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About tozafoot

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    Shoemaking, minimalist footwear

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  1. 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” 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.
  2. tozafoot

    bitten by the boot bug

    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: Cheers
  3. tozafoot

    Minimalist shoes #4

    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