Crimping tutorial – step by step

Apparently I didn’t generate too much interest with my question, but from the number of the silent visitors on this site, I assume there will be some people, who are interested seeing some pics and notes about crimping. So, what is crimping? When you create.. let’s say a riding boot, you will face a geometrical problem: the vamp is impossible to fold. Look:

Normally we would choose a line, like this.. if it would be a shoe. But choosing this line means that we just won’t be able to last our upper. So does this look right?

Still not good. What we need to create a curved folding line – that’s what we call crimping.

The correct curve for folding would look like this:

So we can create this beauty:

First of all: not all leather is good for crimping. If you have all the accessories, and still doesn’t work – maybe it is the leather. Don’t give up! Some leather doesn’t even need clamps, only a good pair of pincers and two experienced hands. Usually – especially if you want to create a riding boot – we use leathers, where you need good tools: clamps and boards. (Yes, Hal they are coming! 🙂 )

Preparation: put your upper leather to water, and leave it there for a while (depends on the leather), then wrap it to plastic bag for over night. Next day morning, you have a really wet piece, ready for crimping.

Place it to the center of the board

then adjust it a little bit (you have to repeat it plenty more times) from the deepest point. This is the place, where you will have most of the wrinkles.

Then slightly pull it towards the corners. Don’t worry about the wrinkles, that is normal in that phase of the work. They will disappear.

Set the clamp to the whole and put the leather in it. Do not tight it too much.. wait a little bit with it

Then most probably you have to deal with those wrinkles again, and check the correct orientation

Fix the corners – they should be more or less in the right spot (if not – you can modify it later, don’t worry).

Pull down the front

And now you can use the secret weapon a bit. Carefully.

The most important thing: adjust those wrinkles. You might have to do it with your hands, the clamp is just helping.

And another tool: the lasting pincers. Pull the leather from the bottom of the board. You will find it very useful.

Much better, isn’t it?

My fingers show the directions to adjust the wrinkles. do not trust only the clamp – use your hand. Maybe your board isn’t slippery enough for the leather, hmm?

Clamp.. again.. again..

Pretty close now.

But we don’t want “almost” good, so another pull with the pliers.

Then fix the top with two nails.

Hammer.. that helps sliding the leather on the board.

Crimping – Done.

Leave it dry for a night and remove it and start make your boots-uppers!

ps. traditionally we crimp the lining also.

12 thoughts on “Crimping tutorial – step by step

  1. Thank you for that. It is always interesting to see how various makers do that.

    I can’t tell from the pictures, but the surface looks like flesh side. Do you crimp flesh side out, or grain side out?


  2. Hi there. To begin: Great site, great work. I have been one of the “silent visitors” for quite some time now.

    My question is how to cut the leather? The crimping board is roughly the form of the boots standard, right? So one side would be straigtforward, but where do you fold the leather? How to achieve the pattern for the leather to be crimped?

    The pattern for the upper is drawn on the crimped and folded leather?

    Thanks alot, Jonas

    1. Hi Jonas, that’s my question as well – did you ever receive the answer? I’m very curious. Facing this issue right now – making my first pair of boots. Crimped the vamps, but lost my drawn pattern on the suede due to soaking. How to draw the pattern accurately on the upper after its shaped? Cheers – Joanna

  3. Very much apreciate your site! My Grandfather was a cobbler (not a shoemaker). That was before I was born and I never got to see him working. I am soaking up as much as I can and am fortunate to have found a “friendly to newbies” local bootmaker that apprenticed under a Master for 7 years before he passsed away. He was left with the shop. I love the smell of leather and working with it gives me pleasure. I plan to meet with him next week. I will still be pouring through your site and others to learn as much as I can from many different sources. Everyone does something a little different or explains it in a slightly different way. That helps to paint a clearer picture for better understanding.

    I truly appreciate your comments that it doesn’t happen in a day, or week, or year. Before I found your site I came across some sites that made it sound like “Take our short course and you will be a shoemaker in no time at all!”.

    Fortumately, I know that to get reasonably good at most things requires at least 10,000 hours of dedicated hungry effort. That is to be reasonably good. To become a Master requires a lifetime of learning from mistakes and continually pushing yourself to do better. I kept searching and found your site. Keep up the good work.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.