Shoe lasts

I still have a tremendous frustration with getting lasts that match my feet.  Winter’s coming and all I have to wear is a poorly fitted pair of expensive custom boots.  Honestly, the 10th century shoes I made are more comfortable, though they rub the ends of my toes, have zero support and are worthless in the wet.  If I can get lasts made I can remake the boots into something that will work for me and be worth close to what I paid for them.  I can also make shoes for everyday wear that are comfortable.

Not my foot, cast in RTV Silicone

So, I’ve been doing more research.  I found a  guy who made shoe lasts out of A20 RTV silicone rubber.  Hmm.  To make a mold to accurately reflect the shape and size of the foot, the foot should be weight bearing during the casting phase but that’s the only issue I have with his method.

I want to make a clay base to stand on, then pour the alginate around my foot while standing on the clay pad.  I don’t need to come up my leg as far as he did.  Using clay for the bottom should give me a reusable 2 part mold, though alginate is  not a product I expect to hold up for long.  There’s a potter on Main in Chehalis.  I’ll stop in and see if I can buy a couple pounds of worked clay.  If not I can stop and dig some out of a bank somewhere.  It’ll take longer to get it ready but it will work as well.  It’s been decades since I’ve wedged clay but I haven’t forgotten how.  I have Plaster of Paris for a wedging table and enough scrap lumber to knock one together.

Once the casting is done I’ll add material around the toes until I have models I can make molds from whenever I need to.  I can get 2 part fiberglass resin for permanent molds.  Lorr says he’s got a casting material that mimics spruce.  That’ll be a good test material for lasts.

I occasionally toy with the idea of carving my own lasts.  I’d need more chisels and gouges than I’ve got.  I wouldn’t start from scratch.  I’ve got 5 pair of women’s lasts I can cut apart and scab material to to get the right width.  With the models of my feet to work from I think I can get really close to what I need.  It’s a lot of unnecessary work if I can get molds made and find the right casting material.

2 thoughts on “Shoe lasts

  1. I realize this is an old topic for you, but I wanted to send you some encouragement.

    I decided to try to learn to make shoes. I found a web site called Simple Shoemaking and followed the instructions for Fisherman sandals. I also bought some patterns from the site.

    I don’t use a last. I use a pair of flip-flops with the straps cut off and pin the pieces to the flip-flops as I go. I try them on as I build them. I’ve had to guess some of the process since the patterns have no instructions.

    Like you, my foot doesn’t really fit any commercial shoes. I am very happy to have had some success making shoes and sandals from these patterns. I’ve used fabric instead of leather so I can sew the uppers with my sewing machine. I’ve used recycled materials from the thrift store and from an industrial scrap store, and materials from the hardware and craft store.

    I encourage you to keep working on this. The picture in your post with the pattern looks better than many of the finished shoes I’ve made. Being able to make your own shoes is really freeing.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I ran across Simple Shoes but had already made sandals. I wear them in the summer when it’s warm but the strapping pattern I used is very different.

      I like your idea of using fabric. I have a mock-up out of cordura of the shoe I want to make but I REALLY want that shoe in leather! I have the pieces cut out ready to go, I just need a last to wrap them around.

      I would REALLY like a machine to stitch the leather pieces together. I’m pretty much an instant gratification girl. I will hand stitch the shoes because I don’t have a choice, but that doesn’t mean I don’t covet a machine to do the stitching. Sans a machine I’m going to have to make a stitching horse. Such is life.

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