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Thread: Hand Made Shoes

  1. #21


    Nice work! These are amazing, you should definitely be proud of yourself. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.

  2. #22

    Default Equipment.

    Hi everyone,

    Again thank you all for your kind words! The response has been truly overwhelming!

    I hope this posts helps with any queries you have about equipment.

    Here are what I consider the most important tools: (If I've forgotten any Ill add them in subsequent posts.) (Prices are what I paid in Australian dollars.)

     photo Tools.jpg

    Left to right: 1. Tin/Multipurpose snips ($20): To cut the sole leather. Before buying these I literally cried every time I needed to do this with my then shitty boot knife. Saved around 30min of hard cutting with a knife.

    2. Flat blade ($40): The MOST important tool in a shoe makers kit. It has to be extra extra extra sharp. When it is, cutting around the edge of sole leather is like cutting through butter. Used for the detailed/fine cutting of various areas of the shoe.

    3.Leather strop ($15): To keep that knife sharp!

    4. An awl ($20): Used for the welt. Various shapes and sizes exist, but I recommend finding one made for shoe making as they are usually stronger.

    5. Curved needles ($5): For stitching: The curve helps with getting though the hole created with the awl for the welting. Can also be used for hand stitching uppers.

    6. Hammer ($5-$50): I have 2, one for tapping/shaping the leather (make sure the head is smooth, never use for traditional hammering) and one for actual hammering nails and the like.

    7. Lasting pliers ($50-$100): A specialty shoe making tool, these are used to last the upper by pulling the leather over it and then hammering the nails through the upper and insole.

    8. Feathering tool ($75): Another specialty tool used to save time creating the feather on the insole for the welt.

    9. Hole punch ($20): Self explanatory.

    10. Needle nose pliers ($5): Helping pull the needles through tight holes and for general use.

     photo last.jpg

    Here is a picture of the lasts I use that I obtained from a local last maker.
    I sent them a picture of an outline of my foot and pictures of shoes that were the shape/look I wanted to create.

    They sent a second hand pair and a new pair, cost me roughly $100 for both.
    Both are plastic all the way around and have no metal base plates. (used for different construction methods)

    On the lasts is a hole punch I forgot to add in the photo before. ($10)
    Used to make holes obviously and handy for spacing of holes.

    A double shoulder bend of vege tanned cow hide at a 3mm thickness cost me $260.
    Soling leather at a thickness of 6/7 iron cost me $90

    Both are good for at least 5-6 pairs of shoes and maybe even a clutch ....

     photo clutch.jpg

    By far the most comprehensive youtube tutorial I've found was here:

    For shoe making specific tools go here:

    For other tools/leather I suggest checking out local places you may have around you. Seeing and feeling the leather is important before you purchase.

    A rough calculation says I spent about $810 but that definitely wasn't in one go.

    As for my workshop, its my computer desk/kitchen bench, you really don't need much space. I just put a bit of plywood on top of the work area to avoid wrecking the surfaces.

    And with all that said, your set!

    Thanks again everyone!

  3. #23
    Senior Member kuugaia's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010


    ^ Thanks a lot for going through all that effort to write everything down and photograph it. Appreciate it! :)

  4. #24

    Default Handmade shoes

    Marvelous job done!!! Results looks amazing. Can't imagine the hardwork and patience behind them . Are these for sale ?

  5. #25


    Thanks for posting! This really is helpful.
    Can I ask what kind of nails and thread you advise? Also did you used glue somewhere in the process?

  6. #26


    I've had an ambition to try my hand at this for quite some time and this have really inspired me to get started.

    The shoes look nice indeed, great work!
    Label me landlord, I keep k's in my hand

  7. #27
    Senior Member bukka's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Cheese and Chocolate


    Absolutely amazing, thanks for the tuto link! You should be very very proud of yourself
    Eternity is in love with the productions of time

  8. #28
    Senior Member MikeN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    New York City


    Really amazing work.

  9. #29


    One of the best threads on here

    Now I want to make a pair of shoes!

  10. #30


    Truly impressive.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    electric ladyland


    WOW.... really nice job. both with the shoes and the thread.

    posts like this always make me feel so inadequate.

  12. #32


    This is one of the best threads in this category on SZ. Really really awesome!!!!!!!!!!! - Digital Portfolio Of Projects & Designs

    Merz (5/22/09):"i'm a firm believer that the ultimate prevailing logic in design is 'does shit look sick as fuck' "

  13. #33


    Just to echo what others have said, this is a truly amazing and inspiring thread! Stunning work.

    I would be interested to know more about the distressing phase, and how you got the shoes to look so sumptuously wrinkled? They are gorgeous.

  14. #34


    This thread is truly so inspirational! Thank you for taking the time to share the additional information.

  15. #35


    Truly amazing work!!!

  16. #36


    Once again, thank you all for your comments! I appreciate all the positive feedback and I am even happier that a few of you will try this fun and rewarding craft yourselves!

    @lifetolive: Unfortunately they are not for sale. I ended up passing them onto my friend who I made them for and he loved them.

    @unwashed: The thread I used for the upper was a 2 cord waxed nylon as I stitched it by hand. For the welt I used a 3 cord waxed nylon for slightly more strength. I went with nylon over natural for strength purposes, they are also less susceptible to the elements/deterioration over time. If using a sewing machine for the upper I'd use a good waxed quilting thread.

    As for glue I used a contact adhesive from my local hardware store called "Kwik Grip Advanced". I chose this over a more specialized shoe making adhesives because it was water based, apparently stronger, didn't contain any bad chemicals and didn't emit any chemical fumes or smells when used. (Kind of important for a small apartment and good if your paranoid about bad things leeching into your skin) So far so good, none of the bonds have broken.

    @docus: So after the shoe Is made and all the glues have had at least 24 - 48 hours to set I start the distressing.

    Whether object or hand dying them they will both at some point be soaked in a liquid.

    For object dying you put the complete shoes in a big bucket/container of dye. Let them soak in dye for as intense as you want the dye to be on them. Remove from dye, rinse in cold water until it runs clear.

    For hand dying use a rag, paint the dye onto the upper until satisfied with the colour then leave to dry for 30 min. Once dry put them in a bucket/container of cold water and let them soak for about 30 min - 1 hour.

    After you remove them from their respective liquids, the shoes at this point are like "play-doh". They are that soft that what I do is flex/bend the toes so they are curled up like a "jesters" shoe. When you do this the leather creases beautifully. You can manipulate them as you see fit. Less curl, less crease. More curl, more crease. The thickness of the leather will also vary the way the leather creases.

    When the desired creases have taken shape, leave the shoe to dry curled. This has to happen slowly, to prevent the leather from cracking. In all my experience (including soaking some CCP tornados and guidis in cold water to shrink them slightly) I have never seen the leather come close to cracking. Key words here "COLD WATER" and dry "SLOWLY".

    When the shoes are 80%ish dry I then use a good leather conditioner all over the upper to have them feel super soft upon fully drying.

    When the shoes are dry your done! You can walk the curl out yourself by wearing them or just bend them back to the almost flat shape you started with. The creases will remain either way.

    Cheers everyone!

  17. #37
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    New York City


    yeah the sentiment is definitely the same over here. the finished products are amazing, I definitely want to try my hand at this!

  18. #38


    Absolutely brilliant. Hope to see people wearing these shoes one day.

  19. #39


    Wow, all seriously impressive! Have you ever thought about making a pair of boots of some kind? I'd love to see how they'd turn out.

  20. #40


    Quote Originally Posted by SpaceCowboy View Post
    Wow, all seriously impressive! Have you ever thought about making a pair of boots of some kind? I'd love to see how they'd turn out.
    after reading this thread and seeing the amount of work, craftsmanship and time that goes into making shoes like this it really does enhance my appreciation of handcrafted items like your shoes. I would love to see how a pair of boots would turn out. Until then, AMAZING work!

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