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

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

  1. bengal-stripe

    bengal-stripe Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    As the photograph comes from the company's web-site, we can be fairly certain the shoes are unworn.

    http://ndcmadebyhand.com/collections/aw14-man/
     
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well, that's the reason I said I couldn't speak for others. Also, a quick look at that website clearly indicates that they are shooting for the "distressed" look. Even if new, they want them to look already worn--I don't believe that they come off the last creased like that (and some of their other offerings).

    At some point, this...IMO...bogus, steampunk/apocalyptic look is about as irrelevant to anything to do with real shoes or shoemaking as it gets. It's a red herring. I have to wonder why we're even talking about it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    A small correction: In post # 540 I said...

    And while that was entirely correct, I should have pointed out that another experienced shoemaker--Nicholas Templeman--also weighed in with something very similar in post #525 when he said:

    Which again underscores one of several functionalities of toe spring.

    And reinforces the idea that, like most techniques in shoemaking, at some level not immediately accessible to consumers or detached observers, there is a reason above and beyond fashion, whimsy, or "statement."
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2015
  4. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Here is a lineup of high grades that came out of the shop today. With the exception of the Vass they were all unworn. The Vass slightly worn. They all had flush mounted toe plates installed. The Lobbs had a sole guard applied. There were no shoe trees installed in any of these shoes.

    We took pictures of the heel height and toe spring dimensions. It all depends on how the last is balanced.

    The brands shown are (not in order): C&J, Ralph Lauren, Peal & Co., John Lobb, J.M. Weston, Brooks Bros. (Peal), Vass.
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  5. NAMOR

    NAMOR Senior member

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    I spy a new pair of CJ for bb shell wingtips!!!!
     
  6. ThunderMarch

    ThunderMarch Senior member

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    Hey there, thanks a lot for taking the trouble to take all these pictures, much appreciated. It does seem like there is a large variation amongst the different makers.
     
  7. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    It's an interesting layout of photos. It does appear to show a considerable variation in toe spring. But that said, I don't really know that there is anything of use or significance to be drawn from these photos.

    First, heel spring and toe spring is almost impossible to determine...if you want to do it accurately...when the shoe is off the last. There are tensions set up when drafting the uppers and mounting the outsoles that can cause the shoe to "spring" or sit different when the last is pulled than when it is still in the shoe. The mounting of a metal shank can also affect the way a shoe "appears" to be balanced. The shoe may very well have been built with zero heel spring and yet when the last is pulled some appears. The set of the shoe when still on the last accurately reflects the shape and dimensions of the last...and the intent of the shoemaker. Everything else is bogus.

    It is also why I have always said that for the cobbler to alter the height or inclination of the heel of a shoe, without the original last, is playing with fire.

    Second, measurements are only as accurate as the tool being used...or the person using the tool and his sense of rigour. The point of "origin" for the ruler in the photos is roughly 1/8" beyond the edge of the ruler. So all results will be inaccurate by that amount.

    And third, heel heights are properly measured at the medial heel breast of the shoe...not at the back. Ideally, under the malleoli.

    edited for punctuation and clarity
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  8. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    FIFY.
     
  9. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Well, I appreciate that and your "fix" ends up being correct, as well. But I meant what I said. Some makers...esp. manufacturers...intentionally add a bit of heel spring. Without the original last no one can know. It's guesswerk.
     
  10. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Just trolling. lol

    And yes, some makers uses the same last and and pump heel height too much and shortened the toe spring.

    But my conjecture is that altering heel height by 2-3mm should be within acceptable range as top lift does worn out especially the rubber part of it. Correct me if I am wrong.
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I, frankly, don't know for sure. I know some good makers who I respect who find such practices acceptable. I was always taught that it was not. I, personally, think once we get up on a heel the foot needs more support and more correct support.

    And every modelmaker and lastmaker I ever spoke with was firm in his belief that the last had one heel height...and one only. Thinking about it... I suspect any maker who carves individual lasts for a customer would be highly resistant to the idea of raising or lowering the heel out of spec.

    It also depends on the last. Not that some lasts make it easier or more acceptable but simply that some lasts are so non-supportive that raising or building the heel higher or lower than what the last is designed and set for, probably doesn't make much difference. It's never going to be right no matter what you do.

    But if I have a last that is set for one inch...and is built correctly and supports the foot correctly at one inch...then raising the heel throws the balance and the weight of the body forward of the treadline and increases the potential for fallen metatarsal arches and bunions.

    I've never given much thought to the reverse--lowering the heel height below what the last is set for--but I would guess that there are consequences...at least long term.

    Bottom line is that...as I've said again and again...the foot is one of the most architecturally complex structures in nature. You disrespect it at your own peril.

    Beyond all that...building the heel of a shoe out of range is not what I was referring to in my previous post. I was simply saying that...whether because the shank support is omitted or some other reasons...many manufactures build the proper heel height for the last but don't build it so that it sits level. No third party can know whether this is intentional, or accidental or even how much. Without the original last.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  12. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    As mentioned earlier adjusting the heel height is not that big a deal. It depends on the balance which any good shoe Guy can figure out without a disaster happening.
     
  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    It's a matter of perspective--if a person is satisfied with taking measurements that are almost certain to be nearly an eighth inch off, I suppose adjusting heel height without a last is well within the realm of acceptable, as well...it's all guesswerk. And a guess is as good as by-golly, for that person.

    For the record, that's not me, however. And I don't think it is any other reputable craftsman, either.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2015
  14. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    How about using the same last for HAF sole, i.e., double sole up front, single sole at the waist. With that, heel hight should be adjusted higher to compensate for the thicker/higher front?

    Or, say, a worn shoes with top lift replacement. The outsole is worn thinner but the top lift is brand new, making the heel height relatively and slightly higher than it should be.

    In both cases, it will misalign the shoe/last balance from a couple mm differential. Temporal, not 'long run'. In the long run we are all dead. - J.M.Keynes.
     
  15. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    And for the record bid guy. We often get requests to adjust heel heights for customers that have discrepancies in they're leg lengths as a result of an accident -or- birth defect.
    I won't touch them without a doctors prescription. Then, we have some options for the customer. I'm just a lucky Guy....

    And with your by gollys....

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Sincerely,

    Nick
     

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