Getting Started: Basic Tools and Materials

In these “Getting Started” posts I want to lay out the materials, tools and information you need to build your first pair of shoes. As you move on to building more detailed shoes or shoes built with more period techniques there are more things you will need, but these can be gradually acquired over time.

Basic shoemaking doesn’t require much in the way of specialist tools, but there are a few things you need. This list covers the bare minimum you need to put together a simple pair of turned shoes.

As a general minimum you need:

  • A knife or shears. Whatever you use they must be sharp
  • A ruler (preferrably steel) and tape measure. Some non-stretch cord and a metre rule can come in handy for measuring feet.
  • A ballpoint pen, a pencil and a sharpie-type marker
  • An awl
  • Needles and thread to sew with
  • A lump of bees wax
  • Some masking tape. Actually a *lot* of masking tape will come in handy. Don’t buy the dollar store stuff, it tears horribly. Get the cheapest or second-cheapest stuff from a hardware store. Either will be better than dollar store stuff.
  • Some heavy non-corrugated cardboard. I buy mine at a stationery store for about $8 for an A2 sheet. It’s about 4mm thick.
  • Some heavy paper, an old calendar is ideal.

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