Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Mid-summer Midsoles

So here we are, Friday morning, my last day of freedom, ha ha. Tomorrow is the big day, and what better way to distract myself than doing a blog post. Indeed.

We have announced another course date for January 2011. We had a rush of people who wanted to do the summer course and we had to turn a lot away, so, being kindly old shoemakers, we did not want to let them down. Call or email for more details.

00 44 (0)20 78130093

We are also in the middle of pricing up the shoe making packs for people to make at home (this will include, a pair of lasts, uppers and all the leather you need). So watch this space.

This week I made a pair of bespoke shoes with a feature not often included, a light square waist. This is where the waist gets thinner from the joint back to the heels. There are two ways to do it. Most common is to skive the sole thinner. With very thick sloes, it is more common to put in a midsole. And this is how you do it.

Once you have trimmed the welt, mark a point just behind the joint.

Then mark a second line 5/8" behind, towards the heel. Do both shoes.

The midsole is a piece of second grade soling or insoling leather. Soak it and let it go mellow (about 85% dry). Lay the shoe on the midsole and draw round it making sure you mark the two joint points.

Then draw a rough margin around giving yourself about 1/4" to play with. Cut out the midsoles.

On the flesh side, mark the second joint point as a straight line across the midsole. This where you have to skive it to the edge to nothing. This edge gives you the area where the transition from full thickness to half thickness soles happens.

Glass the skin side to avoid cracks and squeaks.

Glue the skin side of the midsole and the corresponding side of the shoe with contact adhesive. Leave it for ten minutes and glue them together.

Using a sleeking bone or similar tool, flatten down the welt to ensure a good bond.

Hammer gently all the way round. Gently!

Trim off the excess with a sharp knife. Make sure the cut is straight down, not angled outwards or under the shoe.

Now you prepare the sole as normal, glue it on and stitch it.

These two shots show the finished sole. You can see the transition at the joint. I like the look. It softens a square waist and makes it look a little more elegant.

And that, as they say, is that. Next week I am on holiday in Venice, so back in two. Until then, happy shoemaking.