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Sole Welting

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

  1. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I'm kind of a young fogey and appreciate things of the past, natural materials, tried and true processes and so on. Personally even if fiberboard performs better than leather I still wouldn't want it in my shoes. I like that it is more natural, I like that it is historically accurate. I feel the same way about things like topies. I mean, ok, it lasts longer than leather, but my intention in wearing "high end" shoes isn't so much of concern for longevity of replaceable parts of the shoe, but more so for my appreciation for the art, craft, and Trade. If you want shoes to last forever, or "perform" (whatever that might mean) better then you might as well wear rubber shoes, with metal soles everywhere.
     
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  2. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior member

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    Without commenting specifically on any particular maker, can the experts discuss the differences between leather and fiberboard?

    How do they perform when making shoes? How do they compare for durability? Are they comparable in forming a footbed? Any other differences?

    One can assume that the people who advocate it are sincere, and just give pros and con's. PB probably speaks for just about all bespoke buyers. But for the rest of the world, does fiberboard have any actual advantages?
     
  3. LynahFaithful

    LynahFaithful Senior member

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    pB - Here's an interesting quote on topy's from J.P Myhre's (a bespoke maker in Norway) website:

    "Banish rubber stick on soles – they suffocate the leather and cause it to rot prematurely"

    He does, however, as does Uncle Mac in the Alden thread, recommend overshoes:

    "Rubber overshoes are very practical in use."
     
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  4. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I mean, I have no way of validating the rotting statement, but even if they don't rot your shoes I don't like them. Also, which is weird I guess, but if I am behind somebody walking on the street and I see rubber on the bottoms of their shoes it kind of just looks wrong to me when wearing a proper pair of shoes. I feel the same way about dainties. I have tried them, didn't like them for a number of reasons.
     
  5. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    On the erstwhile subject of sole welting and in light of today's weather:
    What Norway gave the world (as co-opted by Italy)
    [​IMG]
     
  6. dbhdnhdbh

    dbhdnhdbh Senior member

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    PB, I completely agree with you about appearance. Plus, leather feels better under foot. But I operate under two sets of rules when spending money. For my family I get the best. This is not necessarily the most expensive, but it can be. For myself when the heart and the wallet conflict over a purchase the wallet wins. Always.

    Not sure I believe the early deterioration claim for Tops. If that were true then people like Nick would know it. They see lots of shoes with Topys. I wonder how many they see with rotten soles? Given the price differential between a resole job and sole protectors, esp. if you apply the protectors yourself, the leather soles would have to "suffocate" and die pretty fast to make it cheaper to avoid Topys.

    Hoping Nick will chime in.
     
  7. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Years of Topy wear and zero leather rot. Or any of the other assorted doomsday predictions, for that matter. I have rapidly worn away leather soles walking along several blocks of sidewalks liberally strewn with rock salt, though. Wet leather and harsh abrasive isn't a good combo.
     
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  8. misterjuiceman

    misterjuiceman Senior member

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    I've seen enough 20+ year old pairs of White's boots with rubber soles to think that the tales of rot are bunk. My own shoes with different types of rubber shoes seem to be doing as well as my leather soled shoes.
     
  9. vestbash

    vestbash Senior member

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    While it does not pertain directly to sole welting, I was wondering how many bespoke shoemakers forgo the use of machine entirely in the shoemaking process? How prevalent is the use of machinery in contemporary bespoke shoemaking? By say Lobb St James, St Crispin's, and smaller houses like D.W. Frommer II?

    I would think that DWF makes shoes entirely by hand, or nearly so, but I do not want to assume.
     
  10. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I believe all of them are using a machine to stitch the upper patterns together, or at least most of the upper patterns. Of the makers you listed I know what St. Crispins uses a hand cracked sewing machine to stitch the sole to the welt, however they are hand welted.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
  11. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    There was a video about Anthony Delos on the web some time ago...maybe three part, IIRC. My operation is just about like his was, except I don't carve the lasts from scratch and hornbeam.

    Also I started out as a bespoke Western Bootmaker. The heyday of the western boot...even the inception...was well into the 19th century. The sewing machine had been invented. The skiving machine had been invented. Sole stitching machines had been invented...nearly every major piece of equipment used in factories had been invented. So the Traditions were in flux and most of the good makers used some equipment.

    When I started making high end men's shoes...and one of the primary reasons I started...I realized that the Traditions were a little older. When men's shoes were at their best--most refined, most well-made--much of that equipment didn't exist. 30 stitches to the inch can not be done with a sewing machine ...at least not machines we know commonly today. Nevermind 50 or even 64 to the inch. Skin stitching cannot be done by any machine...not that I have ever heard or know of.

    That said, even the most Tradition minded contemporary bespoke shoemaker...such as Lobbs St. James...probably uses a sewing machine for the uppers as pB intimated. Beyond that, it is a mix.

    I use every one of my machines for making the boots. But I don't have machines for every operation. I have three major pieces of equipment--a finisher, a curved needle outsole stitcher, and a straight needle stitcher. As well, I have four upper sewing machines and two skivers. Aside from bench mounted machines like a leather cutter and splitter, that's about it.

    I inseam by hand--the same way it has been done for centuries. I do some, most, skiving by hand and all clicking by hand. I build heel stacks one layer at a time and use wooden pegs to secure the layers and parts of the outsoles. All more or less Traditional for the period and style of footwear. and the way I was taught.

    When I make men's shoes...I prefer to do as much by hand as I can. I try to use authentic techniques and materials wherever possible...if the availability and the functionality are there. I use pastes rather than cements...and leather throughout the shoes--no plastics, paper, or nails. I believe, and I think it can be shown, that after nearly 10,000 years of evolution (of the shoe) the Traditional techniques and materials offer, objectively, the best solutions to all the problems and demands that arise from trying to protect, support and beautify the human foot...including durability and comfort.

    --
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
    2 people like this.
  12. vestbash

    vestbash Senior member

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    Thank you.
    Thank you very much for your lengthy response. What is the different between paste and cement? Could you please direct me towards some appropriate literature so I may learn more about traditional cordwaining?
     
  13. CalzolaiFeF

    CalzolaiFeF Well-Known Member

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    We are among the last ones in Italy who do almost everything by hand, except that (as DWF) we don't cut our lasts from wood pieces.

    We own only two machines: a sewing machine for the uppers and a finishing bench (sandpaper, no milling). We click, last, welt and stitch the outsole by hand. The polishing is done with french products, water and elbow (finger?) grease.

    It's heavy work and sometimes can push you on the brink of pure rage (after three hours in our lab you can learn enough Italian expletives to last for two lives), but it's the way we like to do it.
     
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  14. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  15. dopey

    dopey Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Ok Sandra Dee.
     
  16. poorsod

    poorsod Senior member

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    Thanks guys. Now I have Grease stuck in my head.
     
  17. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    Paste is generally made from some sort of starch...potato flour, wheat flour, even corn starch. Also Dextrine and Hirschkleber fall into that category although I am not sure what Hirschkleber is made of (I've been told many times but I seem to have a mental block).

    Cements are generally rubber...neoprene or latex...in a solvent such as MEK or Tolulene.

    Pastes take time to dry and are not waterproof. Need clamping.

    Cements are often contact adhesives and are more or less waterproof.

    PVA's are sometimes used, as well, and go back to the mid 20th century at least. I don't know if you could cal it a paste but it's not a cement either...just a glue I suppose.

    If you want a good look into Traditional cordwaining you can download three volumes of Golding's 8 volume set Boot and Shoes, free of charge (courtesy of yours truly) from the HCC homepage (go to The Guild Library).

    Once there, you can also purchase older, harder to find books...such as Rees and Devlin...in reprint form.

    The HCC--The Honourable Cordwainers' Company--is a non-profit, 501 C-3, tax-exempt Trade Guild, which also sponsors The Crispin Colloquy an Internet discussion forum for bespoke shoemakers and allied Trades.

    ---
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  18. thelonius

    thelonius Senior member

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    CalzolaiFeF, Would you be prepared to give me, by PM if you prefer, the name/website of your company. Quite understand if this would not be ethical for you - just wondering as I go to Italy now and again.
     
    1 person likes this.
  19. RogerP

    RogerP Senior member

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    Quote:Great stuff. I would love to spend a day just watching the work.
     
  20. thelonius

    thelonius Senior member

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    Can anyone say whether the ribbing shown on this Paraboot image is ordinary glued ribbing or is it glued to cover the flap of the insole leather which has been cut and folded up (as describe they do on some shoe ranges) ? Any observations would be welcome. Thanks.

    [​IMG]
     

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