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About tozafoot

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    Shoemaking, minimalist footwear

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  1. @Aven Glad you’re finding the blog interesting. I know what you mean about how difficult it is to take notes at the same time as working on shoes. Thank goodness for smartphones, because at least one can take photos as one proceeds, although that’s not always easy when shoemaking, as both hands are needed for the shoe! I’ve tried to remember to take photos at key points, so that I can write photo-essays... as much for myself as a way of documenting what I did, and why, as for other people. I recently did a woodworking course, and the photos have been really useful in helping me remember what to do, when. I know some people take full video and sound recording these days, but it then takes so much work to find the exact bits that pertain to the stage in question when trying to work out what to do next. I know Jason used a professional video producer to put out his turnshoe and stitchdown boot videos. No, I’ve not tried the Renia Aliquim — thanks for the tip! Very timely, and I will investigate, as I am about to finish my bottle of EcoWeld (from Tandy Leather, recommended to me by Sharon Raymond of Simple Shoemaking). The EcoWeld has been fine for me so far. Very simple to use, not smelly at all, rubs off fine if misapplied, and one little bottle has lasted me 4+ years. I don’t use much glue: only a dab of EcoWeld here and there for holding small pieces together until I can sew them (I could also use double-sided sticky tape for this), and for holding sole pieces together until they’re secured by stitching. Also, following the recommendation of Paul Thomas at Paul Thomas shoes, I’ve been using hirschkleber (bought from Sorrell Notions and Findings) between my wet veg-tanned toe caps and heel counters and the upper and lining). I think that pot of hirschkleber will last me decades at the rate I am using it! I wish I didn’t have to use barge cement at all: I’ve been racking my brain as to how I could stitch on the rubber sole (which I need, walking miles on cement and tarmac sidewalks every day). I did stitch a crepe sole onto one unlasted pair, but crepe isn’t a robust enough soling material for me. I can’t think how to securely stitch the Vibram Newporter sole, which has the best combination of flexibility and durability of all the flat Vibram soles I’ve tried: Elvis wears too quickly, and Freestone isn’t flexible enough. What I really want is a way to make my own durable and flexible rubber soles, with stitching holes in necessary places. No rubber wastage when fitting them, and no solvent exposure. Also, if they;re designed right, it’d be easier to replace the bits that wear fast (like the heel and midfoot areas). I’d also like to make my own foot-shaped rubber boots (“Wellies”). Maybe 3D printing and/or modern materials science will help... If anyone reading this has ideas about this, please get in touch — I think there’s a big market opportunity for diy soles!
  2. Thanks for the kind words, @mikesc and @Aven . I started making my own footwear after one of my big toes decided it had had enough of being forced into tapering toeboxes (no need to drop a 400lb log on it — ouch, that sounds painful, @mikesc). Four years on, I am making everything I need, although each lasted/welted pair still takes me a long time. The first lasted/welted pairs I made have lasted (haha) more than 3 years now, and have worn very well indeed, even though I only used cheap upholstery leather for the uppers. One thing I hadn’t realized would happen is that my feet would change shape significantly in shoes with decent toe room and flat, flexible soles — so much so, that I now can’t wear the first several unlasted pairs I made, because they are now the wrong shape for my new, improved feet. Shoes really are deformation devices, and most of us don’t realize until it’s too late. One of these days, I’ll get round to posting an overview of some of the scientific literature I’ve been reading about the effect shoes have on our bodies: to quote from one 2009 study comparing ppl who habitually go barefoot or shod “…footwear that fails to respect natural foot shape and function will ultimately alter the morphology and the biomechanical behaviour of the foot” (ref: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19424280903386411 ), and to quote another “Footgear is the greatest enemy of the human foot” (ref:: http://refs.ahcuah.com/papers/shulman.htm ). This latter study looked at more than 5000 people who had never worn shoes, and found that the incidence of a huge number of foot problems was far, far, far lower than in habitually shod populations. @Aven, thanks for recommending Jason Horvatter. I did his internal stitchdown boot class last year, because I wanted to learn about his patterning techniques (I find making patterns difficult, so all tips are useful) and about the internal stitchdown technique he’d invented for attaching uppers to soles without needing to use a last. At the time, doing the class was the only way to learn his internal stitchdown technique, but now he has produced a video on it: well worth the investment, in my view. The more people who want foot-shaped shoes, the better. Hopefully, the more of us there are, the more mass-produced foot-shaped shoes will become available. There are more on the market now than when I started making my own in desperation, but there are absolutely not enough retail choices yet. So I keep making my own, and can recommend it as a way to get something that will fit you way better than any “bought” footwear. Not to mention the fierce satisfaction of making something more unique, sustainable and better-fitting than what one can buy — just with one’s own brain, hands and a few tools! @mikesc I saw that in one of your other posts you mentioned that English schools used to teach kids how to do all kinds of practical things — it’s a tragedy that they no longer do so (what schools anywhere still do?). Now we have to learn patchily as adults, if we have the time and the money. What’s more, resources for teaching yourself are frustratingly hard to find. Which is one of the reasons I started blogging about what I’m doing, and why, in case it helps other people to make their own footwear. So if you find my blog useful in any way, that’s wonderful! (Edited for typos — why is it I never see them until after something’s posted? )
  3. Thanks, Sheilajeanne! Some of the shoes made by Romans, Greeks and other pre-industrial societies were *way* better for feet than what we can buy today. Not all of them, by any means (some mediaeval designs look like deformation devices to me). But heels were uncommon, and soles were typically flexible. Toe shapes were sometimes tapering (the shoe you posted being an example), but some of the designs were asymmetrical around the center-line of the foot... as they should be, if the foot has any hope of moving naturally. I found Marquita Volken’s 2014 Archaeological Footwear: development of shoes patterns and styles from prehistory till [sic] the 1600’s [sic] a fascinating source of information on “ancient’ designs. I also learned a lot from The “Footwear of the Middle Ages” website at http://www.personal.utulsa.edu/~Marc-Carlson/shoe/SHOEHOME.HTM Would love to hear about other good sources of information on pre-industrial patterns and shoe-making techniques. (So much shoe-making knowledge has been lost, as it was not written down before the experts passed away...)
  4. I recently finished a new pair of foot-shaped shoes — photo attached (hopefully!). As ever, the goal was to make comfortable footwear that lets the foot move as naturally as possible while being stylish and unique. Wide toe shapes and flexible, totally flat soles are a consistent feature of my designs. I never make tapering toes, stiff soles, toe spring or raised heels — as these can all cause major issues for feet and for general health (e.g., knees, hips, backs) especially if worn for years or decades. In fact, I started making my own footwear because it’s almost impossible to buy shoes without at least one of these features (even if you can find flat, flexible soles, the toe area usually tapers too much). See my blog post at https://tozafoot.com/2019/07/02/experimenting-with-design-and-method-side-fastening-shoes/ for more photos, and a summary of how I made this pair. I’ve taught myself a lot, and invented some ways of doing things that would probably raise professional shoemakers’ eyebrows, but they work for my philosophy and toolset. I only use a few hand tools, no sewing machines or sanders or other power tools, and I only use solvent-based glues for attaching a rubber sole, after the shoe has been completed and is wearable (with a leather outsole). Again, see my website for more details. Cheers! tozafoot
  5. I only make shoes for myself — much as I would like to turn my hobby into a profession, I can’t see how to make the numbers work at present. So I was interested to see this blog post from a professional shoemaker lamenting “The Extinction of a Craft” https://shoesandcraft.com/2018/02/05/the-extinction-of-a-craft/ I had lots of thoughts on reading this, two of which were: 1) People who make footwear for love not money (whether you call us amateurs or hobbyists or something else) are likely to be key to keeping many aspects of the traditional “craft” alive in coming decades. For example, just look at all the amazing ideas and sharing of expertise on this forum. 2) We need better educational materials for people to teach themselves how to make footwear, if “only” as hobbyists. Ideally, these would be materials that can stand the test of time — forum posts, or blogs, or tweetstorms or even online videos may not be around in 5 years let alone several decades from now. I’d be up for thinking more about how to achieve 2) if any one else is interested in collaborating on this.
  6. 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
  7. Fantastic shoes! Like you, I've been wondering how best to add rubber soles to the minimalist shoes, boots and sandals I've been making myself. Ideally, I need a robust sole that wears well, that's nicely flexible with no heel, and that can be firmly attached to the shoe without using solvent-based glues... so far, I haven't found it! Would love suggestions. To date, I have mostly been using Vibram soles: styles that are completely flat, with no built-in heel, and also fairly flexible. I've been buying these soles via a couple of local shoe-repair shops: if they don't have any on hand, they can get them within a week, and prices are the same or less than I've found online. I started out by trying Vibram "Elvis" (#1328), which is sold as an "orthopedic" sole. However, I have not been impressed with Elvis: I walk a few miles a day on sidewalks, and the heels of three "Elvis"-shod pairs wore out very quickly. I've now resoled these pairs with Vibram "Newporter" (#1330), which is thicker and seems to be wearing much better. However, there is still wear on the Newporter soles after a few months: perceptibly more than I have experienced on a 6mm-thick sole marketed by Xero Shoes as part of a kit for making "Huarache" sandals. This latter is so far the best sole I have tried in terms of robustness, and it has reasonable grip. However, it is cupped slightly in the heel area so I have only used it for sandals: I haven't tried putting it on a shoe or boot. The downsides of using the Vibram soles include: Because they are pre-shaped for a shoe with a tapering toe shape, there is a fair amount of waste when I use them. In order to get the width I need for my foot-shaped shoes (which have a wide toe area), I have to buy an X-Large size and trim it down**. This is true for all the rubber soles I have tried: Elvis, Newporter, and also the "Huarache sandals" sole sold by Xero Shoes. If you have a big foot with a wide toe area, it may not be possible to buy a pre-shaped sole large enough to actually fit the shape of your foot-shaped shoe: you'll be restricted to buying sheets of soling material. I've been attaching the rubber Vibram sole to the leather outsole using barge cement. While this works very well, I can't stand the fumes from the cement (I still find them totally noxious even when I do all the gluing outside), and am really reluctant to do this on any kind of frequent basis. I would much prefer to have a sole that I cut out of a sheet so that there is less waste, and that I can stitch on rather than having to glue it. I tried stitching crepe soles onto a couple of pairs of unlasted shoes, but the crepe really isn't robust enough for the sorts of wear I give my footwear, and the soles quickly wore down to the level of the stitching. My local shoe repairman has been very nice in letting me look at the sheets of material he gets from his supplier (Vibram, Soletech, Birkenstock), but most seem too stiff or too thin. I did wonder about trying a sheet of Vibram XS City, but was worried it would wear less well than the Newporter, as it is thinner (only 4mm). A rubber sole cut out of an old tire tread is also an option I intend to try at some point, but first I need to find the right kind of tire: easier said than done. Also, I don't think it will be possible to stitch a tire-sole onto my leather outsole: it will have to be glued. I don't use solvent-based glues anywhere else in my shoe construction: I stitch everything. So I would rather find an option that I can stitch rather than glue... ** Here's a photo of one of my shoes that I stuck a Vibram Elvis sole onto with barge cement: I've trimmed the sides already but still have to trim the excess rubber off the front of the sole
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