Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 1 February 2013

Shoemakers' Grease

Welcome back, dear shoe people of the world. Another week in the busy life of two shoemakers.

Part of the reason we do the blog is to pass on our knowledge which we acquired over a number of years from a master shoemaker. Now, obviously, most of what he taught us was the mechanics of shoemaking - lasting, welting, heel building, etc. But every now and then he would share the more arcane secrets of the shoemakers' lore. And today, it is your good fortune to have access to a little of this knowledge.

This information will apply to those of you who use bristles when you stitch, either boars bristles (the purists among you) or nylon bristles. However, it could apply to those of you who use needles.

The greatest problem with either way of stitching is attaching the bristle/needle to the thread and keeping it on. As you pull each stitch, there is a great pressure exerted. So you need a good way of attaching it, but you also need to make the passage of the thread through the holes as easy as possible, and this is where the great secret I am about to share with you comes into play - shoemakers' grease.

Some of the products we use are easy to find and others require a bit of searching for. Luckily for you, shoemakers' grease is the easiest product to find. You produce it every day.

Here is how you use it. After attaching your bristles or needles in the normal way, take your bristles or needles and press them into the side of your nose where it meets your cheeks. Give them a good coating. There is a second source of the grease which is just above the eyebrows. Both work very well.

If you are going to use the shoemakers' grease, you need to bear in mind a couple of things. One, don't use your thumb or index finger to put it on because this will make the bristle slippery and difficult to grip. Two, only put the grease on the back end of the bristle, for the same reason - you don't want to get the grease on the bristles/needles themselves near to where you grip them

And there you have it. This may seem a bit gross, but it works and it's free!

Let us know how you get on with it

Until next week, happy shoemaking!