bespoke shoemaking book cover

- Learn to make shoes by hand.
Shoemaking videos

Shoemaking Videos

Here are 3 videos of me lasting up, I made them because if you are working from my book, this is the most crucial stage for you. If you get this right, then the shoe looks good, get it wrong and you may not be able to fix the problem.

This is not the only lasting sequence you can use, but I found that if you follow it, step by step, you should be able to last up neatly. There are many reasons for using this sequence, it is an amalgamation of several different ones, and takes away any mystery of why you do the steps as I lay them out.

Once you are happy with a sequence then stick to it. You will only get better at it.

I was originally taught in England to last standing up and make the pulls in a forward direction, but there was no formula for getting an even pressure and it was hard to get two shoes the same, especially if the vamp leather was more stretchy on one than the other.

George Koleff showed me the sitting down method used in Continental Europe and also the idea of pulling the back down to apply longitudinal pressure. If you place the tip of the vamps exactly the same distance from the feather edge of the toe, and pull the back down, it will give a more precise pressure over the length of the upper, and help achieve two shoes that look the same.

The paste I use for the stiffeners and toe puffs is a cereal based paste, such as wallpaper paste or dextrin but I add PVA woodworking glue to the mixture.

Below are 3 videos I made showing how I last shoes.

Below are videos I made of George Koleff demonstrating how to make some of the tools for shoemaking that may be hard to find now. I used subtitles because the sound quality on the old vhs tapes was not terribly good, and also for those whose first language is not English. At least now the video can be paused long enough to read and understand what is being demonstrated.

If you don't want to, or can't use glue to attach an upper to an insole, this is a method to allow you to that. If you are going to attach a sole with glue though, you need to sand the upper before you sew it, because sanding it afterwards is not practical.

If you want to stitch on a sole without a welt, then George Koleff's inside sewing is a way to achieve this. A Blake stitcher does a similar job, but is not always available.

A scraper is used to clear the surface of an insole or a sole. It is a very simple tool to make, and is also very useful.

Glass can be used to get rid of rasp marks or to reduce thickness of sole leather. To use it, you need to know how to break it so it becomes a tool. If you start with picture glass around 2mm thick it will break easily and allow you to learn, but later 3mm glass will hold it's edge better but not break so readily.

A groover is a must when handsewing, it allows a thread to be embedded in a sole so it doesn't wear. If you want to make a tool precisely for the size of the thread, here is how to do it.

A welt knife is important when finishing sole edges, if you can't find or afford one, this tutorial shows how.

A spirit lamp is used to heat tools such as edge irons for finishing sole edges. This tool is very simple.

George shows how to shape a heel without losing control of your knife. If you have no finisher or just want to do the job as it used to be done before finishers appeared, this video should be useful.