Gathering dust in my closet for many years now are these old “Gunboats”. I purchased them back in my starving actor years at a Goodwill store, must have been in the previous millenium. I have not worn them in the last ten years, except for once shooting a period piece. The lining is worn out and at the vamp the creases are cracked but I never had the heart to throw them away. They still have something solid about them. A perfect candidate for a rejuvenation project.


So, I take off the heels and out sole…


…and carefully separate the upper from the insole and lining.


Here is a good example of the infamous “Goodyear Welt”. I always crinch when some moron calls this the gold standard of shoe construction. Many people also confuse “Goodyear Welt” with a hand welted construction, where the welt is actually sewn straight onto the insole. Mr. Goodyears big contribution to the world of shoe making was not the invention of this construction – the machine was invented by a German shoemaker. He only marketed the new machine under his name. Since a Goodyear Welt can be stitched on by an unskilled worker (or now a child in the Far East) using heavy machinery in minutes, mass production of shoes became possible. Of course thousands of shoemakers got also screwed out of a job.


Modern “Goodyear Construction” uses the process of “Gemming”, where the welt is attached to the insole via a fabric or synthetic material which is glued onto the insole. Most RTW shoes are constructed this way, to my knowledge even G&G, EG and John Lobb use it.

To be fair though, on these -probably 50 year old – shoes the construction held up nicely and was pretty hard to take apart. I just find it kind of questionable to charge a premium price and marvel about the quality of a shoe which is held together by glue and a piece of cloth to save a few nickels….


Cutting out the cracked leather…


and sewing in new lining and crokodile skin for the vamp using the existing holes.


Lasting and welting the shoe is a bit of a challenge since there is not much excess material to work with and the leather is already a bit briddle in some areas. So I make the holes for welting not in advance but as I make the stitches, sometimes using the existing holes to avoid creating a big postage stamp.


The shoes get dyed black, receive a shank and the stitching channel of the welt is being closed with the material I saved when I cut the channel.


Leather for the back of the shoe, cork for the front.


The front part of the outsole is sewn on with hidden stitching…


…the waist and heel are being attached with wooden pegs.




I like how the crokodile skin has a pretty similar pattern on both shoes.


A comparison between old and new…


…and the money shot.

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