Men’s Advanced Shoemaking

13 Day Workshop Course

The crafting of classic bespoke men’s shoes lies at the heart of traditional shoemaking. First, the student  must question if the arduous master’s journey is really for him/her. Our week long Men’s Dress Shoes course is a haven where the flame can be lit, or perhaps, the student finds a new respect for this difficult journey and continues his/her creative quest on another path. Photos of student work from that week long course speak for themselves and attest to how far a student can, given instruction and using proper tools, travel in such a brief time.

Those who have caught fire always ask for more. We have chosen to respond with this Advanced Men’s Shoemaking course.

During the 44 years and 132,000 hours of my Master’s journey, and being actively involved in the trade, I have become a master of machines, master of my hands, and a master to my contemporaries. The new student will find that old school (totally handmade) and new school (machine involvement) vie for his/her attention. Endless hours of practice and consideration have convinced me of two things. The machine user longs for the tradition and challenge of a totally handmade shoe; and the hands only maker wishes for a little extra leverage, a better tool, and, perhaps secretly, a machine to do some task in a more timely manner, with less wear and tear on the body.

However, the maker who finds what works best for him or her is, to my sensibility, the true seeker of perfection and artistic expression…a master.

All tools and machines are an extension of our mind and hands. So, in the Advanced Men’s Shoemaking course, all the paths to shoemaking are laid before you so that you can make an informed decision as to what works best for your hands, your mind, and your heart. In this class you can consider all the options in a completely equipped facility (many say our shop is the best equipped in the US). Then, vital decisions can be made.

Each individual has a style, certain strengths, gifts, aptitudes, skills, and desires. The joy of making anything comes when all aspects of the craftsperson are working in harmony. In my long career of making shoes I’ve tried it all, and finally found my way.

And, you will find your way. Part of that path/way for me is the love of teaching. Helping students find their “way” is a joyful state for me. The quote: “be yourself; all the others are taken,” applies to shoemaking as well as all facets of life. Finding your true self whether it be in shoemaking or another outlet, and in life, given all the choices, should look and feel very much the same.

Those qualities that we seek in our creations are, not surprisingly, the same qualities we long for in our transformations in life. One can find his/her self through creating functional works of art. Crafting is a way of life. I am forever thankful that I chose such a “road less traveled”.

Our thirteen day course is a strenuous, demanding journey, designed for:

  • Those who are serious about advancing their existing skills
  • Those presently making shoes, former students
  • Or those who have been interviewed by me personally and found qualified.

Please feel free to call and discuss this course. 541-951-0952.


Students are encouraged to read Handmade Shoes for Men by Laszlo Vass and Magda Molnar.

Dates: See Registration page for current workshop dates »

Cost: $2,950
All materials provided.

Class Duration: 13 days

Topics to be covered:

  • Choosing and modifying a last for fit and style. We have over 3,000 lasts so as to enhance this most valuable area of shoemaking. Students will be instructed in all aspects of last modification. Students will modify their own lasts.
  • At least three sets of patterns: Gibson, whole cut, and oxford will be created. Time permitting, I will also demonstrate patterns for Jodhpurs, Chelsea boots, monk shoes, and the whole cut derby.
  • Students will sectionalize their patterns for their style choice and be guided in the proper choice of leather for their project. We use ONLY the finest leathers: A.A. Crack , GH, Loy Cuellar, Sorrell. Insoles and soles are exclusively Baker and JR. Each student has the use of a complete set of professional tools. We believe how we start the journey is critical; fine leathers and tools are a must. Students will cut out uppers, liners, stiffeners, insoles and soles.
  • Students will skive their own work. Those not proficient, as well as those skilled will be thoroughly tutored in advanced skiving techniques. The use of our skiving machine will be permitted when needed. This machine is miraculous, and can be a wise decision as one learns and perfects hand skiving.

Should any down time occur, students will either be practicing skiving (we have many styles of knives), sewing for accuracy, or practicing knife sharpening. I am troubled to think that many have left the trade because they simply never experienced a sharp knife. That will change here. I mean really sharp!

  • After skiving, depending on the type of shoe to be made, edges will be reinforced and turned, piped, brogued, gimped etc. Edge coatings like Finache will be demonstrated.
  • All facets of reinforcing will be covered as well as techniques for ease of assembling uppers as well as liners.
  • Advanced techniques for creating professional looking sewing will be introduced.
  • American and European styles of lasting, including several techniques for getting the uppers “down to the wood” will be explained and tried.
  • Leather and synthetic methods of creating counters and toe boxes.
  • Making perfect needles and waxed ends for inseaming, as well as insole preparation, including feathering and prepunching.
  • Waxing inseaming cord properly and methods for timely and secure inseaming.
  • Fitting steel shanks (as well as making heat molded fiberglass shanks), shank covers and using cork filler.
  • Molding leather soles, hand sewing soles, as well as machine sewing.
  • Finishing soles with hand techniques and traditional methods, finishing soles with machine techniques. Creating dazzling, durable edges either way.
  • Fabricating heels, many varieties.

The photos are samples of work created by students in 7 days, as well as some of my work.

You might also want to check us on Facebook as Bonney and Wills School of Shoemaking and Design »

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