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  1. This is new thread dedicated to tools of the trade related to shoe making and cobblers . It appears that we get a bit side tracked on some threads and the shoe making enthusiasts and myself "hijack" some threads and start talking about shoes, so this thread is dedicated to the subject. I am a shoemaker and cobbler and have a passion for vintage tools and how they were used . I am also a collector of these tools and try incorporate them in my work . I am also a former metal fabrication and industrial engineer so i have the skill and means to restore them to their former glory . In another thread about cowboy boots i offered to explain shoe makers lasting pliers , the types and their uses so here goes . Lasting pliers are a tool specifically used by shoe makers for fitting the leather upper to a shoe last . There are various shapes and sizes including regional variations , shoe variations and for specific procedures . They all do pretty much the same thing but differently . Its not a tool that has multi function uses but you could extract nose hairs if you really wanted to . They are like pliers but most have a curved beak with a solid protrusion on the bottom side . They are used for pulling the shoe leather over the last and putting nails in place to hold it in shape while the welt is sewn into place They are also used for glue down construction . As i have mentioned at other times it is a process . the shoe upper ( the sewn leather bit) is put over a last of the correct size , lined up back and front and a nail is place through the upper heel part to find center . The toe area is then pulled over using the pliers and a nail place there. then back to the bottom of the heel and a nail placed there . The shoe is then eyed for symmetry and then the fun begins . Depending on what type of shoe will determine the ideal pliers. The pliers vary in curvature of the beak , the curvature of the handle and the width of the beak . For the toe and heel of the shoe a narrow width pliers is ideal because you make little folds to get around the curve of toe and heel . For the sides a lager plier can be used . The leather is pulled tight over the last using the pliers held in place with the spare thumb a nail is put next to the thumb and knocked in with the metal protrusion on the bottom of the pliers . So the lasting pliers are 2 tools in 1 . For pulling but also a hammer . The nails are not knocked in all the way because they are temporary . most shoe maker i know have 2 pliers , wide mouth and narrow . Most shoe makers specialize with a certain type of shoe or a similar style so their tools will be tailored to their specialty. A mens lace up shoe maker has different lasts to a stiletto maker and a boot maker has his own preference as well . But we are talking preference here . Once you get used to your tool you tend to use that and make use of what you got simply because you have a muscle memory . Posted below are a couple of photos showing some different types and different styles . Top from left to right German style marked 1 B narrow mouth Chinese made new . ( cheap and has a surprisingly good feel to it ) I highly rate it unknown English wide mouth English Timmins wide mouth , curved beak English George Barnsley medium /narrow mouth , moderate curved beak ( my favorite ) English George Barnsley wide mouth , Curved beak . (My second favorite) Bottom -Left to right . English George Barnsley Bulldog pliers . Very rare and unusual . Sought after and expensive . It is used to pull in the waist (shank ) area of heavy boots . The bottom handle straddles the last while you push down on the handle . Nordic / German pliers - wide mouth . They also come in various widths and slight variations Saddle makers pliers . Not exactly sure what they are specifically used for , but i think these too are referred to as bull dogs . My nieces lasting pliers - Narrow mouth -cut down . She can put a pro to shame . English Timmins . Wide mouth curved beak . Note the the hammer bit or anvil on the bottom . It screw out and can be tuned up or down to suit the weight you require . More of a boot makers plier but would use a narrow mouth smaller version if i find one . The second photo shows the various widths and beak tapers . Most of these were rusted heaps of crap when i got them and gave them new life . some would have spent a whole working career with the one person and even handed down to an apprentice . I really wish i knew the specific history of them all . The 2 barnsleys i use were handed down to me by Francesco Berlutti the master boot maker who taught me the finer details of boot making . he was the boot maker of none other than Benito Mussolini . Those pliers made boots for El Duce himself and i still use them to make my own . I feel like i channel old"Cranky Franky" when i use them . Any questions please ask . I got nothing better to do with my nights .lol
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