One "Last" Question

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1801 Post by tjburr » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:16 pm

Great idea!

May I ask what 1865 shomaking book this is from?
Terry

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1802 Post by dmcharg » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:21 am

G'day Terry,
"The Art of Boot and Shoemaking" by John Bedford Leno. It's possible to get re-prints by Martino Publishing through Amazon, or there are free digital scans through Archive.com as it's way out of copyright. Here's the link to the book. https://archive.org/details/artofbootshoemak00leno

Paul Hasluck's 1896 book on bootmaking is there too, along with an interesting selection of other 1800's shoemaking and shoe history books that have expired copyright.
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1803 Post by dmcharg » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:20 pm

Been carving away of late and, today, have got one of my current order’s lasts almost spot on. I have several orders on the go at the same time as, while one person is wearing around their 'fitters' shoes, I can be doing jobs on other work thereby keeping things moving. We haven’t settled on an exact style yet, just a half inch heel and a round toe, but once I’ve covered them in masking tape the designs often flow better as you’re able to hold a 3 dimensional shape in your hands. I will then take pictures of the ideas and send them to the lady in question for her input.

Funny seeing the difference from a ‘squared up’ block to the rounded, near finished, form.
IMG_6474.JPG
The antique French Sabot knife has done about 95% of the shaping with these lasts. It’s beautiful to use. Every thing from cutting off chunks of wood, to fine paper thin scrolls. This is trimming an added on piece as I’d made the side of this last too straight.
IMG_6504.JPG
Every thing from chunky bulk removal to these lovely fine scrolls.
IMG_6505.JPG

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1804 Post by dmcharg » Thu Jan 26, 2017 4:22 pm

Part 2.
I use a bolt and threaded dowel system for holding the pieces of the lasts together, (propped on the side of the last for clarity) the dark spot on the side of the lasts, in other photos, being a hardwood dowel pining the metal one in place.
IMG_6512.JPG
IMG_6513.JPG
IMG_6508.JPG
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1805 Post by johnjkjk » Wed Jun 28, 2017 6:25 am

Hello all,

New here but have soaked in a lot from discussions going back over a decade! Please do bear with my ignorance and stupidity.

I'm trying my hand at making lasts from scratch and am looking for a complete list of empirical data or rules-of-thumb to go from foot measurements to last dimensions, based upon common designs (say an Oxford shoe and medium round toe low heel work boot), without having to refer to a model last in the process.

How comprehensive is Koleff's 40 page manual on lastmaking? Does it go beyond a general process? Are there any other books? Preferably something available as an e-book .

I found Golding (Vols. I & IV) and this forum to be fairly comprehensive in the measurement part (foot outlines, length and girths and impression in resting, weighted and dynamic states and generating the inner sole), but thin on the ground when it comes to translating this to the final girths and distribution of mass on the final last.

I appreciate that the last isn't a model of the foot and that it isn't just about ensuring that the last dimensions are >= foot dimensions; I gather that there are various internal gaps between foot outline and the upper, to accommodate dynamic motion, gait, weight distribution and so on, but what are these exactly, beyond Golding's vague references to the last needing to be a bit narrower here or a bit wider there. Some of the questions which come to mind are:

- How much larger does the last need to be than the foot (in girths), where exactly and by how much? Sabbage's Sectionizer has some useful rules of thumb, are there any other such references?
- What is the method to determine the centre of balance given the pitch, twist, footwear type etc?
- Purely from a balance and weight perspective, how best is mass is distributed and how does one respond to any given unevenness in weight distribution visible on an impression?
- How does changing bits here and there on the last, interact with the rest of the body in motion, the knees, back etc?

What kind of mathematical formulae do the 3D CAD chaps use to specify internal tolerances, rules and proportions?

I understand that this would ultimately only give me a well fitted but unhandsome boot, and would need to be adjusted to individual preference/function/usage/design etc, but I'd like to start with the basics of going from measurements to model without the guesswork and referring to models, before progressing to the advanced stuff, which I believe would come from experience.

I'm in a pretty remote location and don't have access to reference lasts or last makers. Besides, I'm determined to learn from the ground up using a reasoned approach.

Apologies for the excessive verbiage, it's difficult to be succinct when flummoxed.

Thanks

John

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1806 Post by dw » Wed Jun 28, 2017 7:52 am

John,

First, welcome to the forum.

I leaving in a few moments so I will just comment on a few points: First, the last is a model is the foot, in my opinion--an aesthetically altered model but a model nonetheless.The foot has to be "in there." When I mod up a last for a customer, I use the girth measurements "as is." I do not add and seldom subtract. And I take the measurements as accurately as I can...snug, not tight, not loose.

I don't even make any allowances for the thickness of the leather as some others here might. In my opinion, if the maker does not honour the foot, then any definition of fit is arbitrary at best.

A shoemaker has to fit what is there, first and foremost...not what he imagines might be there.

I have tried to make lasts with Koloff's book and, no disrespect to him intended, it seemed a somewhat arcane approach and, in the end, did not yield the kind of results that practical experience with lasts, feet and shoes would lead one to expect. Using my own foot, the resulting last was at odds with the fit I knew I wanted, what I knew fir me and even the appearance that I was hoping for. Degree in the heel, toe spring, and other aspects just didn't pan out correctly.

Some of that can be attributed to my own inexperience with Koloff's process I am sure, and if i were to do it today, I think I would at some point (sooner rather than later) just shut the book and carve according to my own aesthetic sensibilities and what I knew were the proper girths and shapes. But most of the better European shoemakers carve their own lasts and, AFAIK, none of them use Koloff or rely on anything but measurements from the foot, profiles and necessity.

Maybe someone else...such as @das or @lancepryor... will weigh in here and offer a different perspective. And that's the way it should be--fitting...the ultimate goal of lastmaking...is a lifetime study and the more "angles" you look at the last from, the better the chances of a satisfied customer.
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1807 Post by das » Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:05 am

Welcome John,

I think DW's made good points, but forgot one of his best quotes--an excellent one I stole long ago: "The foot is basically like a water balloon with a skeleton inside--it's never the same size twice in a day." The same was echoed by Bill Tippit when he was a freelance lastmaker, Carl Lichte, a Texas lastmaker of great repute, and Ken Hall and Bob Whitton, Northampton's two "last" men standing. A change of socks to a different weight, voila, the shoes that fit before now no longer fits. Forget to trim the toe nails, same thing. While some shoemakers have indeed produced well-fitting, attractive custom lasts, in the better bespoke shops (e.g. Lobb) there's a full-time, trained, lastmaker. Historically it was an entirely separate trade.

My only addition here: what is of primary importance is more the shape of the last relative to the shape of the foot,less so than girths (which go up and down). Look on here for previous conversations on "swing", "twist", and "inflare", "outflare", versus "neutral" foot shapes. You can be as precise as you want on girths, formulas, etc., but if the last's the wrong shape for the foot you're trying to fit, you'll never satisfy, and the shoes will walk out of shape in time (else they'll deform the foot inside, or alter the wearer's gait). In this respect think of the last as a container-shape for a flexible container that ought to agree with the foot. Step one, get the shape right before you fret about girths, toe spring, heel height, pitch, wedge angle, etc. These are all secondary to shape.

If you're new to the trade, I'd suggest you start with a good-fitter, a last that by reputation (not just vendor's claim) fits well, and learn to adjust it for "swing" (inflare-outflare) for a customer. Going from from a log to a last, you're sure to meet with frustration before you can meet with success, unless you find a lastmaker or good last-making shoemaker willing to train you. It's a road we've all been down.

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1808 Post by johnjkjk » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:43 am

dw, das,

Thanks for the welcome! I'm relatively new to this aspect of the craft. My background is biomedical eng, so I do prefer to use a methodological approach. A lot has changed since the turn of the 20th century in terms of how we understand gait and feedback from customers as to how well the fit is, is very subjective. Someone used padded inserts may find a well fitted leather insole quite uncomfortable indeed. Similarly for used to solid boots may well experience great discomfort going barefoot, even though that is the natural condition (not to put the trade out of business of course, but that's the science). My point in writing the above is that I don't think I could learn to make a last from subjective customer feedback on fitting.

dw- thanks for correcting me. I do believe that the last should be a model of the foot. What I meant to write was that it isn't a cast of the foot in one position only and needs to take into account the fact that the foot changes shape in motion- as well as as das expresses it, changes shape and size throughout the day.

I appreciate your review of Koleff. I didn't want to go down a particular method without getting feedback from the experts on here.

das- thanks for your guidance. I've gone through quite nearly all the material on the forum and I'm fairly confident that I can prepare the correct sole size and shape.

What has me confused is however the gaits. It may be obvious or taken for granted by the experienced last maker, but a foot cast as a last (albeit with a suitable sole), won't necessarily move well or fit well and won't be suited for both shoe and boot. In order to have a shoe or boot be able to flex and yet not compress the foot too much, there are various internal gaps and spaces that (I'm guessing) take into consideration which parts of the foot are bony and which more flesh, as well as how it changes shape in motion. I also appreciate that the upper can have some stretch depending on material and design, so many factors at play.

Golding's edited volumes give a few examples/rules of thumb for girths (CHAPTER VI
ALLOWANCES AND DEDUCTIONS FOR LASTS), but is very incomplete. Golding (in his own 1902 book) makes vague references as to how lasts for different purposes and footwear types need to be differently shaped (in girths). He also presents a comparative cross section of a last and foot (cast) that shows significant differences in distribution of mass. I'll quote the relevant text and diagrams in a follow-up post.

PS. I appreciate that lastmaking is a specialised trade. As I said, I'm interested in getting to grips with the basics of translating (mostly the girth) measurements to last measurements to take into account motion and footwear type.. style, usage and variations in feet is indeed something that can only be gained from great experience. I'm in a remote location at present and don't have access to a range or lastmakers for study and review.

However I do believe that there must be some rules-of-thumb which quantify what Golding expresses (see next post). (I digress, but), it's typically said that advanced/master craftsmen and women of whatever trade have internalised basically mathematical, scientific and architectural information through hands-on experience, so as to be able to make things unconsciously. I've seen things made by hand including artistic inspiration, by indigenous craftsmen which cannot be replicated by hand in the west without patterns, moulds and calculations. I reckon that if an experienced last maker or fitter studied a number of lasts and the corresponding foot, they would be able to derive such basic rules for the lay person or apprentice to easily understand. Perhaps there may be an out of print book that may have been used internally for last making at one of the former London colleges? From personal experience of London trades and the now extinct technical colleges, the 1940s-60s saw a great emphasis in documenting trade knowledge in methodological terms for teaching purposes.

Taking measurements and determining a sole is very well quantified in books and on this forum. I just need the very basic set of rules for girths.. i.e. quantifying Golding's "much thicker", "a little higher", "a little nearer", "more rounded", "sufficiency adjusted" etc.

Again I apologise for the length of my post.

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1809 Post by johnjkjk » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:58 am

Extract from The Manufacture of Boots and Shoes, Golding 1902 (underline emphasis mine):

Boot Lasts are made much thicker at the sides than other lasts, and are thus made to accommodate the extra thickness required for ankle bones. As they are usually required for higher heels than shoes, the waists are more arched. The seat is usually, in English-made lasts, more square than necessary for a good fit—this squareness being the outcome of a desire to ease the process of heel building. Fig. 90 illustrates a boot last.
Golding_1.jpg
Riding-boot lasts have a flatter waist, less spring, and higher instep than ordinary walking- boot lasts.
Shoe Lasts are illustrated by Fig. 91. They are flatter in the waist than boot lasts, and have a greater spring in the toe. The sides are thinner, corresponding to the thinness of the foot below the ankle bones. The outside waist is fuller than is usually made for boot lasts.
Golding_2.jpg
Very often the line of contact is placed a little nearer the seat to assist the “clipping” of the shoe quarters when the weight of the body is brought to bear upon the shoe. The instep measurement is a little less than a boot last, say 1/8 in. The bottom of the last is more rounded. Shoe lasts more nearly approach the shape of the foot than the ordinary boot lasts.
In Fig. 101, A is the section at the instep of a last that was used by a bespoke maker to make “ specials ” for a foot, a section of the cast of which is shown at Fig. 101, B.
Golding_3.jpg
The sections of the same last and cast, measured longitudinally from the heel in identical position for the joint, is given in Fig. 102 A and Fig. 102 B for the last and cast respectively.
Golding_4.png
Golding_4.png (33.63 KiB) Viewed 229 times
A well-fitted last should conform to the contour of the sole of the foot, and reproduce artistically the fundamental protuberances and hollows, and where prominent the ridge on the inside of the last should be gracefully continued to the toe, and the toes of the last will be thick enough in the right place to allow of the placing of the toes of the foot in the proper position. Lumps and dents should find no place in a fitted last, everything should be gracefully rounded and correctly positioned.

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1810 Post by johnjkjk » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:25 am

PS. In modifying an existing last, we already have a basic underlying structure and would be building up/grinding down to fit. I'm looking for information on the underlying structure itself i.e. the volume and shape of the last that permit motion and take into account pitch etc. This may be so obvious to the last maker that it's taken for granted but for the novice it can be quite bewildering.

Just as an experiment I put on a boot and poked and prodded here and there to see where the gaps are between foot and outer. I noticed a gap on top of the instep and outer sides of forefront and ankle. I then flexed forward into a dynamic position and noticed that the close fitting areas and gaps changed as the foot changed shape and leather pulled, with now no gap at the instep and taught but with a gap at the rear side etc. Standing on my toes produced a different result etc etc. The high vertical distribution of mass at the instep in Golding figure 101 (above) makes more sense given this. It seems that if I used the exact shape of my foot in the vertical position for a figure-hugging boot last, I wouldn't be able to get my foot into all these positions without discomfort and/or excessive wear to the upper.

This would indicate that there would presumably be a basic set of rules for the distribution of mass in girths that take into account least phases of gait, apart from other positions of activity, and indeed the differences between shoe and boot (which Golding notes but does not quantify) and various other factors that I'm sure exist.

All this may be terribly obvious to the expert, but for the sake of teaching, it would be helpful to document proportionally or as rules-of-thumb; let's call it lastmaking 101. Surely there must be a book that sets out this information?. I prefer to know why I'm making the various curves and lines and changes in shape, where exactly and by how much (even if only rule-of-thumb), rather than know that this is the way it's always been done (were I to copy/study existing lasts).

PPS. Does anyone have access to a scan of Golding's volume on the anatomy of the foot (Vol VII or VIII)? It would be interesting to see the take of someone trained in both the Trade and biomechanics (even though the knowledge base of the latter has moved on considerably since then).

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Re: One "Last" Question

#1811 Post by dw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 9:28 am

John,

This is a lot for my feeble old brain to process all at once. @das is out of town for a couple of days but will get back to you, I'm sure, once he gets back. He has also made an extensive study of lasts in a way I have not. All I have to go on is the lessons I've learned from my work over a number of years.

From that perspective, one thing seems clear--that at some point the only way to make progress and increase your understanding is to put it all into practice. I read Golding and Koleff and others early on. And found them all interesting and useful but nothing, of course, is as useful as actual experience.

Just a few thoughts/ observations drawn from experience....

Re: gait--I made a pair of boots for a podiatrist some years back and at that time I asked him point bank how I could modify a last to take gait into account. His answer was an unequivocal "you can't." Now, of course, that's just one (very informed) opinion but except for foot abnormalities such as pronation and supination, etc., (which by necessity do affect gait somewhat) I can't say that, in almost 50 years of making, gait has ever played a significant role in my last work.

Something you suggested above..which I may have misunderstood or taken out of context...to the effect that a boot last is, by default, larger in the instep than a shoe last, is at variance with my approach and my experience. Boots have no laces--they must fit more snugly over the instep than a shoe. And what is more...if it makes any difference...95% of the people out there who wear shoes exclusively will lace them up looser...prefer a looser fit...than either you, as the maker, or perhaps even good sense would suggest. Beyond all that the last must, first and foremost, fit the foot. So such conclusions are misleading at best. I make pull-on boot and men's dress shoes--I would never make the boot last for a customer larger in the instep than a shoe last for the same customer unless I was trying to manipulate the shoe patterns for mechanical and aesthetic reasons.

And the bottom radii on lasts has tended to more fullness, regardless of whether they are boot lasts or shoe lasts, as time has gone by...if only because it allows a narrower looking shoe without sacrificing any real width across the treadline. And without sacrificing any comfort, either.

The amount of "flatness" in the waist is more often a function of heel height than of some arbitrary standard associated with the a particular type of last. Toe spring is nearly as arbitrary and singular as the maker but theoretically the lower the heel the more toe spring is needed. And indeed low toe spring on low heeled shoes accentuates / exacerbates creasing and esp. deep creases.

Most contemporary and highly sought after bespoke shoe lasts have an extremely beveled toe. The better makers will tell you that having the upper "float" over the welt is less than desirable. IOW, if the toe slopes down towards the welt and then abruptly tucks under before meeting the inseam and the top surface of the welt...well, let's just say I personally am not fond of it. And in that perception I am not alone. Golding's illustrations are off the mark in that regard, as far as I'm concerned.

And that's a point worth thinking about. Golding, like most of the early writers, was addressing an audience that was as much concerned (if not moreso) with "manufacturing" as bespoke making. It was a common post-Industrial Revolution sensibility...and one that has found new purchase among contemporary "practitioners." But it is not necessarily "best practices." That has, and always will, reside with the bespoke Trade. And esp. the Traditional bespoke makers.

So if you're looking for advice...from one point of view, for whatever that's worth--take all the literature with a grain of salt. Use it as a lead-in, as inspiration and a foundation. But practical experience will teach you more about fitting and fitting up lasts than all the books in the world.

PS...I wouldn't be without Golding or Swaysland or Thornton.
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Re: One "Last" Question

#1812 Post by das » Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:03 am

John,

Sorry, I've been away on holiday, then buried in 60+ gallons of archaeological shoes/parts in North Carolina. Just now catching-up. It is about at this point in the conversation about lasts that words (only) begin to fail. Anyway....

You have discovered one of the main factors, a last, any last, good, bad or indifferent is a container-shape for a foot in only one attitude, like freezing a frame of cine film of a foot in motion and trying to choose which one attitude to copy. The foot and shoe are flexible, the last is not. Have a look at some of the runners' shoes from the early 20thc--the lasts they're made on capture the foot in one (very dynamic) "frame" of sprinting ("phase of gait"), but would be nigh impossible to walk or stand up in comfortably. Another example is the English riding boot last, which has little toe spring if any. In the stirrups they are perfect, but walking in them is misery, the lack of toe spring exhausts the foot trying to flex the soles excessively, and the flexing brings the vamp down over the joints of the foot in huge crushing (unsightly) wrinkles.

In every case, designing a last from scratch, one must have firmly fixed in mind the intended purpose of the footwear. This is why a whole variety of lasts "fit" the same foot satisfactorily, all of different measurements and volume, but only in one specific application (dress, walking, running, hiking, riding, dancing), and let's not forget socks, different as they are for different activities. There's your starting point--what kind of footwear do you want to make on this yet-to-be last? If it will have a thick and rigid bottom, you must change the "phase of gait" it represents by adding toe spring to overcome the lack of flexibility in the soles, and a heel of commensurate height so you don't feel like you are constantly walking uphill. Compare the various "sprung" boots from Lennon: https://www.rufflander.co.uk/shop/herit ... ill-boots/ The fully sprung boots probably don't flex or wrinkle at all across the vamp while walking because of the rolling motion created by the extreme toe spring and heel height. Another example are English clogs with wood soles with zero flex, note how high the toe spring is on these.

After purpose, the thickness and rigidity of the bottoms is a factor, but so it the upper you plan. Plain vamp or pieced (e.g. Oxford, toe cap, etc.) will affect how the lasts "fits". Variations in aggregate upper thickness (shell & lining weights), or just changing weight of vamp leather also has an affect--the same last that fits great with "X" shell and "Y" weight lining, will feel too lose with thinner uppers, or too tight with thicker, especially when flexed and the vamp creases crushing down on top of the joints. In bespoke shoe/boot making all this is controlled by adding or removing thin slips and fittings of leather added to the last to increase/decrease it's container volume (not shape).

As I wrote earlier, girths are important of course, but "rules" are hard to come by. A last of certain girths will fit fine until the rigidity or thickness of the bottom changes, the thickness of the uppers, etc.

Keep experimenting.....

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