Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Saturday, 20 January 2018

January Intensive Shoe making Course 2018 - Week 2

Hello once more, dear readers, we hope you had a good week and that you have not suffered too greatly waiting for part 2 of our Intensive shoe making Course blog. Read on and enjoy...

Week 1 finished last Saturday with shanks and cork. The students prepared leather shanks and put cork filler in the forepart.

After a much appreciated day off, the students came back on the Monday full of energy and enthusiasm and tackled stitching their soles.

They also made threads using hemp, homemade thread wax and some elbow grease.

Aleksander making a thread

Stitching the sole
Once the sole was stitched, we moved onto heel building using a spit lift (rand) and 2 leather lifts. This is done with paste and nails which are punched below the surface so that the heel lifts can be skived flat.

Checking measures

Valivann balancing the heels

Shaping his heel with the knife

Once the heels were built, the heel breasts cut and the seat trimmed, they attached the top pieces using glue and nails.

Punching a nail

 With the heels built, we moved on to the finishing which is rasping, glassing, sanding and dressing.

Sanding the sole edge

The sole is dressed with polish for a natural finish

Sanding the heel breast

More polish for a natural finish

Burnishing the wax on an inked finish
  Once the finishing was done, we removed the lasts by breaking them on the lasting jack - push!

And here are the finished shoes which we reckon turned out really well. The students would say that despite some struggles and hard moments, the course was a great success. The sense of achievement is amazing when those shoes go on your feet. Fantastic! Well done all of you.

Finished! Nice job Valivann

Beautiful collection of handmade shoes made by the class of January 2018
One happy Russian, well done Aleksanders

Proud shoemakers Rob, Valivann, Pamela, Margot and Melissa

And so it ends. Another course in the bag.

We are running plenty of shoe making courses throughout 2018, so check out the dates and sign up! We are happy to answer questions, so email us at

Until next week, happy shoe making


Anonymous said...

Hi James,

Just wondering, what nails/tacks you guys use for lasting the heel, nailing the welt around the seat, attaching the split lift and heel itself?
What lengths do you use for each application? I assume you want to prevent them from going through to the insole, but how far in do you want them to go if they are to remain in the shoe?

jimmyshoe said...

We use 20mm nails which we knock in and clip depending on how much leather we are nailing through. I like the tips of the nails to just go through the insole so that I know they are very strongly attached