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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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    I suppose asking why devote such attention to finishing soles is like asking watchmakers and collectors why they engrave the tiny little parts buried inside the movement. "Wouldn't it keep just as good time without bothering with that?" "Probably, but that is so not the point"
     


  2. DWFII

    DWFII Bespoke Boot and Shoemaker Dubiously Honored

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    It's all a matter of taking pride in what you do. Any job you start, you need to "finish" (pun intended). Would you be satisfied with a suit (bespoke or otherwise) that had threads hanging loose? Or a shirt that was not ironed?

    And I think you are dead-on right...it's also an indicator of the workmanship throughout the shoe.The outsole is one of those presentation things (you only get one chance to make a first impression) . If a maker can't be concerned with how the outsole is done, why would he be concerned about the workmanship of things unseen?

    Watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow and the appraiser was talking about how a particular sculpture was finished on all sides, not just the side that faced the viewer. That it was a hallmark of quality and dedication on the part of the artist.

    If you think about it, a lot that goes into a shoe is ornamental. What function does a folded edge, on the topline, for instance, serve? Or the wires on the edge of the outsole? The pricking up of the welt? Heel seat wheeling? Would you want to forgo those aspects? And sometimes function is nuanced...the medial notch on the breast of the heel, for example.

    If we reduce everything to utility...which is the way it's heading...we are by default reducing people--specifically the people who make these things, but customers, too--to the status of parts in the machine. Or resources for exploitation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014


  3. mafoofan

    mafoofan THE FOO Dubiously Honored

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    Nick--still no answer on whether you hand-stitch into existing holes when resoling hand-welted shoes.
     


  4. anrobit

    anrobit Senior Member

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    He hasn't posted in a day and a half. Let's not be hasty here.
     


  5. RogerP

    RogerP Distinguished Member

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    Quote:Well if the engraving wore off in the first hours that the watch was run, I might well ask what the point of that endeavor was. I have no objection to purely decorative aspects of craftsmanship, whether it be a watch or a shoe. Unlike others who routinely disparage such features, I don't see such aesthetic touches are being frivolous or somehow disingenuous. I just find it curious that a decorative element so fleeting in endurance could be so highly valued. And I have no doubt that hand-engraving the minute bridges and balance cock of a watch movement is an undertaking requiring exceptional skill. If, in contrast, it does not in fact take tremendous skill to gloss up a leather sole, then I am uncertain that said shiny sole can be fairly said to be indicative of a high level of skill of the craftsman. And I really don't think that anything less than a super glossy sole reflects a maker who is unconcerned with the quality of his craftsmanship. None of that it to say that a glossy sole is a bad thing, or that those who enjoy such a finish - however briefly - shouldn't go right ahead and enjoy it. But surely it's a matter of aesthetic preference. Some prefer a high gloss finish on the leather uppers, some prefer a more satin finish. More a reflection of individual preference than a reliable indicator of actual quality.
     


  6. CalzolaiFeF

    CalzolaiFeF Well-Known Member

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  7. RogerP

    RogerP Distinguished Member

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    Quote:Would you say that once the transformation has progressed from a crude piece of leather to an even and clean satin / matte finish, the hard work is done - and taking it from that point to glossy is not so very hard? As I have tried to point before, I am not pointing to all aspects of forming and shaping the sole - merely to the application of a high gloss finish. Yes, without doubt, much skilled work must go into the sole to take it to that point - but that work need not terminate in a glossy finish, right? The maker could choose a softer / satin finish and the shoe would not be of any less quality, right? Or am I wrong?
     


  8. CalzolaiFeF

    CalzolaiFeF Well-Known Member

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  9. RogerP

    RogerP Distinguished Member

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    The only analogy that I can personally relate to is hand finishing a finishing a carbon steel blade. The real hard work is done ensuring that you have flat, clean grinds on the blade surface - no dips or hollows. Then the laborious task begins of taking the blade from a rough high grit belt finish, hand sanding through progressivley finer layers of sand paper until you have an even, clean, fine-grit satin finish. Certainly a lot of hard work involved to get to that point. But comparatively easy to take it from there to a mirror shine with a bufing wheel. Surely it can't be harder to poish leather than to polish steel?
     


  10. RogerP

    RogerP Distinguished Member

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    Quote:Fair enough - but that's not what I asked. I'm trying to distinguish between the skill required to shape and finish the sole short of the glossy stage, and the skill required to make it glossy. So.. 1) Is it fair to say that the hard / skilled work is in transforming the crude piece of leather into a clean, smooth perfectly formed and finished sole that does not yet have a gloss finish applied to it, and 2) Is it also fair to say that the application of that "coronation" of glossiness to the otherwise perfectly formed and finished sole is not a particularly skilled task? It really isn't a case of devaluing the finish for its lack of practical value - that's something of a red herring. That which has a purely aesthetic function can indeed have value, as I said before. It's a question of identifying whether such a finish -in and of itself - is one which requires a high degree of skill to execute. Assuming two otherwise equally well made and well finished shoes - one with a glossy sole, the other with a perfect satin or matte finish - what skills of craftsmanship has the maker of the former pair demonstrated?
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014


  11. misterjuiceman

    misterjuiceman Senior Member

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    I certainly don't feel as if my knife is of lesser quality if the blade is (seemingly) perfectly ground and given a hand-rubbed, but not mirror, finish. The knifemakers from whom I buy knives aren't putting mirror finishes on the blades, because they're meant to be used, and they're not presentation folders. On the same token don't think something from say, White Kloud, is of lesser quality because the sole isn't given such a finish. They're just catering to a completely different audience.
    [​IMG]
     


  12. RogerP

    RogerP Distinguished Member

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    Quote:Exactly. And you won't find many mirror finishes on high end forged carbon steel knives becuase makers and customers alike understand that its actually easier to do a mirror finish (which can essentially be done by machine) than a hand-rubbed satin finish.
     


  13. CalzolaiFeF

    CalzolaiFeF Well-Known Member

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  14. RogerP

    RogerP Distinguished Member

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    Thanks - that certainly clears things up for me - appreciate your input.
     


  15. TheWraith

    TheWraith Distinguished Member

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    Nice to get a new perspective here. Thanks Calzo :)
     


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