Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 26 February 2010

To Tree Or Not To Tree?

Those rather handsome loafers from last week are with our last maker who is making some bespoke shoe trees for them.
Now, when I am talking to clients about their bespoke shoes, I always offer them trees and they often ask me the same question. Why? Why should I have trees?
There are some good reasons. Trees should be of unvarnished wood, the reason being, that when you put your shoes in after wearing them for a day, the perspiration is wicked away by the wood, which has the effect of shrinking the leather back onto the tree, thus preserving the shoes' original shape.
The other main reason is that trees help to prevent creasing across the vamp. This has the advantage of preserving the leather because it is on creases where cracks appear over the years. Creases can also dig into your feet and cause discomfort. Although this is more of a problem in ill fitting shoes. Our beautiful bespoke shoes caress every contour of your feet and crease less (you cannot avoid it completely).
About half our clients opt for trees. Many say they have shop bought ones which will work, but not as well as bespoke ones.

Just received some photos of the Wolf and Badger launch party, and, after an exhausting trawl through them, I have found 2 which are acceptable. As you can see, the shop looks great.

And BTW, I don't normally have 2 drinks on the go, so don't get the wrong idea.

Going back to tools, I have found that new catalogue I mentioned for shoemaking tools. The name of the company is Arford. They seem to have a lot of things, most of what I have covered in fact. I don't know about the quality, but it is quite an exciting find.

Last of the main tools now.

The fudge wheel is used for marking the stitches on the welt, so that when you stitch the sole onto the welt, the stitches are even. There are different sizes, from 6 to the inch up to about 20. The standard is 10, but I use an 8.5 because it is relatively new and the teeth are very sharp, giving a clean deep mark in the leather.

The plough or welt knife has a lot of uses, from cutting the lip off the trimmed insole to cutting off the spare stitch marks on the finished sole edge. While it is very handy, it is possible to use your knife instead. They are available left and right handed.

A seat wheel makes those little lines around the top of the heel. It is purely decorative. However, it does help to finish the seat sharp and the marks can cover a poorly sanded heel (that is not a recommendation!).

Last is the waist iron. Similar to the edge iron, it is used to finish the mythical bevelled waist. It is heated and then it folds the leather up into a smooth, elegant curve. Not essential, as a square waist is always possible.

Until next time, happy shoemaking!