My last pair of boots. 9. The shank and insoles

 My boots, made by the estimable Lee Miller of Austin, Texas, are supposed to be ready today, so I should get them in the mail next week. The pictures are a few days behind, but we’ll continue today with the “bottom work”: putting on the shank (a hammered nail to give support in the arch), the outsole, and stitching it all together. The notes and photos are, as always, by Carrlyn Miller.
Time to prepare the boots for inseaming and the laying of the shanks. You can see Lee is whip stitching in the shank area.
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Around the heel as well.
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Almost all the way around.
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Lee inseaming.
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And, here he has finished one.
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He trims the welt with a lip knife.
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Next come the outsoles.
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He has marked the leather for the sole and is trimming the excess leather.
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Checking to be sure he has the correct length.
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Cutting the piece in half.
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Now to make the shanks. Lee takes a “timber nail” and heats up both ends. [JAC: Note that in a real custom boot the shank isn’t a pre-ordered strip of metal, but is constructed from hammering flat a large nail.]
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Once the nail is heated, he pounds both ends on an anvil.
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And puts the nail in cold water to temper it.
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In the meantime, the boots and different components are outside drying in the sun.
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Now, he lays the shank in.
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He hammers the nail in place.
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And, takes leather pieces and puts one on each side of the shank.
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Trims the leather pieces.
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Hammers the leather pieces.
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Puts the shank cover on.
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 Hammers the shank cover down.
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 Sands the piece to shape it.
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 And, checks to see that it’s level. Tomorrow, the outsoles.
Look at that beautiful shape! You’ll see pretty much how the finished boots will look.
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  1. Posted July 1, 2016 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Jerry, this is an amazing pair of boots! Can’t wait to see the finished product! I’m surprised you are able to wait this patiently with all the photos coming in.

    I thought the Fender guitar strap holding the shank cover was a clever moment in bootmaking. 🙂

    • Ken Elliott
      Posted July 1, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      I thought that said Fender, but I figured I wasn’t reading it clearly.

  2. Ken Elliott
    Posted July 1, 2016 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    This whole process has turned out to be quite compelling. I’m looking forward to see how it plays out in the end.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 2, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Does anyone have the tech to assemble the images and captions into a time-lapse presentation?
      Actually, I suspect that I have.

  3. Posted July 1, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    This is simply beautiful art, PCC(E). *Please* don’t have them cremated, as you earlier intimated; surely a next of kin or a Humanist or Atheist museum or organization would care to have them?! Barring that, they’d make good crematory ‘urns’.

  4. Posted July 1, 2016 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    The boots are a absolutely gorgeous.
    But the pointy-toe style puzzles me.
    I get that it has a very long history.
    I get that it’s very stylish.
    I get that it attracts admiring looks.
    It’s persistence puzzled me when I threw away my first pair of pointy-toe ‘court’ shoes after wearing them once.
    It continued to puzzle me when, twenty years later, I looked at the mis-shapen feet of my contemporaries who’d continued to the style, then back at my bunionless, cornless feet, still the same shape as they were at 16 and giving me no grief.
    At age 69 the price I paid in my teens and twenties for my lack of fashion is as nothing and I’ve never had to visit a podiatrist or chiropodist.
    Those boots would definitely find a place in my home as examples of extraordinary workmanship and as of 21st century art.
    Just not on my feet.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted July 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

      At least one of the stages (I’ve lost track of where in the process this is) has covered the construction of “toe boxes” to accommodate the shape of human feet.
      Since the whole process started with PCC(E) having his be-socked feet draw around while standing on a sheet of paper, to make a duo of custom lasts for him, then these boots should not have rub points or foot-distorting shapes.
      (Incidentally, the lasts should be good for making other styles of footware to measure.)

      • Posted July 4, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        The ‘toe box’ idea is comforting; thanks for the ‘heads up’ on that.
        It still leaves me wondering, though, if the toe point has always been a matter of fashion or whether – like the cuban heel – it arose out of some practical need. I can’t yet imagine what that might be.
        The pointy toe has certainly reached ridiculous lengths, as I discovered in a Wiki article on ‘Crakows’ (shoes)
        “I read, that since the fifth of Richard II (when he took to wife Anne, daughter to Wenceslaus [sic], King of Bohemia), by her example the English people had used piked shoes, tied to their knees with silken laces, or chains of silver or gilt, wherefore in the fourth of Edward IV it was ordained and proclaimed that beaks of shoon and boots should not pass the length of two inches, upon pain of cursing by the clergy, and by Parliament to pay twenty shillings for every pair.”
        The Emperor Maximilian had a pair of sabatons with extremely long poulaines. I wondered if these vicious-looking points were by way of extra weaponry.
        Perhaps the point on the toe of a shoe is still mildly suggestive of masculine bravado?

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 5, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          This isn’t relevant to the origin of “pointy toes”, but for why they might be appropriate to cowboy boots, here’s a hypothesis :
          When trying to get your feet into the stirrups, having a point to the toe means that it’s a simpler task, while your hands are occupied in sorting out reins, shooting Doc Holliday and whatever else is part of getting onto a horse.
          Never having climbed onto a horse in my life, I wouldn’t know if that would work.
          A dim memory is coming back from the depths : considering the complexities of making a “toe box” for a shoe or boot, a quick’n’dirty solution would be to roll up the tip of the shoe into a cone, then fold the tip of that back up over the top of the shoe. Another hypothesis.

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