Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Theatrical Shoe Making: Rowena Rebuild

I made this pair of heels several years ago and (for obvious reasons) was never happy with how they looked, especially when they were not being worn. See Coalminer Shoes


I decided to give each of the three pieces a lining and at the same time stiffen them using my Gorilla Glue technique.

I started with the vamp which needed an extension to the last in order to get the little forward "flick" at the top.

I made the extension to the lasts from plywood and attached them with a screw. Then I used some very thin pigskin soaked in water so that I could get it all in one piece. The pigskin is so thin that I use leather strips to keep the staples from slicing thru it.

With a very careful application of G-glue to the dampened outers I placed them in position, tied them in the direction of the laces and wrapped the with stretch tape.

The finished pieces now stand proudly on there own.

I repeated the process for the heels and the toe straps.

Both the heel and toe straps wrap around to the underside of the shoe and so had to be lasted with the shoe attached to the last. To protect the black suede I again used the stretch tape.

The project is almost complete, more to come...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Modified Air Nailers for Shoe Lasting

After using my pneumatic stapler for several years to make shoes I decided to try my air nailer.

In the area of the toe and heel where the bunching of leather is the greatest the stapler just wasn't getting it. I am still a fan of pneumatics and decided to really figure out how or if a typical 18 gage 5/8ths carpentry nailer could do the job.

I experimented on a pair of women's lasts. I have always liked the layered look and without patterns or lining I just slabbed it out.

The modification to the nailer is fairly simple in concept: lengthen the standoff or safety plunger.

The tips on the safety plunger are replaceable however, in general no nailers out there that I know of are made to leave a full 3/16" of nail out of the work piece; the woodworker guys just don't need it.

More pictures to come of my modification.

As for how it works:
Using the nails around the toe and heel is mush better and you can tap them over just as you do conventional lasting nails.
One issue is that the nails are not tapered as are the lasting nails so there is a difference in how they work in that way. 
And because of that straight side nature of the nails the last will take a slightly higher beating than the conventional.

This is a very successful experiment and I will continue to work out the details until I discover something better.

I am excited to advance this concept and develop the nails that would approximate lasting tacks, I think this would be a great advance for novice and semi production shoe making.

Also, I have discovered the all new BOSTITCH Smart Point 18GA Brad Nailer. No doubt this is the better mouse trap however I will have to examine the tip to see if it can be modified to leave the desired 1/4" of nail above the leather.
So this is a MUCH better nailer than the Bostitch, you can find this little thing for as little as $20.
It is so much lighter, smaller, and very reliable.

Of course the safety has to be extended so that the 18 gage 5/8ths nail head will be exposed.
While this extension works OK, but I have plans to improve it after a few more uses.


All was good with the length of the aluminum "L" so I decided to make a more compact version,

Part of the advantage of the nailer is that you can push the leather in with the extension before pulling the trigger so you are getting the nailing as tight as possible before tapping the nails over.

1/8th steel with two 4-40 screws.
The more elegant solution is to weld a piece of 1/16th steel to the end of the safety and cut and file to the desired shape, maybe next time.
If you agoig to try this I can outline how to disassemble the nailer; its a little tricky.


A refinement to the chisel end came after my latest making experiance.

I added this very subtle hollow to the chisel this allows the nailer to be centered on whichever leather fold that you are about to nail down.
Combination air nailer / air stapler.

Now remember when you are discussing this with others in this pretentious trade that many of the "experts" do it one way and one way only; they are interested in making you feel like a fool for even thinking. I am happy to not be apart of that tradition.