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Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:23 pm
Substandard is not the right description.
Visualize trying to lift and position a brick using a fishing rod.
Take a hand grinder and make sawdust out of 200 cubic inches of wood.
The small copiers use a steel ball on the end of a small rod as a stylus to follow the pattern. The steel ball does not roll and you need some weight on it for the router to be able to cut. The left to right movement of the duplicator will need to be fixed and the stylus and the cutter need to be exactly the same distance apart as the lathes and they need to be exactly in line with each other and the axis of the centerlines of the lathes. A 64th of an inch is big in lastmaking. It is not so critical that the axis of the router intersect the centerline of the lathe.
Then you need to hold the stylus with your hand so that it barely touches the last and there is no sideways deflection. You are not going to be able to turn the last pattern and have the stylus+ router follow it when you are near the toe or the back half of the last. You will reach the locking angle. You have to lift the stylus. (This is where the tangent of angle between the centerline of the stylus and a line drawn between the center of the steel ball and the point where the steel ball contacts the pattern is equal to the coefficient of friction between the two materials). Also called the friction angle. Think of trying to push something up an incline and you can only push horizontally and the angle is getting steeper and steeper.
I mounted my stylus and router to a single piece of 3/8 inch aluminum plate. This helped the rigidity of the machine. I put precision 3” round steel drums about 4” long on the back of each (Harbor Freight) lathe spindle. Then I wrapped 2 lengths of .010 by ½ inch wide steel feeler gage stock around both of the drums. The steel band between the 2 drums was wrapped in a spiral so the lathes could go around a little more than a complete turn.
When I wanted the two lathes to turn opposite directions to make the other hand last I crossed the 2 steel bands. The bands were taut to give an anti-backlash or no-shake condition. Very important.
I still have a pair of lasts that I made on it. I cut this pair out of a larger size last so I could make use of the hinge.
I have the sketches from which the custom parts were made and will share them if anyone wants to see how much work is involved or to build on my experience. This is a hard way to go.
In 1980 there were still Gilman Last Lathes around, I picked up the one that I rebuilt from Century Last Co. in Portsmouth, Ohio. This machine can go from 2/3 to 1-1/2 times the length of the pattern and at the same time can go from 4 widths narrower to 4 widths wider. I have figured out what I need to do to make the last taper from one width at the forepart to a second width at the heel.
Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:29 pm
To those who have posted under Lasts, Eric tried to move it over to "the last question" however, this question does apply to both topics.
Anyway, You guys have been awesome! I just want to recoginize your foritude, experience and creatitivity. At first the question was met with resisistance, but discussing such a question really does help all of us and I am glad many have by passed the resistance and entertained this thought. Many of us simply wanting to duplicate but do not have room for a gilman.
I want to let you all know that JP Boots has informed me that they are closing thier last making section and want to let go of all thier equipment. they have last models, tools, and the like. And have a gilman. when looking at it, it looked like the pentagraph arm, hanging in the picture on his site, is broken,but he assures me it is a working machine. I belive they are a member of this forum.
Lastmaking school.com although tempted does not have room for his gilman.
The creativity and experience and expertise from you guys has been great and I hope that we can continue to come up with ideas to the point of building a desk top analgue machine.
Thank you guys. You are much appreciated.
Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:39 am
I am wondering where to go now on this. Bill Harris has forgotton more about engineering than I will ever know, and his post seems to indicate that a desktop machine will be very difficult to achieve. The obvious course of action would be to get a gilman and be done with it. But, cost, space and availabilty are major factors here.
Has anyone got any fresh ideas?
Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:46 am
I just wondered, you mentioned that using the desktop machine was like a brick on the end of a fishing pole. What do you think would be the result if instead of a router, you used an air powered die grinder. A lot less weight out there?
Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:14 pm
My analogy of using a fishing rod to position a brick is that I did not find a router-duplicator to be the right tool to copy lasts. One problem is with the stylus that follows the surface of the last. Other issues are trying to make a last with a different length and/or width.
I could design you a stylus with a ball bearing roller that would get you the ability to go completely around the last with out having to manually lift the stylus/router arm (No charge). The stylus would taper up to perhaps an inch in diameter at the top for rigidity. The roller itself would be made from a ½ inch diameter hardened steel ball with a precision bore through the center of it. (A Wire Electrical Discharge Machine is the tool to use to make the bore through the steel ball. I can give you the name of the shop that I use for this service.) Miniature ball bearings would be pressed into each end of the bore through the steel ball. The stylus would taper to ½ inch diameter at the working end. The ball and its bearings would fit into a slot in the end of the stylus and be retained by a very small shaft.
Back to the cutter. An air grinder would be less weight but the stylus/router arm is counterbalanced. You will need at least a 2 horsepower air compressor to drive the air grinder. You are going to need a serious dust collector.
I found that a ½ inch diameter round nosed cutter did not cut the wood very well near its center but rather the cutter chewed the wood down. The cutting speed drops to zero at the center of the cutter.
This is also true of a CNC machine with a round nosed cutter. The Gilman machine with 8,000 RPM and cup shaped cutters that sweep a 3-1/2 inch diameter torus doesn’t have this problem
Posted: Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:34 pm
Hey bill, I like your imput. thanks. You sound very knowlegable in this last lathe subject. Bill I would love to chat with you about some Ideas I have. I shot you an email. Lets chat.
for those of you interested in Lyle's duplicator solution check out
Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:21 pm
I am new to this forum. I am going to attempt to make my first pair of boots. I haven't a clue where to buy lasts, and the tools I will need. I am in southern PA. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:45 pm
I am new at this also, and still getting my tools together. Ebay is a source. Edwin Hale at Hale and Co in CA is another good source. haleandco.com He is very helpful. Dick Anderson Thornappleriverboots.com offers some various tools. I am making some for my self such as awl hafts, crimping screws and crimping boards. Lasts??? have not got that far yet. good luck
Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:58 pm
I could make you a pair of lasts any heel hight, toe design and sole shape. They will be custom and made from your feet model. you can check out our process by clicking here: http://lastmakingschool.com/Worshops-and-Classes-main-page.htm
& here: http://lastmakingschool.com/classes/Intermediate%20Last%20Making.htm
Shoot me an email and i can explain the details. Info@lastmakingschool.com
Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:03 am
Many of us have had success ordering lasts from http://www.globalfootwearsolutions.com
. Good people.
Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:40 pm
Yes it is true, global footwear solutions is owned by Bill Tippit and his wife. he is a last maker of more than 30 years expereince and now works as master last maker of Nike. You can down load his catalogue of types of boot lasts, in olga you can put in your measurements and order like that. you can get both plastic or wood.
other last resources is Jones and vining. they have a catalogue too. Read this threads page and you will see all the info you need to get thier catalogue as well. It is mainly line drawings though. Where as bill gives you a good visual of what you are getting.
Either one of these resources are less expensive than a custom,fit to your foot from your feets models. However, one that begins with your foot will fit your foot. Ones that are generic will need alteration with fittings.
By all means though do not just buy any last from some place like ebay unless you are just looking for a door stop.
Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:01 pm
Could you please post pics of some of your lasts.
Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:11 pm
I have to admit, that most of the lasts I have created, I have been sloppy about taking pics of. That is not to imply that my lasts are not wonderful lasts.
Since I returned to the states,most of my work has been through teaching. My teaching and writing load is packed. While abroad,during my training, I was working for others, thus, the lasts belonged to them. So, I didn't take pics. However, recently, I have been getting a call to post pics, either on my website http://lastmakingschool.com/
or here on the THCC.
I create lasts based on what is requested in the three sections of the foot pair. The toe box, the shank ( ball to center of heel seat), the heel and based on the type of footwear needed and the makers parameters. the lasts are hand made and they are either wood composite, HDPE or a combination of both.
I guess I have always felt that lasts were not the star of bespoke footwear making, the wonderful things makers can do when they make boots and shoes on a last was what was so shinny. thus, seeing another last perhaps boring,thus, I never thought to take pics.
But, Bendan, you are the 10th person this week asking for pics. So thanks all for your prompting. I currently am working on a boot last size 13 male. I will get down to work and make some lasts and record a few pics from the start of a foot model, to mid term making to finish.
however, be patient, Hand last making takes time unlike machines which can wip them out in less than an hour. Although my lasts still are a tool and may need some alterations or fittings based on what the maker is imgining vs. the lastmaker, a last that began as a foot duplicate will fit that foot no matter the heel hight or toe box style.
It will take a few weeks to get this out in between my job load. But be patient, I will get it out.
Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:28 pm
Thanks evryone for the information, it is really helpful.
Posted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:34 pm
It appears that the number on Global Footwear Solution's website is no longer connected (it worked a few weeks ago). I am trying to get the OLGA system so I can become more familiar with Bill's styles, and I want to practice taking the measurements needed.
I tried going through the registration process via the website, but received no download link or email containing one.
I know Bill is very busy so please excuse if so, but could someone email me the OLGA program, what's the size?
Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 6:41 pm
Any one have a pair of boot last size 14AA or 13 1/2 A that they would consider getting selling?
Contact me off list if you would. Thanks
jlewis16 (at) earthlink.net
Posted: Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:25 am
Just received my first order of 2 pair lasts from J & V.
3 weeks from the day I mailed the check. Pretty good!
Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:07 am
Good to hear Rick. Thanks for the report.
Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:21 pm
That's been my experience, too: Good service and well-made lasts from J & V, and a huge array of styles. Bill at GFS is also excellent, though sometimes not as fast. We buyers of one pair at a time can't always be too choosy.
Posted: Thu Jun 03, 2010 7:43 pm
This may have been mentioned before but the Walnut Ridge facility has undergone, or is still undergoing, a pretty substantial upgrade. If I recall correctly they are putting nearly 3/4 million dollars into new lathes.
This gives me a lot of hope that they will remain committed to the smaller customer as well as new horizons with regard to developing lasts.
And the good thing is that the lasts are turned "in house" and in country so the lag time, such as it is, can be kept at a minimum.
FYI...as I understand it, Bill is pretty much out of the last making business now. So sorry. J&V are the only game in town as far as I know.
Posted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:51 pm
Thank you. We should all be pleased to hear of the Walnut Ridge expansion. A good lastmaker, as Leno said, is worth his weight in gold. I pressured Bill into doing them, as I needed wood, and JV said they couldn't. I have a valued businessman client who wants 3-piece custom wood trees, and doesn't mind paying. The wood last copy came back from Mexico perfect, just as requested: no hinge or scoop block, no spindle hole. Now to find the man with the bandsaw and steady hand--and the appropriate jigs--to cut them into 6 pieces with vee cuts, check the fit, do a little finish work.
Posted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 6:03 pm
Jeeze...you know there's an opportunity going begging--making decent shoe trees. I know Bill was looking into it but whether it was just too difficult or whether the transition to Nike made the prospects too daunting, nothing ever came of it.
I'd guess someone could charge nearly the same amount for a set of good wood tree as for the original lasts.
As far as I can see, the only real problem would be duplicating a pair of bespoke last and doing it reasonably quickly.
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:44 pm
Quite a bit more, actually: You should digitize both lasts--whose are truly mirror-image identical, except the factory's? Then you get 2 pairs, of which you must discard the wrong foot of each. Then the finishing and fitting, and don't forget the prep work turning the bespoke last into a model. The feet in this case are so close to identical I was able to use the shortcut, copying both from one foot. The product is beautiful and appealing, but how many will pay?
Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:08 pm
But really...and I don't know, so don't hesitate to enlighten me...is there really a requirement that the tree be 100% accurate and a perfect model of the last?
The function of the tree doesn't have to be to hold the shoe in exactly the same state of tension that the last did. It only needs to flatten the outsole, smooth the creases and allow the shoe to dry in something other than a curled state.
In that context, a solid tree might actually be detrimental to drying.
Most modern trees, vintage generic trees, and even contemporary lasted trees included with high end shoes are hollowed out in the forepart and often only partially solid in the mid-part.
I still think it's a market that is ripe for some enterprising soul.
Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:33 am
Do you know which last manufacturer made the the wood last copy that came back from Mexico?