Quality Will Speak For Itself
A good handmade boot will have some or all of the following features.
- A hard leather toe box or stiffener.
Almost all ready-mades use plastic or treated paper. These seldom will hold their shape longer than one year. The leather toe box, if crushed, can usually be restored to its original shape. The leather toe box will also last about ten times as long.
- Three-quarter welt and sewn arch.
No nails will ever be used on a really good boot. Even though the welting is ended just behind the ball of the foot, the inseaming continues right around the heel. All factory boots tack this area. These tacks rust and cause the boot to rot. A properly forged 60-penny nail or a very strong spring steel shank will be laced into the arch and covered with leather to build the boot's distinctive rolled shank. This shank carries the weight of the body from the height of the heel to the ball of the foot.
- A hard leather stiffener or counter behind the heel.
This will be sewn directly into the leg of the boot, never sandwiched between the lining and outer layers. Factories often use paper here, but this piece should be of the highest quality, as it is the counter that prevents the boot from running over.
- A top quality leather outsole and a double row of hardwood pegs through the shank of the boot.
Since the sole is only sewn as far back as the ball of the foot, the rest of the outsole is attached firmly, around the shank and shank cover, with pegs. Extensive testing, by some of the finest bootmakers who ever lived, has proved conclusively that boots with the outsole sewn back to the heel are not as durable as boots that are pegged. Pegs are used rather than nails because they do not rust. Each peg must be driven by hand, in opposition to its neighbor.
- Stacked leather heels.
Hard soling leather is stacked one layer at a time, shaped and then pegged into place, not nailed. Even top name ready-mades have gone to compressed paper or plastic for heels in order to cut costs.
Finally, a good handmade boot will usually be made on a last that shows respect for the structure of the foot; particularly the heel, the arch and the ball of the foot. The arch distributes the weight of the body evenly between the massive heel bone and the bones at the ball of the foot. Manufacturers are notorious for raising or lowering a last to fit a particular heel they want to build. Some bootmakers do the same. Lasts that throw the weight too far forward can cause foot problems that can last a lifetime.
for more information contact: D.W. Frommer II -- Bootmaker