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

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

  1. Zapasman

    Zapasman Senior member

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    It was not my intention to talk about brands/countries of manufacturing here. In a way, I was forced to give a clue of the manufacturer in order to stop answering some private messages of other members asking me about the brand. On the other hand, I would like to see much more transparency in companies. That is what it really matters me as a customer.
     
  2. sleepyinsanfran

    sleepyinsanfran Senior member

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    at least a few bespoke bootmakers (such as in the southwestUS and SoCal) also handwelt directly to the edge of the insole without a channel or holdfast (and are proud of it, judging by instagram posts), so geography is hardly the only determining factor in the absence of a holdfast (?) in handwelted shoes :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
  3. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    FWIW, I know a lot of those guys (for a lot of years) and I can't think of a one that does it that way.

    That said, there are a few makers of 17th and 18th century shoes who don't channel or feather the insole. Maybe too early historically for holdfasts to be correct for the style of shoe.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
  4. VRaivio

    VRaivio Senior member

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    You're funny! Only 2 pairs without a significant flaw? Come on, son! This is 50% of the pairs you bought, and Linea Maestro is supposed to be the highest quality that Meermin offers. Based on the many photos I've seen and the pairs I've handled, the quality control in their factory is clearly run by incompetent folks.
     
  5. DinSko

    DinSko Member

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    He said only 2 pairs were good. Read the last sentence again :)
     
  6. Trqmaster

    Trqmaster Senior member

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    DWF, I am interested in sewing at a higher SPI then the common punches I seem to be able to find. It looks like 3mm is the smallest which may be around 9spi. What if I would like to sew at 12spi? Are there punches that are more narrow? It seems it would be very tedious to do 2 rows of stitching on the uppers and having to use the diamond awl for every hole. It would take forever! I also don't have a sewing machine so this is by hand. I figure it is more sturdy then a lock stitch anyway but that is besides the point. The punches I have found seem to suit making wallets and handbags which is fine but for shoes, I would like a higher spi.

    Also, I have been looking at tiger thread which is waxed and tends to be thicker and suited for lower spi. What do you recommend for finer work and higher spi? Is there something off the shelf or do I need to wax my own line? Do you recommend linen or polyester?
     
  7. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Hoo boy! There's a can of worms.

    First, I don't think you want "punches." Punches remove leather.

    Second, whatever hole you make in the leather should be as small as possible esp. at higher frequencies.

    I have several "stitch markers" (antiques)--which are fundamentally rolling prickers. They leave a mark on the leather but do not penetrate the leather. these marks indicate where you must make your holes...one at a time. I have a 14 (14 spi) but I've never, ever...and I've been looking...seen one that was smaller (bigger?)--like a 16 or an 18.

    To make the holes in the leather you need a "closing" awl. See the first awl in the photo in post #646 [COLOR=FF0000]here[/COLOR]

    Master Shoemaker Al Saguto, at Colonial Williamsburg, and head of the Shoemaking faculty, supervises and trains apprentices in hand closing. The government approved (and internationally recognized) program which he uses as a guideline, suggests that to become a journeyman shoemaker (not even a master) the shoemaker must be able to do 16spi on outsoles / welt and 22 spi on uppers...wait for it--all by eye. No fudge wheels, no stitch markers.

    Thread would be linen or hemp or even silk. Boar's bristles would be used. Beeswax or some variation incorporating a small amount of pine rosin might be appropriate.

    If synthetic threads were to be used, a dacron or polyester thread / yarn would be taken apart to create strands of smaller diameter. Or, it is possible to do this with something like a size 46 bonded nylon and a large eye beading needle (after the holes are made in the leather) . But that might be regarded as "cheating" and besides the doubling over of the thread with a needle of any kind would force the holes open more than necessary or even wise depending on the leather and the stitch frequency. Again, wax is probably required.

    And yes, it is tedious. Extremely so. And exacting. And back breaking and eye straining.

    And once upon a time it was done at 50+spi. And even 64spi has been documented.

    Did I say "all by eye?"

    All by eye.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  8. OzzyJones

    OzzyJones Senior member

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    Yeah, VR should be a politician; that's some selective editing right there
     
  9. shoefan

    shoefan Senior member

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    A couple of additional comments re: hand sewing.

    First, if you are replicating a sewing-machine stitch (ie. sewing two pieces of leather overlapped, or one piece on top of the other), I don't think you want a closer's awl -- that awl is for round closing (two edges butted up against each other) or split and lift closing. I think a very thin stabbing awl would be used for overlapping seams.

    The hand-sewers at E Green us a poly-cotton thread for their round closing (I think perhaps poly wrapped with cotton?).

    You certainly could also use Linen or Silk, as DWF notes.

    The punches used in saddlery and other hand-sewing are actually supposed to be used to mark the leather, not to perforate it; an awl is actually used to perforate the leather, one stitch at a time.
     
  10. Trqmaster

    Trqmaster Senior member

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    By eye? Yikes! I'm just dabbling so I need to start somewhere... So you recommend the rolling prickers instead of this?

    The rolling prickers means you still have to use an awl for each hole. That's a lot of work! The awl you pointed to is curved. When stitching an upper, would you want curved or straight? I figure you are stitching 2 pieces together and going straight through would be ok. Thoughts? I figured the curved awl would be for the sole work.

    As for being a master, I'm not pursuing that at this time. I wanted to get my hands dirty and see what goes into making a shoe. If I enjoy it, I will work on my craft and pursue higher standards. I figure the first go will be rough which I am fine with. The best way to understand a process is to participate! Thanks for all the wonderful info you have provided!
     
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    First, shoefan is correct. The closing awl is for round closing. But I, myself have never seen a stabbing awl as thin as a closing awl. That said, I have made thin stabbing awls (usually from harness or glover's needles) but whether they were ever made commercially is another question. Certainly few have survived and none are being made at present, AFAIK.

    Beyond that, I have used the closing awl in place of the stabbing awl for work at 12spi on uppers and would not hesitate to use it for finer work. It has a flat blade and when you are doing this kind of sewing, the two pieces don't present that much substance or difficulty in piercing. And the blade is flat enough to pierce all of it without the curved section coming into play. I find it very comfortable to make the holes with the closer's awl. It's almost like a pecking bird--the curved beak just dips, peck, peck, peck--it's a quick, easy motion. Faster...in my hands, at least...than the stabbing awl would be.

    And yes, it's a lot of holing 12+ pecks / holes for every inch.

    As for the tool you linked to--the diamond lacing chisel--well, the name and the description says it all. It is for lacing, which is sewing with leather lace, not thread. Although I guess you could...if crude was your goal. These, as well as flat chisels (sometimes made as multiple chisels on one handle) or round punches (again, available as multiples) are used mostly in saddle and harness and more extensively in craft work (such as wallets and purses, etc.) and they are almost without exception, "strike" tools--meant to pierce and / or punch hole in the leather--via a blow from a mallet or a hammer. The word "stitching" in the description is a misdirection, or sloppy use of the language. IMO.

    And FWIW, master status is complicated and not what I was describing...which again is part of a 75 year old bona fide, legitimate, federally recognized certification program. What I was describing is what an apprentice must be able to achieve to be promoted to journeyman. To graduate from apprentice, IOW.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  12. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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  13. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    I always thought those were for harness work more than shoemaking. From this angle, it would seem somewhat awkward or overly complicated to use one of these along a curved edge. A rolling stitch marker wheel is, I suspect, much more appropriate.

    That said, training your eye to see 16 or 18 spi, much less 22 spi, is a worthy goal in and of itself.

    IMO.
     
  14. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    BTW...as regards 'master'...in my first response I was simply trying to give you a Traditional and historical perspective. But I also offered some insights into how you might go about this, with easily available tools and materials...if your heart was set on it. Hence the reference to large eye beading needles and commercially available nylon thread.

    "Master" wasn't in it.

    :)
     
  15. ntempleman

    ntempleman Senior member

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    Oh yeah, those are for belts and bags etc. just expanding on the stitch marker thing.
     

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