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Hi all, I'm looking for assistance from all of you who make shoes and boots. 

By trade I'm a welder and heavy equipment mechanic, so I go through boots like nobody's business. Every 6-12 months (if I'm lucky) I'm looking for new boots, I've tried almost everything from White's to Brahma's and all the brands in between.

But recently I got the idea to make my own boots. I think I can do it, but I don't know where to start. I already make leather goods on the side as a hobby, but you all make me look like a beginner.

Please tell me how you got started, what resources you used to learn, books, tools, videos, supplies, etc.

I'm not looking to start a business or anything like that, I just want to make them for myself and maybe my family. 

Can I make them by hand like the they did in the old days? 

Thanks in advance, this is the most helpful forum I've ever been on.

 

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I took a class from Jason Hovatter at Laughing Crowe, and was incredibly happy - his method of bootmaking is non-lasted and requires relatively few tools.  If you're in the Pacific Northwest, take one of his classes!  I've also heard good things about the Chicago School of Shoemaking, but I've never been there myself.

Alternately, he just did a Kickstarter on an instructional video + kits for bootmaking, and the video should be out in six months or so; if you follow this, it should give you updates on when it's ready:

 

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42 minutes ago, SheltathaLore said:

I took a class from Jason Hovatter at Laughing Crowe, and was incredibly happy - his method of bootmaking is non-lasted and requires relatively few tools.  If you're in the Pacific Northwest, take one of his classes!  I've also heard good things about the Chicago School of Shoemaking, but I've never been there myself.

Alternately, he just did a Kickstarter on an instructional video + kits for bootmaking, and the video should be out in six months or so; if you follow this, it should give you updates on when it's ready:

 

this looks great! thank you for sharing, I live in Alaska, but my in-laws are near Portland, so now I have a good reason to go and visit.

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Hi Jake

I started making my own shoes and boots about 3 years ago... still learning! Here’s a list some of the books and other resoucrces that I’ve found useful in teaching myself various concepts and techniques; I’m still adding to it from time to time:

https://tozafoot.com/elsewhere/

Cheers

 

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8 hours ago, tozafoot said:

Hi Jake

I started making my own shoes and boots about 3 years ago... still learning! Here’s a list some of the books and other resoucrces that I’ve found useful in teaching myself various concepts and techniques; I’m still adding to it from time to time:

https://tozafoot.com/elsewhere/

Cheers

 

wow! you are a lot farther down this road than I am. Thank you for the comment and link, I will be reading your site for the next couple of days as I get time, and putting books in the amazon basket. Thank you, from the bottom of my feet! lol

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Hi Jake

There was a book published back in the seventies titled "The Make-It-Yourself Shoe Book" by Christine Lewis Clark, that has very good instructions on how to make shoes, boots, moccasins and sandals without a last. 

I recently discovered that copies are available from various secondhand book websites such as AbeBooks.com and Bookfinder.com. Some copies are reasonably priced, while some are way overpriced. But it is definitely a book worth having. I have owned my copy since I bought it new some forty years ago.

It is the only handmade shoe book that I have read, that has a section on making a foam-lined insole. That is worth the price of the book alone. It makes the shoes very comfortable to wear. I even use that insole technique when making a pair of mocs from a Tandy pattern.

Regards

 

Edited by leatherworks64
left out a word

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7 hours ago, leatherworks64 said:

Hi Jake

There was a book published back in the seventies titled "The Make-It-Yourself Shoe Book" by Christine Lewis Clark, that has very good instructions on how to make shoes, boots, moccasins and sandals without a last. 

I recently discovered that copies are available from various secondhand book websites such as AbeBooks.com and Bookfinder.com. Some copies are reasonably priced, while some are way overpriced. But it is definitely a book worth having. I have owned my copy since I bought it new some forty years ago.

It is the only handmade shoe book that I have read, that has a section on making a foam-lined insole. That is worth the price of the book alone. It makes the shoes very comfortable to wear. I even use that insole technique when making a pair of mocs from a Tandy pattern.

Regards

 

I will definitely check that out, thank you!

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Hey Jake, I'll second Jason's classes .  I just took my third class with him this past weekend.  This time it was the internal stitch down boot class.  The same one as the DVD.  He really does have a process that makes shoe/boot making approachable by anyone, even the complete novice.  Sewing the upper to the sole can be hard on the hands, but it's doable.  It's definitely worth the money to get the DVD when it comes out in July if you can't attend one of his classes.

If you have a leather sewing machine, you might want to check out Healthy Handmade Shoes for their how-to DVDs.  I learned a lot from them as well.  Its not a totally different style of craft from Jason's.  The upper construction is similar, but the designing/patterning is very different and of course closing is different, its a stitch down shoe.  Jason's is totally custom made to your feet, Glen has a basic pattern that is used, (it comes in a range of sizes, you use the one closes to your size) and you fit that to your feet.  In a nutshell, you have plenty of extra leather to trim off after you get it attached to the sole using your foot as the last.

There are a couple of books out there that are from the '70s that might be worth tracking down.  The one I can remember off the top of my head is Shoes for Free People by David Runk.  The styling and construction is simple, kind of crude, but it'll give you the basics. And once you know the basics, you can refine them.

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@Aven Thank you ma'am, I appreciate the info, I getting tools and resources together for next winter (yes, winter is always on our minds up here "winter is coming"). My summer is already too busy to do anything like learn a new craft, but I'll have plenty of time in January. Thanks again, I'll try to find that book.

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I received my copy of "Bespoke Shoes" by Tim Skyrme yesterday. I have flipped thru it and read to page 20 (slow reader). 

It looks pretty detailed and I think it will be enough to muddle through the first pair. 

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thanks Biker, I guess there was more stuff out there than i thot

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Well the book runs a 140 American but I think it will be worth it. Probably 6 different times in the first 20 pages he gave hints on stuff to watch out for and how it will mess up the process down the road.

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20 hours ago, Jake907 said:

@Aven Thank you ma'am, I appreciate the info, I getting tools and resources together for next winter (yes, winter is always on our minds up here "winter is coming"). My summer is already too busy to do anything like learn a new craft, but I'll have plenty of time in January. Thanks again, I'll try to find that book.

I get that.  Now's the time to gather while shipping isn't an issue and get the stuff you don't want to freeze in route, like glue.

Walrusshoe.com has Tim's Bespoke Shoemaking.  He also carries  George Koleff's Shoe and Boot Designing Manual and his Last Designing and Making Manual with DVD.  The Bespoke Shoemaking isn't really cheaper through Larry, but it might get to you quicker.

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@Aven, thanks for the heads up. 

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