A Visit to a Local Cordwainer

Thruth

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So yesterday I finally got around to visiting a local cordwainer. Canada has less than a handful of such craftsmen and it is rare to have someone in the neighbourhood especially given the geographical location of where I live. I was oblivious to his existence until Walker of all people told me that this cat was in my own backyard.

A young guy trained in Montreal & Vancouver.

Just recently back from doing some advanced study in Janne Melkersson's workshop in Sweden. Does orthotics too.

He does made-to-measure and adjusts existing lasts to the customer's measurements. He is considering bespoke but there are no last makers anywhere close and he doesn't want to spend the coin just yet on a 3D scanner and CAD-CAM last fabrication machine.

Has access to a variety of vegetable and chrome tanned leathers; uses Horween for some applications; was using Belgian sourced oak bark tanned soles but is moving to JR Rendenbach sourced soles. Is ambivalent to shell. A man after my own heart.

The reason for my visit was partly out of interest in shoe construction but also getting a custom fitted pair of boots done locally makes sense. Like most people, I have slight variations in foot length and width between right and left. But more significant is that while I am slightly narrow to medium width in the vamp area, I have B width heels. So I have always had significant heel slippage in RTW shoes. What's more, I know I have been wearing footwear 1/2 size too large to try and compensate for length/width issues. My preference for dress boots is partly based on my anatomy but also based on the fact that I just like boots.

An example of the measurements taken:

photo 1[1].JPG


Based on discussion between us and my desire for a single monk-strap in boot form, this is the rough design (and no I don't live in Newfoundland thank Christ):

photo 2[1].JPG


Boots will be ready by Christmas. Should be an interesting process. Always good to support local craftsmen when you can.
 

Rambo

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Sweet. Looking forward to updates. What's he charging you?
 

Rambo

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Full bespoke? What kind of detailing are you getting?

Will you get pegged?
 

Thruth

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Full bespoke? What kind of detailing are you getting?

Will you get pegged?
no bespoke. modified existing last. mid-brown calf. brass coloured hardware. single sole. natural lining colour. no medallion. i told him no patina or Gladiater shit. he will secretly try to burnish something. Will be Topy'd to make them usable in the winter.

I see what you did there. NO PEGGING INVOLVED! ZIONIST, FASCIST, AMERICAN HOODLUM!
 

Russell Street

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It is so nice to see someone that gets the point of custom being perfect fit, not some bizarre mishmash of features, colors, and styles that nobody had previously been fool enough to want.

I'd say this is not a bad price, but full price AE is my top end so that's more theoretical than practical.

What's the deal with the 3D scanning? It would seem to make sense to not own that stuff but rather to rent time at some machine shop that has the stuff.
 
J

Jimmy Frost Mellor

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Will be a satisfying exercise thruth - to work with a local.

I'd be worried with that design that your trousers will always catch and rest on that buckle.
 

Thruth

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It continues to amaze me how people make do with poorly fitting footwear. The brannock device is pretty rudimentary and imprecise. I think we develop the wrong sense of what a good fitting pair of shoes feels like early in life when our parents but them for us "to grow into." Them when we visit a store on our own - even a shoe store - what constitutes a good fit is often only length. "Where are your toes at?" A shoe should fit like a firm handshake feels. That said, many can get good fits with RTW and that fit can be improved by experimenting with sockliners/insoles.

Price is relative. In absolute terms, this isn't inexpensive. But compared to EG, JL which run at $1500 here, it is a bargain for a better fit. Bespoke is far beyond that and not available anywhere close.

I discussed with the cordwainer that if he could access a scanner the data could be transmitted to Springline in England and they would fabricate lasts. He wanted a closer to home solution. There are several makers that offer an all-in-one scanning/fabrication set up to make lasts and orthopaedic appliance forms. For a one-man operation, having to make the lasts would add significant time to any project. He has a queue of 15 ahead of me plus repairs so that equates to at least 4 months to finished shoe.
 

Thruth

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Will be a satisfying exercise thruth - to work with a local.

I'd be worried with that design that your trousers will always catch and rest on that buckle.
Quite right Jimmy Frost Mellor. It is a luxury to have such expertise close to home.

Good point. I considered the buckle/pant issue. Seems to me that the buckle is pretty low profile and flush to the shoe. I am hoping any kind of snag potential is minimal. But time will tell.
 

walker

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no bespoke. modified existing last. mid-brown calf. brass coloured hardware. single sole. natural lining colour. no medallion. i told him no patina or Gladiater shit. he will secretly try to burnish something. Will be Topy'd to make them usable in the winter.
ad hoc: this makes no sense. I was already wondering in our "external" exchange, hence I ask you here.

Is he doing handwelting or good year? in any case a proper rubber sole is more appropriate than topying, just my two cents.

btw, judging from his pictures on fb, his way to burnish is very decent.
 

walker

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I discussed with the cordwainer that if he could access a scanner the data could be transmitted to Springline in England and they would fabricate lasts.
hmmh, springline is very expensive for a one shot. also, why would one think so complicated. Robert Knoefel didn't have a scanner, when he wrote the standard book for shoemaking around 1860. the scanner was in his head. he established the "Winckel system" for pattern making based on his education in geometry, drawing and anatomy.

so, why don't do it oldschool with Kalman Berta? although, not literally closer but I can see a chemistry between those guys. same sketching, if you know what I mean?
 

Thruth

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ad hoc: this makes no sense. I was already wondering in our "external" exchange, hence I ask you here.

Is he doing handwelting or good year? in any case a proper rubber sole is more appropriate than topying, just my two cents.

btw, judging from his pictures on fb, his way to burnish is very decent.
hand welting. have to agree to disagree on rubber sole vs topy'd leather
 

Thruth

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hmmh, springline is very expensive for a one shot. also, why would one think so complicated. Robert Knoefel didn't have a scanner, when he wrote the standard book for shoemaking around 1860. the scanner was in his head. he established the "Winckel system" for pattern making based on his education in geometry, drawing and anatomy.

so, why don't do it oldschool with Kalman Berta? although, not literally closer but I can see a chemistry between those guys. same sketching, if you know what I mean?
i mentioned that you could probably hook him up with Mr. Berta. he seems opposed to any form of international outsourcing. he mentioned two ideas, the previously mentioned acquisition of scanning and CAD/CAM technology or working with the guy across the street who was/is in the shoe repair trade that he believes could make lasts. he is an artisan and has his peculiarities. initially when i first contacted him, he said "no way" to JR Rendenbach soles because he did not want to investigate and/or deal with importing them. since then he has seen this sole leather and is a convert. maybe i can break him down about lasts over time.
 

walker

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initially when i first contacted him, he said "no way" to JR Rendenbach soles because he did not want to investigate and/or deal with importing them. since then he has seen this sole leather and is a convert.
interesting. various bespoke makers prefer the belgian stuff. some started with JR because igents asked for it. nothing wrong with JR, but not the real deal.

a little anecdote: when I apprenticed at a cobbler he showed me JR soles. no way to have them on my shoes. horses for courses, I guess.
 

Thruth

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interesting. various bespoke makers prefer the belgian stuff. some started with JR because igents asked for it. nothing wrong with JR, but not the real deal.

a little anecdote: when I apprenticed at a cobbler he showed me JR soles. no way to have them on my shoes. horses for courses, I guess.
He said he feels they are better for this very cold climate
 

walker

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He said he feels they are better for this very cold climate
best would be vibram commando, no shit.

though, I can hear what he is saying. JR have this technical perfect german feeling. they just work. I can imagine that.
 

walker

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can you understand the sketch?
is the pope a catholic?

alright, yes, basically I understand it.

we have to distinguish between the "measure sheet" and the "style sheet". the "Winckel method" by Knoefel is the basement for the pattern drawing and clicking.

I have to admit, that I discoverd Knoefel only recently. I have to do my homework first. but everything, I've seen and read from him sounds familiar and logical.
 

Thruth

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It is always a compromise trying to find a sole that works for all seasons.

While the lug sole is best for snow and ice, these boots are not for stomping through the snow. Just need to be able to get around in shitty weather. I don't care what anyone says, my experience in this climate is that leather soles are terrible here in winter especially with marble floors and tile. The Topy give enough traction and slip resistance to be a 4 season shoe while maintaining the esthetic I am looking for.
 

walker

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I don't care what anyone says, my experience in this climate is that leather soles are terrible here in winter especially with marble floors and tile.
interesting. normally rubber is much more slippery, anyway.

opposite to you, I don't struggle with the aesthetics of a lug sole. Its a staple here for almost any kind of footwear. ymmv.
 

doghouse

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Topy'd style soles are the cat's ass. I have some Dubarry Chelsea boots that are Goretex with topy'd type soles. They look phenomenal and work great in the field. You get the support of a leather sole, which blows away all rubber once they are broken in, and grip of the rubber. The grip is immeasurably better, it's not even close.
 

Rambo

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Just a friendly reminder that Vibram soles make no claims on slippage, just durability, and that rubber is often awful at water traction.
 

doghouse

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Just a friendly reminder that Vibram soles make no claims on slippage, just durability, and that rubber is often awful at water traction.
That's why all tires are capped with leather.

Oh, wait.
 

Thruth

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Topy'd style soles are the cat's ass. I have some Dubarry Chelsea boots that are Goretex with topy'd type soles. They look phenomenal and work great in the field. You get the support of a leather sole, which blows away all rubber once they are broken in, and grip of the rubber. The grip is immeasurably better, it's not even close.
I can appreciate this. Here is a bit of a rant on dress footwear in winter, granted it is anecdotal based only on my experience, but it works for me.

The first thing one has to appreciate is that climate influences the quality of ice and snow. I have lived most of my life in places that have long and severe winters. Certainly there are many other places that receive far more snowfall. but the places I've lived accumulate snow with relatively little loss from breaks in temperature. I can count on snow from Halloween thru April. Additionally, I have lived and worked in the Arctic on and off for 25 years. The Inuit have 50 words to describe differences in the quality of snow and I have come to appreciate the nuances of this white shit that is the bane of my existence.

The snow I experience is hard packed over time by wind and cold. There is no fluffy powder here. There is no slushy wet snow except at the onset of winter and in Spring. Ambient winter temperature is -20 C (-4 F) and colder. Windchill pushes that beyond -35 C (-31 F). I have lived through winters with -40 C/F for weeks on end with -50 C (-58 windchill). I have experience -50 C temps and -80 C wind chills. I have also worn almost every conceivable form of winter footwear including moccasins, mukluks and valenki.

I live on a ranch and change into my office attire when I get to the office. Two reasons for this, I can't do chores in a suit plus my wife never gets a chance to look in my closet to see what new shit I have bought. So I wear purpose-built boots for my conditions until I get to the office. I am in and out of my office to smoke and to walk to meetings across campus. In my experience, leather soles - even broken in - are slippery in the conditions I live in. Moreover, when one comes in from the cold, the snow melts and you walk on marble, tile linoleum, vinyl tile that slipping can occur. For me, the point of slippage is on a dress boot's heel where the leather meets the rubber inset. So, my experience tells me leather soles suck for me both inside and outside for the task of walking across campus. I am pretty sure footed and never cut on my inside foot. I'm not going to change shoes or wear Swims, galoshes or toe rubbers. So my choices are: slip, slide away with leather soles, get shoes with rubber soles or Topy.

While lug soles like Vibram or other makes do provide more traction than other rubber soles, they are influenced by the cold. When rubber gets cold, it becomes rigid and does not grip. Vibram at the temps I experience are slippery too. Softer rubber compounds - like winter tires - resist temperature-induced hardening. That is why Sorels or other felt-pac boots work in severe winter. It is not the sole profile as much as the rubber composition.

I've chosen not to get lug soles because the defeat the purpose of a dress aesthetic that I want. I have boots with Ridgeway soles which are a bit better but frankly, I'm tired of sitting in someone's off ice with my legs crossed dripping dirty, salty ice water on their tile, carpet or hardwood.

I have some Dainite soled boots. Despite what people say, my experience in my conditions is that they are better than leather in snow. Plus, they have better aesthetics than lugs. Sure they slip but a lot less than leather.

But, I have found that the Topy best maintains the dress boot aesthetic while still providing sure footing in these conditions, which is why I've chosen to go this route.

It is the best compromise that I have found and I know for a fact that if I am going to Hell it is because of other things and not for the sacrilege that I commit by putting a Topy on my footwear.
 

Thruth

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my real concern. a boot and especially a monk boot is a difficult choice for a first pair with a "new" maker. tricky.
Interesting. He thought the same thing until I showed him pictures of what i wanted. he said it won't be as hard as he initially thought. but who knows. Ain't going to get shoes ever again so it has to be a boot. Can't be any worse than any of the RTW boots I have with tons of heel slippage. plus he has to remake it if it is a disaster.
 

doghouse

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I'd have to recommend remedial physics for some of intrepid forumites.
 

Thruth

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tldr.

we're talking about different things. its your boot...
No, I think we are talking about similar things. Obviously they are my boots but in general terms, based on my experience I just want to put on record where my experience differs from what I have read on SF and other forums to enable others to make informed choices. Unlike DFW who walks in snow in leather shoes like a cat tip toeing through puddles, that does not work for me.

Horses for courses
 
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