Monday, February 9, 2015

First pair of boots - Done!

The Boots Are Done!!!
So, to re-wind a bit, let's go back to where we left off before.  I needed to make the insoles.  Here's the insole material (celtek), with shank board glued on.  The shank board was soaked, then duct-taped to the lasts overnight to shape it.  The shank board is on the top (foot side) of the insole.
As previously, I glued on a piece of the liquid fiberglass shank material, then tacked folded up tin foil around it and heat set the shanks.  The tin foil is to keep the celtek from burning.  This is the bottom (pavement) side of the insole.
I don't have photos of the next bit - mixing a 2-part expoxy, putting on a layer of fiberglass, then more epoxy, then a suede shank cover. 
Then I got to work lasting.  This is the fun part!  It really starts to look like it might work!
Once it's all lasted and glued down, I take out an exacto knife, and cut away all but about a half inch all the way around.  I glue cork (the rolled up cork sheets from the craft store) into the spaces, and then sand it down as smooth as possible on the belt sander.
Now they're ready for soles.  Which I should cut out.  Usually I use soling material - the black, rubber-like stuff.  It's really durable, pretty easy to cut, and made for this.  For this particular shoe, I wanted something more like a welted riding boot look (without the hassle of welting), and I didn't want the soles to be black, so I'm using thick leather.  I also took the opportunity to emboss in my logo.  Which I put too far forward.  I'll remember that next time...
And I dyed the soles a dark mahogany color.
Glued the soles onto the boots, and was ready to take the lasts off.  !!!  This part is so exciting!
Took a few minutes to make the comfort insoles and sock liners.  Insole is 1/4" poron, the sock liner is more of the brown pigskin suede I used for the lining.  I've used the *entire* piece of suede on this one project.  That's kind of crazy.  The sock liner is glued to the poron. 

Still had to make the heel blocks.  I've done a ton of photos on this, showing every little step.  Heels are very 3D items, and you have to have two exactly the same.  I'm hoping to find some more sources for heels, because carving them out of white oak isn't, I think, a good long-term solution.  The wood will eventually break from the impact, if nothing else. 

So - I started with a block that was the right height and width.  I traced the angle of the sole, making sure I still had about 1/4" of toe spring, and cut the top off at that angle.  I also rounded off the back profile.

Then, give the top a sloped concave curve, to account for the fact that the bottom of the shoe is not flat.

Check this against the boot, and draw the front and rear.


Oops - this one got caught in the saw, and is now firewood.

Don't forget - you have to make two that are identical.

Next, the heel breast - that's the front edge, which should have an inward curve.

Not pictured here - the final shaping step, which was to angle the sides in a little from top to bottom.  These wood heel blocks were then stained with a dark mahogany wood stain, and attached to the boots with a 1 1/2" screw.  The comfort insoles were put in, and it was time to try them on:

THEY FIT!!!  I was so excited, I had to wear them to go out to dinner.
Lots of lessons learned on this one.  I think the biggest things here are that while it's possible to use 4oz tooling leather, and do tooling and dye it however you like...  it's not easy.  I'm not sure I'd do that again without a really good reason. 
Second important lesson:  a few days after I sewed the uppers together, I watched a great video of Lisa Sorrell using her crimping boards on cowboy boot vamps.  Given the sort of weird fit at the ankles, and how difficult it was to last these without horrible huge wrinkles at the vamp point, I'm absolutely going to make a crimping board before I attempt the next pair of boots. 
Also, I'm not convinced that doing a welted construction wouldn't have been the better option for these.  But - since I've never done that, and don't have a lot of the tools, I think that's a project for another day.

Overall, however, I'm really pleased with how these turned out.  I'll absolutely be able to walk the couple of blocks from our hotel to the party in them, without getting sore feet or blisters, and that's great.  Yay!  Boots!