Last week we popped over to Northampton (the home of the English footwear industry) to see our friends at Spring Line developing our new shoe lasts (the last is the form used to mould the upper around, to create the unique shape of the shoe) . They are the only remaining last manufacturer in Britain, carve all their lasts by hand and are regarded as one of, if not the, best in the world.
The traditional way of last making is to shape a last from a spoke of wood with a last makers long knife and bench. The characteristics of Maple and beech make them a good type of wood for last making, however, other hardwoods (that have similar characteristics) can be utilised too. A clean cutting wood, a wood free of knots and one not liable to split are key attributes to carving the perfect lasts. Not forgetting the expertise of bespoke craftsmen!