Boot Leathers

Got any great sources for leather? Tools? Machinery? Looking for sources?
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Re: Boot Leathers

#76 Post by paul » Wed Mar 12, 2003 6:19 pm

Hey,

Does anyone know what up at Petrozi's?(Ostrich dealers in Scotsdale AZ). I talked to Zane just before they were gonna move and he was gonna come on full time, and he said he'd call back the next week. Now it's been three weeks and the number is no longer on service. There was going to be a new number but it doesn't work either.
PK

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Re: Boot Leathers

#77 Post by gcunning » Tue Oct 28, 2003 1:06 pm

Lee what is wrong with kid?
I have no information either way. I ignorantly buy it cause I like it and Kangaroo. I know they are used for tops and that’s why I use them. Can you give a little more info?

tmattimore

Re: Boot Leathers

#78 Post by tmattimore » Tue Oct 28, 2003 6:00 pm

Lee
What is wrong with soaking leather? When I crimp full wellingtons. I only wet them for about ten minutes. But I have seen leather that was immeresed in water for over 100 years that is still supple today. Go to the Steamboat Arabia in Kanas City. They were gracious enough to let me photograph and handle some of the over 5000 pair of boots and shoes they have. In return I showed then how to use tappered end threads and hog bristles to resew their turn shoes made of morrocco(kid) which they have turned right side out again.
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Re: Boot Leathers

#79 Post by dw » Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:04 pm

Tom,

What kind of leather are using for your full cuts? I can't imagine only soaking them for ten minutes. How heavy is it? I do a lot of full wellingtons out of chrome tan leathers as well as some now out of Horween's Beaumont (I'll show you a pair in a day or so) but I have this feeling that if leather is not wet all the way through that it will not stretch equally...the drier core will not move as much as the wetter outside...which might...might result in cracking at the toes, etc..

I used to worry a lot more about this but Al made a point a while back about the leather being subject to wetting and drying and wetting again after they were made. For myself, I'd feel I was letting the customer down if I delivered a pair of boots that couldn't get wet.

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Re: Boot Leathers

#80 Post by dw » Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:08 pm

Lee,

What kind of leather is that on the barbed wire of those boots in the boot book? I don't remember which book it was but they had barbed wire up around the scallop and cactus buds, if I remember correctly on the leg.

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Re: Boot Leathers

#81 Post by dw » Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:10 pm

Mick,

You still there? How long do you soak your front blockers?

Al,

What say you? I'd sure like to reduce the time I soak my full cuts.

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tmattimore

Re: Boot Leathers

#82 Post by tmattimore » Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:52 pm

DW
I am using 6oz russet skirting from Wickett and Craig which I have milled soft. I soak in warm tap water for 10 minutes or until the bubbles stop. I find that if I get interupted and forget then it gets harder to crimp. I may be wrong but I think that if allowed to soak too long the fibers straighten out or lock up making it harder. To prove that there needs to be an exception to make a rule I reached into the bottom of my bologna water tank last week and found a pair of fronts that had been there at least a month. One crimped just fine and the other tore over the the instep on the board (an unusual place)before it was half done. Of all the leathers I have tried (veg) this is the only stuff that works and is closest to the originals.
As to chrome tan most of the stuff I have tried works well except "oil tanned" and the "softy" leathers from Garlin Neuman which never seen to stop stretching.
Tmattimore

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Re: Boot Leathers

#83 Post by tmattimore » Tue Oct 28, 2003 7:58 pm

DW
I just recalled that I tried some milled leather that M&T (Tom Eberle) is bringing in from germany that is just fantastic except it is ony 3 to 4 oz which is a little light for me.
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Re: Boot Leathers

#84 Post by das » Wed Oct 29, 2003 5:15 am

On soaking:

1) I'm only using 100% veg-tanned, mostly "waxed calf" [heavily greased and finished on the flesh, 5-6oz.], and unlined.

2) "Traditionally" this leather was soaked before lasting or crimping.

3) It'll barely crimp easily or smoothly then, much less dry or damp.

4) After hearing the opinions posted here from Janne and others, however, when I'm making lighter-weight, "modern", chrome uppers--lighter stuff for shoes--I've tried lasting dry, but am still not real pleased with the results I've gotten yet, so I'm still in the "wet" on that.

And as to the wise-cracks above about the "dead guys" on a "pedestal", etc.--I haven't a clue who you are. The making of fine shoes and boots has a long history--examples reach back some 10,000 years. My background, and the guy who taught me, the guy who taught him, et al, was solidly grounded in these traditional and historical styles and old techniques that date back to the 1600s and 1700s--long before there was a Texas, or even a cowboy boot. I don't get with this neo-Luddite attitude. The richness of this Forum has always been that 'makers of every stripe from around the world meet here and share their own slant on things. This isn't merely a cowboy boot forum, or a Texas boot forum. And speaking for the HCC, regrettably the guild's too large and eclectic in membership to just support a cowboy boots-only forum. There are other traditions, many of them surviving, and it would be a disservice to the entire trade and the good we could do, to get that narrow-minded here. Imagine if the HCC Forum was strictly for Medieval shoemaking fans? Or if it was dominated by hiking boot makers?

If people want to raise the issue of professional collegiality and "respect" here, they need to get over the notion that their own narrow genre of bootmaking is the "first, last, and only one". Do you know how utterly provincial it sounds to the wider world of shoe and bootmakers for the guys/gals whose entire universe is cowboy boots, to condemn with faint praise, or be trying to poo-poo *every* other branch of this trade as something less? Can you imagine how ridiculous it might sound to an English riding bootmaker in London, where cowboy boots are only a quirky "Yank" novelty seen in movies or on tourists' feet occasionally, to read all this codswallop. Frankly I'm embarrassed of the lot of you--or rather embarrassed *for* the lot of you.

tmattimore

Re: Boot Leathers

#85 Post by tmattimore » Wed Oct 29, 2003 5:48 am

D.A.
Well I cheat a little I use 5 crimp screws to crimp my blockers. If you go to my website on the home page is a picture of the board with a leg on it. The older I get the more I try to come up with ways to save my hands. I also dye and wax after I crimp. You can last a lot of chrome tan dry but most of the factories who do use a humid room to hang racks of uppers before lasting and irons to steam the occasinal wrinkle in the treeing room.
I agree with with you on provincialism. I stand in awe of some of the cowboy boots I have seen and consider them to be practical works of art and enjoy reading about the methods employed in making them. Since like Tex I spend more time making shoes and boots then talking about them I find this forum one of the highlights of my day. Just keep in mind that the men who forgot to put a firing step on the back wall of the mission in San Antonio, and the men who first rode the cattle trails out of Texas, The drovers of Australia, The gauchos of Argentina, and the men who rode with Custer all wore boots and shoes made in Randolph, Lynn and Brockton Mass. fifty years before Luchesse made his first pair.
Tmattimore

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Re: Boot Leathers

#86 Post by das » Wed Oct 29, 2003 7:54 am

Tom,

Well-put. I don't want to seem like I'm bashing anybody, or the types of boots they make either; but I'm not hearing the same kind of jingoism from any other quarter. I admire the artistry of cowboy boots too, and the creativity and skill behind them. But in perspective they are a regional style that's only been around in their current form for, what?, 90 years?

We're all feircely proud of work and our traditions, and with good reason. Let's not pick on each other--let's go bash the hobby woodworkers or bead-stringers Image

lim

Re: Boot Leathers

#87 Post by lim » Wed Oct 29, 2003 9:55 am

Tom,

I have no problem with soaking leather, it is the over soaking of leather that creates problems. When I soak to crimp I usually do it for 30 minutes maximum. After years of battling stains, I have become very judicious about how long I soak my boot uppers before I last.

I have read articles and have seen leather that had been underwater for hundreds of years. Carl Lichte in Dallas has some. But, I would be hesitant to use that technique on making boots on a regular basis. Make a pair of white, with dark brown wing tips, beautiful, delicate shoes using leather of contrasting color. As a maker, are you going to take these and soak them for hours? No. You're going to be careful and that's all that I'm stressing is that by over soaking leathers *you* are creating problems that weren't there before.

Lee

lim

Re: Boot Leathers

#88 Post by lim » Wed Oct 29, 2003 9:58 am

DW,

You know as well as I do that's it's kid skin. When I talked about using kid skin in bootmaking, I wasn't referring to using small pieces for inlay purposes. I was talking about the widespread use of kid skin for vamps and tops. If a pair of boots comes up here from the border of Mexico, and they're made entirely of kid skin, I see a boot made of cheap leathers. But, that bootmaker is only charging $200 or $300 for his boots. The flashy boots that you see coming out of the factories that are made entirely of kid skin, I see boots made of cheap leather. Kid skin for ladies pumps, a Lucchese goat skin boots, these shoes and boots will soon be in tatters. Anybody who has worked with kid skin knows it's fragile and should not be used where there is any real stress, vamps or tops. Bottom line, if you're trying to make a good pair of boots, you should use materials that will hold up and that are of good quality. I'm not saying you have to use the most expensive leather on the planet, like our friend the famous bootmaker in California does, but just don't use the cheapest.

Lee

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Re: Boot Leathers

#89 Post by lim » Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:02 am

Al,

I have never quite understood Janne and some of the comments from overseas on dry lasting. So, I don't know if they literally mean dry or misted. Personally, the leather should be wet somehow in my opinion. I don't like to see wisecracks about the dead guys on a pedestal either, but the use of the phrase dead guys itself bothers me and I wish different a phrase could be used in describing them. Maybe something that's a little more respectful.

I have many of the books that the Cordwainers have reprinted and have referred to them over the years. They are a valuable resource. As to the statement about the guild not being a cowboy boot forum, or Texas boot forum, I never viewed it as such. Jannes presence here as well as Frank Jones postings are something that I read with great interest. Having made shoes, hiking boots, riding boots, and many other types of footwear, I know that they're all connected and the cowboy boot is in there too.

Oh, by the way Al, I just received a phone call saying, "Lee you're dead." Are these the kind people that are part of your group?

Lee

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Re: Boot Leathers

#90 Post by sorrell » Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:48 am

Lee,
Hi! It's good to see you...I missed you and Carlyn at Wichita Falls!

I'm curious about your oversoaking comment. Have you had problems with leather simply because it is or has gotten too wet, or are they problems that are a result of too much water too long, like bleeding colors?

I used to soak my boots in a few inches of water in the bottom of a bucket before I lasted them. If I wasn't careful though, the water would move up the side seams and sometimes that would cause the throat to open up too much when I lasted. Then there's always the water spotting problem...

I've changed and now I spray the boots with a mixture of distilled water, alcohol and a drop of dishwashing liquid. I still like them very damp/wet, but I feel I can control better where the water is going.

Lisa

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Re: Boot Leathers

#91 Post by das » Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:52 am

Lee,

Dry-lasting seems to work fine on some leathers, for some guys, but I'm not having much luck with it. Misting, at least, seems the best for light colored or delicate leathers.

I'll 'fess up to "dead guys", as the guy who coined the phrase. I obviously never meant anything negative by it, as you know I'm a total fan of "the dead" [Grateful or otherwise].

As to my comment about the Forum not being a cowboy boots-only forum, I guess there might be a desire, or even a need for a special cowboy boot forum? I don't know. I rather enjoy talking with a wide variety of folks--though I'm still a died-in-the-wool repro-maker.

I don't get your last line. I hope you pressed *69, or had caller ID to find out who did that. If it was anybody we know in the HCC, I'd be shocked. You foolin' around, or what?

lim

Re: Boot Leathers

#92 Post by lim » Wed Oct 29, 2003 10:59 am

Al,
I couldn't agree with you more about respecting the authors who have written books in the past. I enjoy talking to everybody whether it's shoes, boots or whatever.

As to my comment about receiving a death threat on the phone, I was totally serious. I *69 it with no luck, and I don't have collar ID yet.

Lee

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Re: Boot Leathers

#93 Post by lim » Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:05 am

Lisa,
Due to health reasons, I wasn't able to attend. Hopefully, next year I will be able to.

After battling water staining for years, using different methods, I was able to switch with the help of Tex Robin to the current method that I'm using. Since then I have had no problem at all.

I soak, mull, and prepare the hard counter before assembling the boot. I try and do this so that on the same day that I finish the upper, I can last it. The hard counter is very pliable now, and all that's required is spritzing the lining, the underside and the outside of the vamp and counter cover with a solution of water and a drop of ivory dish soap. I'm able to last just as nicely as I did before with no staining. Hope this helps.

Lee

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Re: Boot Leathers

#94 Post by tmattimore » Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:18 am

Lee
Like you I try to last boots right after I turn them. I have found with the veg tan I use if I try to just wet the vamps I get salt stains that short of deglazing won't come out.
As to our competitors from south of the border I have seen some repro boots lately that are all pig skin uppers and linings.
Tmattimore

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Re: Boot Leathers

#95 Post by jake » Wed Oct 29, 2003 11:31 am

Years ago I learned about Ivory dishwashing liquid. Can't remember where I found out about it, but it's suppose to be ph balanced and a bunch of other good stuff, which I can't remember either. Image I used to wash my saddles and tack with it. I remember it made the articles soft, similar to "stretching" fluid.

A few years back while trying to figure out how to crimp full wellingtons, I started using Ivory dishwashing liquid in my water to soak my leather. I was struggling to find a way to make the leather more pliable and forgiving. But anyway, I just squirt a bit in a 5 gallon bucket and fill'er up. I never soak leather longer than the absence of bubbles rising. Of course now, I pretty much don't even look at it. I can guess fairly close. Basically, leather is never soaked more than 5 minutes. I usually place my wet components in a bag to "mull" if needed. Before lasting though, I'll soak the boots in 5 gal buckets to just below the tip of the tongue for about 5 minutes. Then I'll wet the tops good and set the boots (individually) in empty buckets to cure. If the boots touch each other, I found out the hard way it may create a stain where the boots touched. But they may set in the buckets for several hours (3-4). If I think the tops need rewetting to prevent water stains or water migration from the wetter vamps/counter covers, I'll wet them again. After lasting every boot, I'll rub some Lexol Conditioner to help prevent water stains and replace some nutrients back into the leather.

Bottom line, I never soak leather for long periods of time anymore. Just my take on the situation.

lim

Re: Boot Leathers

#96 Post by lim » Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:01 pm

Gary,
Thanks for asking. I did talk about kid skin with an earlier post to DW. Charlie Dunn told me never to use kid skin, except for inlay. And over the years of making boots, I've only used it once in tops because the man insisted that the color was perfect for him. It is a fragile leather and I think we would be better suited to use cow, calf, water buffalo, kangaroo or something that we know that will hold up better.

Lee

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Re: Boot Leathers

#97 Post by dw » Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:16 pm

Actually, I didn't. It's not mentioned anywhere. I suspected, but I was hoping against hope that you had a source for silver kangaroo.

At any rate, I agree about vamps, disagree about tops. And would rather use kangaroo or calf...not cow...if I had any preference at all.

Boots made over 15 years ago...tops, sidewelt and top bead entirely kidskin.
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Re: Boot Leathers

#98 Post by dw » Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:27 pm

Tom,

Do you have a telephone number, etc., for M&T? Would this leather make a good lining for full cuts? Is it expensive...I think I already know the answer to that one.

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Re: Boot Leathers

#99 Post by pablo » Wed Oct 29, 2003 12:48 pm

Mr. Dobbins,
As an addendum to what L.I.Miller wrote, I'll add
what has surfaced on interviews, etc. about Charlie Dunn:
As a 5/6 yr old Dunn was left in the care of the Ed Lewis to apprentice in the trade. Lewis was a parttime repair man and possibly a bootmaker(the
attorney and local historian was unsure of the later as regards Lewis' skill).Lewis was known to conduct the trade in the front room of his house.

Dunn, after being let go by the Capitol Boot Shop in Austin, planned to move into a mobile home across the street from Henry Leopold in Garland,Tx. but Leopold did not accept him into the partnership and the Austin investors sought out Dunn for their boot shop - Texas Traditions.

Two other interviews sighted Dunn as a repairman in central Texas prior to his moving to San Antonio to work near Ft. Sam Houston in repair.

Leopold never heard where Dunn learned bootmaking
and Dunn held Leopold in high regard.

Other than his work at Capitol Boot Shop in Austin, there is no establishment that is known where Dunn received extensive bootmaking experience.

Mr. Frommer,
The shop shown in the Texas Photos was owned and operated by one Gus K. Lange at Alpine, Tx.
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Re: Boot Leathers

#100 Post by gaid » Wed Oct 29, 2003 1:51 pm

Lee,
Well, I'm not an orthodox "dry laster" but I have been learned to last literally dry if possible. That's include veg. tanned stuff too. Sometime I do it the same way you and Tex does. And it have even happend that I have thrown the upper into a bucket of luke warm water for a minute or two. But I guess I dry last something like 2/3 of my shoes and boots. But I'm always crimping the vamp wet. I put it into a bucket of luke warm water for 10-15 minutes.

One of the reason for lasting dry is that it is less risk to end up with a to big upper then with lasting wet because of the increasing stretch in those cases. Another is that when lasting dry there will be no discolorations.

Janne

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