Insole leather

Share secrets, compare techniques, discuss the merits of materials--eg. veg vs. chrome--and above all, seek knowledge.
Message
Author
User avatar
jkrichard
3
3
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:08 am
Full Name: Jeffrey K Richard
Location: Tulsa, OK, USA
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#326 Post by jkrichard » Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:57 am

I have a question regarding tallowing. I can understand its historical significance, but I have to question its modern usage in footwear. Fat, even highly saturated tallow, is still subject to oxidation and therefore turning rancid. Part of fat's breakdown process is turning into it's acid constituents. If the process of tanning is to create a pH-neutral environment within the leather hide, therefore stabilizing the hide for longevity, why would we add a component that oxidizes outside of a cool airtight environment?
What are you all adding to your tallow as a preservative and guard against breakdown?

-Jeff
Member, HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#327 Post by dw » Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:42 am

Jeff,

Rendering the fat makes it pretty much rancid proof. I've had a gallon of beef tallow that I've been working on for near onto 10 years...no sign of rancidity. I've got sheep tallow that is older than that and another half gallon of beef tallow and paraffin mixed that is almost as old. None of which going rancid.

Beyond that, shoe dressings that contain mink oil are far more likely to go rancid than tallow.

Skin naturally has fats and fatty acids in its composition. Some if that is removed but most tanneries add back fat liquors and such, in the finishing processes, to replace that which has been lost.

And one other thought...tanning itself is acidic (tannic acid). I'm speculating, but I doubt any veg tanned leather is ph neutral. We might use products such as Lexol Ph to avoid the alkalinity of soap but I think one of the very reasons it is such a highly regarded product is that, by design, it doesn't remove or neutralize the fats that are in the leather.

Theoretically, at least, current veg tans...such as might be used for insole and outsole...are not significantly different than their ancient predecessors. Why would we think to treat it differently?

PS...Lexol, Neatsfoot oil--any leather conditioner and no few shoe creams--contain animal fats... just a thought.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

(Message edited by dw on April 24, 2010)

(Message edited by dw on April 24, 2010)

User avatar
dearbone
8
8
Posts: 1032
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:23 pm
Full Name: Nasser Vies
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Re: Insole leather

#328 Post by dearbone » Sat Apr 24, 2010 3:25 pm

This is a thought provoking discussion,if the reasons for tallowing the insole is to prevent cracks,than a simple scarping on the grain by glass or sand paper and the use of full slip/socking sole can also prevent cracking of the insole,I took a look at a 24 years old boots of mine and when i removed the slip sole, there was not a single crack on the insoles,greasing the bends or shoulders after tanning is usually done by the tannery. I use animal fat to treat veg tan upper leather and it works magic here but never used it to treat the insoles.

Nasser Vies
HCC-Member

User avatar
amuckart
6
6
Posts: 338
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2005 12:45 am
Full Name: Alasdair Muckart
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#329 Post by amuckart » Sat Apr 24, 2010 3:48 pm

Jeffrey,

Fat goes rancid because there are impurities in it which the rendering process removes.

Yes, the fat will oxidise, but if it is pure enough it won't smell, and once it's done oxidising it's good and stable.

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#330 Post by dw » Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:49 am

Nasser,

I'm not saying you're wrong 'cuz you're not. But think about this:

What are you removing when you scrape your insoles? (I scrape/buff mine, too, BTW) If what you're removing is dense enough to make the insole crack, won't it be dense enough to prevent much of the grease that the tanner supposedly applies from being absorbed?

As for sockliners...well, I don't like them--just personal opinion. But I don't use them so I don't know the answers to these questions:

Won't any cement or glue used to affix the sockliner into the shoe prevent the leather from wicking moisture away from the foot?

Doesn't using a sockliner just more or less replace the surface you scraped off the insole?

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

User avatar
dearbone
8
8
Posts: 1032
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:23 pm
Full Name: Nasser Vies
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Re: Insole leather

#331 Post by dearbone » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:33 am

DW,

I found the subject informative as it relates to our products improvement and if i am wrong so be it,but that's not the issue for me here.
First let's say the cause of the insole cracks is the high amount of salt in the moisture the feet send out,cracks will appear much sooner if there is no full sockliner,scraped or not,but they appear sooner again if the insole is not scraped,It is the concentration of moisture/salt and pressure/weight under the big toe that cracks first appear,hence the good advice,leather shoes/boots should not be worn more than two days because of the amount moisture produced in them two days that need to dry.
I am very much interested in knowing when you tallow your insole and how you find the result?

Regards
Nasser

User avatar
jkrichard
3
3
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:08 am
Full Name: Jeffrey K Richard
Location: Tulsa, OK, USA
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#332 Post by jkrichard » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:41 am

DW,
While your tallow may have no visual or olfactory signs of rancidity, you may have little hotbeds for microbial organisms unless those were made with antiseptics.

The products you listed above also contain antioxidant preservatives as well as common antimicrobial agents.

I'm not disagreeing about preservation of leather---I want to see my shoes last longer than I do... I'm just thinking that something more, or something different needs to be done than home rendering beef byproducts.

Alisdair,
All fats are subject to hydrolytic, oxidative, and microbial rancidity. We can delay the breakdown and invasion but we can't make these organic compounds immortal and impervious (save for a germ-free and oxygen-free chamber...even then thermodynamics and entropy will eventually take its toll). This is independent of impurities---impurities which no doubt add to oxidation depending on the make-up of the impurity.

I'll give some more thought to this and see what I come up with.

-Jeff
Member, HCC

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#333 Post by dw » Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:57 am

Nasser, Jeff,

It's hard for me to advocate for tallowing. I don't know whether it significantly adds to the life of an insole or not. I think it does but there are several variables that enter into it...the customer (how much perspiration is ongoing and the chemical composition of it), the quality of the leather, and the amount of wear That the shoes get.

In my own boots and shoes I think tallowing helps. I think it also aids (maybe only marginally) to forming a footbed. But whether the insole cracks or not might be as much due to the quality of the leather as whether it is tallowed or not. Taking insoles from outsole bends is almost a recipe for cracking regardless of whether they are scraped, or tallowed or both..

As for antibiotics, anti-microbials, etc....maybe the acidity that you're referring to, Jeff, is a good thing? I have never had trouble with infections or skin irritations or anything like that from tallowed insoles. None of my customers, to my knowledge, have either.

Beyond that, there are two questions that spring to mind: first, doesn't the foot itself carry with it microbes...microbes that not having been exposed to the heat of rendering, might be in concentrations great enough to overwhelm any still resident in the tallow? I do not doubt that the foot, and shoe, are a hotbed of micro-organisms...and I'm constantly railing against buying used shoes...but if they are your micro-organisms, so what?

I think we try too hard to create hermetically sterile environments these days. I have seen reports that suggest that people drinking out of open ditches in Afghanistan are actually more resistant to disease and infection than modern Americans are. Babies exposed to dander and germs associated with pets are less likely to develop allergies, colds, and the like. So I'm not convinced it's a pressing issue.

It's an interesting question but I'm not sure it's moot. At least not in my experience.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

(Message edited by admin on April 25, 2010)

User avatar
romango
8
8
Posts: 854
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:40 pm
Full Name: Rick Roman
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#334 Post by romango » Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:11 pm

Tannins are cross linking agents. They make the collagen in the leather unavailable to bacteria. It's basically a polymerization.

I'm sure residual tannins would make short work of cross linking the unsaturated fats in tallow.

Just my 2 cents.

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#335 Post by dw » Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:29 am

That puts me in mind of what happens to linseed oil when it dries.

I think there must be something to the idea that the residual tannins alter the fats. I have a small jar of sperm (?) whale oil that might be as much as 150 years old. I'm not sure that it is rancid--it doesn't smell horrid but it doesn't smell sweet, either.

Back in the last age, waxed calf was made by "stuffing" hot oils (whale oil was preferred although some cod oil was used)and greases such as lanolin into the flesh side of a vegetable tanned leather. This leather was then allowed to sit in a warm place...perhaps an attic...for up to a year before it was ever used. No preservatives outside of the tanning agents were used. I have a small piece that I got from Al Saguto that was made nearly 60 years ago from an ancient formula. It still smells sweet and evinces no evidence whatsoever of deterioration or mould or rancidity. If I had enough of it, I would not hesitate to use it in a pair of boots or shoes.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

User avatar
producthaus
3
3
Posts: 96
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:52 pm
Full Name: Nick Hausman
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#336 Post by producthaus » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:24 pm

What are the modern alternatives?

Assuming that tallow is used for conditioning the insole, lubricating inseaming, and strop paste (as part of a mixture), there may be various alternatives.

I fully plan on making tallow since I want to experience the traditional process, however, I also want to at least be aware of other options, even if they are controversial.

paul
8
8
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:00 am
Full Name: Paul Krause
Location: Prescott, Arizona, USA
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#337 Post by paul » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:26 am

Does anyone have the current word on Insole Shoulders?
Paul

User avatar
romango
8
8
Posts: 854
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:40 pm
Full Name: Rick Roman
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#338 Post by romango » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:36 am

Lisa recommended Lyons and Volpi(?).

Hey Lisa, do you have a phone number for them?

- Thanks, Rick

paul
8
8
Posts: 1014
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2005 10:00 am
Full Name: Paul Krause
Location: Prescott, Arizona, USA
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#339 Post by paul » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:50 am

Thanks Rick,

I'm aware of Lynos and Volpi(?)
I can find their phone number in Shop Talk Directory.
I'd didn't know they had an insole leather. I'd like to know more about it.

I got a call from another bootmaker who has 5 or 6 of the insole shoulders we were getting from Stevson Paxton, (and no longer available from them).
I'm buying one, and he's interested to sell the rest. He asked me to communicate it.
So there it is. PM me with interest.

Just to stay with the subject, I received a sample of the Keystone Treated Insoles, and I would use it. Not as fleshy as the above mentioned shoulders, but soft enough to "sculpt" and hole.

Paul

User avatar
sorrell
6
6
Posts: 320
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2005 12:00 pm
Full Name: Lisa Sorrell
Location: Guthrie, OK
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#340 Post by sorrell » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:16 am

I'm still stranded in Wisconsin. I'll post contact info for Lyons and Volpi as soon as I get home. I HOPE to be back in the shop tomorrow.

User avatar
sorrell
6
6
Posts: 320
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2005 12:00 pm
Full Name: Lisa Sorrell
Location: Guthrie, OK
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#341 Post by sorrell » Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:17 am

I'm finally home!!!!

The contact information for the insoles is:
Lyons & Volpi Leather
32 Jonathan Bourne Dr.
Pocasset, MA 02559
508-564-6300

Tell 'em I'm the one who sent you.

User avatar
sorrell
6
6
Posts: 320
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2005 12:00 pm
Full Name: Lisa Sorrell
Location: Guthrie, OK
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#342 Post by sorrell » Fri Oct 29, 2010 7:19 am

By the way, I've put together a basic supplier list for those just getting into bootmaking. It has contact information for different companies and information about what they carry that you might need. I mentioned it to a couple of people at the AGM. If anyone would like for me to send them the list just send me an email request.

Lisa Sorrell

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#343 Post by dw » Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:14 pm

The one thing I would say about this is that, AFAIK, neither Lyons & Volpi nor Keystone nor even Milton Sokol offer insole shoulders--they are all bends!

I have talked with each of them at fairly high levels in their organizations...and I've begged and pleaded when all else failed...but they will not bring in shoulders. they don't feel that there is enough demand.

Matt Foster was supposed to be working on it. But I haven't heard back from him.

I have gotten several shoulders from the place in Canada--Warkov-Safer(?)--that Nasser recommended. The seemed a little soft at first but responded really well to the awl.I kind of like them although I've not had any shoes or boots come back yet to evaluate long terms results.

That said, there are many makers using insole bends but once you've used shoulders I can't fathom how a person could go back to bends. No matter how they are treated to make them soft, the fibers are still dense and short--that means harder footbeds (if any) and longer and more problematic inseam stitches. IOW, they are still bends.

Of course Baker is still the best.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

janne_melkersson
5
5
Posts: 225
Joined: Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:00 am
Full Name: Jan-Erik Melkersson
Location: Östersund, Jämtland, Sweden
Been Liked: 1 time
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#344 Post by janne_melkersson » Sat Oct 30, 2010 2:40 am

DW,
"Of course Baker is still the best."

I mentioned before about the French tannery Garat & Fils and that I have been using their stuff the last year with a very good result.

It is another leather then Bakers but I would go for Garat every day of the week.

I talked to Mr Emanuel Garat and he told me they deliver their stuff mostly to continental makers including most all of the French bespoke makers.

Send him a mail a mail at http://www.tannerie-garat.com/contact and ask for samples of shoulders and I am sure he will be happy to assist you

Janne

das
Seanachaidh
Posts: 1293
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2000 9:00 am
Full Name: D.A. Saguto--HCC
Has Liked: 1 time
Been Liked: 7 times

Re: Insole leather

#345 Post by das » Sat Oct 30, 2010 3:52 am

DW,

Being a Bakers "addict" myself, because the museum will buy/import it for me and my guys to use, what was the verdict in the J. R. Rendenbach valona-tanned insole shoulders? Rendenbach soling gets imported commercially into the USA, so what about their insole shoulders? Goetz sells all the Rendenbach leathers, soling, stiffeners, insole, etc. so maybe that's a route to try? At least it's pit-tanned and shoulder cuts.

Like all the super-fine leathers we've known and loved: e.g. Freudenberg calfskins (GR), J. Scott & Sons hand-curried waxed calf (UK); Croggin's oak-bark soles.insoles (UK), Pierce & Brothers (Northampton) "willow" colored lining kips (UK); the indestructible "Hydraulic" sole bends (barnyard acid-proof) tanned here at Virginia Oak Tannery in Luray, VA (US), even the antique 1786 Russia leather from the Cornwall shipwreck (UK)--we've been spoiled. I used to joke in the '70s about how one day soon we'd be forced into making shoes out of cardboard, vinyl, and stapling them together--decent leather, awls, threads, etc. going away at an astounding pace even then. We gripe, like Rees and Devlin did in their day, that all the good stuff is gone. While it's true, it's also nothing new. Pity the poor blacksmiths, forced into using mild steel for decades, since the production of wrought iron ceased.

Like genuine pine-tar pitch from turpentine distilling for making wax, there are secret stashes of all these materials and items tucked away in shoemakers' shops all over for that "special job some day" or just for posterity, which hopefully will end up in a museum some day. We might soon be hoarding Bakers leather as well against the day they shutter their doors.

Maybe we should just switch over to using the easily-sourced ho-hum leathers, and then charge a whacking great up-charge for using the best stuff? No way will we ever recoup all our time and effort in chasing down new sources/suppliers anyway Image

User avatar
dearbone
8
8
Posts: 1032
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:23 pm
Full Name: Nasser Vies
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Re: Insole leather

#346 Post by dearbone » Sat Oct 30, 2010 6:18 am

As DW mentioned, I have been using WARKOV-SAFEER in Winnipeg for my insoles and soles,I am very glad i found out about them,they carry shoulders in 6/8 8/10 10/12 oz, I have welted with all 3 weights and i was amazed how resilient and elastic the 6 0z and the 8 0z leather were,I also cut welts and heel stiffeners out of them,The price is $7 or $8 a pound,here is their toll free number if you need it. 1-800 665 8619 E-mail: sales@warkov.com

Al,

Your warning about "The good stuff is gone", is well felt,No there tradesman worries as much as the boot and shoe maker about accessing their supplies,It is an on-going fear with me,it is getting harder and harder finding good upper leather,May god have mercy on us.

Janne,

I looked at tannery you mentioned,they are worth taking to to find out if they ship to North America,but from personal experience,Importing stuff independently from Europe is very costly,almost %50 above the value of the goods,but if we can find a way to buy collective and not pay high import tax it might work.

Nasser

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#347 Post by dw » Sat Oct 30, 2010 8:02 pm

Al,

I got a sample piece of Rendenbach insole shoulder and immediately disliked it--it was simply too hard by comparison to either the Baker or the Mexican stuff we were getting out of Stevenson-Paxton.

As for re-couping all our time and effort, someone once asked me what else I had to do? There's very little chance we will recoup the time and effort we expend simply getting from infancy to retirement. I have always believed...as trite as it sounds...that the journey is more important than the destination. The fact is that you'll never recoup all the extra effort you devote to pursuing something that has grabbed you by the balmacaan--I quit worrying about it long ago.


BTW (and admittedly OT), sometime back I got a package from that tannery in Sweden that Janne recommended years ago. I wasn't knowledgeable enough at the time to evaluate the leather swatches. But I ran across it again before coming to AGM and was impressed by the quality of the reindeer and the calf. The calf looks very similar to the old Russia calf. It's vegetable tanned and I think the Swedish Birch tar dressing came in the same package, so maybe it's dressed with birch oils as well. Did you ever try any of it?

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

User avatar
courtney
6
6
Posts: 333
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:46 am
Full Name: courtney schamach
Location: petaluma, california, u.s.a.

Re: Insole leather

#348 Post by courtney » Wed Nov 24, 2010 3:59 pm

I have only used belly leather to make insoles, I know in D.W.s cowboy boot book it says "more often a 8 inch belly strip is used" and I think Tim's book says same.

So, What do you guys think, is this still good for starting out?

Also, I think mens shoe insoles are usually around 3/16"? if that is so and welt is about an 1/8" and you cut the channel about one third of the thickness and last your upper lining and stiffener,
isnt that way too much of a cavity to fill to get it level? or do I have it wrong?

Courtney

User avatar
dw
Seanachaidh
Posts: 5373
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 1997 10:00 am
Full Name: DWFII
Location: Redmond, OR
Has Liked: 39 times
Been Liked: 3 times
Contact:

Re: Insole leather

#349 Post by dw » Wed Nov 24, 2010 6:44 pm

Courtney,

Belly leather is Ok but getting it is another thing. I used to get 8 inch belly strips from Westfield Tanning but even they were sort of marginal belly and had been rolled as part of a larger side or bend.

Insole shoulders are available and I think are a little better. Nasser mentions four different thicknesses available from Warkov-Safeer from 6 ounce to 11 ounce but I have gotten 13 -14 ounce from them and I think is is pretty good.

Most shoemakers probably prefer a thinner insole than most bootmakers. I like a 9-10 iron insole for both boots and shoes. The intriguing thing about using a thicker insole is that you might be able to thin an edge...such as the lateral heelseat and not drastically reduce the strength or integrity of the shoe. My own feeling is that when you're done inseaming you shouldn't have much need for a filler especially in the forepart. I do use a filler but it is seldom more than 3-4 ounce cream cow.

Tight Stitches
DWFII--HCC Member

(Message edited by dw on November 24, 2010)

User avatar
courtney
6
6
Posts: 333
Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:46 am
Full Name: courtney schamach
Location: petaluma, california, u.s.a.

Re: Insole leather

#350 Post by courtney » Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:03 pm

thanks D.W.,
i guess since you use an insole about 1/4" thick you can cut your channel pretty low and not have all that bulk on top.

But, I dont see how you could use the measurements I gave above, which I think are standard sort of shoe specs without having alot of bulk to fill in.

I know you can shave it down some but not that much, right?

Courtney

Post Reply