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

DWFII

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You missed another critical understanding--

the process of making shoes by hand (and handwelting) evolved specifically to make the shoes easier to repair. And theoretically, indefinitely...as long as the owner took care of his shoes and got them repaired on a timely basis.
Any competent shoe repairman can, all other things being equal, resole / repair a HW shoe easily...often more easily than repairing a GY welted shoe. If a GY welted shoe is is good condition there should be no problem. But again, a HW shoe just by virtue of the inherent structural integrity created by the technique, as well as materials used, means that there will always be potentially less problems to deal with than a GY shoe worn to the same degree and in the same conditions.
 
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KtSty

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If I'm not mistaken, the steps for resoling a good condition GY welted shoe is exactly the same as for handwelted shoes right?

1) remove outsole
2) slap on new outsole
3) stitch (either by machine or by hand)

If GY welted shoe is in not so great condition, cork falling to bits, then an additional step of re-corking would be needed for the GY welted shoe. I guess there isn't an equivalent problem for HW shoes if the cavity (much smaller) was filled with leather/felt.

And if the condition of the shoe is bad and even the gemming has failed then GY will require a full recrafting. Something which won't be needed on the HW shoe until the actual insole falls apart.

(I hope I'm helping and not confusing things further).
 

DWFII

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Pretty much spot on. Although sometimes...often enough...gemming can slip / fail only partially. For instance, there are several photos on SF that show loose gemming in the medial waist. And until the outsole is removed the slipping doesn't present much problem or even make itself apparent except to educated eyes.

Some would make the case that the shoe doesn't need 're-crafting.' Some customers, being unaware or even indifferent, would forgo re-crafting even if they knew it was advisable.

And underlying all of that is the fact to do a re-craft, or even do a partial gem repair, correctly, more often than not the original last is needed.

And yes, you're right, none of that is a factor in resoling a HW shoe...all other things being equal.

Bottom line...all other things being equal...resoling a HW shoe is less fraught, as who should say, than resoling a GY shoe; easier, IOW.

BTW, with all due respect, there are better threads to discuss shoe repair than this one.
 

ntempleman

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Honestly, if you’re spending that sort of money on a pair of bespoke shoes, why would you be sweating about saving a few bucks on the cost of resoling? Like buying a Porsche and getting it serviced at Kwik Fit.

There’s no material difference in terms of stitching a sole to a welt whether it’s been hand or machine welted. Is there a welt exposed? If yes, you can stitch to it; if no, you have other problems to deal with first. How the welt is attached is irrelevant to the soling process
 
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DWFII

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I agree...up to a point: If the gemming has slipped, however, and it is not addressed and re-cemented in its proper and correct place, a resole will result in a shoe that doesn't fit the way it did.

Sometimes that misfit will be insignificant or unnoticeable (depending on the perspicacity of the wearer) but the possibility exists that it can make the shoe virtually unwearable. Esp. if the outsole is machine stitched.
 

ntempleman

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Even with everything in place, a resole without the last returned to the inside the shoe can lead to drastic alterations of the fit - wet leather has a tendency to shrink. I’ve seen a fair amount of shoes brought back (not to me personally, thankfully) with complaints of them no longer fitting. A quick look at the sole leather you don’t recognise, the machine stitch around the welt, a comparison to the lasts, and lo; a pair of shoes that bear no relation to the once bespoke pair they bought a few years earlier.

That’s a different argument though; in terms of just stitching a sole and not worrying about the rest of it, a welt is a welt is a welt
 

DWFII

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That’s a different argument though; in terms of just stitching a sole and not worrying about the rest of it, a welt is a welt is a welt
:cheers:
 

DWFII

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Even with everything in place, a resole without the last returned to the inside the shoe can lead to drastic alterations of the fit - wet leather has a tendency to shrink. I’ve seen a fair amount of shoes brought back (not to me personally, thankfully) with complaints of them no longer fitting. A quick look at the sole leather you don’t recognise, the machine stitch around the welt, a comparison to the lasts, and lo; a pair of shoes that bear no relation to the once bespoke pair they bought a few years earlier.
Thank you for that. But if my experience is any indication, saying that on this forum is asking for trouble. :lurk:

That said, if the shoe being resoled is handwelted, the chances of preserving the fit that the customer came in with (nevermind the original fit) ...even if welt needs to be sewn or resewn...approaches 100%, all other things being equal.

There is no such certainty with GY.

In my experience...
 

KtSty

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Since we happen to be on the resoling train:

1) Do most cobblers know how to resole shoes that are constructed using norweigian/norvegese/goyser stitching?
2) If no, does that mean these construction methods are not very shoe-wearer-friendly? Trading off practicality for aesthetics?
 

LLEE

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@DWFII et al,
Apologies if I missed it somewhere along the line, but can you discuss the type and treatment of leather insoles commonly used? Oak shoulder? Tallowed? Any special prep, glassing or buffing?
Just curious, thanks!
 

DWFII

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@DWFII et al,
Apologies if I missed it somewhere along the line, but can you discuss the type and treatment of leather insoles commonly used? Oak shoulder? Tallowed? Any special prep, glassing or buffing?
Just curious, thanks!
Glad to help...

Traditionally insoles were taken from vegetable tanned shoulder (usually oak bark tanned) or sometimes the belly of the same hides that were used for the outsole. The belly and the shoulder are characterized by a corium/fiber mat that was less dense and longer fibered than the rest of the hide. The the looser composition made inseaming easier and also made for a deeper, more comfortable footbed. The longer fibers made for a stronger inseam.

The rest of the hide would be made into heel and toe stiffeners, welt, heel layers and of course, the outsole. The areas designated for the outsole would be cut from the prime part of the hide and 'hammer jacked' (hardened) on a 'lap iron.' Today most outsole leather is rolled, or double rolled, to compress and harden the leather.

Of course, the shoulder would not have been hardened.

Unfortunately, shoulder is not valued much except among bespoke makers, so good insole shoulder is exceedingly hard to find. Most commercial insoles are cut somewhere off to the side of the areas designated for the outsole...and from rolled or compressed hides...resulting in dense hard, short fibered insoles.

Historically, the insoles were tallowed and set aside to 'mellow'. Shoemakers (in the States at least) often worked in small, compact buildings known as 'ten footers' which were heated by wood fires. The maker might have a small cauldron of tallow near the fire to keep it warm and liquid.

Tallowing is not so common even among bespoke makers in this day and age, although my own experiments/experience is that tallowing can be beneficial...increasing the longevity and flexibility of the insole and allowing a footbed to be created more readily.

That said, I don't tallow very many of my insoles anymore (only certain leathers) and don't know anyone else who does either.
 
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DWFII

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oscarthewild

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In 1935, drawing from millenia of Tradition and carefully preserved and passed-down knowledge, as well as his twenty years experiences as an instructor at the Cordwainers’ Technical College, his six years as manager for Messrs. Peal & Co., Shepherd’s Bush, and his two years as Assistant Master, Cordwainers’ Technical College, H. Rollinson wrote regarding hand welt seam construction (Boots and Shoes F.Y. Golding vol VI):


^(emphasis mine)

These are the strengths of a hand welted shoe:

1) The insole is deliberately chosen from a section of the hide that has been determind to be the best for holding a stitch and for absorbing moisture (wicking perspiration away from the foot) and for making a footbed--the impression that the foot will leave in the surface of a good quality insole after but a little use. Makers vary in their needs and judgements but these criteria are going to be pretty much universal among bespoke makers. The only variability might be the thickness needed for a particular style of shoe or boot. I personally, favour an insole that is nearly a quarter of an inch thick--9-10 iron--both for it ability to form a deep footbed, as well as to protect the foot from the displacement of leather by the stitching. Additionally a little thicker insole tends to cushion the foot itself against irregularities underfoot.




2) The channeling and creation of a holdfast in the insole leather. Again, makers have different needs and expectations but essentially the insole is cut or carved to create a ridge of leather (known as a holdfast)...often as much as 6 millimeters thick...to which the upper, upper lining, and the welt may be stitched by the use of horizontal stitches running parallel to the surface of the insole. This stitching...this connection...is known as the "inseam." The holdfast is structurally part and parcel of the insole. There is no disconnect, no weakness that is not already present in the insole itself. There is simply no better anchor for the inseam--the stitches that hold the shoe itself together.





3) The threads for the stitches that comprise the inseam are traditionally made of linen or hemp yarn. Hemp being the fiber used in making rope--rope that was used in 19th century tall (sailing) ships. Hemp is notorious for being rot resistant. Traditionally, four to 12 strands (depending on the application) of hemp or linen yarn was twisted together to make the thread. [Parenthetically, with the loss of skilled makers, the loss of the knowledge and the falling off of demand, good quality, long staple (longer than three inches--flax and hemp can produce fibers as long as 36") hemp or linen is not readily available anymore. As a result some makers have had to resort to synthetic threads such as dacron, which, while not a perfect equivalent, can substitute with only minor drawbacks. And which, with the closing of the great Irish linen mills, may just have to do.]


4) The inseaming thread is then coated...even impregnated...with a "hand wax" that is comprised of pine pitch and pine rosin along with a softener such as oil or beeswax. Pine Pitch is antibacterial and further enhances the rot resistance of the thread. The wax seals the thread and the holes made in the leather. While the leather of a shoe may not be waterproof, the inseam is. The resulting thread is extremely strong and the stitches very tight--the stitches will not slip and in fact the thread often bonds to the leather so strongly that despite that strength the stitches may be almost impossible to remove short of cutting them..



5) The stitch that is used when inseaming, has been known time-out-of-mind as a "shoemaker's (cordwainer's) stitch." The best way to describe it is that the thread is run through the holes in opposite directions...every hole. Thus each stitch is made up of an independent thread and each thread describes a serpentine path as it makes its way the length of the inseam and through the leather. This is an extremely strong stitch...even if damaged or cut, the combination of the hand wax and the shoemaker's stitch limits the damage and prevents the seam itself from being weakened to the point of failure.

6) When a shoe is handwelted, the shoemaker controls nearly every aspect of the inseam, from how tight the stitches are pulled to the frequency. Where an inseaming machine has a limited and set stroke, the bespoke maker has an infinitely variable stroke. Stitches can, and often are wider apart in some sections of the shoe and while going around difficult curves such as the toe area, stitches can be adjusted for angle and frequency so as to incorporate as much of the strength of the holdfast as possible into each stitch. In fact, Thornton suggests that inseam stitches should always be run, as far as possible, parallel to the treadline in the forepart, necessitating angles that machines cannot duplicate.




7) When done properly, no filler is required which might tend to impede the breathing ability of the shoe or induce creaking. I often do use a very thin layer of 100% wool felt along with paste to avoid any possibility of creaking but the insole itself is the medium for the footbed and for comfort.



8) Handwelting opens the possibility of stitching the heel seat to the insole...thus eliminating the typical and commonly found, iron nails. It even allows for the shank iron to be secured in place and prevented from shifting.




--

Thank you for posting this and the following posts.
 

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