Archive for August, 2009

Attack of the ShopVac

Thursday, August 27th, 2009
Attack of the ShopVac

Attack of the ShopVac

All my industrial machinery and sharp tools and I get injured cleaning up. . .

My tools

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

I cannot even begin to quantify how important my tools are.  They are the bread to my butter, the cheese to my mac.

I began my journey with just the tools that I acquired through shoe school.  It included many of the basics, but also several very cool specialty tools as well.  Scroll through the pictures below in the gallery to see more of them.

My hand tools and toolbelt

My hand tools and toolbelt

The very first tool that I purchased when I got home from Shoe School were my Lasting Pliers.  I had originally wanted to find some antique ones that have a skinnier neck but those have proven harder to come by.  I must say that now that I have gotten used to them, I’ve grown quite fond of this particular pair.

Lasting Pliers

Lasting Pliers

My wonderful boyfriend built my lasting jack from the specs that were given to me from Shoe School.

My lasting jack

My lasting jack

. . .And built my custom workbench – isn’t he talented. . .

My workbench

My workbench

He also surprised me at Christmas with a stamp of my logo.  I was so thrilled.  It’s the coolest thing ever to be able to put your name right on something you have created.  Right now I pound the stamp with a hammer between leather and a slab of granite to “stamp the leather” with my logo.  Sometimes the stamp bounces and does not make the perfect stamp.  Eventually, I will need to purchase a press to obtain a more perfect stamp.

Leather stamp of my logo

Leather stamp of my logo

My first major tool purchase was my Delta sander.  Did you know that industrial tools do not come pre-assembled?  Nope.  You have to assemble them yourself.

Delta Sander

Delta Sander

My next major purchase was my Singer sewing machine.  Thus far I’ve only used my sewing machine for the heels that I made for my father’s wedding. . .everything else I have hand-stitched.  I do not have any prior experience with sewing machines, so like everything else in this process I am learning it from scratch.  I have several cool attachments that I purchased with the machine that I am excited to learn how to use and incorporate into my shoe designs.

Singer 201

Singer 201

My most recent purchase has saved my poor hands and tons of replacement knife blades.  It’s an Hitachi Scroll Saw and what used to take me several hours to cut now takes mere minutes.

New Hitachi Scroll Saw - close-up

New Hitachi Scroll Saw - close-up

Lasts are by far the most important tool for shoe-making.  You not only need a different last for varying lengths and widths of shoes, but also for varying heights.  A person’s foot changes shape dramatically as the heel height of a shoe increases.  For instance, if you tried to make a pair of ballet flats from a high heel Last, the toes would curl up and the arch would be too high.  See below for my current collection of Lasts.

My current Last collection

My current Last collection

My next major purchase will more than likely be a skiver.  I do have two hand skivers and I know how to use my knife to skive edges but a skiving machine would greatly reduce the time it takes me (not to mention the materials due to accidental cutting of the leather when I only mean to thin it) to make such things as straps for sandals.

Hand skivers

Hand skivers

The gallery below includes other tools not listed above but are equally as important.

Click on the pictures in the gallery for additional descriptions.

Lessons Learned

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

Too little lasting allowance is more frustrating than too much.

Measure 3xs, cut once.

Newer is not always better.

Call it a day when you start getting tired. . . .before irreversible mistakes happen.

Take careful notice of keeping the vamp centered on the Last when lasting the liner to the inner sole.

Skiving the heel counter is very important.

Be careful not to pull too taunt when using stretch materials as a liner. . .it will pull and bunch the non-stretchy material.

Barge should never be ingested in any capacity. . . .aka make sure all traces of barge are off hands before eatting anything.

Fit test, fit test, fit test.

Superior materials are worth the extra cash.

Practice makes perfect.

Master one skill before adding another.

There will be tears. . . . many, many tears.

Machinery is to be respected if you value all your 2000 parts.

Mistakes will happen. . . .the key is learning from them.