Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 7 August 2015

Carreducker Intensive Shoemaking Course - Days 1 to 4

Welcome back once more, gentle shoe folk of the world.

This week saw the start of the Summer Carreducker Intensive Handsewn Shoemaking course. This is our first intensive course in the new workshop, so it is a bit of a test of the new space.

With five intrepid beginners raring to go (from all corners of the planet ) we started on Monday with knife sharpening and blocking the insoles. This may not sound like much, but this skill is essential to making shoes by hand. A sharp knife is your best friend.

The students also spent time using their newly sharp knives to hand skive toe puffs and heel stiffeners. We use Bakers pit tanned oak bark belly for this.

Day 2

Day two saw the insoles dry and ready to trim. The holdfast or feather was then carefully measured out and cut.

With the holdfast prepared, they made the welting holes with their welting awls.

Day 3

Day was lasting. The students inserted the mellow (damp) stiffeners and got down to some serious tugging with their lasting pliers. We lasted the fore part first. Then pulled the backs down. 

Returning to the fore part, they re-lasted the lining and attached the toe puff. Once this was dry, they shaped it with a rasp so that they were smooth, even, and most importantly, a pair.
With that done, we lasted over the upper and got to some thread making.
We use hemp thread, twist it together and cover it in our own special recipe wax. Nylon bristles are then attached with tar.

Day 4

Day 4 and the pace is good. As is the quality of the work. A very capable group. The day started with preparing the welts. These are Bakers too and they have to create a groove on one side for the stitches to sit in and skive the other side so that it sits flush with the upper.

And so to welting! The best bit I reckon. After a few teething troubles, they settled into a rhythm and did very well. So more of the same on day 5! A great start to the week. Well done, guys.

So there you go, four days of hard work and plenty of learning. All the students are having a great time and are talking about making their second pair after the course which is a very good sign. The shoemakers of the future! More to follow next week...until then happy shoemaking!