A run at New Balance

I’m always looking for manufactured shoes in my size.  I always seem to miss by half a size.  It’s frustrating.

The latest was a pair of New Balance 3½ XW.  They arrived and the left shoe fit perfectly.  The foot bed was right, the width was right and the length was perfect . . . then the other shoe dropped.  The right shoe fit half a size too small and was tight across the ball.  My left foot is actually half a size larger than my right, so picture me puzzled.  I went online to see if I could get a pair a half size larger but their size 4 doesn’t come in an XW.  <sigh>  At least they cover the cost of shipping the shoes back.

Shoes, shoes, shoes

First shoes - fitters

Here they are, the first shoes.  They’re pretty comfortable, though I haven’t put in my anti-arch supports.  The neck of the shoe is too large, which I expected.  I really have trouble with the laces crossing my arches.  It’s really uncomfortable though I used a very heavy spongy piece of leather for a tongue to try and protect my arch.  I’ve rerun the laces to go from side to side on the top and up and down on the foot side (not pictured).  That’s proving to be more comfortable.

After this next pair of shoes (in the works) I’ll know how much I need to reduce the last’s width in the toe box area.  One step at a time . . .


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.