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Woodcut of shoemakers from 1568
A cobbler in Seattle, Washington.

Shoemaking is a traditional handicraft profession, which has now been largely superseded by industrial manufacture of footwear.

Shoemakers or cordwainers (cobblers being, historically, those that repair shoes) may produce a range of footwear items, including shoes, boots, sandals, clogs and moccasins. Such items are generally made of leather, wood, rubber, plastic, jute or other plant material, and often consist of multiple parts for better durability of the sole, stitched to a leather upper.

Most shoemakers use a last—made traditionally of iron or wood, but now often of plastic—on which to form the shoe. Some lasts are straight, while curved lasts come in pairs: one for left shoes, the other for right shoes.

Traditional shoemaker
Ethnographic Museum of Western Liguria, Cervo, Italy

The shoemaking profession makes a number of appearances in popular culture, such as in stories about shoemaker's elves, and the proverb "The shoemaker's children are often shoeless". The patron saint of shoemakers is Saint Crispin.

Some types of ancient and traditionally-made shoes include:

  • Furs wrapped around feet, and sandals wrapped over them: used by Romans fighting in northern Europe.
  • Clogs: wooden shoes, often filled with straw to warm the feet.
  • Moccasins: simple shoes, often without the durability of joined shoes (although different types of leather have different wear characteristics).

The Society for Creative Anachronism offers some advice about making period shoes.

Current crafters may use used car tire tread as a cheap alternative to creating soles.

Chefs and cooks sometimes use the term "shoemaker" as an insult, implying that the chef in question has made his food as tough as shoe leather.

Rabbi Yochanan Hasandlar, a famous sage of the Third Century AD, might have earned his living as a sandal maker, though the nickname might also indicate that he was a native of Alexandria.[1]

Pope Urban IV, born Jacques Pantaléon, was the son of a cobbler of Troyes, France.

See also

Maimonides, mentions this 'last' (Heb. אימום) in his Yad Chazakah Hilchos Shabbos 26:12. The reference was to whether a shoe may be removed from such a last on Shabbos, as it may involve 'completion of work' on the Shabbos.


  1. ^ LISTSERV 15.0 - MISHNAHYOMIT Archives

External links



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