by one F. Bending F.B.S.I. (Fellow British Shoe Institute?).

    I have no idea who F. Bending was, but after all, as he was commissioned to write that chapter, it is fair to presume that he was someone eminent in his field. Therefore, if 'inside feather' was good enough for him than it is good enough for me.
     
  12. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,207
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    


    I suspect anything would be.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  13. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,501
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Location:
    The Arena - Centerfield
    

    Why do you believe this to be true?
     
  14. Pliny

    Pliny Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,880
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009

    AS Bengal said, there's no aesthetic difference at all because u can't see the the welt stitching.

    Whether a shoe is hand-welted or not tells u nothing about how it looks, and of course there's lots of great - Grenson, Trickers, Edward Green, Cheaney, Alden to name a few - machine-welted shoes.

    Just depends on what your priorities are.

    All other things being equal - almost never in shoes! - I buy hand-welted.


    re: Man of Lint

    my 2 cents take or leave- Apart from one or two anecdotes on SF I've not heard of or seen any evidence that hand-welting improves the function of the shoe.

    To me it's not a matter of function or appearance. I don't worry that EGs are going to fail because they are Goodyear Welted.

    I just like knowing some of my shoes are mostly made without machinery, altho I draw the line at a hand-stitched upper. I've not seen one that doesn't look like something from an archaeological dig!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
  15. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,207
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Hand-welted is a direct, and extremely positive, leather to leather connection. It requires a quality insole.

    Goodyear welted is fundamentally a cement connection and tenuous at best. It does not require even a leather insole and one of the underlying rationales for using Goodyear construction is the savings that can (and usually are) be reaped by using inferior materials.

    In every other industry quality testing relies on placing the item under some stress to determine its limits vis-a-vis strength and longevity of the materials and techniques being employed.

    Only with high end RTW shoes...where the shoes in question may not be worn more than once a month and then in only the most controlled situations where wet, dirt, constant flexion are carefully monitored, and repair, short of complete replacement of all critical components...is the see-no-evil model of quality accepted.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2012
    2 people like this.
  16. thelonius

    thelonius Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    236
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    Location:
    France, near Geneva, Switzerland
    
    Thank you for the interesting information and discussion. Concerning strength of hand welting vs GYW, as usual not one single piece of measured evidence is presented to show that hand welts are stronger than GYW. Let's have some statistics. I have both types of constructions, and my GYW are used very often in a variety of weathers, and to be honest, over the years, I have not had one, not one, case of gemming failure. Hand welted shoes also rely on adhesives to hold them together. Many of my GYW have been worn regularly for more than 25 years without any problems from the insole welting. Other problems yes, but not from that.
     
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,207
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    


    Lies, lies and statistics. Albert Einstein said "The only source of knowledge is experience." I'll take experience, and add an intimate knowledge of what the processes are and a considered analysis of the mechanics.

    I suspect that you could not even outline how GY is done---the materials and techniques without a search on this board. Oh, yes you know all about gemming...since when?...you know it is canvas, but then what?

    As for handwelting, I suspect that in truth you know little or less about leather....just for starters You've never in your life chosen a leather insole. Prepared it for inseaming. Chosen leather for welting. Made a welt. Made hand wax. Chosen and prepared bristles. Made a "waxed-end." Sharpened a sewing or inseaming awl. Actually inseamed a shoe.

    You have no basis for comparison. Yet you presume to instruct. In just such a context, James Lee Burke asks, "What greater authority is there than ignorance"

    I've been making boots and shoes for 40 some years. For a good part of that time I repaired as well. I've torn apart shoes made by many different manufacturers, after they had been worn enough to require attention. At the same time I have always hand welted. I've seen GY shoes that looked fine (well sort of) until you pulled the outsole. Then, without the framework of the outsole, the gemming was floating, and nearly impossible to re-secure without the last.

    I've seen so many problems with GY construction. Dirt that gets inside the outsole and then inside the shoe. Of course you don't walk in dirt. You don't wear your shoes off the carpet or take them off "rode hard and put up wet." The list of problems is endless yet all the same--eventual failure of the security and the structure of the shoe.

    Every objective shoemaker on the planet will acknowledge that a handwelted shoe is better constructed than GY (if I'm not mistaken a highly respected Northampton manufacture of GY welted shoes did so just recently in another thread). Even makers who currently manufacture GY welted shoes...if they offer bespoke at all generally turn to handwelting for those premium shoes. What does that tell you? .

    The main point of attachment for a Goodyear welted shoe relies on cement. It is a cemented shoe at heart. And often...bordering on "near-as-nevermind' --that cement is used to bond a cheap(er) insole to a canvas strip. Which in turn, is responsible for holding the upper and the welt via a chain-stitch (not even a lock stitch...think the stitch that hold a charcoal bag or a feed sack closed).

    You rely too much on "factoids" & statistics and the all too often bogus information that appears on Google/Bing, etc.... In a real sense you're just relying on what someone else has told you. Which is almost certainly third or even fourth-hand and devoid of any real world experience.

    Believe my experience or don't. I am not here to convince you. I don't care. I offer my knowledge to help people who proactively wish to understand. To be one small flickering candle against the encroaching darkness....rather than curse it.

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
    3 people like this.
  18. RogerP

    RogerP Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,333
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario, CANADA
    Bengal-stripe, good info throughout, thanks much.
     
  19. RogerP

    RogerP Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,333
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2012
    Location:
    Oakville, Ontario, CANADA
    

    That certainly reflects my experience as well.
     
  20. DWFII

    DWFII Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,207
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    The Highlands of Central Oregon
    

    Several follow-up points to hopefully cut through the nonsense and trolling...

    First, regarding the claim that you have never had a gemming failure...How would you know? That's right, how. would. you. know? Do you repair your own shoes? Have you ever peeled the outsole back to see what was under it? How would you know if the gemming was failing.

    And no, few if any handwelted shoe rely on cement to hold them together. That's just another ignorant remark (ignorant as in the Oxford dictionary definition--"lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated") . In the first place, glues...as opposed to cements...are preferred, and in the second place, there is really no point in the construction of a shoe where cement is needed or critical. Even outsoles can be mounted with glues...or in the Traditional way with just a few temporary tacks.

    And better than statistics...(as always click for a closer view)

    "Look on these (sic) works ye mighty and despair"

    Famous English manufacturer ...I didn't even have to open the outsole to see this.:

    [​IMG]

    High end ostrich boot ..came in for repair-- I "untied the bow" and lo and behold! BTW, this came in shortly after I began to speak about gemming on this forum, and some time (years) after I had stopped doing any repair except for select customers. It was a stroke of luck because over all the years of confronting such issues...almost on a daily basis...I had never once felt the need to document them. Fate intervened to allow me to share with you all. What are the chances?:slayer:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    --
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by