Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 19 February 2010

The Crown Jewels

Lovely week - drenched twice with freezing rain; nursing a sick house; and the huge disappointment of the mail on Sunday blowing us out. Outrageous! Plus the galling fact that the Other One was right - again.

Onwards and upwards. Weekend after next, we are both going to the Independent Shoemakers Conference. We have not been before, but are looking forward to it. Especially the workshop on polishing and cleaning. An area where we could improve. I have a problem with polishing shoes and I am not alone. I love the result, but the process? Having finished a pair, it's the last thing I want to do. Maybe it would be better to leave it a few days and approach it as a totally new job.
I have just finished a pair of really handsome dark brown loafers in a wonderful Freudenberg grain calf. Contrast hand stitching on the uppers. Really very lovely shoes. And I am going to follow my own advice - let them 'rest' on the last over the weekend and clean/polish them on Monday

Now, last week we looked at the tools of the trade and we covered the fairly easy ones to source.
There are, however some that are much harder to find which are specific to shoemaking. These are the edge irons, fudge wheels, ploughs etc. Some can be done with other tools, but some are just indispensable.

Edge irons are used at the point when you have glassed and sanded the edges and you are ready to set them. This involves running a warmed iron around the edge which compacts it and hardens it.

You should monitor ebay; look in junk/antique shops; carboot/yard sales. There are some places which do new ones but I have not heard good reports. But, in this case, needs must.
One is Minke in Germany. Barnsley could help (see last week's post). C.S Osborne & Co in the States might help
Edge irons are essential, so be diligent when looking. Very often you find them in a battered, rusty state. You can remove the rust with abrasive paper and it is important that the part between the lips is as smooth as you can make it.
Also, the 2 grooves at the base of the lips needs to be clean and deep. To smarten up an old tool, get a junior hacksaw blade and hammer it flat on a metal surface. Then you can file the grooves to open them up and clean them.
The grooves create a defined line on the top and bottom edges.

More tools next week and another possible link which I can't find at the moment.

Happy shoemaking