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

PhilJB

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Thanks. That's very helpful.

Re-reading my first question I realise it was ambiguously worded, but the answer covers the intended question.

So, to avoid using Neoprene (or other) contact cement, am I correct in thinking a layer of wool filler (pasted with Hirschkleber) between midsole and outsole would stop any potential squeaking?

The final point about Neoprene contact cement reminds me of another question... I wondered if it is practical to make up the bottom end of a hand-welted shoe without any nasty chemical adhesives? I think that would mean just using Hirschkleber and stitching (and some pegs/nails for the heels)? I get the impression that Hirschkleber would hold an outsole to midsole or welt whilst it was being stitched, but would presumably need to be clamped overnight until dry. And would the Hirschkleber keep the outsole channel closed or would that need some more potent adhesive? Would be nice to avoid all those toxic chemicals.

Last question about the heel top-piece. I read earlier in the thread (in one of DWFII's posts) that recommends using Vibram toplift for the "rubber" section of the heel top-piece. I've had a look and there are lots of Vibram toplifts, some hard, some soft, so I wondered which one you recommended?

Thanks once again.
 

DWFII

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Thanks. That's very helpful.

Re-reading my first question I realise it was ambiguously worded, but the answer covers the intended question.

So, to avoid using Neoprene (or other) contact cement, am I correct in thinking a layer of wool filler (pasted with Hirschkleber) between midsole and outsole would stop any potential squeaking?

Yes, although a thin layer of fabric is generally sued between midsole and outsole. The felt goes between the insole and the outsole as a filler for whatever discrepancy there is between the under0surface of the insole and the height of the inseam.

The final point about Neoprene contact cement reminds me of another question... I wondered if it is practical to make up the bottom end of a hand-welted shoe without any nasty chemical adhesives? I think that would mean just using Hirschkleber and stitching (and some pegs/nails for the heels)? I get the impression that Hirschkleber would hold an outsole to midsole or welt whilst it was being stitched, but would presumably need to be clamped overnight until dry. And would the Hirschkleber keep the outsole channel closed or would that need some more potent adhesive? Would be nice to avoid all those toxic chemicals.
Well, yes, avoiding the toxic chemicals is desirable. Once upon a time shoes were put together entirely with pastes...cements were virtually unknown. At one point in time, the outsole was just tacked into place with two or three strategically placed nails and the welt stitching was done..."Look ma! No glue." After which a specially made stamp was used to camouflage the nail hole.

Last question about the heel top-piece. I read earlier in the thread (in one of DWFII's posts) that recommends using Vibram toplift for the "rubber" section of the heel top-piece. I've had a look and there are lots of Vibram toplifts, some hard, some soft, so I wondered which one you recommended?

Thanks once again.
I don't know how they are designated (name and nomenclature) I just order by irons (thickness) and by purpose--as toplifting, for instance.
 
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PhilJB

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Thanks. Again, very helpful. I've been thinking about what you have written and have a few more questions:

1. As you previously said, a hand-welted shoe needs very little filling. So with, for example, a Norwegian welt as shown in the earlier pictures I posted, it seems the bottom of the insole doesn't need filling apart from preventing the squeaking. The only other reason I can think of might potentially be the shank, but a metal shank (for example) is very thin, can be pegged (or sewn, etc) in place between insole and midsole, and by the time the midsole has been worked a bit (maybe the shank has been recessed a millimetre as well), there will be no need for filling on account of the shank. Does this seem reasonable or have I missed something? And what would the minimum thickness of felt that could be used in such circumstances?

2. What sort of fabric is used between midsole and outsole? Presumably it needs to be resistant to decay from damp, etc.

3. Thinking further about bottom-ending without toxic chemicals, is looks like it can all be done apart from the outsole stitch channel. Do you think that if the channel were closed with Hirschkleber it would stay closed? Is there a non-toxic alternative? Or is it just a choice of open channel or toxic?

4. I like what you said about nail holes. Do you reckon to using thin lasting nails placed where some of the outsole stitching holes will be? Or perhaps making the outsole/welt (and midsole if fitted) slightly over-size with the nails in the outsize bit which can be trimmed off after stitching?

The help is much appreciated.
 

DWFII

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Thanks. Again, very helpful. I've been thinking about what you have written and have a few more questions:
...
1) if the shoe is a leather shoe and has a leather insole and a leather midsole or outsole, then you get the issue of creaking once again if you do not fill and/or do not use AP (All-Purpose neoprene cement).

2) Who knows? Up to the maker. I don't think it makes much difference but canvas? linen? cotton? Those would be among my first choices.

3) In fact, the solvent based contact cements are never really needed...just depends on how much effort you want to go to. Again some of the finest shoes ever made were made before the 'invention' of contact cements. I generally close channels with PVA (white glue AKA Elmer's) or Titebond. Regardless, all pastes need to be clamped...probably overnight. That's why AP is so popular, despite all the shortcomings--it is fast.

4) AFAIK, from my friend master Al Saguto (who is one for the foremost shoe historians in the world...and a maker), the nails were run right down the center of the outsole/shoe...maybe three or four of them. That's it. The stitching was done with the outsole otherwise loose.
 

PhilJB

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Thanks. Interesting to know that outsole would have been sewn loose. I guess pegging the outsole around the heel will do much to secure it from whence it can be sewn, maybe with a little more clamping.

Closing the outsole channel with PVA glue is interesting. PVA is said to be stronger than the surrounding material (often wood), so I imagine it makes a nice tough barrier to help protect the stitches and help limit wear at the edges of the outsole.

So, one more question. In the following pictures there is a raised lip around the outer edge of the outsole stitching. How is this made?

1197077

From earlier in this thread, and in this shoe which I pasted earlier.
1197079


Many thanks.
 

florent

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That's a norwegian construction, that lip is actually the upper turned outward. Sometimes it's trimmed at sole edge level (it might be the case in your second picture), sometimes slightly shorter like on your first pic, I don't know if one or the other has technical benefit or if it's just esthetic.
 

PhilJB

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Interesting. So the lip is the edge of the upper material. How is the lip actually formed? And what makes it stay firm as a lip?
 

bengal-stripe

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So the lip is the edge of the upper material. How is the lip actually formed?
That 'English bespoke' picture is actually my shoe and my photograph.

Here is another picture at an earlier stage showing the folded-out upper and the stitch which fixes the upper to the insole. This folded-out section acts as a 'welt', taking the subsequent stitches to connect the middle- and outer sole. What you call a 'lip' shows the use of the fudge wheel.

strap boot2.PNG
 

DWFII

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Interesting. So the lip is the edge of the upper material. How is the lip actually formed? And what makes it stay firm as a lip?
I know you didn't ask about this specifically, but to make matters even more confusing (if that's the right word) sometimes a welt is incorporated into the inseam such that it forms an "L" shape on top of the out-turned upper. #3 in the illustration below.

1198007
 

ajd578

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Question first: In hand welted shoes, is it usually the case for a 'ridge' to form around the perimeter of the insole as the footbed breaks in? If the answer is "it depends", how can I avoid it?

Context: Over the past few years wearing shoes of various construction methods (Goodyear welt, moccasins, Blake/rapid, and stitchdown/naildown à la Viberg), I've found my Goodyear welted pairs uncomfortable due to a ridge that tends to form where the welt/upper are tucked under the insole. I *infer* that this ridge forms because the filler underneath the center of the insole is less dense than the upper/welt underneath the perimeter.

In reading about hand welted construction (well, in this thread in particular), it occured to me that with the much smaller cavity that hand welting affords, this ridge might be less of an issue (it also may have been explicitly stated here, I've read the whole thing but I don't remember every post). So I bought a pair of hand welted shoes from Vass to see if they might not have the same issue as my Goodyear welted pairs.

A couple of months in, it seems I was quite wrong. The shoes are very nice to look at, but the ridge around the perimeter of the insole is as bad if not worse than any pair of Goodyear welted shoes I have worn.
 

DWFII

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Hand welting alone doesn't remedy that problem. And some of what I'm about to say may not be universally accepted. And despite your dissatisfaction with both GY and HW, I thinjk the GYW shoe is much more likely to be vulnerable to such problems.

Have you HW shoes been bespoke? From a reputable maker?

Beyond that, it depends... :)

First, just because it is hand welted doesn't necessarily mean that the inseam (upper and welt) has been trimmed close to the surface of the holdfast on the insole. So the 'cavity' formed may vary from virtually nothing to almost as much as on a GY welted intsole.

Second, even if trimmed relatively close, the forepart filler makes a difference. Cork is usually used on GYW shoes. But it is also used fairly often on HW shoes. Problem is that it is 'granulated'. Grains of cork in a semi-solid/semi-liguid matrix that is expected to 'harden' to some extent. When it does that, the cork particles migrate out from under the foot, the insole collapses in the center and the edges of the insole remain 'proud' (high).

Third, many shoemakers, when channeling the insole to create the holdfast, remove a wedge of leather all around the periphery of the insole to make it easier to inseam. If this is not filled with material of the same temper and density as what was removed, it creates a 'hinge'' point that can cause problems such as you describe.

Fourth, an insole that is too thin can cause or exacerbate this problem.

Fifth, the quality and density and temper of the insole will contribute to such problems. Around the world, good insole shoulder is getting more difficult to find. And as a result, everybody is turning to bends...even bespoke makers. Manufacturers because that's what is most readily available for the least money; and bespoke makers because that is what is most readily available, period. A consequence of manufacturers so dominating the market that Traditional materials are being squeezed out.

Sixth, and maybe the most important, is fit. A good quality insole, proberly prepared makes a footbed underneath your foot. It holds your foot in place so that even if such ridges form they usually aren't felt. A foot that is not moving around inside the shoe will be as comfortable (or more so) as the day the shoes were first worn. A shoe that is too large or an insole that is wider than your footprint almost guarantees that such a footbed will never form well enough to hold your foot securely. And even if the shoe fits in the girths (around), an insole that is wider than your foot will almost certainly turn up at the perimeter. No weight to hold it down.

What can you do? I don't know what to tell you. Better quality? A concerted effort to ascertain the techniques and materials being used before buying? Working with the maker ahead of time to address these issues?

I have never had such a complaint with the footwear I make. But I've seen it and it compelled me to change some of the techniques and materials I use--the thickness of my insoles. The source of my insoles. The way I prepare my insoles for inseaming. The way I trim up my inseams. The forepart filler I use. The way I fit up. It's all of a piece.

Finally, there is at least a possibility that your feet may be a little more sensitive than most people's. There is an old saying in the Trade that some feet can never be comfortable...not even in their own skin (barefoot, IOW).

Hope this helps.
 
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ajd578

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@DWFII Thanks for the considered reply.

With regards to my sensitive feet, you could be right. I've seen the complaint pop up on forums before with respect to Goodyear welted shoes, but not often. The rarity of the complaint, combined with the fact that (if I'm reading you correctly), this is not an issue that you were taught to avoid as part of your training (you say you saw it and adjusted), makes me wonder how many hand welters (even those doing bespoke) would be aware of the issue, let alone be very experienced in techniques required to avoid it. But I will certainly inquire before any future pairs get made.
 

PhilJB

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A quick note to thank all those who replied to my earlier posts on Norwegian Welt, including the pictures.

Also to ask, what are "bends" mentioned above in relation to insoles?
 

DWFII

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A quick note to thank all those who replied to my earlier posts on Norwegian Welt, including the pictures.

Also to ask, what are "bends" mentioned above in relation to insoles?
Traditionally the shoulder of the animal was used for insoling. It was looser and yet longer fibered than the butt or midsection. That made both for better footbeds as well as easier and stronger inseams.

A bend is fundamentally half the hide with the shoulder and belly trimmed off. It is denser and shorter fibered than the shoulder. It makes excellent outsoles but is too hard and dense and stiff to make a good insole except perhaps at thinner thicknesses or used for Goodyearwelting techniques or cement construction (which is what GY is anyway) or perhaps Blake/Blake-Rapid where it does not have to be channeled or holed.
 

ballmouse

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Not sure if this requires it's own thread, so here goes.

The leather on one of my shoes seems to be cracking. Now I've admittedly been neglecting proper maintainence on it. Was wondering if this sort of thing could be prevented by regularly polishing my shoes? Or is it a compeltely separate issue?

1201897
 

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