Handmade implies a superior process and product. Yet, it all depends upon whose hands made it. handmade quality is determined by the quality of craftsman you have chosen, then and then only does the quality of the products used matter. This combination of great hands to make and great materials to mend, make a genuinely quality product -handmade.
Process is important. It makes or breaks the system by which leather footwear is properly constructed. There is a rich history and the processes involved in making leather footwear are many. From the ancient foot wear of the Egyptians to the modern day cowboy, leather has always been a logical and valued material. Today many forms of footwear do not use genuine leather but replace them with cheap synthetics or imitation materials, which fail rapidly.
Our process uses all genuine leather ranging from both vegetable tanned leathers, these primarily used in the foot bed materials or insole, and the outsole, and chrome tanned leather for shiny finished leathers for the uppers. Other exotic materials imported from all over the world are used to add a unique texture or look to the boot.
When it comes to decorative stitching we use old cast iron singer machines from the World War I or II era. Some of our Machines where made in Japan, Great Britain, Germany or America, but each give that romantic sound of quality made goods of days gone by.
"The last comes first" as the great boot maker Cgarlie Dunn once said, and he was right. The last is a mold made out of either a composite plastic or wood. this mold or last is used to make the footwear three dimensional. Everything depends upon the last, it must be built first and it must be built correctly, matching as cloyingly as possiblt to the human foot while keep shape and style of footewear in mind. the goal is to make something beautiful that fits well, to make this possible great attention must be given to the "last first." We build every last in store and file them for each customer for the years ahead.
Next we make the patterns. In this step all of the artistic expression of the customer is considered. From elaborate stitching to simple initialing, we make every pair unique in its own way, desiring to give each one a personal reflection of their wearer and maker.
For cutting these designs we use primarily two techniques: Inlay - a process that places one piece of leather beneath a cut out piece of leather and attaching it, giving a depth effect. Secondly, what is called overlay - a process of placing a cut out design on top of a flat piece of leather and then attaching. Both require skiving- a process where a piece of leather is tapered from thick to thinner giving one the ability to layer leathers while maintaining a smooth transition.
When finishing the boots we use a full leather insole that is shaped to the bottom of the last to make the impression of the customers foot. From there a channel is cut in the insole and later will be used to hand sew the welt to the uppers.
Next, the boot is lasted, set to dry, toe boxed and welted. Between the leather insole and outsole we use a metal shank. This ensures a solid support in the transition and shape of the arch area beneath the foot. Once this is anchored down we lay the soles and stitch the on through the welt down through the sole.
Once the sole is attached and sewn on we use a wood working process known as "pegging." Pegs have been used for centuries in construction of log homes and other wood structures. They "sure up" or wedge the materials together. In bootmaking we use a similar process to press and hold down the shank area of the western cowboy boot. Several rows of pegs are inserted to ensure everything stays nice and tight. Lemon wood or maple is the most common choice, a round hole is made with an awl and a square peg is inserted. once driven in the peg is wet and given time to expand forming the wedge needed to hold the sold down tightly.
Lastly, all leather heel stacks are attached, nailed down and the trimming and finish process begin.
Once the boots have been inked and burnished to desired shine, we pull the last and put on the final coat of conditioner and polish to complete the process.Every step is important and requires the utmost attention to detail.