The end of this week will mark my halfway point in the boot making process. Over the past month since my last post I have learned a phenomenal amount about boots. I have spent most of that time in what is known as the “Goodyear” department. This department covers everything from the lasted boot, to the completely out-soled boot.
The process begins with welt stitching. The welt is a long piece of leather attached to the sides of a lasted boot. This piece of leather allows the outsole to be stitched onto the bottom of the boot. After the welt is attached the boot is sent to have a shank, shank cover, and dutchman added to the bottom of the boot. The shank is a long rectangular piece of metal which runs from where the ball of your foot lies to the forward end of the arch of your foot giving the boot the support for the arch. The shank is nailed into the insole after being hammered into a correct shape. Then the dutchman is added. The dutchman is a horseshoe shaped piece of plastic that lays on the heel of the boot. It is added because the welt does not go all the way around the boot; rather it stops before the heel. several pieces of leather are laid on top of the shank protecting it from the outsole when it is attached. The outsole is pressed with a machine onto the bottom of the boot, and stitched to the welt to secure it. An easy way to think of all this is a sandwhich: insole, shank and dutchman, shank cover and then outsole. The soles being the “bread”.
This past month of learning has been a lot of fun but also difficult. I am beginning to miss Denton more, and the community of friends I have there. However it is certainly worthwhile for this experience. I also acquired my first injury as a boot maker. I smashed the edge of my thumb with a hammer while trying to shape the shank. To me it is a badge of honor!
I am looking forward to the next two months of this process and hope that I continue to learn as much as I have and perhaps not smash my finger again in the process.