When you step out from your first shoemaking course, fresh and inexperienced, you have no idea what you can expect. First of all: you teacher is not holding your hand anymore, when you need something – even a simple nail for lasting or a pretty basic tool – now it is your time to solve the problems. One of these problems – the last. Last is something you can’t get in the first hardware stores, neither the next town (except if you live in a town next to a last factory – in that case you probably don’t live in the US). Anyway – eventually you will find a factory and if you are persistent enough they will answer your mails, something like: “of course we can do ANYTHING!). Now you just have to find a toe shape and heel height and shoot the order! Genius!
Unfortunately it is a bit more complicated. Beside these two parameters are a ton more, which will define if you had the right one or something from the late 70’s, with some ridiculous toe spring and toe box… So let’s talk about these terms and understand the last characteristics.
1. Stick length. This is not the size of the last, but a few millimeters more – let’s say if you use your last to keep your elevator door open – this is how big the gap will be. Long story short – the curve in the back is added to the length. (although I hope you liked the elevator story too).
2. The bottom length. Now one would believe that this is the size… Well, not yet. As a matter of fact it can be a lot bigger. We will get there…
3. Size. You can find a number in the side of your last probably – that is the SLL – the standard length. That is a size in a certain measurement (read this blogpost!). This is the standard size for a regular, rounded toe last, with a “normal extra” – around 2 cm. Why is that? Let’s just say we don’t want to wear potato shaped shoes – just think about flip flops. That would be a shape of that one. Sometimes even this 2 cm is not enough to create a certain style, that is when we add a “style extra”. The style extra can be literally anything, just think about krakows.
This illustrates pretty well this – the huge style extra will make the toe longer and still gives enough room for the foot. Why do we need extra room for our feet? Simple: because we walk and our feet works pretty hard. It is like when you work out and your T-shirt stretches around your muscles – the foot practically does the same. Our longitudinal arches stretch back an forth so we need extra toe room. If you ever tried a shoe in a store only sitting, then next day when you tried to walk, it gave you hell – then you know what I mean. ALWAYS try your shoes sitting, standing and walking.
To be continued.
ps. I made the images with Delcam Lastmaker – thanks Delcam!