Shoes by Robert


Once you have completely stitched the upper to the sole, it's time to put the turn in turnshoes. Soak them in water for about 10 minutes. I use lukewarm water.

After the leather has softened sufficiently, it's usually a simple matter to push the heel out through the ankle opening and continue working the rest of it to follow. Sometimes, though, it can get trickier depending on the shape of the shoe and the size of the opening.

I find that a sturdy, shallow wooden spoon is most useful during the turning process, when it stalls. Use either the bowl end or the handle end as needed to push and prod the leather in the direction it needs to go. Having both a relatively pointy end and a shallower curved one meets most neeeds, I find. Patience is the key when the leather doesn't want to turn. Speak softly and carry a short stick.

One time I used pliers to grab and pull the wet leather. Bad idea! The pliers left permanent grip marks on the outside of the leather; thankfully it was on the sole. I did later try pliers again, but this time put a small scrap of medium leather in the mouth of the pliers first, so that there would be no teetch marks. Pliers can be useful, but take great care with them.

I've been told that the pointier the shoe, the harder it is to turn the toe, and that the toe should not be stitched until after turning, in order to make it possible to turn, when moderate to extreme. I have not yet made shoes with much of a point so I cannot remark on how well - or not - they turn.

Last updated April 16, 2018.