Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How I made a pair of boots by hand (60 Pics)

Finished boots first
It starts with a wooden last. It's what all the leather is formed on and helps build the shape. Mine have been ground down in certain spots and have leather added around the toe to better fit my foot. Here I place the last on top of a very thick piece of leather used for the sole. Trace out the shape about a half inch bigger then I cut it with a jig saw.
Another piece of leather is cut from a similar but not exactly the same hide. This stuff hasn't been compressed where the soles have. This piece is called the insole and is cut exactly to the outline of the bottom of the last, wet then molded to the last's shape. Then it's nailed on.
Here I measure 3/8" from the outside and use a knife to cut about halfway through, then another angled cut. This is called the channel.
A close up of the channel. The raised part on the outside is called the holdfast.
I mark every quarter to three eighths of an inch around the channel. Then around the heel I use an awl to make holes through the top of the holdfast and out the inside to the channel.
Then around the front, I use the same marks but this time I use the awl to make a hole through one side of the holdfast and out the other.
As the insole dries out, I move on to the upper. Here I'm making a pattern using the last, scrap leather, paper and another pair of boots I made. Every curved piece of leather needs to be drawn out flat, keeping in mind where the leather needs to stretch.
I cut out the lining leather first to make sure that my pattern first the last. Then I trace it again, adding about 1/8" to all dimensions in order to cut out the leather that actually shows. The lining leather is nubuck horsehide and the upper leather is Horween Chromexcel Horsehide
With the upper leather cut out, I first use the tool on the bottom to make an indented groove. Run one side along the outside and press down on the inner side. I make two grooves, one for each row of stitching.

Then I use the middle tool along the groove to mark where the stitches go.

Then finally I use the awl to create each hole.
The vamp (piece that contains the toe) and the heel counter (piece that wraps around the heel) all ready to go.
I join the two pieces together to form the basic shape using glue. On the left is the lining, on the right is the upper. Note how the rough side of the lining is facing out, the grain side is what goes against the foot.
Then I glue the lining to the upper and hand stitch using the holes I marked earlier. Every stitch is a saddle stitch, which means there's two needles on each end of the thread. Run one through the next hole, then the other through the same hole from the other side. Pull tight then repeat. A slow process but much stronger than a normal sewing machine stitch. If one stitch is cut, just that stitch will unravel and not 3-4
The upper is now put on the last, pulled tight and nailed through the insole into the wood. This is to help it form it's shape. This is called lasting. On the left are my lasting pliers, you pull the leather tight with the pliers, hold it down with your thumb then you can place a nail and hammer without needing to change tools.
The initial lasting from above. I haven't pulled it tight enough to get rid of all the wrinkles yet, this is just to get it to remember the basic shape.
Now I cut out the part of the boot that wraps around the ankle, called the shaft. Mark all the holes.
Then I use contact cement to glue on the lining on side at a time. To use contact cement, you brush it on to both pieces, let it dry 10 minutes then join them together. Use a hammer to make sure you get a good bond.
Here I'm testing to see how I want to place the eyelets. They're a little too big so I'll put them in backwards.
Like this
To smooth out the edges, I go over them with a sanding disk on my dremel.
Then I coat the edges in gum tragacanth and rub a piece of wood along the edge in order to seal all the fibers. Not pictured but after this I sewed the shaft on to the rest of the upper.
I had glued the lining to the shaft, but I didn't glue the lining around the heel. This is because I cut a piece of thicker leather scrap to insert there to provide reinforcement. Here I'm cutting the excess off.
Now I'm sewing around the heel. I'm using the holes I cut earlier in the holdfast.
I'm using thicker thread and curved needles. I use the lasting pliers and temporary nails again to pull everything tight.

Note why I cut the holes through the top of the holdfast. It's because this thread will end up under the heel and not visible from the outside. I'm just sewing around the heel for now.
Using the flat faced french hammer to smooth out the small ridges and bumps.
Using a french edger to flatten out the insole here. A knife could also be used.
A stop to admire progress.
Now I start on the toe. Use the lasting pliers and temp nails to pull everything tight. Start with a nail at the toe, and one on each side. Then a nail in between each of the gaps, then another between gaps, etc
This is why you need a lot of nails. This ridge was created between two spots where the upper was pulled.
I grip the leather on the ridge and use the hammer part on the lasting pliers to create a fulcrum. Don't pull too tight though since the leather can tear.
On the smaller ridges I use the hammer again to smooth it out.
I keep working until everything is tight.
After this picture was taken, I had a change of mind and decided I wanted a cap toe. So I undid the work in the last few pics, stitched on a cap toe and re-lasted.
After letting it sit for a few days to keep it's shape, I pull a few nails and start sewing around the from 180 degrees. I use an awl to poke the upper and then through the holes I created earlier. The hole goes in straight from the side.
Here is a saddle stitch in progress. One needle goes in the hole, then the other needle goes in from the other side. Pull them through, then pull tight to make sure each stitch is tight. Most of the times, the needle goes through the other thread which helps lock everything together. This combines with the wax on the thread which gets melted by pulling it through the hole which then re-solidifies.
There's many types of stitched shoe construction. I'm doing a Norvegese which is characterized by the stitch out the side of the upper.
An element of Norvegese construction is a stitchdown. In order to stitch through the sole, I fold out of the excess leather of the upper where the norvegese stitch is. This is after I trimmed away the lining leather.
A close up of the norvegese stitch from the insole.
Use the hammer to smooth out the ridges.

I started this pair without any machines but I found this on ebay for a crazy low price so I had to buy it. It's a Landis 5 in 1. It's powered by the hand crank on the right and it cuts, skives, bevels and compresses leather. It's very useful helps do things quicker but it's not completely necessary in order to make your own pair of shoes.
Here I use the 5 in 1 to cut two small pieces of thick leather, same as I used for the insole. You can see where it's tapered, this is known as skiving. On the right of the pic slightly out of focus and between the two wheels is the skiving blade of the 5 in 1. The wheels feed the leather through the angled blade.
The two pieces in the previous picture are the shank. They provide arch support and structure to the boot.
Then I cut out the shank cover from the same leather as the sole.

The small piece of broken glass near the top of the pic is used to remove the top layer of grain from the leather. This prevents squeaks which happen when two pieces of top grain leather slide across each other.
Skived along the edges.
First I glued the shank into place, here I'm about to bond the shank cover.
Now to the front of the boot, I use scrap leather to fill in the channel of the insole.
Then I place a layer of cork. This provides cushioning and will eventually mold to my foot.
The boots sitting on the soles I cut out earlier.
I made this simple jig to support the boot upside down. I then glued on sole and hammered it on. This molded it to the shape of the bottom of the boot.
I stitched around the toe, through the upper I had folded out earlier and through the sole. Then around the heel I use solid brass which go through the sole, through the shank cover and through the insole. The bottom of the last here has a metal plate which will fold the point of the nails over, cinching everything together.

The hammer I'm using here has indents in it's face which helps when hitting in these tiny nails.

I use brass nails since these are inside the shoe and won't be corroded by sweat or any water that might get in.
Now I place the rubber sole over the midsole, glue and hammer it on.
I use the welt roller on the 5 in 1 to compress the edges of the sole, bonding them together. The crank turns the wheel below the sole, feeding it along while the flat wheel above has tension pulling it down.
I stitched around the toe for the final time, from the beginning of one side of the heel to the other, so a little longer than the previous two stitches. This part was not fun at all, very tedious and I got a few blisters.
Used the welt roller one last time to make sure the stitchdown is flat.
A VERY sharp knife is needed to trim the excess sole away.
Skived a thick piece of leather in a U shape and glued it on the heel. This is to ensure the pieces of leather I used to build up the heel have a flat surface to bond to. I added two more layers of leather, then a rubber heel.
I nailed on the heel. The rubber will likely need replacing before the nails corrode so it's ok to use steel here. For the finishing touches I sanded down the edges of the sole, sewed on the tongue (which still needs to be trimmed) and added laces.
Finished picture
Rear view. 

0 comments:

Post a Comment