The great Lumberjocks shoe challenge #13: Tying up loose ends - the ...ugh...laces

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Blog entry by Jordan posted 10-12-2010 07:10 PM 2538 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 12: Pre-lace refining Part 13 of The great Lumberjocks shoe challenge series Part 14: The hole and the sole - we're almost there! »

Part A.

The laces aren’t really so hard as there are many focal points to guide you. However, they do take more time as there are ins and outs and the knot in the bow.
My problem as I learned how to do shoes, was leaving far to much thickness in my isolation block and always ended up with these big honkin’ globs of laces. If you measure your own and take 50% of them, you’ll see that they are not as wide as you would make them if you didn’t measure them.
I am starting this blog now and will continue it throughout the day.

Note that the instructional blogs will be completed by this week’s end so for those of you who just started, you will have a couple of weeks to catch up prior to the unveiling.

1. The areas I want you to pay attention to are the distance from the outside of your heel to the tongue
the distance from the back of your heel to the end of the foot opening just before it goes downhill, which I refer to as the first eyelet area and the INSIDE distance between the first eyelets.

2. After marking those areas, I draw the INSIDE of my shoe insert – which in my case showed me just how much boo-boo wood I had left on the outside. If the inside of your shoe has an abundance of padding, draw the hole a little closer to the outside. Padding is nice in real life but doesn’t add any more attractiveness on a carving.

3. Then to make my life easier, I ground down the lump of wood in the hole to match my outside height – leaving the tongue in tact! Don’t worry about gouging out the hole at this point.

4. What I want to do now is to thin my lace block enough to isolate my bow. If you round the edges from your laces it will make them easier to work with and grind down slightly below the bow. You have more room to isolate the bow from the top because you are working with the inside of the opening not other laces.

After rounding the sides of the clump of laces I previously had, I drew lines to indicate the INSIDE of the lace opening. As your laces wrap over and under, you must know where they will wrap under so the inside line is very important. (Just to let myself know I was measuring correctly, I drew the decorative leather band on but it was only for my own peace of mind. I have a tendency to leave things a little on the big side so I wanted to make sure my opening was jiving.)

5. And finally, in preparation for my laces, I measured the distance from lace HOLE to lace hole, both in width and height and drew them on.

6. Although I am going to work on the bow first, I measured the width of my laces and tied my shoe up in the over and under fashion from hole to hole. In my case, the bottom laces both went under then wrapped over. I drew the red line to make sure you knew that when you carve, you are not going to ignore the sides of the opening.

If you’re interested in seeing more of how I work with the Dremel, there is a short video on their enewsletters page at the left(youtube section). An article will follow in the coming days.

Remember, let’s try not to unveil too much of our progress until unveiling day so everyone can be wowed with your projects!

Part B.

7. Remember the general rule of thumb is NEVER undercut anything until you are sure it is properly situated! Now let’s deal with the bow. As most of your laces are at the end grain, some boots and shoes will be harder to grind off.
How does it work?
I love to watch the development of realization in drawing. Children generally draw faces like this until they start to look at each other and realize how the face works and that there is a bridge of the nose and a cheekbone and and upper lip and an eye socket.

What I’d like you to do is to spend a bit of time to figure out how your bow and knot work. And when you draw it on, realize that it follows through to the back and each lace end is attached to one side of the bow or the other. What part is higher and do both end laces come out on top or does one go underneath? Can you see the inside lace lie through your bow?The thing is, if you know how it works, you will always know how to draw or carve it. I know in my case that once I have trimmed my bow to it’s proper size, I might have to add another set of laces and eyelets at the bottom of it.

I used my rough pointed bit for taking of unnecessary bits but I like my cylinder diamonds a lot because they give me a straight up and down edge without removing too much at once.

8. Once I am satisfied with the shape and where everything is, I will use a longer diamond with a curve and a point to refine the edges and make crisper lines between the folds of the knots etc. While I’m doing this, I will also clean up the area around the bow that I missed when it was isolated as a rough piece.

I darkened this photo so you could see my lines.

I am now going to leave these alone and move onto the laces. They don’t have to be completely smoothed as we will texture them later. If you want to make very crisp lines and some shallow undercuts (WHEN THE SURROUNDING AREA IS TRIMMED TO PROPER DIMENSIONS ONLY!) you can use the most pointed bit of your diamonds but I cannot stress enough to let the tool do the work Other wise you will lose that tip very quickly!

I must tell you that if you have reached this point, that you have surpassed the most difficult sessions and are well onto your way to completing your first carved shoe!

Part C

9. At the end of your laces, don’t drill a hole, rather use your cylinder bit on an angle and create more of a D. Your lace would normally take up half of a hole.

10. Prior to scoring where your laces are, make sure you determine which laces are over and which are under, not only going into the holes but the ones down the middle.
I now use my bit that has a little flat disc on the top(these are all in the set I suggested in the beginning.) and score where my laces are including the edges of the opening. Don’t make them too thin because you will still have to round them etc.

As you go through them, remember, you are not so much carving the laces but rather the area around them. I use my various cylinder diamonds a lot but don’t be afraid to try any bit that you feel might accommodate the job.
It’s not pretty along the way but keep at it, making sure you redraw your lines periodically.

And if it’s any consolation, I will also be experiencing the same difficulty as you during this task as although I’ve done it many times, there is no easy way around it.

11. After getting the best details of the lace that I can, I draw around them with a very sharp pencil to see if my lines are straight. Also , the pencil will smooth some of the rough patches off of the undercuts from the soft basswood.

12. After making my final adjustments, I use one of my smaller cylinder bits and using the edge of it, I weave a v-pattern back and forth for texture.

As with any quality projects, your laces will be only as good as the time you spend with them. However, if you have reached this point, you should be very proud of yourself!!!
And if you have reached this point and plan to be unveiling your project with us mid-November, then you MUST email me with your name and address!


13 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4161 days

#1 posted 10-12-2010 07:53 PM

be afraid; be very afraid…. haha

..this is clearly the most difficult part…tomorrow will be carving day, I think,...gulp.. ;)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View a1Jim's profile


117095 posts in 3578 days

#2 posted 10-12-2010 09:49 PM

Great great blog Jordon so cool of you to share your super talent.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View sticks4walking's profile


125 posts in 3052 days

#3 posted 10-13-2010 12:28 AM

Jordan my friend, you sure make it look a heck of alot easier than it is but it is coming along nicely.

-- Mike, Somewhere in Indiana with a splinter or two!

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3126 days

#4 posted 10-13-2010 12:50 AM

Good Mike, I was wondering if you were still hanging in there.


View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3167 days

#5 posted 10-13-2010 04:58 PM

Keep on teaching!
A very entertaining series.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View mcoyfrog's profile


4145 posts in 3595 days

#6 posted 10-13-2010 11:59 PM

Great blog, maybe I can get my shop up to speed and find time to do this one too… I’m so wishy washy arn’t I..

Love you work…

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3527 days

#7 posted 10-14-2010 12:26 AM

Man, I am feeling behind, I am still working on the toe. I think this weekend I’ll have some more good carving time!
Thanks for the work you put in to all of this!

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3126 days

#8 posted 10-14-2010 02:41 AM

Don’t feel behind, just work to your ability, I just wanted to have the blogs there for when you get there. Believe it or not, one full day of work can get you a long long way!


View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3126 days

#9 posted 10-14-2010 02:42 AM

Doug, you ARE wishy washy! Get your butt in gear and join us!


View mcoyfrog's profile


4145 posts in 3595 days

#10 posted 10-14-2010 09:26 PM

Hee hee I know but being a hippie I have a hard time with scheduled classes and such, I’m sure I would be wearing the dunce cap all the time LOL… I got a piece of cypress out in the barn I could probably make work…

-- Wood and Glass they kick (well you know) Have a great day - Dug

View Aaron McCain's profile

Aaron McCain

125 posts in 2840 days

#11 posted 10-25-2010 11:02 PM

I don’t have the nice diamond bits at this point, so the going has slowed significantly as I try to use what I have. (5 kids have a significant impact on the available cash flow for new tools) The bow and knot have almost emerged, but will probably take the rest of the week to finish this step. Looks like I’m starting to push up against the deadline. Uh oh.

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3126 days

#12 posted 10-26-2010 03:08 AM

You’ll get there Aaron. If you want to buy those bits, I think they’re only $10.50 per set from Rockler.


View Aaron McCain's profile

Aaron McCain

125 posts in 2840 days

#13 posted 10-26-2010 08:57 PM

My goal is to have the carving finished by the end of the week. I will still need to sand and paint after that. I’m glad that my shoe doesn’t have a lot of laces. I think I will get there with the bits that I own. I keep discovering new ones or new ways to use old ones. If I decide that I want to keep carving, the first purchase will be a flexible shaft for the dremel. It has been an interesting challenge so far.

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