February 16, 2017

What you need to know about shoe last Part 1 : Shoe lasts components

What you need to know about shoe last Part 1 : Shoe lasts components

I remember myself in the begging of my journey into amazing craft of shoemaking. I didn’t know anything about it when I took a short shoe  course in the art academy where I learnt as an accessory designer. During this course I realized that it’s not enough information about shoemaking and I need to know much more, if i want to be a professional shoemaker.
After that I found an excellent school in Italy and started my carrier as a shoemaker. But in this short footwear course in the academy I realized that one of the important things in shoemaking, is a shoe last. 
Shoe last will determine the shape of your shoes, the comfort, everything is build in shoemaking around shoe last. It is not enough to know the size of the lasts that you need to make shoes for yourself,there are many other important parameters that you, as a beginner in shoe making, must know.

I wrote few posts about lasts here, and you my dear subscribers received many emails on the subject, but I never talked with you in details about components, shoe lasts types, construction and many other important parameters of shoe last. Now I am going to fix it.

I will wright a series of posts that will introduce you to the entire world of shoe lasts and will help you in your beginning as a shoemaker. You will understand why shoe lasts have certain details and how they will help you in your shoemaking cruft to become experienced shoemaker.
In this first part I will explain you everything about shoe last components, so you will know each of them and why we need them.

Shoe lasts components

 1. Last ferrule
No matter what last is made of( wood or plastic), what type of last, men’s last or women’s last, on the top of the last in the heel part there is the last thimble.

last furrle

It is the metal coated hole made inside the plastic (of the last) to put the last peg in and last your shoes (men’s lasts have bigger last ferrule than women’s lasts).  Also thanks to this component you will take your lasted shoes off the last. 
In my Flat Ballet Shoes Course I  show how to make home made device to take your shoes off the lasts.

Now some lasts have ferrule that passes through the entire last and have the hole in the bottom of the last. It serves to place screws through the top part of the last ferrule to attach heels while the shoes are still on the last. This operation possible only with the use of special equipment that each shoe factory has.2. There is also the link hinge, but we will talk about it in the next post.

3.Steel plate

Most of the lasts have steel plates on the bottom of the last. This steel plate may cover the entire bottom, the half of the last bottom or only the heel part. In each steel plate in the middle of the heel area there is a hole thatis used to attach the insoles with nails to the last’s bottom during lasting.

Why we need this steel plate? 

We need it to use nails during lasting, to attach lasted uppers with all its layers to the insoles. So the uppers will be attached to the insoles not only with glue but with nails as well.

How does it work? The nails pass through the upper, counters, lining and insoles, meets the steel plate and bend because of steel plate. So at the end of the process you could take off your shoes from the last. Without steel plate you can’t use nails, as they will stay inside of the plastic shoe last bottom and you will not be able to take your shoes off the lasts.

In my courses I show how to work with half steel plated lasts, as in cemented shoe construction you should use nails to attach well the upper, lining, and stiffeners to the insoles.

There are shoe lasts without steel plate. For example, most of the sandal lasts don’t have steel plate, because the uppers of sandals consist in mostly from straps or have open construction in the heel part where you don’t need to use nails.I prefer to work with lasts that have half steel plate and advise the same for my students, because if you will want for some reason to work without steel plate or want to make it shorter ( leave it only in the heel part), you can do it easily with half steel plates. 

For example, you will need to leave steel plate only in the heel part to customize your shoe lasts according to your feet parameters. In many cases you will need to enlarge the insole part or enlarge the sides of the lasts, so for that reason it is the best to leave steel plate only in the heels.

In my Bespoke Derby Course I teach how to customize your shoe lasts according to your feet measurements and how to change the length of the steel plate. So choose the lasts with half steel plates, as you can always change the length of the steel plate according to your needs whatever they are.

In the next post about shoe lasts we will talk about last hinge. Why most of the the lasts have it and which types of hinged last exist.

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. Great lesson to remember about not useing nails on lasts without steel plates. Thank you Professor Kletina. The depth of your knowledge and experience in shoemaker is apparent in your presentation of the course material. I am glad that I did enroll for the course. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for this post! I have always wondered why the steel plate is on the last and what purpose it serves. Looking forward to your next post on this topic!

  3. Thanks for the post, there is so little information on the internet about lasts…

    I have seen wooden nails\pegs available.. Can one use these on wooden lasts, instead of metal nails? They would not stick into the lasts…


  4. Sveta, you must have read my mind! The timing of this information is perfect as I have been looking to purchase some new lasts. I had no idea there were so many variations until I started searching. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and helping me to buy the correct type of lasts.
    Looking forward to part 2. ☺

  5. I learn to make my own last by using molding clay that harden with time. It’s not easy to make, because I have to make sure that each foot mold is very accurate with my actual size and shape of my feet. I also wrapped the harden last with layers of masking tape to prevent it from breaking or cracking whenever I mallet the insole board unto the bottom part of the last with nails. So far I never had a problem with this home made last. Its very durable and hard.

  6. Have wanted to make shoes for 50 years. Have studied and collected equipment. never have gotten started. cloth mary janes only. never give up

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