Tools of the Shoe Trade: The Work Bench

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The process of traditional shoemaking involves a whole host of specialist tools and techniques. We’re making it our mission to introduce you to some of them. In this post we’re looking at a vital part of the shoemaking process: the work bench itself. 

No shoemaker’s workshop would be complete without a good, solid surface to work on. The cobbler’s work bench is where almost all of the hard work gets done. 

The most important aspect of a shoemaker’s work bench is strength. There is a lot of hammering in the shoemaking process, so it’s important that the work bench is sturdy enough to withstand all of this. 

Size is also a very key consideration, as most shoemakers will want to have enough space to spread out all the parts of the pair of shoes they are working on, along with the various tools they need. 

Traditional shoemaker’s work benches usually featured a number of small compartments for things such as nails, dyes and tools. They also sometimes had shelves built at one end for the storage of shoes that were currently in progress. Most interestingly, they were often very low to the ground, meaning that the shoemaker themselves would sit either on a low stool beside them or even on a seat built into the work bench.

Modern shoemaker’s work benches generally look a little different to this. Though many do still feature compartments or shelves, they usually look more similar to a work bench any craftsperson might use. They are also generally a more standard table height!

Like any workspace, we think a shoemaker’s work bench can tell you a lot about both their process and their passion for their craft.

Interested in the shoemaking process and want to hear more about it? Subscribe to our blog for weekly shoe-themed updates. 

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