There are lots of different methods in which shoes are constructed, but the most popular method is called ‘cement or cemented construction’. This method is the easiest and most accessible shoemaking construction and will likely be the method used for many of the shoes you own.
The cemented construction – in a nutshell – is when the excess material from the upper (lasting allowance) is wrapped around and stuck underneath the insole before the sole is then attached. The lasting allowance is stuck with a shoemaking glue which acts as the cement and is what gives this construction its name 😉
An alternative and more advanced construction is the ‘welted construction’.
There are a few subcategories of the welted construction but they all follow a similar premise. A rib is either carved out of the insole (normally made from leather) or attached to the insole (normally a rubber rib attached to a standard insole board). The upper is then lasted around this insole, either with glue or temporary tacks. The upper is then stitched to the rib of the insole along with a ‘welt’ (a strip of thick leather). The welt is then stitched to the sole and this last detail is what gives the welted shoe its look and name. Many shoes that you buy in the shops now will mimic the look of a welted construction by adding a decorative trimming called randing so it can be quite difficult to know exactly how a shoe is made by just looking at it.
The welted construction is much, much more timely if you are making the shoes by hand and more expensive for a factory to manufacture, which is why welted shoes are more expensive to buy. The main advantages of the welted construction is that they can be easily resoled and they tend to be more durable which is down to their stiffness and the thickness between the foot and ground. The cemented construction usually means the shoes are a little more flexible but they are much quicker to make.
We recommend the cemented construction for the first few pairs of shoes you make 🙂
To learn more about the shoemaking process, sign up to one of our Online Shoemaking Courses here.