Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Mr. Moo, Feb 28, 2011.
Are you using water when you use the wax polish?
I know it won't help much in the short term but there really is no magic bullet here. You can read/watch all the tutorials but a lot of bulling is achieved by feel. You'll know you are getting it after some trial and error and a bit of experimenting. Some leather takes a mirror shine better than others but I've found just about all my shoes & boots can be bulled and the process is virtually the same. What differs is the amount of wax and time. There are many ways to skin this cat and only you can figure out what will work for you.
The one thing that helped me the most was when I began applying many, many thin coats of wax before brushing/buffing. For example, I dampen my cloth with a drop or two of water and then dab a bit of wax onto that damp spot. I apply the wax to the toe in small circles until the cloth dries out. I'll repeat this process a half dozen times at least before ever hitting it with a brush. Eventually, the toe will start to take a slight shine as the polishing cloth has very little wax on it and is getting dry. It's only after all these thin coats that I'll begin brushing & buffing.
I brush with horsehair for a minute or so then buff. We all like different tools but I like the microfiber cloths used for auto detailing. I'm not worried that the microfiber cloth will damage the leather simply because I am buffing the wax, not the leather itself. The layer of wax sits atop the leather which is what shines.
Early on, I found the challenge of bulling the toe much more appealing/practical than the results. By that I mean a bulled toe isn't always what looks best or what is practical. It was fun to try and achieve the mirror shine but once I figured it out, I found that I only like it for certain shoes and for certain occasions.
The bulled/mirror toe looked fine with business attire but not with more casual attire. I travel for business frequently so I want my shoes to work with business & casual attire. For this reason, a bulled toe isn't practical as I didn't want a mirror toe with chinos at night or with denim on a return flight.
AE Kenilworth is far from a high end calfskin but they took to bulling fairly well with plain ole brown kiwi:
I kept these bulled as it makes a relatively inexpensive shoe look pretty good (IMHO of course).
Alden color 8 shell. I used Saphir Renovateur, Saphir MDO cordovan cream (No. 71) and then Saphir MDO Pâte de Luxe (medium brown wax No. 37).
While pleased with the results, the shell boots were more of an experiment to see if I could bull the toe. I didn't keep them like this for daily wear. I later applied a bit of Renovateur and brushed which toned down the bulling adequately. The wax does offer a certain level of protection from water & salt. I'm always careful to remove salt in the winter and found that it comes off very easily on the toe where the wax was applied in multiple thin coats.
In the end, the process for bulling the toe is fairly straight forward and most use methods that have been around for a hundred years. Achieving it just takes practice as so much of it is done by "feel" as opposed to following a recipe of steps. Lear (the OP) mentions this somewhere in the thread and I found it to be very true. I know when I can stop applying the thin wax coats by how the cloth "feels". Same for buffing, it takes varying degrees of pressure which you just have to figure out by trial and error.
In any event, good luck! I have found that shoe care is a nice way for me to pass the time during long conference calls.
Remember to not bull too intensively, may lead to some awkward conversations.
Agreed, because it is so annoying when someone steps op your perfectly glazed toe.
To those people I say
Seriously though, the more casual shoes shouldn't shine too much.
Patrick - thanks for the post, your shoes look great. So everyone is using a brush now somewhere along the line in their bulling? I was using the method in Crat's vid, basically.
I know I'm buffing the wax not the leather. The problem with these shoes is that after buffing the wax for like a minute, the leather looks just the same as it did when I first got the shoe. There's no wax residue remaining to buff, but nor is there any shine from a smooth layer of wax. I've tried it both using a little spit and a little water.
I'm so fed up with it right now - I've tried with these shoes and others various times, results are always somewhere between absolutely nothing and alright but underwhelming. I think I'll just give up until I can somehow get an in person tutorial with someone who knows what theyre doing.
And I agree on casual shoes - these are black cap toes obviously, and there are a couple of pair of evening-type shoes I'd like to get a higher shine on, but that's all.
haha, thank God for the "mute" button. I do find myself losing track of the conversation at times and praying that I don't hear, "So Patrick, what do you think?"
It's bad enough that I work for a Barcelona based company and the language barrier can be tough sometimes. Those crazy Catalonians speak a language all their own...it's not even Spanish (according to them).
That's a great picture Crat! Enjoyed your bulling video as well, nicely done.
Don't give up. It just takes some practice. You'll figure it out one day and then wonder why you ever had a problem in the first place. With that said, shoes that are clean, well maintained, conditioned and brushed will look 100% better than 99% of the folks you pass on the street or in your office.
Ordered. Enjoy your $25!
Thanks! I hope we both enjoy the products. I look forward to figuring out how to mix the Reno and wax into my rotations. I'll have to read up on the Saphir site.
^ This is very true.
What shoes are they?
Some dress shoes, like C&J's Hallam, have versions that are made of waxy calf and you'll have a whale of a time trying to shine them up. You can get a shine on waxy leather, but it takes forever and a day to get there and will smear easily when knocked.
Whilst not a shell fanboy at all, these look great! I came across an old pair of shell Graftons (Church's) this week and spent some time last night getting them looking good and this thread and site have been a great resource!
Guys, in all the mirror shine guides I have seen, wax is used. Is there a reason why cream is not used?
Not enough wax content in cream to harden to a high shine.
Hmm, that makes sense.Although, when comparing AE cream to Saphir cream, the Saphir one does appear to be more condensed. Maybe I'll try with the Saphir. The only time I use wax is when I want a mirror shine so I'm trying to keep the number of wax I have to buy down.
Brush has always worked for me - finger inside cloth should only be the finishing step.
the brush works by removing polish until the it all lays in a flat surface.
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