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Manufacturers that hand-welt rubber soles


Senior Member
Nov 25, 2008
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I have received some confusing information about hand-welted rubber sole shoes and I wanted to see if I could get a better understanding from the forum.

I have spoken directly with Vass, Zonkey Boot, and Ed Et AL and they say they hand welt rubber soles to their shoes. Ed Et Al even does them with fiddleback waists. However I spoke with a craftsman at John Lobb (Jame's Street) and they tell me that they use a Goodyear welt for their rubber soled shoes as it works better. I have also read on the forum that Vass uses a Goodyear welt for their rubber sole shoes as well.

Can someone shed some light on if and why rubber soles are difficult to hand-welt? Can it be done well (from the shoes I have seen from Ed Et Al seems possible)?


Distinguished Member
Dubiously Honored
Mar 23, 2002
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There are two steps in the bottom work of a shoe: applying the welt and applying the sole. These two steps are independent of each other and either can be done by hand or by machine.

If a shoemaker hand-welts means he applies the leather strip (welt) by hand. He then might hand-stitch a mid-sole and glues (cements) the rubber soles to the mid-sole. Most rubber soles (Vibram etc.) are designed to be just glued. The profile goes right to the edge. English rubber soles (Dainite, Commando, Ridgeway) are designed to be stitched. The profile does not go to the edge, leaving a recessed area to take the stitching. English rubber soles go back to the late 1800s and suitable glues for shoe soles were only invented after WWI.

You cannot hand-stitch rubber soles with conventional shoemaking technique. With a leather sole you poke the hole with the awl, remove the awl and go through the hole with a needle or bristle. The hole stays open in leater, unlike a rubber sole where the hole closes again after you have removed the awl. That's where the sowing machine comes in: the needle pokes the hole and has the thread near the tip of the needle, so once the needle got through, the thread has gone through as well.

Of course you can attach a Dainite sole with cement only and that is what many shoemakers will do. You better ask if the firm will stitch the outer rubber sole (either by hand or by machine) or will the rubber sole be just cemented.

Vass and St Crispin will cement a Dainite sole (but Vass will place an inch or so of stitching around the toe). I presume Zonkey and Ed et Al will also just cement the rubber sole. John Lobb (London) will hand-welt without a doubt, but will stitch the rubber sole in place using an out-soling sewing machine.

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