Bottoming techniques

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Bottoming techniques

#1 Post by dw » Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:46 pm

Mack, Rob, calling all shoemakers...

On Monday, Mack posted a photo of a pair of shoes that he had "made"--black balmoral brogues.

The sole was cut in a way that has always puzzled me. It seems to be straight along the medial side, as well as straight along the lateral side, until the treadline/joint is reached. At which point the outsole takes a relatively sharp turn there, creating a "corner."

Unless I'm missing something, the last is not shaped like that. The medial feather will curve more than the outsole reflects on the shoes.

So what's being done there?

Is the welt cut wide and simply shaped that way?

But wouldn't that make the distance from the stitching to the edge of the welt vary? Somewhat narrow in the toe and forepart and then widening in the joint? It almost looks as if the distance from the sewing to the jigger might be double at the joint what it is around the toe.

I wish I could see this done...I really like the way it looks from the bottom but am not sure how it looks on top.


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Re: Bottoming techniques

#2 Post by relferink » Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:36 pm

DW,

Mack is much more of an authority on this than I am. Considering it's in the middle of the night in Britain right now he is likely dreaming of shoes jumping over the fence so I'll give this a shot.
It's not so much that you come out at the joint, it's more that you pull it in very tightly in the arch. In fact you can pull it in so far that the arch is slightly narrower than the heel, that creates that look. Of course the last is made in anticipation of this finish so the basics are there. I was not taught to vary the distance from the stitching to the edge of the welt, when you get into the tightness of the arch it is harder to keep the distance constant but it's not nearly as visible as along the toe. I'm sure that on Mack's work even the stitches that lay "under the arch" so to say are still impeccable but the look can be achieved by mere mortals as wellImage.
From the top it looks just as it should. Look at the Right shoe in the picture and you can see nothing wrong with that. I can assure you that those two shoe are a perfect mirror image of each other.

Just my Image. Looking forward to hear other makers perspectives.

Rob

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#3 Post by mack » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:30 am

Rob,DW,
Rob...You have explained this wellImage and as you say the last helps achieve this look.It's a matter of balance.Clip it in too much and it looks odd and leave it too full and it seems bulky,Its up to the maker to decide what look is right.
DW... To get this look you need to prepare the insole for it.Make the outside part of the feather wider in the waist and mark where you want the waist to clip in.The welt in the waist needs to be thinned to about half substance and once sewn in hammer the welt down in the waist and trim to the desired shape, bear in mind the finished waist will look a little wider as the sole overlaps the welt. On mens work the outside waist should be relatively straight and the inside swung in to give the shape but don't overdo it or you will find it very difficult to sew, remember you need a very curved sewing awl for the waist.
There are many looks to the welt we use and can be chosen by the customer or we suggest which look is suitable.The shoe you have seen has a just show stitch welt but other types are close,show stitch, spade, wide, blind and so on.
West End making has a little language of its own
to describe the types and styles for making and in the past there where rules laid down for how things should be regards stitching, welts, closing etc..These are generally being lost and I find that sad.I have often thought a book should be written to document all these methods and techniques and I wish I had asked the old craftsmen I met more questions .I think one reason knowledge has been lost is that competition for work was once so great that work methods where jealously guarded secrets and not passed on, a great shame.Sorry to go off subject a bit.
Regards Mack.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#4 Post by admin » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:42 am

Rob, Mack,

Thank you both for your replies. I have a follow-up question (or two) if I may.

First, how is the welt substance reduced? And when? During inseaming or before inseaming?

Second, when sewing in the waist, presumably the outsole is thinned as well...so, how is the channel cut? Vertically? Horizontally? Or at an angle.

I hear and understand (I think) what is being said but I am obsessed by that "corner" at the joint.

I trim my insoles close--I follow a lastmaker's bottom paper almost to perfection. In other words the width of the heel at the breast more or less sets the width of the insole in the waist and it doesn't get any wider (it may even be cut a little narrower( until it must flare into the feather just behind the joint.

When making shoes, I have been cutting the feather in the insole further in through the waist...maybe twice as wide as the feather around the forepart.

But when I inseam, The welt does not form a corner at the joint...it curves smoothly from the joint into the waist.

On boots such as I make, there is no welt in the waist...we trim the outsole such that it creates an even margin between vamp and the edge of the outsole through the forepart and then trim the outsole through the waist such that it is just barely wider than the insole (as felt through the vamp).

Given all that...I still cannot find that corner! Image At least not without leaving the welt too wide in places.

If anyone feels the impulse to snap a few photos of this process at a pertinent stage (or two) and post them here, I would be grateful.

Mack,

Just as an aside--this forum has been in existence for over ten years now. By conventional wisdom, that is an eternity on the Internet. And we archive these posts to preserve the insights, wisdom, and techniques that are proffered by individuals such as yourself. So...if you wish...you could with good conscience and full confidence, post definitions and explanations of the terms and techniques (such as "show stitch," "spade stitch," etc.) and know that we would treat them with reverence. The guiding purpose of the HCC, and by extension the Crispin Colloquy, is exactly as you expressed--to "preserve and to protect" the precious knowledge that has been passed down to us before it fades into the background noise of the "information age."

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#5 Post by jesselee » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:46 am

Jim, You are so right about secrets being heavily guarded and lost. I am very guilty of not passing things on because apprentices would generally not make journeyman, much less Master.

I always cut my innersole wide at the waist and feather it, and the sole at the waist much narrower. I only welt stitch in my 1870-90's cowboy boots. Now, with this, I understitch the welt in such a way that when the sole is trimmed, it is flush with the boot ie. you don't see a welt.

I use the standard method now and then, but usually stitch the welt, upper and innersole through the innersole as a McKay stitcher would do and at 4 stitches to the inch, chain stitched. This is done by glueing the welt (or mid half sole, which is an old cowboy boot method). Then you proceed to make holes with a pegging awl, and then with a hand awl fitted with a hook, you stitch the welt/mid half sole, using a wire for the cord, as a feed inside the boot. Another historic method used during the Civil War and up to the 1890's was to glue the welt, upper and inner sole, remove the last and use clinching nails to secure the welt. This does have it's problems with the iron nails rusting and rotting the welt, but it is authentic for those who are hard core about their period footwear.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#6 Post by dw » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:57 am

PS...it's not the same as a book, but until someone comes along who wants to take on such a massive project, it will have to do...it's better than nothing. Image

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#7 Post by lancepryor » Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:06 am

DW:

My observations, for what they're worth.

The portion of the welt that will be sewn first is thinned before sewing, but the final portion is thinned (carefully!) once you've sewn to that point, since you can't be sure where exactly it will be before you sew. I believe the welt is also trimmed to be a bit narrower/less wide through the waist portion as well - if the welt is say 5/8ths wide, then perhaps 1/16th to 3/32nds is trimmed off in the waist.

I think the 'corner' is really just a point on the welt/outsole that the maker chooses, since there is no corner on the last. Note, however, that the apparent corner is actually behind the treadline/joint -- I think your observation about its location is due an artifact of the angle of the photo. If you are making a narrow insole in the waist, there is perhaps a fairly tight turn in the insole just behind the inside joint, so that could perhaps be considered the corner. Remember that, from the 'corner' to the heel breast, the stitches will be hidden, so the distance from the upper to the stitches and the stitches to the edge will be invisible, so the fact that these may differ from the rest of the shoe isn't apparent. You will sometimes see (and Mack referenced) a 'spade sole,' which has a very sharp corner -- I think this is largely due to varying the distances of sewing on the welt, rather than any clear corner on the last itself or on the insole.

As I've mentioned before (but would love Mack's confirmation), the channel in the waist is cut vertically -- my belief is that this is because, when the waist is pushed up against the upper and then the sole is trimmed, if the channel was originally at 45 degrees, once the sole is pushed up, the thread would be horizontal to the ground and could easily be cut when the outsole is trimmed.

I would actually be interested in writing that book, but one major challenge would be to get the artisans to participate -- Mack, are you interested?

Lance

ps You can see some pics of a J&M Handmade spade sole model (no longer made, alas, as J&M closed all their USA manufacturing facilities)here: J&M spade soles

(Message edited by lancepryor on January 25, 2008)

(Message edited by lancepryor on January 25, 2008)

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#8 Post by dw » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:03 pm

Lance, Mack,

Aren't the soles on Mack's shoes (and I see them on G&G, too) just a toned-down version of the spade sole?
RIt is clear from the photo that the welt is wider at the corner and the stitching remains an even distance from the vamp. As I was beginning to suspect.

Re: thinning the welt how do you thin the welt when it has been stitched?

re: channeling the outsole I appreciate your thoughts on this Lance, don't think I don't. But I've seen (on G&G, again) what I took to be horizontal channeling in the waist. The reason I noticed (and asked) is I am having a hard time coming to grips with thinning the outsole in the waist, and then cutting a vertical channel in the outsole--I can't see how there would be any strength left in the outsole. That or the channel has to be so shallow that it would barely hide the stitching.

Again, this is from a novice so take it with a grain of salt and, hopefully, in the spirit of inquiry.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#9 Post by dw » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:11 pm

I think I mis-spoke...

Instead of
Re: thinning the welt how do you thin the welt when it has been stitched?


I meant how "do you thin the welt after it has been inseamed?"


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Re: Bottoming techniques

#10 Post by lancepryor » Fri Jan 25, 2008 3:22 pm

DW:

The welt isn't thinned after stitching; you stop inseaming when you reach the point where you want to start thinning it, and you use a hard surface between the welt and the upper and a sharp knife to thin the welt from there back to where the welt will end, then you finish inseaming.

Regarding the spade sole and Mack's example, I really don't think the welt on his example is wider at the corner, just that it is narrower behind it; this, when combined with a pretty tight radius on the insole just past the joint, plus an even tighter radius on the feather (since the feather widens behind the joint), means that you get a pretty significant change of direction on the welt.

However, I look forward to Mack's comments, since he actually knows what he's talking about, unlike me!

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#11 Post by dw » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:21 pm

Lance,

Turn about is fair play and since you posted a very good example of a spade sole, here's an example of what I would like to get to: G&G

I see a thin line running along the edge of the shank that I take to be the channel. What do you think? Vertical or horizontal?

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(Message edited by dw on January 25, 2008)

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#12 Post by lancepryor » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:03 pm

Dw:


A few thougths. First of all, the shoe that is pictured is from the G&G RTW/MTO line, i.e. it is a factory made shoe, made with an outsole stitcher. Thus, its relevance to Mack and the Bespoke trade is limited, at best. However, I've seen this feature before, and as I've thought about it and inspected the shoes, what I think is happening in this case is that the channel is made vertical (actually, say at 45 degrees). Then, when the waist is trimmed, the visible location of the cut is the side of the waist, making it appear that the channel is cut from the side, though it is not. [To visualize what I'm saying, think about a piece of paper with a channel cut at 45 degrees to the edge, starting 1/2 inch in from the upper right corner. If you then trimmed the paper in from the right, if it was trimmed enough (more than 1/2 inch) the channel would appear to be coming from the side, even though prior to trimming it started out on the top side of the rectangular sheet of paper.] You may note that the outsole of the G&G example is not really pushed up into the upper at all, so the angle of the stitching (relative to the ground or the upper) hasn't changed since being sewn.

Now, all of that being ssid, I do think that Dean Girling makes his channel horizontally -- see the pics in the article from "Last" magazine, linked below -- see the "Last" PDF in the Press section:

http://www.gazianogirling.com

Now, I can't say that this example in the article is intended to be a bevelled waist, but I don't think they change their technique based on the waist. Finally, a 4-strand thread, loosely twisted to lie pretty flat wouldn't take up much space even in a thinned outsole, so I should think it would not require much channel depth to not show. As for the strength factor, I believe there is not much stress on the outsole/stitching in the waist, so perhaps that is why even a thinned outsole not at risk. Plus, if a sole starts at say 11 iron, is thinned to say 7 iron, and then is cut with a channel to 1/3 the depth, you still have about 5 iron of (firm) sole leather left between the stitch and the welt, plus the welt thickness to prevent the stitch pulling through.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#13 Post by dw » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:05 pm

Lance,

I can see what you are describing. And the photo from Last is interesting.

I am inclined to an angled channel...actually did it that way on my first pair...mostly because I don't particularly like the completely horizontal channel and as far as the vertical channel goes, well, I've been stitching boots for decades using a vertical channel. I don't think a vertical channel addresses my vision of what I want to achieve--it ends up being too far away from the edge of the outsole. Of course, I have little experience with anything other than the vertical channel cut by a curved needle stitcher, but ultimately I want to be able to "hide" the edge of the channel in the edge of the sole. The only way I can see to do that is either a horizontal channel or an angled channel that starts at the edge of the outsole.

I've never tried cutting a channel only 2+ iron deep but it strikes me that if 3 iron is 1/16" then a little less than that is scant room to bury stitching. I just don't know...I'm speculating...I guess there's nothing for it but to try a test piece before determining whether it will suit me or not.

Thanks again for your input...

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#14 Post by dw » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:15 pm

Lance, Rob,

Just thought I would throw in another link...this time to a pair of Jan Peter Myhre shoes.

J.P Mhyre shoes

My outsoles come out looking more like these than Mack's. There's no "corner" there. Yet the waist is cut quite narrow, if I'm seeing it right. I understand this result. I could probably duplicate the shape if not the finesse. What I'm having trouble with is how it differs from what Mack is doing.


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Re: Bottoming techniques

#15 Post by das » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:49 pm

DW,

A few thoughts on sole channels...

For our historical stuff we use the vertical channel, cut straight down with the knife by eye, then wiggled and prized open with a channel-opener (like a dull oyster knife), as that was what was used on men's work "forever". The channel gets closed by "paning" the dampened sole edge with the pane of the hammer to "bed the stitches", then rubbed down hard with the hammer handle to burnish it fully closed.

The sloping., angled channel, with the thin "flap" (pasted/cemented shut) began on women's finer dress shoes (18thc.). When done well (e.g. Mack's work), this angled channel looks far better I must say, before it's worn, as the very lip of the channel "flap" can be cut to end invisibly right at the corner of the finished sole edge, thus hidden.. The only draw-back I've experienced with it--besides being much harder to do perfectly--is that after significant wear the "flap" can come un-stuck and lift up, which frankly looks like hell. The tip of the toe is especially susceptible to this, if the lip gets snagged and peeled open it becomes what Rees called, "an incurable subject" *ahem*.

It seems to me one of "those things"--it (angled channel w/flap) looks beautiful when the shoes are brand new (i.e. invisible), but it can look awful after some wear when it peels open. The straight-down vertical channel, while not "invisible" when brand new, certainly stands up to the rigors and abuse of wear better IMO. Of course either one obviates the skill needed to stitch "aloft" with no channel or groove, so the exit stitches on the bottom of the sole look as neat and straight as the entry one on the welt. I've seen what lurks under some of the best channels--stitches that wander like drunken sailors all over the place :&#62Image

He never did shoe work that I know of, but the scariest hand-stitching I ever saw done was by Neil Macgregor (HCC charter member) on fancy leathergoods. It was frequently impossible to tell which was the "in" versus the "out" side of his stitching... it was mind-boggling. I have examined "average" 18thc. men's shoes where the "aloft" (exposed) stitches are as uniform on the sole as they were on the welt. More of those "lost" skills perhaps?

As to the beveled-waists, there is very little wear in that part, so almost anything goes. Except, if the channel flap gets peeled back, you will likely see the loosest 3-4 spi you ever did see, as all the maker's effort goes into what shows around the forepart on the welt.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#16 Post by lancepryor » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:52 pm

DW:

Let's try this one more time! Another thought: I think one more cause of what you're seeing is the fact that the sole behind the 'corner' is pushed up close to the upper. Given the angle of the photo, and in combination with the curve of the insole/welt/outsole, it makes it look like there is more of a corner than there is. Try this -- take a piece of paper (which obviously is straight along each edge). Look at the paper at the same angle as Mack's photo, then roll the farthest corner down (as the sole does on Mack's shoe where it is pushed against the upper) -- the paper will, from your viewing angle, take on the appearance of a corner, even though we know the edge remains straight, since we haven't cut it.

Now, view the paper from the 'top' side, with your line of vision along the edge of the paper, and with the same roll/bend of the paper, except now it is up rather than down, since you've changed the perspective from which you're viewing it -- in this view (akin to seeing the sole edge from above the shoe, along the vamp line), the edge will take on the appearance of much more of a gentle curve, rather than a sharp corner.

Now, if Mack would just weigh in, I could quit "speculatin'."

Lance

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#17 Post by dw » Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:49 am

Al,

Someone once said to me..."presentation is everything." I am beginning to see the thread under the edges of my angled channel on my first pair of shoes. Sooner, I think, than I would have if the channel had been vertical. But they never did get to the point where they looked all that unsightly. No tags or remnants of tattered leather hanging down like Mississippi moss. I did see that kind of thing when I did the horizontal channel, however.

But to tell the truth there is a conundrum here isn't there? We want to honour our Trade and our selves (and our customers) by doing the best we can--bringing best materials and most refined techniques to the process. But the customer's overall sense of satisfaction is to a great extent based almost wholly on first impressions. I guess for me, I would dismiss the postponed effect that a raggedy channel would exert on a customer in favour of the immediate and lasting effect that an elegant and refined looking bottom has.

[That's why I wear loose trousers--so as to avoid provoking unwanted attention...at my age, for goodness sake!Image]

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#18 Post by dw » Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:55 am

Lance,

Hmmm...maybe. I see what you mean.

I do drive the waist in tight against the insole (and the last), however, when making boots. And since there is no welt, theoretically, it should drive up even further. Still, I don't see the "corner." So maybe it is a combination of subtle things. Maybe it's a photographic artifact?

On this next pair of shoes I am going to be looking hard at everything you guys have said (thank you again) and trying my best to discover that coveted corner.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#19 Post by jesselee » Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:20 am

D.A. I have examined hundreds of Civil War to 1890's boots and shoes, and many were worn ie. the thin horizontal cut. What I noticed on these was the long (1/4 in.) chain stitch. This cut technique was developed for the Blake stitcher and later the McKay stitcher. It sever two purposes: 1- To protect the chain stitch from wear. 2- To lessen the thickness of the leather being sewed.

I have noticed this on womens shoes up to the 1950's.

As for getting a beautiful smooth sole with the vertical cut. I trim the sole and make my cut, make sure the area to be opened is fully soaked, open it with a bone folder tool, stitch and re-soak if necessary, close with the top end of the hammer and burnish with the bone folder and
burnish until it's almost dry after hammering flat (which compresses the cut together). The result is 90% invisible.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#20 Post by mack » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:50 pm

Lance, DW,Al,
Seems I opened a can of worms with that photo.I don't think its possible to see enough detail to see how its made.
Lance you are correct ,there is no wider corner it is just the sudden swing in from the square forepart to the round waist, the sole is hammered hard into the waist to accentuate this.
The J.P.Myhre shoe looks a little different because the inside waist curve is not as clipped in and the change from forepart to waist is smoother. Its very fine work just a little different in style.I also have to do varying looks depending on who I am working for.
The G&G shoe is one of the factory line and way this is made differs from the hand method,they are amongst the best factory made shoes I have ever seen. G&G bespoke work is a little different from other UK makers the style has a slight continental look and the shapes are more extreme, Myhre's work is probably more typical.
As regards preparing the sole and welt.....the welt is thinned before and while welting.During the sewing you see where the thinning must start and as Lance said trimmed down to what is required is done with a knife.When cutting the sole the waist needs to be marked for thinning and is thinned bearing in mind which size iron you will use in finishing.
For cutting the channel the sole and waist need to be trimmed tight .The forepart channel can be cut as you wish but the edge of it will be hidden by the hidden by the lip of the iron so if you haven' got your sole trimmed tight enough it may not match up .I use glue to close the channel but if you wish to use paste or similar as Al says cut the channel at a steeper angle as this assists it staying closed.
In the waist the channel is cut along the edge of the sole and a fair distance in to allow for sewing with the curved awl try to cut on an angle that goes about a quarter into the substance of the sole, be careful it can be tricky open it well up and you can run a bone dr drag an old awl along it to give something for the stitches to sit in After sewing clean and glue closed using a bone or similar.
Al is right a bevelled waist can hide a multitude of sins, but sewn properly it is suprisingly strong,don't forget these are light dress shoes to be worn around town not heavy country wear.If a customer was very heavy or big the old makers would sometimes sew the waist with a heavier thread for added strength.
Its difficult to explain these methods with out visual aids, a series of photos would be good but at the moment I am stacked up with work so it's a long term wish I think.Same goes for the book Lance, might be a nice project for when work is less demanding.
DW ,when you have finished your shoes if you post some detailed pictures maybe we can advise on some ideas to get the look you want.
Regards Mack

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#21 Post by dw » Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:12 pm

Mack,

Thanks for this description...very helpful.

Sounds like the waist channel is more or less horizontal? I am interpreting your words that it be "cut along the edge of the sole" to mean that it starts at the edge and when you say "a fair distance in" and "about a quarter into the substance of the sole" I have to think the side of the knife is pretty much parallel with the surface of the sole. Please, by all means correct me if I have it wrong.

I love that corner but as I said I understand the more curved look of the Myhre shoe. I'll probably end up doing it that way. I guess it doesn't matter...either way looks very professional and refined if done by the likes of you and Jan Peter.

I will, by all means, post my results and maybe a process or two as well.


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Re: Bottoming techniques

#22 Post by das » Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:57 pm

Jesse,

I guess I was too vague. There is the slanted, angled channel for hand-stitching, but I omitted mention of the "horizontal" channel for MacKay'd work as it's not hand-sewn. Yes, MacKay'd "horizontal" channels peel back, and go to rags fast. And I agree, this "horizontal" channel was developed to accommodate MacKay'd (chain stitched) soles... but the slanting channel for hand-stitched soles (beginning with women's shoes) is susceptible to the same draw backs because of the paper-thin flap.

With our vertical channels, we can get then to disappear to a fine line when new, and even after substantial wear they don't seem to open up. Trade off I guess--impeccable looks when new, but often failure in wear, versus a fine line when new, but better durability in wear.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#23 Post by jesselee » Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:40 pm

D.A. Agreed, I believe the later McKay stitchers had a channel opener for the stitches, which prevented that 'ragging' effect. I have only used the model 77, and my old treadle one, years ago was similar, no channel seperator.

I try not to do the paper thin horizontal cut, but still, because of the nature of that cut in the toe area especially, it does rag and eventually separate.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#24 Post by dw » Sun Mar 02, 2008 5:33 pm

Jake,

Thanks. I think that's the first time I tried that raised front with a binding. I thought it would be more difficult than that.

Hoo hum...pegging. Well, first I hear you about getting the lasts out and then not being able to float them well enough to wear the boot. I have a T-shirt that says "worlds dumbest bootmaker--embedded over 100 hardwood pegs 1/4" into last."

Finally, after several self-administered dope slaps I got wise and here's what I came up with:

First, you have to figure how much material you're going through--if the insole is 10 iron that's probably in the neighborhood of 3/16". Add to that the thickness of the outsole--12 iron?...another quarter inch. A midsole? Another eighth inch. Ignore any filler as a safety margin. Then measure your pegs. Ideally you'd use pegs that were the exact length or slightly short.

Not so ideally, you would drive your pegs short. So, if you had half inch of combined insole and outsole and pegs that were 5/8" inch long you'd drive the pegs so that you left an eighth inch proud. You can clip off that excess with a pair of nippers.

The other thing is that if you use a tapered pegging awl, the hole in a plastic last will close up slightly before you can drive the peg. You'll feel the peg bottom out before it gets into the last very far. Don't try to drive in any further.

Also, what I do is drive about three pegs well into the forepart, and then pull the last to see how to adjust the rest.

I use a midsole for most of the "historical" work (actually, none of it pretends to really be historically accurate) and I drive a row of pegs into the midsole quite near the edge. Then I mount the outsole and peg two rows at ten to the inch some little way interior to the line of the midsole pegs. I do have several specially shaped sticks with sandpaper mounted on the end for getting down inside the boot and snuffing off any wayward tips.

Pegged soles are stiffer than stitched soles. They may wear as good or better than stitched soles if only because the pegs will resist wear a little better than the leather. Pegged soles are not so much harder to repair for you and me but may be a problem for your average repairman. And pegs tend...over repeated resolings...to so chew up the lasted-over-margin that eventually the boot cannot be repaired at all short of taking the boot apart, sewing a new margin on both the "vamp" and lining and then relasting. The same can be said, and more, about boots that are nailed in part or entirely, however...with the added problem of the brittleness that rusted iron inflicts on leather.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Bottoming techniques

#25 Post by homeboy » Sun Mar 02, 2008 6:15 pm

Dee-Dubb,

Very good description of your technique and truly appreciated.

Just for your information, I re-bottomed a pair of boots of mine this weekend in which I used brass nails exclusively instead of my usual peg construction. I was extremely surprised that the leather around the nails was not burnt, but unusually brittle. Couldn't pry the sole off without cracking and tearing the leather. Never has this happened with pegs in my 14 years making boots. All I can guess is some type of chemical action between the "brass" nail and leather. No more brass nails for me! It really surprised me. I've seen what iron tacks and nails can do to veg-tanned leather, but never suspected brass too. The leather never turned black or looked burnt, but something happened within.

Can't speak for anyone else, but it seems like I've always been searching for the "truth" in so many areas of our trade. My mentor has always been correct in my findings. But I still find myself experimenting and inspecting my boots while repairing. It would take a lifetime to find all my answers. I personally would like to give a big "Thank You" for all who contribute to this Forum. We truly have some special people among us.

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