Beginners Shoemaking Tools and Materials:The Definitive Guide


Beginners Shoemaking Tools and Materials:The Definitive Guide

You want to make your own shoes, you dream about learning shoemaking for so long, but before you start, there are so many obstacles that most of them you created yourself.

I am talking from my own experience and observation of others that learn this wonderful craft.

The number one obstacle that I hear from beginners are tools and materials.

The truth is, you don’t need that much to get started . There is a simple reason for this, and it is because you are a beginner.

You don’t need many tools, you don’t need fancy machinery, because first you need to learn how to work with basic tools and materials and progress as you go on.

Once, I was a beginner just like you, and trust me I didn’t had much.

About 2 years ago I published “25 shoemaking tools and materials you need to get started” guide, but today I want to focus on a must have tools and materials to show you that you can start learning shoemaking today.

To show you the big picture and make you understand where you should use every tool and material, we will go through the entire process of making shoes, from start to finish.


I love people that take action and don’t wait for that special time that may never come, so I want to encourage you to make the first step.

At the end of this guide you will find my limited -time offer, so read the guide and sign up today for my shoemaking courses with this discount.


12 Shoemaking Tools and Materials for Beginners

First thing you need to start this process is a shoe last. There are many different lasts but because you are a beginner there is one  last type that you will need and I will explain why.


  1.  Pump shoes last with low heel


This is the perfect last to start with because with this last you can make many other types ( and not just pumps) like: Oxford shoes, Derby shoes, Slingback pumps, boots and I show it all in my courses.

  1. Masking tape


This is a must have material that you will use through the entire process and it is the first thing we use.

There is no need in special masking tape, it’s just need to be a good quality tape and you can purchase it in every Office Depot store.  

We cover the last with masking tape to draw our design on the last, later on we will transfer this design ( m.tape) to cardboard to make our basic pattern.


To choose the right masking tape please read this post Shoe making Case Study: Cover Your Shoe Last Using Right Masking Tape
After you will create your basic pattern, you will move on to create the pattern of your upper and lining. To calculate the seam allowance for upper and lining you will need this tool.

3. Compases


It is the same compases as you used in geometry class, at least it has the same function, so if you can’t find the “shoemaker compases” just buy the ordinary one.  


As we got our patters ready, the next step is cutting leather. Shoemakers use special knives for it, but you will not fill the difference by using vey quality utility knife. I personally use ordinary utility knife but the trick is that I am using very sharp 30 degree angle blades / BD-100

4. Shoemaking knife


 You should have one good shoemaking knife and trust me it will be your friend. Good shoemaking knife can be used in many stages of our work. For example next step before sewing the upper is skiving the edges.

You can also use your shoemaking knife to cut the vegtan leather, skive the sole ( as I show in my lessons) and trim the extras when making your stacked heel.

I use good English shoemaking knife (22×2.5cm) that I got from “George Barnsley and Sons” ( UK, Sheffield).

5. Reinforcement tape


Before sewing the upper we must reinforce the topline so it will not stretch during lasting and we need to reinforce the back seam.  There are different width of reinforcement tape but you can start by using the narrow, 4mm reinforcement tape. For the back seam you can use a piece of thin leather.


  1. Adhesive

You must have glue for our shoemaking process, so where do you sue it?

  • To assemble the upper before sewing
  • To attach the upper to the insole
  • To attach the sole
  • To make our leather stacked heel

There are many different types of this glue, what important is that it must be glue for leather only. For example Renia or Burge adhesive.

7. Sewing machine

There are many advanced and new machines there obviously, but as a beginner I will not suggest investing so much money in expensive sewing machine, Many of the Shoemaking Courses Online  members  purchased second hand machines on ebay.  


  1. Hammer for folding


There are many hammers that you can use, but one is the one you need as a beginner.

It is good for many things.

I use it not only for folding. I use it also to flat the seams after sewing and to attach the sole.

The trick here is to use the wooden handle to attach the sole evenly.


9. Pincers for lasting


In lasting we need to consider the type of leather that we use, and that is why in my courses I teach to check the leather that you will use first. You need to know how to last different shoe models but it is very important to have comfortable pincers.

You should have lasting pincers with hammer. This way you don’t need to use real hammer when lasting and it is much comfortable and easy to last.


  1. Nails


There are two types of nails that you must have.

long nails= 2cm

short nails=0.9 cm


When lasting we use the both types. The long type we use for the front are and they are long so we could bend them. The short nail we place to attach the heel, and we leave them there. Please remember, that you should do it only if you have a steel plate on the bottom of you last.  


  1. Vegtan leather


This is almost the end of shoemaking process and there is no better material to use for your sole then good vegtan leather. In my courses I teach how you should prepare and skive your vegtan sole and also how to shape it.  

Vegtan leather will be also used for making your stacked heels and you could learn different techniques how to make heels on and off the last.

Vegtan leather can be also used as alternative for the shank board and texon board when creating insoles.

As you will  be using a low heel pump last you can reinforce the arc area of your shoe with straight piece of vegtan leather. This will be also alternative for the steel shank, but it should be used only in the low heel last up to 1 cm.    


  1. Dremel drill

This is a great unorthodox shoe making tool that you can use along the entire process of making shoes. You welcome to read my previous post “Dremel drill: 8 Ways to Use This Shoemaking Tool” to see what you can do with this tool. It is also sold everywhere and it’s very easy to find.


Here is a good Italian online store where you can order most from this list. ( Tell them I sent you 🙂

Disclaimer: I don’t have any affiliate profit from this supplier.


There are 12 tools and materials on that list and that is what you need to get started. As you will get more experience, because that is what you need in shoe making, you will buy more tools, more materials but for a beginner like you this is a perfect list to get started.


Now you know that you don’t need much to get started, just do it.


As I mentioned at the beginning of this guide, I love people that take action.


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I am waiting to see you on my courses.


Thank you for reading,


Sveta Kletina

There are 12 Comments

  1. Posted by funmi Idowu

    really love make my shoe

  2. Posted by jahanzaibkhan

    i am intrested in this course .i am also a shoes desighner in pakistan now i wish to further study in shoes field please tell me about admission and study timming.

  3. Posted by Miguel

    Hi Sveta

    I would love to buy from the Italian online shoe store but they dont deliver to the US. Its harder to get tools here than in Europe.

    Any suggestions?

  4. Posted by Rhy

    Do you recommend a particular website here in the states?
    Thank you Sveta!

  5. Posted by shadia

    I am from oman …..I need to buy tools for shoemaking what tools do you recommend

    • Posted by Sveta Kletina

      You can sign up for my email list on the website and you will get full list of tools and materials.

  6. Posted by kamla thani

    Hello Sveta,

    I am a beginnger and would like to attend your shoemaking online course including the shoemaker kit.
    some questions.
    1) my size is 38,5 i am not sure which size to select, 38 or 39. My longest feet is 24.3 cm? which one do i need to select?
    2) I wanted to register but i only get the option for 22nd of August while i would like to start next week or when i receive my kit.
    3) I do live in the Netherlands, how long wil it take to send the kit to here?

    thank you for your feedback!
    Take care and kind regards,

    • Posted by Sveta Kletina

      I will sent you an answer to your email.

  7. Posted by Ajiri

    Hi. I’m a beginner from Nigeria. I’d like to get registered for your courses. Most of the basic tools are very accessible here so that’s not really not a problem. I have challenges with drawing patterns and making straight cuts

  8. Posted by popoola olajide

    plz send me the list

    • Posted by Sveta Kletina

      Everything is here on the page, you are welcome to read it.