Monday, February 10, 2014

Insoles, home-made tools, and a foul epoxy smell

My box from Baltor & Sons arrived today (yay!).  Turns out they tried to deliver it on Friday, but I wasn't home, and didn't see the sticker they put on the front door.  Note to self:  B&S ships with a "signature required", so have them deliver it to work.

This means I now have my tacks, soling, and Hirschkleber - a special elk-hoof glue from Europe.  This is the one place I know of in the U.S. that will sell you an 8oz jar of it, rather than a gallon bucket.  It's used to stiffen the counter (a piece of leather that goes in the back of the shoe). 

Also today, I spent a little under $20 and made myself a lasting stand. 

This would be a piece of scrap wood, with a threaded plumbing flange screwed on.  The pipe is a 2' piece of threaded 1/2" steel pipe (I'll need to cut it down about 8" when I'm ready to start lasting, as it's too tall for that currently.)  The pin is a 1/2" x 5" bolt, with the bolt head ground down to fit in the pipe, a 1/2" nut half way up, and the top end with the threads ground off.  It fits the pin holes on my lasts beautifully.  I have a spare bolt, in case I need to make a second pin of a different diameter.
I glued the celtec insole to the shank board, and tacked it back onto the last.  Now that I have tacks, this is much easier to do.

Next thing to do was to cut the fiberglass shank to size, and glue it to the bottom of the insole.  The tape on the ends is to keep the liquid activator from leaking out.  This stuff is available from Georgene at - otherwise, you have to pound steel shanks, which is less fun.

Then, I folded up a bunch of tin foil, and tacked it on around the shank, to protect the insole from the heat gun.  The heat gun worked great - all my shanks are hardened just like they did in class!
Once they were done, I pulled off the tin foil and tacks, and sanded down the ends of the shanks until they were flush with the insole.  Here's where I wish I had known more - the fiberglass sheds everywhere when you're sanding it on an electric sander, and it gets all over your clothes, and hands...  I would have worn gloves, and a respirator, had I realized.  But I didn't.  I'm now wearing my third shirt of the day...

Similarly, the fiberglass cloth (purchased at the auto parts store) sheds, and once you've got sticky epoxy on your fingers, that stuff just shreds everywhere.  Gloves will definitely be my friend the next time around.  I mixed up some bondo epoxy resin (also from the auto parts store), and painted it on the insole.  Placed a (pre-cut to the pattern) piece of fiberglass cloth on top of the epoxy.  Painted on more epoxy to saturate the fiberglass. 
I had also pre-cut some orange suede into a shank cover.  I painted the back of the suede with the epoxy, and placed it over the top to cover the whole shank/insole thing.

I laid a strip of scrap leather down each side of the shank to help form the suede around it:

Then tied it down with duct tape, to hold everything in place while it dries/cures.  Duct tape with rainbow flowers on it, no less. 
So at this point, I'm waiting for the epoxy to dry - probably overnight - and then I'll do a bit more finishing/shaping/sanding on the insoles. 
Next comes the patterns and the uppers!