Great Leather!

Got any great sources for leather? Tools? Machinery? Looking for sources?
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Re: Great Leather!

#701 Post by anakim » Fri Jan 30, 2015 8:33 am

I just studied with Nasser last summer. I have been making some fitters and want to start practicing my inseaming. I am in Spain and wondering where to look for insoling/soling and welting in Europe. I don't want crap leather, as I am serious about learning properly and I've set my aims high. But I am just starting out and my skills may be totally wasted on Baker or Rendenbach leather.
Does anyone have a recommendation? Perhaps quality leather like this is the only way to go, as otherwise it might be too hard to work with? Is there something intermediate?
Supposedly I can get some 6mm soling from a Spanish supplier who said that it could be used for hand sewing (actually, I guess the insoling is even more important...) but I'm not sure if I should trust their quality - a lot of factory work in the vicinity and the only bespoke makers are dubious - like somebody wanting to sell hand welted shoes for 150€.

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Re: Great Leather!

#702 Post by dw » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:42 am

I, personally, don't care for the Rendenbach shoulder--it's too flinty and too thin for my tastes.

If you're in Europe, the Baker is the way to go. Again, it's worth remarking that soling leather is not what you want for insoles. DAMHIKT. You want shoulder--word to the wise.

Nasser uses (last I heard) an insole shoulder that comes out of Mexico that is better than it seems. Didn't you use that when you were working with him?

If you are serious, it is never a waste to work with good leather...just the opposite, in fact.
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Re: Great Leather!

#703 Post by lancepryor » Fri Jan 30, 2015 12:05 pm

I would agree that using a good insole shoulder is money well spent. I started out using lesser quality stuff, and the time spent trying to pre-hole the leather and/or dealing with a holdfast that has torn through/ripped out during inseaming made me regret that choice. I really like the Baker insole leather, but I also have tried the Rendenbach and found it good (though I think I would stick with the Baker). You can purchase pre-cut insole strips (each insole strip is good for a pair of insoles) from Baker, so it needn't be a huge investment.

If you put any value on the time you will invest in any pair of shoes you make, then I think using high quality materials is actually sort of a no-brainer.

Lance

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Re: Great Leather!

#704 Post by john_ralston » Fri Jan 30, 2015 1:14 pm

dw » Tue Jan 27, 2015 8:07 pm wrote:I don't use much shark..but maybe Kelly-Larson? Last I knew they carried Klein Karoo ostrich, and elephant. Exotics...so they might have shark as well.

Worth a call, at any rate.
Thanks DW - I'll give them a call.

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Re: Great Leather!

#705 Post by anakim » Sun Feb 01, 2015 5:21 am

Thank you DW and Lance. That is exactly what I was wondering. I will invest in some Baker, then. Yes, I used the nice stuff Nasser was using, and I bought some insole from them myself when I was at home in Canada, (they had no soling at the time) but didn't bring it with me in my suitcase. The reason I asked is because if Warkov Safeer (not such a famous name) exists and has decent leather, then perhaps there might be something like that over here. Finding it would be the problem though. I do realise insole and soling are different, but thanks for mentioning it, just in case!
P.S. I found a list of what seems to be all the tanneries in the whole of Europe, everything from tiny ones with 1-10 employees to the large ones. www.euroleather.com.

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Re: Great Leather!

#706 Post by lancepryor » Mon Feb 02, 2015 6:35 am

I imagine there must be a few others, for example perhaps an Italian tannery?

Here is a French tannery whose insole leather I believe Janne Melkersson has used in the past:

http://www.tannerie-garat.com/sole-leather

I recall that Janne liked the leather, but I have no knowledge of its pricing or availability.

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Re: Great Leather!

#707 Post by dw » Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:11 am

The list of European tanneries anakim mentioned is in the database...for those interested in looking for further information.

I might also mention that I use Masure outsoling. It's a Belgian chestnut tannage, has a nice temper and wears well, and it finishes up very nicely too.

So there you have three really good sources for outsoling in Europe.
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Re: Great Leather!

#708 Post by LarryPeterson » Mon Feb 02, 2015 8:37 pm

I want to re-affirm the wisdom in using High end Leather, especially for the in-sole. I owe a great deal of thanks to Lance Pryer and D.W. who put togather an import purchase several years ago from the Baker Shoe Company for shoulders. I am down to my last shoulder and I am so "spoiled" that I don't know if I will be able to go back to the local sources. The Baker folks indicated that they kept the hide in the bark tan for an entire year before processing. They also indicate in their advertizing that they make shoes to last for 25 years. The shoes and boots that I have made for mysaelf and family members only get better with age. If I were to ever teach a student, I would emphasize and teach the wisdom of using only the finest materials available. There is an increase in cost, but compared to the end product, there is no comparison. Thanx again to D.W. and lance Pryer!

Larry peterson

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Re: Great Leather!

#709 Post by creuzy » Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:02 pm

For those that aren't aware of it, Lisa Sorrell sells Baker leather on her findings & notions site (http://www.customboots.net/customboots. ... _home.html).

And Matt at Maverick Leather has shark listed on his site.

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Re: Great Leather!

#710 Post by anakim » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:40 am

Thanks again. I really appreciate everyone's input and am so thankful you take the time to help out new people! I've taken note of the French tannery and of Masure.

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Re: Great Leather!

#711 Post by john_ralston » Thu Mar 12, 2015 7:56 am

Still having little to no luck finding good sized Shark Hides (I am making belts).

Anyone have info on where Loy landed? A number for him? Couldn't even take a guess on how to spell his last name.

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Re: Great Leather!

#712 Post by tmattimore » Fri Mar 13, 2015 4:37 am

Between the earthquake in Japan and the addition of 5 species of shark to CITES in 2013 shark has gotten scarce. There is pressure to add all species of shark to the list.
http://www.cites.org/eng/prog/shark/sharks.php

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Re: Great Leather!

#713 Post by dw » Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:42 am

All,

I have just received an email from Jay Hardtke and thought I would pass it on:

Peter & I have a new company, Hardtke Leather Company, and are taking orders and shipping. A web site is in process with all the new contact information, in the meantime, the best way to contact is by email:

Jay Hardtke
cel. 915 274 6726
jay.hardtke@gmail.com

Peter Hardtke
cel. 915 588 0123
phardtke@hardtkeinc.com

For your reference, the articles we continue to offer are:

Kangaroo. Italian, Finesse, Brush Off & Drum Stuffed

Buffalo Calf. Florance & Kasur

Cow Calf. Full French Calf & Classic Vitellino Baby Calf, both from same Italian tannery as the aniline kangaroo, plus we will have Venus Calf as well.

Spanish Sides. We have an article that we are now introducing that is a very natural, soft side leather appx. 1.6mm in a few colors.

Shrunken Leather. Taurus Shoulders and Ruat Sides from Spain.

Spanish Veg Tan Shoulders. Light weight natural for tooling and heavy weight for belts and belt lining.

We also will have cow and pig linings on hand in several colors.

In addition we can offer very fine quality exotics. Alligator, Crocodile, Ostrich, Python and Lizard.

There is still a large amount of inventory in El Paso. Items that will be discontinued are being sold at a discount.
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Re: Great Leather!

#714 Post by seraph » Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:27 am

Hi all,

I'm a bootmaker (hand-welted) in Australia, looking to start working with Baker instead of the locally available component leather.

I am placing an order asap, but having some difficulty getting an answer on the below questions (the time difference in Australia makes it a bit challenging getting a reply phonecall).

Hoping someone familiar with their product can help me out, I've been through all related threads to do my research; I've picked up some great info (which I'm very grateful for), but I'd love a few definitive answers.

Much appreciated, thank you in advance.

In terms of Baker's cut selection (full cut soles and insoles), is the difference between grades mainly cosmetic flaws, or leather quality also?

For toe boxes and heel stiffeners, what difference/reasoning is there between using the shoulders and bellies?

Regarding insole shoulders, would you recommend rolled or unrolled for hand-welting?

What would you recommend for midsoles? (approx. 4.5-5.5 iron required)

Do the precut soles (10-12 iron) come in a choice of rolled or unrolled, and is rolled suitable for cutting a closed channel by hand? N.B - I always use a sole press to attach the sole, and prefer not to hammer the sole (apart from when closing the channel)

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Re: Great Leather!

#715 Post by dw » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:23 am

Welcome to the CC, seraph.

I'm out in Oregon...nearly as far away from England as you are. I know the difficulties you are experiencing.

I make boots and shoes, as well, and I think, esp. when it comes to insole shoulder, there is no better leather in the world than Baker. That said, I have never used anything but prime, as far as I know. All the Baker I ever bought was bought direct. When I ordered, I only ordered prime and I have no reason to think it wasn't. So I cannot speak to grades.

Toe boxes / heel stiffeners...For shoes, I don't think there is much reason not to uses shoulder or belly providing that you are careful where you cut. Loose leather can occur nearly anywhere on the hide but more likely in the belly and shoulder. Other than that I cut toe and heel stiffeners where I can.

I have never heard of nor seen rolled shoulders coming from Baker. Not saying they don't do them but I would not use rolled anything for insole. I think the potential for forming a footbed would be severely impacted...negatively...if the leather was rolled. Personally, I wouldn't use any outsoling, either...rolled or not...for insoles. That said, many do, esp. manufacturers, if only because finding good insole shoulder is difficult.

Midsoles...I don't use them often, but if I did, I would cut midsoles from outsoling and split to the required substance.

In contrast to insole shoulders, I am not aware that any modern outsole leather is not rolled. That said I do not use cut soles. Nor much Baker for outsoling, for that matter. I like the chestnut tanned Belgian Masure outsole leather--I think it finishes up better than Baker. Nothing wrong with Baker outsole, though...I have some in my shop and use it occasionally but I'm not real experienced with it.

Closed channel work is not easy in any leather that is suitable for outsole--if the leather is soft enough to channel easily, it will not be "tough" enough to wear well. And vice-versa. It just takes patience and a sharp knife.

Hope that helps....
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Re: Great Leather!

#716 Post by lancepryor » Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:00 pm

Hi Seraph:

Welcome to the Colloquy.

I have some experience with the Baker insole shoulders, outsole bends, and the various pre-cuts options as I have mentioned previously.

The insole strips come buffed, with the grain sanded off. Each insole strip can provide a pair of insoles. These are generally good, but you will find that the thickness and stiffness can vary a bit across the strip. When I experience this, I place the thinner/softer portions in the area under the heel, so that I won't be inseaming there, and/or position the insole so I don't use the softer or thinner area. Relative to the insole shoulders I bought, the strips are not as thick, but I think the shoulders I received were thicker than specified. With the shoulders, you're paying by the pound, so a thicker insole shoulder costs you more per square foot. If you don't need the thickness, this ends up being sort of a waste of money if you have to thin the insole.

The outsole strips each accommodate one shoe but are provided in pairs pretty much matched for thickness. I have had no complaints about the outsole strips, though orienting the strips (which end should go under the heel and which in the forefoot) is something you will probably want to do, as thickness and stiffness can vary a bit along the length of the strip. I have had no problem doing a closed channel with the Bakers; when properly mulled, it cuts smoothly and pretty easily, assuming a sharp knife and a steady hand.

I have only used the toe puff, stiffener, and welt strips. The first two of these have been pretty uniformly excellent. The welt strips can vary a bit, but I am happy with them. The latter are pretty inexpensive, so you could order extra of these to give you a broader selection from which to choose.

They also sell heel lift strips, which can be nice as the finished edges should closely match the edge of the outsoles. Each heel lift strip can provide 4 heel lifts, IIRC.

The benefit of the strips is shipping efficiency. The bends/shoulders are bulky and pretty difficult to ship, unlike the strips. Plus, you are paying to ship parts that you may not use, but of course you do have more flexibility in where to cut.

Hope that help.

Lance Pryor

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Re: Great Leather!

#717 Post by seraph » Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:19 am

DW and Lance,

Thanks for the warm welcome, and for your comprehensive help.

DW,

Reading your comments has confirmed what I had suspected on most points, and in my (modest) experience have found to be the case. Thank you for your opinion; it makes me more confident that I'm not going crazy! The two things that made me question what I believed were:

1) The below quote from das, posted in Re: Cutting the insole Fri Dec 05, 2014 11:14 pm

"Terry is spot on here about suppliers and exact materials. Bakers insole shoulders and outsole bends have always come in grades A,B,C, soft-rolled or hard-rolled, grain buffed-off or left on, and "rejects" (fine leather but the grain color is dark and mottled). If you shave the grain off with broken glass anyway, "rejects" are perfectly fine and cheaper. If you take to beating-out you can order "soft rolled" (NB--hard rolled Bakers soling can be as hard/flinty as J. R Rendenbach, which is a bugger to hand-stitch)."

and

2) Receiving a pricing list from Bakers, that listed:

Blocking and Insole Shoulders - Rolled or Unrolled
Prices for Grade 1 Selection and Grade 2 Selection

I'm guessing that what their list implies is the options of 'hard-rolled or soft-rolled' (as has been the case when I've ordered horse shoulders for welting from the US)...

So unless Das can weigh in here with some additional info, I understand you would recommend soft-rolled insole shoulder for insoles, and hard-rolled outsole bends for soling (if I'm not beating out)?

For heel stiffener, do you prefer belly or shoulder, and is there any reason for either choice?

Thanks for the advice about the Belgian outsoling...definitely something I will look into.

Lastly, since I don't have a splitter, could I use insole shoulder for midsoles?

Lance,

Thanks for such in-depth information! Very helpful.

So when ordering the precut selection, from what you've said it sounds like it isn't possible to request the same options as if ordering whole shoulders or bends (apart from nominating iron thicknesses)? Ie Hard-rolled or soft-rolled, grades, stiffener shoulder or belly...

Can you order different iron thicknesses in the heel lift strips?

Finally, have either of you found any of the leather you received to be unusable? I was anticipating ordering about 10% above what I need to be safe...

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Re: Great Leather!

#718 Post by lancepryor » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:41 am

Seraphin:

I don't know whether such a variety of options is available in the strips. I would think you could specify thickness in the insole/outsole options, but I cannot say definitively. To my knowledge, the heel lifts only come in one thickness, likewise the counters, toe puffs, and welt strips. I've never found any unusable, perhaps the welt strips and the insole strips being the most variable.

Notwithstanding the time difference, I would recommend calling and speaking with Andrew Parr, once you are more or less ready to order. He is the owner, and I think he could provide the most detailed answers to your questions and perhaps arrange to pick the specific pieces if you go for strips vs. shoulders/butts.

If you do order, please let us know how it turns out.

Lance

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Re: Great Leather!

#719 Post by dw » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:15 am

Well, in the 40+ years I've been in the Trade, I've used a lot of different leather for insoles and outsoles, stiffeners, etc.. But DAS is the one who originally opened my eyes to the real differences and the real reasons to prefer one over the other. So you can't go wrong with his advice. He's been using Baker longer and more consistently than I have, as well. And Lance...with his frequent trips to England for mentoring...certainly knows more about what is available than I do.

All that said and all other things being equal, I would personally prefer softer over harder for insoles. So I would not ever knowingly order or use hard rolled shoulder. I occasionally use some insole material that is not rolled at all. It's not Baker. And to many it seems almost too soft. But if the corium is reasonably intact and the structural integrity there, it is actually pretty nice to work with. It cuts beautifully, holds the stitch well and makes a wonderful footbed. And it seems to firm up somewhat when tempered and formed to the bottom of the last.

The literature seems to suggest that Traditionally and historically, belly was used for insole...and welt and stiffeners. But if you buy a bend of outsoling, for instance the real belly has usually been trimmed off already. Which begs the question---where does one buy belly? Also, I think belly would be more inconsistent in terms of thickness and temper than shoulder. I'm speculating when I say this...again I've never tried to buy belly per se and have no real experience with it.

I'd prefer rolled outsole for midsole over shoulder. And I take my toe and heel stiffeners from shoulder and split them to the substance I want. The split-off pieces I use for build-ups on lasts.

If you don't have a splitter, you're going to be forced to stock more leather--different thicknesses--that may not be used on a regular basis. That's cash that is tied up and of no use. Do-able but not very practical in my opinion.

Or you can learn to "split"...reduce the substance...with a hand held shoemaker's knife--like a veneer knife. DAS does that regularly.

One final observation--just a general remark not directed at anyone but perhaps apropos nonetheless--depending on your ultimate goals...whether this is just a hobby or something one intends to pursue for a lifetime and / or what level of mastery you striving for...there are very good reasons to cut different pieces of the shoe from very specific portions of the hide. In fact, there are very good reasons for most of the Traditional choices that a shoemaker makes.

The right tool for the job, the right leather for the use.

A student can never learn what a joy it is to inseam...or even really how to inseam properly...if he is inseaming into an insole of hard rolled outsoling. DAMHIKT. And it's only made worse, if one mistakenly thinks that this is a necessary approach for the sake of frugality.

If 10,000 years of shoemaking evolution has taught us anything it is that casting around for cheaper, faster, easier ways of doing things (rather than objectively "better" ways) only leads to a dumbing down of the skills and the Trade.
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Re: Great Leather!

#720 Post by dw » Wed Aug 05, 2015 9:16 am

PS...the best heel lifts are those taken from hard rolled outsole bend--there are always pieces that are more or less odds and ends and you don't really have to use #1 prime for heel lifts, esp. if you are willing to "hammer jack" (beat out) them to further harden them.

That said, I buy cosmetically flawed, extra hard rolled bends (at a discount) from Keystone or Milton-Sokol (can't remember which) for heel stacks.
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Re: Great Leather!

#721 Post by das » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:46 am

Up until maybe 15 years ago, Baker's was the first choice only for insole shoulders. The only other surviving UK pit-tanner, Croggon's (1711-2002), also out in the West Country in Grampound, Cornwall made the best sole bends, somehow denser and firmer than Baker's.

DW's covered most bases well here, but I'll add: " Or you can learn to "split"...reduce the substance...with a hand held shoemaker's knife--like a veneer knife. DAS does that regularly." isn't quite right. All I do is shave off the loose flesh with a little push-skive knife, which only removes a few thousandths of pasted-down flesh "fuzz" like strips of loose paper, which if left on turns into a hairy looking mess after soaking. This connective tissue has no structural integrity and mostly gets in my way making the holdfast, channeling and welt-sewing. So, I'm not really altering the thickness or splitting per se. Like butchers sell meat, tanners sell leather by the pound, so the more "fat" they leave on.... you get it?

With Baker's insole shoulders, I get ask for 6-7 iron. Out towards the edges they drop off in substance, while up closer to each side of the spine (never cut right into the 3-4" spine strip for insoles--it's too hard, good for shank-pieces, etc.) the thickness increases a lot, so you'll get a range of insoles thickness-wise. I "book-match", pair 1 from opposite edges, pair 2 in from 1, etc. Usually get 9 pairs of rough-cut generic sized insoles from one shoulder, and I cut it up all at once, flesh-off the backs (dry), buff-off the grain (broken glass at work--belt sander at home) then sort and pair-up (number with chalk) the insoles to matched pairs in substance/fiber density/flexibility for later use. Wasteful? Perhaps, but better than cutting 3 pair until you find the "best" pair for that special customer.

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Re: Great Leather!

#722 Post by dw » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:53 am

das » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:46 am wrote: I'll add: " Or you can learn to "split"...reduce the substance...with a hand held shoemaker's knife--like a veneer knife. DAS does that regularly." isn't quite right. All I do is shave off the loose flesh with a little push-skive knife, which only removes a few thousandths of pasted-down flesh "fuzz" like strips of loose paper, which if left on turns into a hairy looking mess after soaking. This connective tissue has no structural integrity and mostly gets in my way making the holdfast, channeling and welt-sewing. So, I'm not really altering the thickness or splitting per se. Like butchers sell meat, tanners sell leather by the pound, so the more "fat" they leave on.... you get it?

With Baker's insole shoulders, I get ask for 6-7 iron.
Oh! My mistake. You sent me a pair of insoles some time ago that I thought sure you had said you "pared" down to thickness. They looked to be about 9-10 iron (close to what I usually use) and had started out life at about 11 iron...sure enough they had no / nada / zero fuzz on the flesh side. That said, they had some slight divots in the flesh which confirmed my (apparently mistaken) impression that they had been hand split and made me shake my head in amazement and wonder if I could ever be that steady.

My apologies...time and memory are not often boon companions much less faithful lovers.
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Re: Great Leather!

#723 Post by seraph » Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:22 pm

dw » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:15 am wrote:One final observation--just a general remark not directed at anyone but perhaps apropos nonetheless--depending on your ultimate goals...whether this is just a hobby or something one intends to pursue for a lifetime and / or what level of mastery you striving for...there are very good reasons to cut different pieces of the shoe from very specific portions of the hide. In fact, there are very good reasons for most of the Traditional choices that a shoemaker makes.

The right tool for the job, the right leather for the use.

A student can never learn what a joy it is to inseam...or even really how to inseam properly...if he is inseaming into an insole of hard rolled outsoling. DAMHIKT. And it's only made worse, if one mistakenly thinks that this is a necessary approach for the sake of frugality.

If 10,000 years of shoemaking evolution has taught us anything it is that casting around for cheaper, faster, easier ways of doing things (rather than objectively "better" ways) only leads to a dumbing down of the skills and the Trade.
DW, Lance and Das,

Thanks for your replies, sorry my response is so late, its been a hectic few weeks.

DW,
With regards to your quote above, I couldn't agree more. I believe (in my case) if you use the best materials available, you can at least be sure that anything left wanting in the final result is down to the maker's skill; I hate to wonder whether my technique is solid and the raw material is letting me down. Like starting out with a blunt knife... :brickwall:

Also I hear you regarding the specific choice of materials and technique...it baffles me when I speak to fellow shoemakers who believe that being deliberate with materials, or doing things the proper (not the fastest) way is just being "fussy" or pretentious...Whether hobby or professional, I guess I don't see the point in doing things by half (especially if it's just to make a better profit margin). I'm grateful to this forum for providing a space where aspiring to excellence is encouraged.

I guess when I speak to Andrew I will find out whether their pre-cut toe puffs are from belly or shoulder, and I'll eventually report back on how it was to work with. It would be my guess that some makers may choose belly for toe puff to get a 'softer' set puff than if using shoulder in same thickness, following this theory, the skived transition across the vamp could be softer and less likely to be noticeable to the foot (notwithstanding the correct application and thickness of paste in that area).

Thank you for all of the other points you've mentioned, which I've noted.

Lance,

Thank you for clarifying on choices available, that's exactly what I was after.
I will certainly report on how it goes with the order, and if I get an audience with Andrew. Fingers crossed! I'll certainly keep trying.

Das,

Yes I've found most insoling has a decent amount of fuzz to be skived away, so I know what you mean, thanks though for confirming.

Some really helpful info about the insoling, especially the placement (toe or heel) depending on density and quality. I'll definitely bear this in mind when using the Bakers. I reckon I will buy the strips due to freight cost, but I'm sure much of the same considerations will apply.

alexneviani
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Re: Great Leather!

#724 Post by alexneviani » Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:23 am

Good morning, I'm desperately trying to get a hold of rendenbach soles and insoles either pre cut or whole bends. I'm barely starting out in the shoe making business but I want the highest quality. Can anyone give me a clue as to where to look here in the united states? or anyone here has some rendenbach leather that they'd be willing to sell me? Thanks!

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dw
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Re: Great Leather!

#725 Post by dw » Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:59 am

alex,

Rendenbach outsoles are usually pretty available in the US--www.leatherandgrindery.com carries JR outsoles as well as bends, for instance.

But I don't know anywhere you can get Rendenbach pre-cut insoles or insole shoulders here. Insole shoulders are a problem simply because most domestic and RTW makers have gone to "insole bends."

FWIW, bends are never suitable for insoles....IMO.
DWFII--HCC Member
Without "good" there is no "better," without "better," no "best."
And without the recognition that there is a hierarchy of excellence in all things, nothing rises above the level of mundane.

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