Shoemaking School Pt. 6  — Bevelled Waist and making a Heel

Shoemaking School Pt. 6  — Bevelled Waist and making a Heel

My phone was out of commission for a while, so no pics of pattern making, putting together the uppers, lasting the heel, and getting the protective covering on. That will all come later. This is the first pair of shoes that we did a full insole and welt on.

For insole prep, there is a bit of a difference for a bevelled waist.

Mark the widest point on the outside and inside part of the shoe, and connect them with a line. A useful trick for that is just putting the shoe up against a straight surface and seeing where they connect. Draw a parallel line 1.5 cm below it. When you’re marking your line for the holdfast, do the same 7 mm on the outside of the shoe, with 9 mm right before the heel. On the inside of the shoe, below the second line you drew, it should be 1 cm. In the area between the lines, just connect them naturally. The heel length should be the width of the heel + 5 mm.

Bevel the heel to about half thickness of the outsole, however on the inside where the heel meets the holdfast, it should be full thickness. This helps prevent the heel raising too high up on the inside of the shoe. Also, skive down the insole at the arch a bit more than everywhere else as pictured. Use glass to get a more precise thickness.

Once you’re done lasting, hammer the welt around the heel using 10 mm tacks, leaving the section where the welt overlaps bare. For the welt, even before you start, you should skive the top of the welt down. When you overlap, you should also skive the top of the welt. Mark out where the end is, then fold it over and skive. Its useful to have a small hard surface, like a metal plate, to do it over. Take a rasp to both edges, glue, and join them.

Connected welt. You can see the two parallel lines I mentioned previously here, the top one is called the ball joint line.

Add a shank from the bottom line to about the middle of the heel area, filling in the void with cork. We use a wooden shank here, but metal also works well. If using a wooden shank and its too long, you can trim it as long as its in a diagonal motion with the scissors. Trimming straight up and down may cause the wood to break.

Cut out a portion of shoulder leather for the heel area, skiving the top on the flesh side.

Glue the leather skin side to the bottom of the shoe (roughening it up beforehand), and glue the cork to the top area like previously mentioned. Leave the welt stitching bare.

Spend a lot of time shaping the filler material here, the better job you do here the better the outsole will sit later. Spend some time making sure the ball of the foot area is relatively flat (with a slight curve). Make sure the arch area is not higher than the ball area, and it has a nice smooth arching shape for the bevelled waist later. Make the heel area as flat as possible at this stage.

Trim the welt much closer in the heel area here, its a design choice as to how close you want it. Make the transition smooth on the outside of the shoe.

Draw a line in the arch area, between the heel and bottom ball joint line, 3 mm away from the stitching. Make a fairly aggressive curve at the heel, and naturally connect the line to the rest of the welt at the top ball joint line as pictured.

Its useful to redraw the heel and both lines in the ball joint area to the tape for later reference points.

Cut the welt using a metal plate as a base, at a slight angle outward, so the top of the welt will be wider than the bottom where you drew the line.

Afterwards, skive the welt all the way to the stitching. It may be useful to draw a reference line at the stitches if they are difficult to see.

Draw out the shoe on your outsole, trim the waist area roughly (leave maybe 1 cm extra material). Mark out your heel line and the bottom ball joint line on the outsole, and skive down the area between them to about a 2/3rds thickness, 1/2 at the most.

After skiving, use a glass to shave down the whole area about 3 cm in, making the transition natural.

Glue the outsole to the shoe, as before make sure to roughen up the outsole and have the flesh side quite dry before applying glue. Don’t put on too much, and let it dry for a while (maybe 30 mins) before adhering. Start by gluing the front of the shoe, then the heel, then the waist. Make sure you get the skived welt area glued well.

Before gluing, you should make sure you have some extra outsole in the arch area. Afterward, trim it leaving 3 mm extra. Trim the rest of the outsole flush to the welt here.

Skive down the arch area between the second ball joint line and the heel as much as you can. After you can’t effectively do it anymore with a knife, use a piece of glass to keep shaving it down.

You want the overlapping section to be thin enough that its a bit floppy over the welt.

Take some time to shave down the arch area so that it has an appealing curve, don’t forget to wet your outsole periodically!

This is the tool used to make a curve at the waist, not sure its exact name (not helpful, I know..).

The way to use to tool is to first heat it. As its heating, dab your water brush into some soap and wet the arch area. Afterwards, you want the teeth portion of the tool over the flap, push in quite hard, using your other hand to move the tool over the arch until a nice rounded edge forms.

Cut your outsole channel as usual, but flip the knife at this stage. Be careful, its very easy to slip here with the different knife grip.

Do the outsole stitch the same as you would on any other shoe, but once the welt gets too narrow to effectively use the other awl, you can switch to the big awl used for welting. You don’t have to stitch as closely in the arch area, and bring in the awl at a slight angle. End the stitch a bit under the heel.

Do the same steps as mentioned in the outsole stitching section, but when compacting the outsole after the stitching, use a piece of leather as a buffer in the arch area. Spend extra time hammering out the sole to make sure its flat.

After you’re done shaping the outsole with the hammer, use a piece of glass to take clear the surface of the heel and put in 12 mm tacks. Hammer all tacks at a slightly inward angle.

Before moving on to building the heel, do the finishing procedures on the arch area. Dye the welt, sand the arch using gradually finer grit.

Go over the arch again with the edging iron we used on the arch previously. Heat it and wet the arch before using as before.

Get a good idea of how high you want to build up your heel stack. This last uses a 2.5cm heel height. You want the front of the shoe to sit at the ball of the foot and be stable, with the heel being parallel to the floor.

The picture on the right shows a common problem, where even if the rest of the heel is flat, the edge curves inward a bit. Use a small piece of leather to start the buildup here. Use usual glue procedures, and skive it down to zero before moving on to the next layer of the heel.

Also, if you’re using pre cut heel stacks, before you start building it make sure the inward curve matches up with the toplift (last stack on the heel). Its much easier to cut this to match before building the stack!

On the first layer, when you trim it leave about 1 mm extra. Hammer that with the back of the hammer to spread the leather out and fill any voids.

Keep building the heel stack until you get to the penultimate later (love that word…). At each stage of the stack, make sure you’re trimming everything flush and shaping it properly, so it sits perpendicular to the floor. You could go with a Cuban heel here if you want, and angle the successive layers inward, just make sure you don’t do that unless you’re actually trying to!

At the next to last layer, put in some tacks to keep the heel together. I believe these are 1.5 cm, as usual angle them inwards. Stop hammering when you feel them hit the metal plate.

Trim off the heads, and hammer the rest flush.

When gluing the toplift, make sure you’re also gluing the edge where the rubber meets the leather.

Trim the last layer like usual, then spend a bunch of time shaping the outsole. Its starting to look like a real shoe here!

Use a piece of glass to shape the inside of the heel stack. Use a knife or rasp to flatten the edges of the heel a bit, otherwise they look quite ragged from the shaping and glassing. Not sure how to make the edges crisp

Another wheeling tool I don’t know the proper name for. It’s used to hide the transition between the welt and outsole on the heel area. You use it the same as any other, heat it and wet the leather before using it. Again, make sure you’re doing a good job on the first go, if you have to come back it’s going to look a bit janky like mine. Use this tool when you’re done shaping and finishing the heel, before you apply wax.

Use the tool again, cold, after you’ve applied wax.

To take off the protective plastic, use a dull knife heated up.

Pull off the plastic while putting the heated edge to it.

Put in some brass tacks to secure the toplift. I went a bit crazy here, maybe less is more? Measure you where you want to tacks to go and use an awl to pre-prick the holes, it will go much smoother than mine did. I also used the fudging wheel at the transition of the rubber and leather on the heel which has a nice effect. Not as great on the heel transition.

Done! Quite pleased with this one.

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