The Per­fect is the Enemy of the Good

I think Voltaire was on to some­thing with that, and it is some­thing worth bear­ing in mind for the begin­ning shoe­maker. Avoid sloppy and care­less work at all costs, but do not let the fact that you can’t do some­thing per­fectly stop you from doing it as well as you can. If there are things you can­not do well, the only way to improve is to do them. If you do them to the best of your abil­ity every time, your abil­it­ies will grow.

In my Get­ting Star­ted: Basic Tools and Mater­i­als post I lis­ted the tools and mater­i­als you need to get star­ted. They are very much the basics, and some have only their avail­ab­il­ity to com­mend them, but I made my first pair of shoes with no more than I lis­ted there.

If you want to do the best work you can, you should use the best tools and mater­i­als you can get, but where that presents a sig­ni­fic­ant bar­ri­er it is bet­ter to get the basic pieces togeth­er and make a start with what you have than it is to not make shoes at all. Prop­erly con­struc­ted lin­en thread waxed well with code will make a bet­ter shoe than uphol­stery thread waxed with beeswax; but uphol­stery thread waxed with beeswax will still make a shoe for reen­act­ment that will be bet­ter than almost any mod­ern shoe you might oth­er­wise be wear­ing.

There are lim­its though. Things like poly­es­ter thread or “sythet­ic sinew” have dis­ad­vant­ages that out­weigh their avail­ab­il­ity and aren’t worth using if you have any choice at all.

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