Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Tricks Of The Trade - Split Toe Leather

Greetings once again, dear readers, and welcome back. This is becoming a habit!

This week has seen me add another year to my age which is now looking and feeling considerable. I'm just starting to get that "so much to do, so little time to do it" feeling.

And with that in mind, let's get straight on to all matters shoemaking.

Has this ever happened to you? You are lasting the toes over a toe puff which you have lovingly and painstakingly shaped, smoothed and generally cosseted.

You pull with the lasting pliers and put a few nails in around the toe (as usual) when a sudden and sickening tear appears in the upper, right on the most visible part of the toe. It is just on the skin surface and a little white shows through. Disaster! The upper is ruined and you will need to make a new one (there follows a vile series of curses in the carréducker workshop).

But is it ruined? Perhaps not. Here is what you need to do. Get a piece of thin lining leather, like the kid below.

Cut it to the shape of the upper at the toe with a little overlap on the lasting allowance. Skive it well and down to nothing along the straight edge.

Peel back the upper and put some contact adhesive on both surfaces and let it dry for 10 minutes.

Glue the kid in place so it looks like this.

It should overlap a little like this.

Cover the inside and outside of the upper leather and kid insert with leather stretch (various brands are available, ours is called Gozin). Be very generous with some long lusty squirts as you will need a long stretch here.

Let it soak in completely.

Now, gently start to last the toe again. Pull slowly and add the stretch to the leather slowly and gradually. Pull until the cracks are below the feather edge.

Last as normal all the way to the joint and trim the leather.

Knock down the nails.

Turn the shoe over and make sure that there are no more splits and that you cannot see the line of the kid insert. If you have not skived it well, you will be able to see it.

And there you have it. A perfect looking upper which half an hour ago you had assigned to the spare uppers box. Pretty good, huh?

And that, as they say, is a wrap. Have a wonderful week and, until next time, happy shoemaking.