Historic techniques and materials

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#51 Post by dw » Mon Aug 01, 2011 5:48 am

Shoe historians,

Can anyone outline for me how and when Goodyear welted construction became prevalent in shoe construction?

I know Charles Goodyear invented the Goodyear machine in 1871 (?) but when did the technique really take hold and become the default technique for shoe construction in the US? In the UK? Among the top British shoe names?

When did gemming replace the folded channel version of GY?

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#52 Post by ephraim » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:34 am

Fellow Crispins,

FYI - I found a supplier for Wilmas Kängskosmorning, the leather dressing from Sweden that has the birch tar oil in it. I use it on all sorts of leather items that I own, as it is really great stuff. However, it is best known for restoring that smoky smell (Mmmmmm...) to Russia leather.

I had heard that the fellow who made it was retiring, but it looks like this company (the same one listed on my one and only tin of the stuff) is still producing and selling it. Here is the URL:

http://www.wilmanaturprodukter.se/portfolio-item/kangskosmorning/

It is being sold and promoted by a number of European and UK sites. I am trying to contact the company to see if they can ship in bulk to the USA, get prices, &c. Updates to follow...

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#53 Post by tjburr » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:58 pm

I thought that this might be more appropriate a location though it is related to a Gallery post.

John, You mention the original desert boot was unlined.

I had a few questions that you might be able to answer or someone else on the list.

I would assume the heel stiffener was sewed into the inside based on the pictures I have seen

Was there a toe stiffener? Was it stitched or glued in?

Terry

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#54 Post by das » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:11 am

Terry,

Going from memory of Clark's "Desert Boots" I wore in the '60s-'70s, the heel stiffener was flanged out and stitched-down with the upper. The toe stiffener was thin, synthetic, flanged out too, and merely stuck to the under side of the vamp. The edge of these always came un-stuck, peeled, curled down and snagged on your toe putting them on after a while. Think we only wore them one season in Jr High School.

Better quality "stitch-down" construction (AKA "veltschoen"--Velt shoes--in UK parlance post 1880s, from SA colonial involvement, etc), is lined, and the lining cement-lasted under the insole, only the outer layer of the upper is flanged/stitched-down, sometimes with an additional narrow "welt" strip on top to beef it up--very waterproof they said.

We've found several examples of "stitch-down" constructions (3 or 4 variants) from late 1600s-mid 1800s US archaeological sites. Some simple, like "Desert Boots", others more complex with multiple seams around the upper/insole/midsole/outsole. None lined, so none with lining lasted under. Mostly found on cheap children's shoes archaeologically, from English-speaking areas, "type 1" like DBs; the more complex adult "stitch-down" constructions found here are closely associated with areas with high/exclusively German-speaking immigrant populations mid-1700s-1800s. "Stitch down" construction seems to originate in the Bavarian Alps, with examples there dating back to the 1500-1600s, whence it moved along the Rhine Valley with the out-flow of people.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#55 Post by elfn » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:34 am

I was amazed how waterproof my shoes with that method of construction are. I spent two hours sitting in a puddle and had dry feet when I walked away. Amazing.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#56 Post by jshepherd » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:50 am

Hi Terry,

Here is a website about the history of desert boots:

http://goodclobber.tumblr.com/post/445297055/history-of-the-desert-boot

The originator, Nathan Clark, died in June, 2011 at the age of 94.

Regarding unlined desert boots, you are right. A piece of lining was sewn over the counter. The top stitching around the back on my desert boots is only decorative, since they are fully lined.

There is a toe stiffener on the original, but it was not very stiff - just something glued under the unlined vamp.

If you are making some desert boots, I recommend you spring the vamp when making the pattern. With the one-piece tongue, the results are so much better.

John

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#57 Post by elfn » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:05 am

Is springing the vamp explained somewhere? I understand it's a pattern alteration . . .

Thanks.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#58 Post by elfn » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:23 am

I found this

Golding excerpt

but I'm not so certain I'm any more well informed. I'm going to have to read it a bunch of times, I think.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#59 Post by jshepherd » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:24 am

Hi Nori,

Someone else might provide a direct link on the web for instructions on springing the vamp.

I will email you some information, and post the source on the Colloquy as well. I have it in a pattern-making book, but don't remember which one.

John

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#60 Post by elfn » Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:40 am

Thanks John. I appreciate it.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#61 Post by tjburr » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:27 pm

Al, John and Nori,

Thanks for the quick feedback.

Al; interesting you should mention the kids shoes. I was actually thinking that this pattern would be a good one to use for my son. Fairly easy to make if it is unlined, light and flexible which I like for a kids shoe, and if I use the correct leather it will be much stronger than the mass produced shoes he goes through.

It is sad that what used to be considered a cheap kids construction could now be much better than the standard kids shoe.

Terry

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#62 Post by elfn » Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:41 pm

Just to be clear, my shoes are lined and have a full-foot counter. The lining (kangaroo) is glue-lasted. The full length counter is glued and sewn to the midsole.

The counter was first punched using a method from someone here in the forum (Paul?).
14890.jpg


After the corner seams on the counter were butt-sewn, the counter was glued in place and the upper (chrome tanned bison) was stitched to the midsole. The sole was then glued/stitched on through the stitch-down upper and midsole.

Voila, water proof shoes.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#63 Post by das » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:03 am

Jesse,

Interesting you say that 19thc pegging was "commonly" done on the last (pre-holing), then the last slipped and the actual pegging done on a cobbler's iron foot. What's your evidence for this? I've only read of it being done all on the last, no iron foot involved, one hole/one peg, one hole/one peg, not all the holes made ahead, then pegged after. Yell us more.

By "wedge" or "cone top" lasts did you mean two-piece "block" lasts, more recently called "scoop block"? (The ones with the removable instep block?) These were in use by the 18-teens, before pegging started in earnest, but there are plenty of 19thc one-piece "comb lasts" with pegging damage on the bottoms too, up through the 1860s. In fact one only has to look at the deeply worn and trenched-out bottoms of many old 19thc lasts, to wonder of anybody ever did as you suggest, and peg on the iron foot Image

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#64 Post by das » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:08 am

Cross Posting--Since Gallery Gossip is not archived, I thought I'd move this here in case the discussion of 19thc pegging grows legs.

=================================================
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
By Jesse Lee Cantrell on Friday, October 12, 2012 - 08:41 pm: Edit Post
Athan,

Boot and shoe soles can be pegged on the last, but it was not the common practice. The holes are made on the lasts, but the pegging done on an iron last. This is how it was done in the 19th century. If pegged on the last, which was common only amongst those who could not afford an iron lasting jack, the pegs were cut to size and barely went into the last.

To get the last out was easy as the lasts of the 19th century were wedge or cone tops which pulled 'away' from the inner sole and just a few taps on the toe loosened it from the last.

Using the iron jack and pegging gnarles the peg ends so they splay an there is little or no rasping required.

In short modern lasts and sized pegs are a frustration and you have to reinvent the wheel. Modern lasts are not designed for pegging, and thus the problem.

Cheers,

JesseLee



===============================================
By D.A. Saguto--HCC on Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 03:03 am: Edit Post
Jesse,

Interesting you say that 19thc pegging was "commonly" done on the last (pre-holing), then the last slipped and the actual pegging done on a cobbler's iron foot. What's your evidence for this? I've only read of it being done all on the last, no iron foot involved, one hole/one peg, one hole/one peg, not all the holes made ahead, then pegged after. Yell us more.

By "wedge" or "cone top" lasts did you mean two-piece "block" lasts, more recently called "scoop block"? (The ones with the removable instep block?) These were in use by the 18-teens, before pegging started in earnest, but there are plenty of 19thc one-piece "comb lasts" with pegging damage on the bottoms too, up through the 1860s. In fact one only has to look at the deeply worn and trenched-out bottoms of many old 19thc lasts, to wonder of anybody ever did as you suggest, and peg on the iron foot



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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#65 Post by dw » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:43 am

Al, Jesse,

I too would be interested in some substantiation for pegging on an iron last. I have 19th century lasts that are trenched out just as Al describes.

I am no historian but I do peg boots (and have done for many years) and from a purely practical point of view, I don't think I would want to make the holes first then pull the last and try to drive the pegs on an iron last. All sorts of potential problems suggest themselves just contemplating it.

For one thing...without modern cement, the outsole would not be secure or stable. And pulling the last at that point would result in holes which, while in alignment when the boot was on the last, becoming misaligned.

Another, related, problem that worries me...and perhaps it was not an issue with 19th century boots...is that my boots are lasted pretty "tight to the wood." Pulling a last before the bottoms are finished (pegged) would distort the shape and even the size.

Then too, what else would iron lasts be used for? If only for pegging or nailing, owning even a limited number of sizes seems redundant. Especially given that sized, wooden lasts could be ordered with plated bottoms...I don't know when that began but old catalogues do illustrate them. And the same catalogues suggest that iron lasts were reserved for "quick repair."

Interestingly, several jacks, such as the Solidity Jack (GM Willis) and the Acme Jack, were made for the express purpose of pegging and sewing and so forth. But they almost universally relied on wooden lasts, from what I can determine.

As far as plated lasts are concerned, pegging into a plated last results in the same disastrous outcomes as when contemporary shoe repairmen peg into iron lasts--broke or at least badly damaged pegging awls. As a craftsman, I am a bit repulsed by the idea of deliberately damaging my tools. I suspect even plated lasts were reserved for nailing operations.

It is hard to know for certain what was done 200 years ago...and of course, there is always the possibility that some one or two makers did things entirely different than the shoemaking community as a whole. But from what I can determine with my limited resources, there is very little evidence that boots or shoes were pegged off the last they were made on. So...I would very much be interested in the provenance of this technique.

I'm open to correction in this regard, however.

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(Message edited by dw on October 13, 2012)

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#66 Post by gshoes » Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:42 am

Jesse, D.A. & Athan,

That information from Jesse makes sense. Regardless if it is historically accurate, or maybe partly accurate in some areas or not. More importantly in these days, most of us already have a set of iron lasts, wouldn't that be the most smartest way to peg. Couldn't the lasts be torn up just from the constant repeated holing that was done on them?

I would like to know more but mostly I am just not wanting to have the fight with the last at the end of my bookmaking experience.

Geri

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#67 Post by dw » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:05 am

Geraldine,

Of course on some level the issue is historical accuracy. But if you read my response to Al and Jesse you will also know that using an iron last presents its own set of problems.

No one wants to fight the last trying to get it out of the boot. But really, it's just a skill like any other. I regularly full peg boots and have no trouble getting the last out. In fact, I barely have to knock the points off the pegs once the last is pulled.

It all comes down to estimating the thickness of your insole + your outsole and perhaps the vamp and vamp liner. If an outsole is 12 iron, for instance, that equates to 1/4". Und so weiter.

For that matter, if...as Jesse advocates...you drive the peg holes while the last is in the shoe or boot, the holes--the "trenching" that Al talks about---will happen whether you pull the last or not. And if you hole the boot with an iron last, you will ruin your pegging awl in a split second.

And bona fide pegging awls are getting scarce...so good luck with that.

But I have to reiterate...because it bears repeating...it is a skill. It is a skill that has to be mastered. Like so many others in this trade. You cheat yourself if you are not willing to master these skills. The iron last, regardless of its provenance, strikes me as a short cut.

Now that's just my two cents and YMMV, but it is a lesson/wisdom that comes from many years of mistakes.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#68 Post by dw » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:39 am

Geraldine,

Let me step back just a bit and say that I did not intend for the second to last paragraph to sound so stark or personal.

Rather I should have said something to the effect that...

"To the extent that any of us seeks an alternative to a Traditional and hard to master technique...without first having mastered it...we short-change not only ourselves but the Trade as a whole."

It is not progress, no matter how modern or forward thinking the alternative. It is devolution.

And profits no one.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#69 Post by gshoes » Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:52 am

D.A,

Anybody who knows anything about you knows that you meant it in this forum in the best possible way.

I do know that there are some people who are absolutely interested in the accurate period way of doing things as do I. So I do want to know what is accurate.

But.....I personally do not ever want to work so hard and so long on a pair of boots and end up with a sculpture carefully concealing a last pegged in place. LOL.

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#70 Post by dw » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:17 am

Gerldine,

thank you...
I personally do not ever want to work so hard and so long on a pair of boots and end up with a sculpture carefully concealing a last pegged in place.


A widely held sentiment. But when you reach that impasse, you know you've made a mistake.

I myself had to learn the lessons of pegging too deep the hard way. And unfortunately being the hard-headed old cob that I am, I had to have that lesson reinforced way too many times before it took.

But it was a blunder on my part that got me there.

My own teacher...who used baby powder as a last lubricant (talc is French Chalk)...once bought a container of cornstarch based baby powder. When he went to pull the last, he found, to his amazement that cornstarch was a prodigious glue.

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(Message edited by dw on October 15, 2012)

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#71 Post by gshoes » Mon Oct 15, 2012 9:29 am

DW,

I would agree with you that there is no better way to learn than by actually making the mistake myself. However now that I am 50 years old and not 23 I will try to learn from Athans lesson.

But I am also not sure exactly what that lesson was.

Should I just replace the last with the iron after making the holes or is it just more of getting the feel of how hard to hit the peg?

geri

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#72 Post by dw » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:03 am

Geraldine,

The way I was taught (and the way I teach) is to peg on the last. The iron last never comes into it. Shoe repairmen use iron lasts, shoemakers do not.

It all starts, as mentioned above, with a fairly close estimation of the depth of material you need to go through. Insole+outsole+whatever.

Ideally we would then match the length of the pegging awl to that depth and the pegs themselves to the length of the awl plus (a very little).

At which point, you simply cannot peg too deep. And, if the pegging awl is properly sized, any "trenching" will be minimal esp. in plastic lasts.

But if your pegging awl is too long, a leather or rubber spacer will shorten it up.

If your pegs are too long, drive them to the proper depth and clip them before the final blow.

Simple things...but eventually, you can feel and hear when the pegging awl is entering the last. You can feel and hear when the peg itself is bottomed out in the hole made in the last.

All part of "mastering" the technique.

So...another aphorism by DWFII--"Don't be a miser. If you count your years or begrudge the materials needed to learn, you'll never learn."

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#73 Post by jon_g » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:07 am

Geraldine,

You can slide a washer made from soling leather over your pegging awl so that it will make a hole only as deep as you want.

14986.jpg

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#74 Post by dw » Mon Oct 15, 2012 11:46 am

Jon,

Precisely! That's what I meant when I referred to a leather or rubber spacer.

With a rubber washer, I get a little bounce back when driving the pegging awl.

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(Message edited by dw on October 15, 2012)

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Re: Historic techniques and materials

#75 Post by jesselee » Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:29 pm

Geraldine,

Yes, the pegging awl will eventually leave trenches in a last. The upside is that if you peg on such a last and the pegs are too long they won't affect the removal of the last.

Cheers,

JesseLee

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