One "Last" Question

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1776 Post by dub » Wed May 14, 2014 4:20 pm

Good points!

I'm about to order my first pair of lasts, and it looks like I'm going to have to take the measurements myself (or have somebody who's not a shoe maker or tailor help me). Any tips?

I've read up on last making as much as I could, and something that keeps being stated is how it takes ages of experience to create a last shape that fits with a certain type of shoe type, with certain feet features, with certain making techniques, etc. And that the draft measurements have to be adjusted accordingly. I obviously have no way of acquiring that experience before making my first pair of shoes! I'm also not interested in becoming a shoemaker as a profession, so the idea of making 10-20 pairs of shoes on a standard last to throw away just to hone my technique is not really an option.

The thing I'm worried about is unknowingly getting a last that could never work with the shoes I'm trying to make, being lost in a vicious circle of not knowing if poor results come from the last, my pattern making, or my making. Would be nice to get some tips on how to get a good last.

I suppose the real answer is to take shoe making classes, but there are none available where I live, and going abroad for an extended period of time just to do shoe making isn't much of an option. In any case, a shoe making class would still have me making standard derby's with heels so it would still not teach me enough about how to make shoes without heels, and I would basically be back to square one when ordering lasts for such a shoe.

I'm also not too keen on wearing shoes with heels, and wearing ones own creations for some time seems crucial to finding out the flaws and where to improve.

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Re:

#1777 Post by dw » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:09 am

Duncan,

Thank you for the remark about the oxfords.

I like your cycling shoe and I admire your work--you have always been highly creative and, for me at least, I have always been interested in everything you have posted here. Who else would make their own "rolet" eyelets (and presumably an eyelet setter as well)?

The lasts look good--isn't using any last a bit of a departure for you? What is the function of the small "heel piece"? I think I know but...

I started to make lasts using Koleff's book a number of years ago and eventually abandoned it. I had all the profiles, etc., laid out but there was enough discrepancy from what I was already using and what already fit me...and I had/have pretty good access to a last maker...that I decided it just wasn't worth the effort. Sometimes I regret not pursuing it...esp. when I look at your results.

"Had I (sic) but world enough and time..."

Good on you, mate.
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Re:

#1778 Post by dmcharg » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:29 pm

Thanks DW.
Yes, using lasts is a huge departure for me, but there are things I want to do with shoes that having a last removes a lot of the doubts and awkwardness of getting the results. (I'm not sure the grammar in that last sentence was quite right).
I wasn't using Kolleff's geometric method, more gleaning the procedure of putting the silhouettes (maximum width, treadline etc.) onto the carving and learning about the 'high line'.

I use an engineer's hight gauge for spot hight's on bones and joints, and for logging the high line all the way around the foot. For the spot hight's I employed the 'cross hair' principal; eg, in the last photo you'll see lettered marks in blue biro. Each is one of a pair; one down the side of the foot, one at the end. Where they visually cross over within the outline of the foot is the location of the spot hight. Black lines with Capitals are where the profile gauge went across. Red lines are where the tape measure went round.

At key lines (toe joints, instep and at 3 measured hight's across the heel, as well as vertically down the heel) I use a profile gauge, the lines from which I transfer to card and cut out. These greatly speed up shaping the block as you instantly see all the irregularities the moment the cut out is put over the relevant place. Mark them on the block with a pencil and sand there. By the way, I sanded a 2B pencil down one side to within a hair's breadth of the lead, and then sharpened the lead with a knife from the other side giving me a non parallax error pencil for scribing around feet and getting the side on profile for making the basic block silhouette.

Hmmm, this probably needs to be in another thread. Which one?

Here are the photo's which I hope make it fairly clear.
Cheers
Duncan
DSCN0847.JPG
DSCN0848.JPG
DSCN0850.JPG

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Re:

#1779 Post by dmcharg » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:58 pm

Oh, and here's my eyelet jig.
It consists of a fixed anvil, attached to a length of music wire (the left hand one in the first photo) , a free moving anvil and an old pop rivet gun. Punch a too small hole in your leather. Dampen it and use a tapered awl to stretch it to the point where the piece of brass tubing (from model aeroplane shops; same as the music wire) is a jam fit. Feed the anvil/wire through the eyelet from inside the shoe, slip on the free anvil, insert in rivet gun, make sure everything is seated correctly and give 1 1/2 squeezes. The remaining spread is done by tapping down on a flat surface with a hammer. Trying to spread the whole way with the jig tends to split the eyelet. Very smooth, almost like pulling the laces through a line of pulleys. No chewing up.
Cheers
Duncan.

DSCN0853.JPG
IMG_0250.JPG
This is just for clarity. Obviously it would normally be through a piece of leather. No annealing necessary.
DSCN0024.JPG
And from the back.

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Re:

#1780 Post by amuckart » Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:18 pm

Thank you for sharing that Duncan, that's an ingenious solution. I'll have to make myself one of those.

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Re:

#1781 Post by dmcharg » Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:30 pm

G'day Amuckart, Go for it. Here's a closer view of the anvils. I turned them up in a power drill. Drill down through the centre. Chainsaw file the deep groove, then cut in half.
Cheers

IMG_0246.JPG

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1782 Post by dw » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:06 pm

IIRC, Rossi wrote a treatise...sometime after WWII...asserting that if you could grid the foot in three dimensions, recording the coordinates at, say, quarter inch intervals, one would never need to measure the foot. Conceptually similar to, if not a precursor of modern digital scanning.

As for wanting to do things that only a last will let you do comfortably, I hope you will forgive me if I muse along the lines of "People who are serious about shoemaking always seem to come back to the tried and true. The techniques that have been evolving for 10,000 years. They come back to them because in the end, with the application of a little dedication and skill, they always provide the best results."
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1783 Post by dmcharg » Thu Oct 30, 2014 5:08 am

DW, I forgot to answer your question as to the small 'heel piece'. When I originally shaped the heel on the lasts, I curved them in too steeply, and made them a little to short in hight. I flattened the top half of the back on each one, glued a wedge on (and a little bit in front on the very top to add strength) and reshaped the side heel profile. The lasts themselves break just behind the ball of the foot (remove keyed scoop first) as I reasoned that is approx. where the real foot bends. Left last has a thick, 'dancers suede' , hinge, but the right last (which I made second) I've used a wide, solid brass hinge. Much more positive action.

I started, 18 years ago, without lasts because I was self taught, knew nothing about adjusting lasts to suit the customer and, quite frankly, for years didn't have the money to buy a single pair. So I developed my lastless methods of measuring and design. One thing I will miss, in moving to lasts, is the lack of waste in leather. Every piece was cut exactly to the finished size and brought exactly to the seam allowance mark or holdfast line and sewn into place with no excess to trim off. Oh well, swings and roundabouts.

Cheers
Duncan

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1784 Post by Delormea » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:39 pm

Hi all,
I'm working on a pair, and have just finished adjusting the last to better fit my foot from my last pair. When I ordered these lasts I must have forgot to mention that I wanted them without a metal heel plate. The last pair I made I did some reading prior to using them and had read that the nails should clinch over on the metal and it may just work... Maybe it would, but it didn't for me. I've just finished getting rid of that metal heel plate, now however I'm left with the 1-2mm ledge around the heel breast area where the heel plate ended and joined with the plastic of the last. I can just go ahead and file that ledge down and blend it in. Just wanted to check, since I have the time, to see if you all think it may be wiser to build up the area that extra 1-2 mm with some leather then blend it in? Will the heel area being that small amount lower affect the shoe oddly once the completed shoe has the sock liner in place and such? Of course if I left it as is with the ledge unblended that would show on the insole, and I don't plan on doing that.
Seems minor, but I thought I may as well check!

Thoughts?

Image

Hard to tell really. I tried adjusting contrast to see the ledge. Its just above that grey dot, and runs up and to the right from there

Image

The last, in general.

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1785 Post by dw » Wed Feb 25, 2015 3:59 pm

Just take a firm piece of veg tanned outsole leather and cement it in there. After you've got it leveled up to the proper thickness and shape, drive a few 19ga. blued top lift nails in to anchor it and then you can coat it with celluloid cement or varnish.

Done.
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1786 Post by Delormea » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:36 pm

Love it. Thanks DW

Afterthought...is celluloid/varnish what I see your adjusted lasts coated in? Just applied over top the leather as a sealant?

Edit: Just did a search. Got my Answer- Yes.
Thanks

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1787 Post by dw » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:05 pm

Delormea » Wed Feb 25, 2015 4:36 pm wrote:Love it. Thanks DW
:thumb:
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1788 Post by Herr_Leeb » Fri Sep 11, 2015 7:24 am

Here is an issue I am currently struggling with.

The last I intend to use for my next project is a vintage factory last which delivers great fitting and decent looking shoes when I use thicker leather. Hardly any creases.
I made only very minor modifications, also shortened and rounded out the toes a bit.

However, when I made a test shoe to try out a new pattern (Oxford made out of two parts, a front part and a back part without a back seam), I got these results...

I used thin, low quality patent leather and did not put in any side stiffeners, because I primarily wanted to test the design and pattern. The shoe is also not welted but just glued together.

Could the fit of the last be the culprit? Or should using good leather and side stiffeners solve the problem?

I got a beautiful, very nice looking whole skin of baby calf and want to avoid wasting good leather and 100 hours of work...
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1789 Post by Herr_Leeb » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:02 pm

All,

please ignore my previous question.
Unfortunately it is not possible in this forum to delete daft postings.

For those who are curious...

The problem is most likely a combination of various factors, me being overly concerned is one of them.
Since the other test shoe looks much better and has only minimal creasing after a few days of wear,
it seems that shaving 1/64th of an inch off the last, using side stiffeners, good quality leather and a toe cap will get me the results I am after.

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1790 Post by paul » Thu Sep 17, 2015 4:49 am

Stay with it. Your works looks clean and you're definitely on the right track.
It's all process.
Paul

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1791 Post by dmcharg » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:42 am

I’ve found it tricky to keep my narrow tape measure in place when taking girth measurements on a last I’m carving, and when things are getting close to final spec. you’re double checking regularly. But, especially in the sweep of the arch, the tape doesn’t want to stay put.
I recently had the idea to cut ‘correct length’ bits of waxed thread (left overs from sewing soles on) and make loops that I could fit over the last and see how close they get to their correct position. This had the unexpected bonus of giving a clear view of a ‘cross section’ of the last where the string is fitted around.
You want a thread that won’t stretch, and dress it with wax to make it tacky.

The picture, among other things, shows the various girth measurements of a customer’s feet (A,B,C,D,E up the left side) and I will be following through girth B at 9 5/8”.
1..jpg
Starting my thread at 0 we run down the tape…
2..jpg
…and put a mark at 9 5/8”
3..jpg

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1792 Post by dmcharg » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:45 am

Cut the thread about 1” (25mm) too long and stick it to some masking tape.
4..jpg
Bring the starting end around and line it up with the mark and stick it down too, and fold the masking tape over on itself.
5..jpg
Write on it the customer’s initials, girth designation and L or R (for the foot, but you got that, right?)
6..jpg

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1793 Post by dmcharg » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:49 am

In one of my 1800’s shoemaking books It talks about using a fine awl to pierce locator holes in the last for where various measurements were taken. These remain even when removing wood, negating the need to constantly refresh pencil marks. Here you can see that string B doesn’t reach it’s two girth marks yet, thus indicating more wood needs to be removed.
7..jpg
Side view.
8..jpg
Front view showing the added feature of it defining a cross section of the last.
9..jpg

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1794 Post by dmcharg » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:52 am

And the E girth, showing that the waxed thread stays put at angles.
10..jpg
Short heel.
11..jpg
View of several strings at once.
12..jpg

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1795 Post by dmcharg » Sat Aug 27, 2016 2:59 am

I hang the loops on dowels on my last making bench. The rubber bands were to stop them blowing off as it was a bit of a windy day :)
13..jpg
You can see them down the far end of the bench within easy reach for checking progress; I’m normally standing right behind where the last is but was taking the photo freehand.
14..jpg
Hope this has been useful.

Note: On another customer's lasts, the girth measurements in the start of the arch were smaller than the ball of the foot, so I had to have those particular ones as open-ended strings with masking tape on both ends. A little more awkward than the loops but on the whole easier than a tape measure.

Cheers
Duncan

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1796 Post by dw » Sat Aug 27, 2016 5:37 am

Duncan,

I really like your idea with the thread and masking tape. :thumb:

Great minds think alike...I have been using synthetic stitcher cord for measuring lasts almost since I began making. The process is not nearly as refined as yours--I don't cut the cord to length but I did burn a little bead on each end of the cord. Then I can wrap it around the last at girth points and and "catch" one of those beads under my fingernail (a shoemaker ought to have fingernails--so useful in so many ways) while pinching the cord tight along the line of the girth. (Harder to describe than to do.) I have a varnished cloth measuring tape stuck to my bench and I am able to stretch the cord out along that tape and read what the last is measuring.

I always did think that trying to use a measuring tape on a hard slippery last was asking for inaccuracy. And then there's the question of where is the tape really measuring...at the center of a half inch wide tape? forward edge? back edge? Some combination of both?

String is the way to go, IMO.
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1797 Post by dmcharg » Sat Aug 27, 2016 5:55 am

I'm with you DW. I use a very narrow tape, only about 1/4", but depending on whether I had the numbers on the up-last side or the down-last side I'd still get different readings. And it's dern slippery.

DM

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1798 Post by lancepryor » Sat Aug 27, 2016 6:03 am

I've used linen cord to do this, but never thought to make the loops with tape. I've made marks on the cord and used that for measurements from the last, never thought about going the opposite direction -- i.e. marking the desired end-point and using the marks for reference in refining the lasts.

I've over time gone back to the tape measure, because I had a hard time seeing the mark on the cord, but I think I will try that again.

Since I ultimately rely on fitters to refine the last, for me the measurements are really only to get things close. But, certainly, the tape does require some effort, and two different ways of measuring with the tape can yield slightly different results.

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1799 Post by paul » Sat Aug 27, 2016 6:11 am

Hello Duncan!
Brilliant presentation. Thank you. The small holes for locating the point of measure was a good point also.
Excellent!
Paul

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1800 Post by dmcharg » Sun Aug 28, 2016 2:15 am

Thanks Lance and Paul,
Glad you liked it.
Hey Paul, I was constantly having to put the last back on the customer's foot tracing to re-mark the girth locations, which were then obliterated when I made an adjustment, then re-marking ad-nausium. Finding this little tip in a re-print of an 1865 shoemaking book was brilliant. It also, if my memory serves me correctly, recommends pricking at prominent bone positions, which I do. It makes it so much faster.

Cheers
Duncan

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