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About JAM

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  • Birthday 01/07/1956

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  • Location
    Rathdrum, ID
  • Interests
    Saddlemaking, braiding, strap goods, handbags/purses

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  • Leatherwork Specialty
    Saddlemaking, Braiding
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  • How did you find leatherworker.net?
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  1. Tastech - thank you - your entire post was very educational. "Breaking" the leather in difficult spots, the differences in conditioners, polished, and waxes, all very helpful, thank you. Mink oil base conditioners, Saphir and Collonil - I'll look for those.
  2. Mulesaw - I started with just shoes, some books, some digital patterns I bought on line, and lots of trials with a pair of lasts that were custom made by podohub. Lots of masking tape patterns, trial shoes first made of felt, altering the lasts a bit, then making several trial shoes out of whatever leather I had on hand (ugly soft chaps leather, mostly). I've printed lots of pictures of different shoes and boots to look at how their patterns are put together, studied my own custom boots from long ago, and watched a lot of YouTube videos about making shoes and boots. Every shoe (and now paddock boot) I make is a trial and I alter the pattern as needed for the second shoe or boot in the pair, then keep the altered pattern. I'm not using good leather until I have the pattern and process down. I wear the pairs that work and learn from every shoe or paddock boot I make. The tall riding boots will be easier to figure out after I have a handle on the paddock boots. We are blessed with a ton of information available these days.
  3. It's now a year later and I thought I'd tell the end of this tale. The bootmakers in England gave up and fully refunded my money (I even profited a little by the change in the currency exchange rate between when I sent the money and when it was refunded - yay!). Tried a different bootmaker here in the USA; they were okay but had to be sent back and remade because the first set was clearly done wrong. (I have custom western boots which are great, but there are very few custom English riding boot makers). So then it hit me: if I can build custom saddles, which I have for many years, why can't I learn to build my own shoes and boots? It's very different from building saddles, and takes different tools. I've learned about buying lasts and then modifying them for my feet, and making patterns, and tried several kinds of sole construction, and it's fascinating and absorbing and not easy. I understand now what the bootmakers were doing (and not doing, and doing wrong) because I understand the process now, and the difference between off-the-shelf, sort-of-custom, and truly bespoke. I've made four pairs of shoes now, am starting my second pair of paddock boots, and am working my way up to tall English riding boots. Everything I've made is vastly more comfortable than any pair of retail shoes or even custom boots I own because my lasts fit MY feet. I still have lots to learn and this is a fantastic new leather hobby! I never would have thought that a bad experience with a not-so-great bootmaker could open up a whole new world and passion. I do have a question, if someone has an answer to share: What do you do or use to finish the surface of the leather on a new pair of boots or shoes, and prepare it for polish? Do you just polish and wax like normal?
  4. Since we're both new to this, you might enjoy this series of articles I just found the other day. Here's a link to one of the articles, and when you open this article you'll find the whole series. https://www.gentlemansgazette.com/creating-insoles-bespoke-shoes/
  5. I'm still working on my first pair of shoes, but so far I like them a lot. I have nothing to compare them to, but in my experiments I find they take nails well and are easy to modify with a wood rasp and with both glued-on skirting leather and Sculpwood putty. Mine have the rail system rather than hinges and that seems to be working well, also, unless you run the heel up too far (then it takes some doing to put the pieces back in place).
  6. Question: Should support for high arches be built/carved into boot/shoe lasts or added later? I'm just starting to learn how to build shoes (I've been doing leatherwork for a long time, and got a couple of good books to get me started on shoes). I've got bespoke lasts from podohub and I have high arches. The lasts don't have my high arches - the insoles seem to be fairly flat from the ball into the 15mm heel. Should the lasts have higher arches built in/carved away, or does arch support get added to the inside after the shoe/boot is built?
  7. Thank you, all of you, for your comments. I'm a lot more confident now that the boots should be comfortable from hour one if they are truly custom made, and I should ask for a refund. These boots are tall English riding boots and there aren't many companies that make them custom; this company makes them in all kinds of colors and you can design whatever you want, which I suppose makes them "bespoke", but they still need to be custom fit to my feet. Thanks again for answering my question and for all your advice.
  8. After some back and forth and unwillingness to believe that they don't fit, they were going to make me a whole new pair of boots, and asked for new foot drawings and measurements. I sent that, they plugged it into their "ancient formula", and said they came up with exactly the same template, so there's no point in making new boots. A formula doesn't sound custom to me but I know nothing about bootmaking, which is why I posted my question here. I suspect I will be a disgruntled customer who posts a bad review of my experience with them on Facebook as a warning to others. It's not the first time I've wasted a lot of money and it won't be the last, but at least I'm more confident that I'm not wrong, they really aren't the "bespoke, custom" bootmakers they sell themselves as. Not being a bootmaker I didn't know if this "building by volume" and "formula" idea was really as flaky as I thought, but I'm pretty sure that custom riding boots ought to fit my feet and not be excruciatingly painful. Thank you for your input and advice.
  9. Thank you fredk. That's what I think, too, but I didn't know if maybe that was a thing about bootmaking that I just didn't understand. I've been going round with them about this issue and the current answer is "they have specialized leather stretching equipment and will stretch the leather to make them fit". I said I don't think it will work but go ahead, prove me wrong. Unfortunately they are in Europe. I think a refund (they are expensive boots) is probably going to be the end result. So disappointing - I really believed they made custom boots, and I can't wear non-custom boots.
  10. Can someone explain to me how a custom boot is made "by volume"? What does that mean, exactly? I had "custom" riding boots made that were too tight in the toes to wear, and the soles are much narrower then the drawn outlines of each foot, and the reasoning given to me was "the bootmakers use a formula and build the boots by volume". Does that make sense somehow?
  11. Thanks to everyone - pretty much the same pros and cons I've been thinking through for years. On the topic of scored rawhide and broken trees - how exactly did the trees break? scored rawhide will allow moisture in, if there's a lot of moisture right there at the scored rawhide; screw holes and nail holes would also allow moisture in and break the rawhide integrity (although not in a straight line which can pull apart as it dries again), but how exactly would scored rawhide cause a tree to break? Or did the tree break and the rawhide failed to hold the tree together? I have only seen (and repaired) saddles with broken trees that were factory saddles with a thin veneer of fiberglass, and those few were a result of catastrophic wrecks that broke the trees. So I am curious about what you've seen.
  12. I build all-leather groundseats, and with every saddle I ask myself again, "Bar risers or not?" Without them, there is danger of scoring the rawhide when cutting stirrup slots, and the seat is closer to the horse's spine/saddle pad, but the rider is that much closer to the horse and it's easier to make use of the seat curvature built into the tree by a good treemaker. With them, it can be more difficult to make the seat shape I want, and the rider is just that much higher off the horse. Thoughts? Julia McCormack
  13. I've always used stainless steel nails - ring shank, twist, and common - to build my saddles, and I got them from Sheridan Leather. Now that Sheridan Leather is gone, I don't know where to get them. Does anyone know where I can find them now? Julia
  14. Hi, all, I build my saddles with stainless steel nails - common, ring shank, and twist - and I always got them from Sheridan Leather. Now that Sheridan Leather is gone, I can't find stainless steel nails anywhere. Does anyone know where I can find them again? Thanks, Julia McCormack
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