A mistress of the craft making waxed ends

The making of waxed ends is, in my opinion, the single most important core skill for a shoemaker after patterning. I believe it is more important even than being able to sharpen a knife. This video of Marquita Volken‘s process for making up a waxed end is worth of many …

Iron Black Dyes

The easiest colours to dye leather in medieval times were brown and black. Those are by far the most common colours for shoes in artwork I have looked at, but I haven’t done a numeric analysis of footwear colour by art and period yet. Leather tanned by the medieval process …

Cover of Shoes and Pattens by Francis Grew and Margrethe De Neergaard. Part of the Museum of London's series on the Archaeology of London.

Buy This Book No.3: Shoes and Pattens

This is another must-have book for the medieval reenactor and historic shoemaker. Shoes and Pattens is the seminal work on medieval footwear in English. Published in the 1980s some of the research has been superseded by subsequent publications such as Stepping Through Time, but it remains an immensely useful and accessible …

Stepping Through Time, by Olaf Goubitz, Carol van Driel-Murray and Willy Groenman van Waateringe.

Buy This Book No.2: Stepping Through Time

In my opinion this is the most significant English-language book on historic footwear to be published in the 20th century. The bulk of the book is by Olaf Goubitz who literally invented the system of recording archaeological leather and footwear used today. Everyone with an interest in historic footwear and …

Picture of two skiving knives lying on a piece of leather

Skiving Knives

I recently bought a couple of skiving knives from Lisa Sorrell, and I’ll start this by saying this: Run, do not walk, to Lisa’s website and buy one. One of each if you can afford it, but the big one if not. If you can’t afford a US$45 knife, that’s …

Picture of the book 'Art of The Shoemaker'

Buy This Book No.1: The Art of The Shoemaker

Anyone interested in making late period shoes needs a copy of this book. It is Al Saguto’s translation of Garsault’s 1767 Art du Cordonnier including extensive notes. It is THE book on 18th century shoemaking and the techniques it describes are useful back to 16th century shoemaking as well. As the …

This is the stuff you want for making up your own threads.

Where to get single strand thread

A question I get asked fairly frequently is where to find single-strand thread for making tapered waxed ends for sewing. It’s hard to get really good stuff these days because there isn’t really anywhere doing proper long-staple linen anymore but you can still get workable stuff. The stuff you want …

Tool racks at the Volken's shoe museum in Lausanne, Switzerland containing shoemaking tools from neolithic, Roman, medieval, 16th & 17th, and 19th/20th centuries.

An amazing display of period shoemaking tools

This is a photograph from Serge and Marquita Volken’s shoemaking museum which you can read about at http://www.shoemuseum.ch/. I have posted it here with their permission after they posted it on their facebook page. They said, about the display: “Our new display: Shoe makers tool boards: from left to right: Neolithic, …

Picture of hammers and tools from Ford Hallam's website - http://fordhallam.com, used with permission.

Words From a Master Craftsman

Ford Hallam is an extraordinarily talented metal smith trained in the Japanese tradition. A short film was made about his work, Utsushi – in Search of Katsushira’s Tiger which I think everyone should watch. I have watched it many many times and I take great joy in it each time. …

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