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Sole Welting

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Quarantanove, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior member

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    This is too depressing. Back to "Sole Welting"

    On soles:

    Every place I have seen that does resoling says they use "super prime" soles. This makes me think there must be alternative (otherwise why specify). But what are the alternatives? Is there such a thing as "prime", "super-duper prime"? What makes one better than another? Durability, or something else?

    I gather that B Nelson offers an alternative of "JR" which is better than super prime, but how?
    I think DW has said he prefers Baker (?Barker?), but how does it differ?

    If one uses sole protectors, replacing them before they completely wear through, would your leather soles last "forever"? You do need to sand them a little when replacing a sole protector. I assume that would eventually wear the sole to the point that it must be replaced. How many sole protector replacements might one get before the sole itself would have to be replaced?

    If one stretches out the resoling interval like this, would the sole still get soft from wear and flexing, even without the abrasion of walking directly on the leather?

    Would the footbed degrade as the cork settles and moves away from pressure points?
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    You're right. All I can do is point out that you're a dick and that you deliberately and maliciously exaggerate and distort to suit your own disingenuous purposes.
     
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  3. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    I'd also like to hear about differing grades of outsoles - and if B Nelson has something special on offer in this regard, I'd be particularly keen to know.

    If you are looking to avoid controversy, however, it would be best to stay clear of the issue of sole protectors. Prophecies of doom will follow as surely as night follows day. And evangelical wrath visited upon any heretical non-believers. Been / done / t-shirt.

    That said, your questions on this point are most fair.
     
  4. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Quote:Thank you for that contribution.
     
  5. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    What does prime mean to you? Think about it for a minute...what does it mean to anyone in the strictest sense?

    The "prime" or "superprime" designation is marketing hype. Except for JR (acorn caps) and Baker (oak bark) and a few other not very available brands, they are all synthetic tannages done in a matter of days...maybe a few weeks.. When has anything done in a hurry, in order to maximize cash flow and return on investment, ever been best quality?

    JR and Baker and the Belgian chestnut I use are all natural tannages that are left in the pits for months and in the case of Baker up to a year.

    I have two problems with Rendenbach--it is flinty and what I have access to is all branded on the grainside thereby preventing me from doing a "clear" finish. That said it's far more available here in the States than the Baker.


    Maybe. But the real problem is not the degradation of the footbed...IF the insole is leather...but rather the fact that when and if the forepart cavity is refilled...as when the outsole is finally replaced, the foot bed will have become dependent on the absence of cork underneath those pressure point--the footbed is as much in the cork as it is in the leather. So more cork? What do you think will be the result, if not a "raising up" of the footbed in critical places? .

    I put Topy on my wife's shoes. I don't like it for my own. I've spent a lot of my life exposed to petroleum distillates and solvents. A very good shoemaker I know came down with leukemia several years ago and his doctors and he are convinced that such exposure is the cause. I try to avoid using them as much as I can. I think, in some sense, they disrespect the whole design philosophy of a good shoe. Soles are meant to be replaced--they have evolved to make that as easy as possible even for the less than fully competent. If you follow the logic, it makes more sense to just buy cement sole construction and put Topy on them--you never have to worry about replacing the leather outsole...you can grind on it til its gone.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  6. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Superprime is more expensive because it is superprime.
    It has a much tighter grain and next to near "no" flesh.
    Even a layman could clearly see the difference once it's pointed out.
     
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  7. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior member

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    DWF, thanks for clarifications. I assume this problem would occur whenever one resoled a GY welted shoe? Not just if one extended the resole interval with Topy's??

    So Baker, JR, and Belgian chestnut are better than "super prime"?
    I am not sure I know what you mean by the flintiness of JR. Brittle? Does it crack?

    I recall Nick V saying that it is important to flatten the footbed when doing a resole. I was meaning to ask why. I had assumed that, if the footbed had formed to the wearer's foot, you would want to leave that alone, rather than flatten it out. Nick, can you clarify?

    Thanks for the warning about Topy flame war. I had heard DWF previously say that he uses them sometimes, and at one point I even heard him recommend them (although seemed to be making the best of what he considered to be a very bad pair of shoes).

    If I had the skill and time to resole my shoes myself then I would dispense with the Topys. I like the feel of leather better than that of the sole protector. But I have found the leather wears alarmingly fast, and a resole is expensive enough that I use the protectors. Of course, if I were wearing handmade bespoke shoes I would probably care for them the way the maker suggested...
     
    2 people like this.
  8. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    In the first place, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines "prime" as:
    of the highest quality or value

    If something is prime how can there even be a "super prime?" How can something be of higher quality than the 'highest quality?"

    You see? It's meaningless.

    Second, a cut fullsole can be taken in or near the belly and be marked "prime." And another fullsole can be take in or near the shoulder and be marked "superprime." It's totally at the discretion of the maker/ cutter. Does that mean either of them is good quality (nevermind "highest")...bearing in mind that belly is never considered best quality for outsoles anymore than shoulder is considered best quality for outsoles? It's a marketing ploy aimed at those who, at some level, are really just not interested in thinking too hard.

    Some synth tan leather outsoles are better than others. Some are even good enough for manufacturing or repair purposes. But all leather has flesh. Sometimes it is looser and that often is an indicator of a marginal cut. The average person looking at the flesh of a dozen cut outsoles would probably not be able to tell if the flesh was loose or not. Not at a glance. That said, I don't think that the synth tans wear especially well.

    A maker has to know ...has to have the ability to read a leather. I don't always look at the flesh More often I judge quality by what I see in the corium & the density of the fiber mat.

    I think Baker is the top leather in the world. There is a book on leather technology that claims oak tanned leathers will wear longer than any other leathers. When wet it is easily shaped and channeled. JR is valona tanned (acorn caps) and is hard, stiff and IMO, does not channel easily. Additionally, I think it wears faster than Baker. The Belgium is probably not as long wearing as the Baker but it channels nicely, is available as bends and it is better all around...again in my opinion...than fighting with the Rendenbach.

    Everyone tries to flatten the insole when repairing. If it is good leather, that's problematic because the fibers under those pressure point have been compressed and displaced. Will hammering the whole insole to flatten it make the insole hard and compressed in places where it wasn't compressed and in places the foot would prefer it not to be compressed?

    If the insole is leatherboard or paperboard, the insole can very likely be flattened but it probably never had much of a real footbed in the first place...as such insoles don't conform to the foot the way a good leather insole will. It's all in the displacement of the cork.


    You read correctly. My attitudes about Topy are pretty succinctly summed up in the previous post. They are not new. Instead of giving credit to dishonest distortion and exaggeration, just ask. I've never been reluctant to explain. Then you can make up your own mind.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
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  9. Fishball

    Fishball Senior member

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    My shoemaker friend in Hong Kong buy JR directly from German, he ordered the whole sole bend, so no marking of brand at all, and the shipping is much cheaper than Baker I bought.
    Personally, I tried both outsole, and I think JR is more "durable" than Baker, although not much. However, Baker is more easy for hands when doing stitching. It doesn't matter for the cobbler since most if not all of them do the stitching by machine.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
  10. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Fishy,

    I know, I used to get the Goetz catalogue when they still had American reps. I've seen and used to drool over the JR bends and insole shoulders. When I finally got a chance to try the JR...I simply couldn't find any dealer in the US that would sell the bends and JR explicitly and adamantly refused to brand the flesh side (I think they did it once) rather than the grain side. I'm not the kind of fellow to wear Nike or Coke T-shirts or a pair of sunglasses with the tag hanging off. I didn't want their marketing on my shoes.


    I've ordered tools from Goetz (in Germany and leather in bulk from Baker. I've never been too enthusiastic about the shipping costs and I see both customs and brokerage fees coming into the US. hell, we saw it coming form Canada.

    I suppose the Belgian bends I buy have fees like that hidden in the price I pay but the distributor deals in sufficient quantities that much of it is "spread out." I dern sure would prefer Baker, Belgian and JR (in that order) over the "domestic" superprimes (cutsoles) and Mexican outsole bends that are available. Although the Mexican insole shoulders are at least OK.
     
  11. Fishball

    Fishball Senior member

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    DW,

    I am sorry about the customs and brokerage fees, since I live in a free port. :smarmy:
    Hong Kong do have sole bends from Belgium, they are ok quality, but I doubt it is same as yours.
    I am very sure Baker, your Belgian and JR sole would be much better those "superprimes" cutsole.
    BTW, my friend ordered JR directly from their factory, not thru agent.
     
  12. Nick V.

    Nick V. Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I'm going by the general terminology used in the trade. I inherited that and that's how soling leather is graded. So, I'm not going to discect a word or term. Fact is super prime is a higher grade than prime.
    Also, I'm not talking about looking for and finding flesh (you know that). If you take a sole marked Prime turn it up side down and scrape it with your fingernails the flesh will easily come off and clog your
    nails. Sometimes you can even see dust. Do the same with super prime, if it's true super prime you'll get next to nothing. Then there is the amount of veins that you will find in prime, not nearly in SP.
    Part of what that leads to is prime and below are very porous. They absorb moisture like a sponge and softens much more than SP. I suspect you have known this as a kid.

    We use Italian SP. Not a fan of Mexican which as you allude in many cases (although stamped SP) is not really. The Italian is consistently reliable. You pay more for it but you know what you are getting.
    Insoles...No we don't hammer the insole. I agree that can cause more bad that good. However, there is another way of doing it. When the sole is removed, often some of the corking comes out with it. Most will simply patch those areas. If the foot-bed is now exposed why not replace it in it's entirety? Leveling the insole? As mentioned hammering it can cause an imperfect fit. If the shoes are now in a wooden or plastic last fitted properly you simply use pieces of leather and tack the insole to the last from the bottom. That acts more as a clamp and far more than hammering. It's best to use a solvent that will make the insole more pliable during this process. They have to set and cure before moving on to the next process.

    Bends and names? If you are doing a few pair per week, I can understand how you want to save money using bends. However, when you are doing well over 100 pair per week it's not practical. You would have to employ a trained person just to cut the bends. Then there's the waste. It's just not practical to off-set the expense of pre-cut in a standard size. Also IMO if I'm charging a customer for let's say JR I want that customer to see it's stamped for what he is paying for.
     
  13. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior member

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    So the brand on the sole is a reason DWF does not like JR and a reason that Nick V uses it. Different businesses, different priorities. It seems both agree that these are better than standard superprime. Worth knowing for those of us who will not be buying soles or bends ourselves, but might have a choice of what the cobbler uses when getting resoles. For the small group who are buying bespoke, it sounds like availability, suitability for that particular shoe, workability, and cordwainer's preferences may drive the decision as much as generalizations about the overall quality of different soles. From DWF's comments, it seems that of Baker, Belgian and JR, JR is by far the most accessible, at least for customers in the US.

    Both experts also agree that flattening the footbed is part of a properly done resole job, at least for the standard cork-filled GY welted shoe. It sounds like it is more than just a consequence of replacing the cork. I gather there is an affirmative effort specifically to reduce the deep molding of the insole that occurs with wear. With authorities of this caliber it is clear that this is the right way to do it. I am still hoping they can explain why.
     
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  14. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Quote:Good info as always. I understood the marketing terms to be just that - descriptive of different levels of quality. If there is indeed a difference in quality (and I do not question your assessment in this regard), then there is little basis for dismissing the descriptive terms as "hype".
     
  15. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Senior member

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    Perhaps this has already been answered in the shoe care thread, but while we're on the subject of soles, does anyone do any sort of maintenance on their soles? Wax seems like a recipe for turning your shoes into ice skates, and I thought a conditioner would probably soften them and make them wear more quickly, so I haven't really been doing anything. Obviously I'm using shoe trees, rotating shoes, and allowing the soles to dry before wearing, but is there any other sort of maintenance I should be doing for leather soles?
     
  16. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Frank - other than the sole edges, I do no maintenance.
     
  17. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    Nick, would you mind explaining this a bit more? When you insert and tack the leather scrap to the bottom of the insole, is this simply for the purpose of leveling it as a safer alternative to hammering, before replacing the cork? In other words, after it has re-cured, do you remove the leather, then replace the cork, or do you leave the additional leather in place and cover that with cork? I'm assuming you remove the leather, since the void is only somewhere around 5mm between the insole and outsole, so it doesn't seem like there would leave room for both the added leather and new cork, but just wanted to clarify for my own knowledge.
     
  18. MoneyWellSpent

    MoneyWellSpent Senior member

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    I don't either. Sole and heel edges get dressed, but there seems to be too much conflicting information out there on conditioning the soles, so I've always just erred on leaving them alone.
     
  19. Fred G. Unn

    Fred G. Unn Senior member

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    Ok, good to know I'm not leaving something out.
     
  20. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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    I would be interested to know as well, I add a little leather lotion to my shoe soles once in a while. Especially after they have been out in the rain, and subsequently been excessively dried out.
     

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