Based in Stockport I started leather working in 1982 favouring English saddlery plain style in vegetable tanned leather 2-3 mm thick. When the last clog maker in Stockport, George Hogarth, retired in 1991 I bought his clog lasts.
When Sandra Turton closed in 2004 I was able to buy more sets of lasts as well as her sewing machines and other bits. The rest of her equipment being purchased by other established and potential cloggers.
In January 2007 I moved from part-time hobby to full-time clogmaker earning all my income from what I produce.
I make the whole clog, sole and uppers as well as cutting out my own shods, heels and brass toe tins. The sole is shaped to fit the traditional wooden lasts with the correct full cast rather than the flatter version available. Far easier to balance, especially for clog step dancers.
Various woods are used for clog soles. Alder, beech and sycamore being the most common. Beech is predominately used for soles cut automatically by copy lathes. Alder is a soft hard wood, it can be cut using the clog knives even when seasoned. Sycamore is hard giving a good sound for clog dancers and is the wood I generally use.
Sycamore is also favoured by clog makers hand cutting their soles using clog knives. Fresh cut sycamore is used and the sole cut then put aside to season before the clog can be completed. (About 3 months).
I cut my soles from seasoned sycamore with powered bandsaw, router and sanders. Every pair is individually made based on either a standard size pattern or one based on the customers foot outlines.
The bandsaw gives me the flexibility to create and shape of sole including common round , duck or even snipe toed patterns whilst the length can be custom to the customers ball to heel length.
By using seasoned sycamore I can complete the clog.
I make no claims to be more special than other clog makers nor especially traditional in the sense that I am stuck in a particular time. Some styles are based on the minimum of stitching when it was all done by hand. The single piece oxford upper has only two rows of stitching, the tongue and the heel seam. This style is often used for ‘best’ or ‘Sunday’ clogs and commonly favoured by morris dancers. With the availablility of sewing machines the leather can be cut more economically and stitched together quickly on the machine. The gibson lace style has a 3-part upper construction plus the tongue. Suitable for all dancers it is a particular favourite of step dancers.
Whether my equipment is powered by motor (bandsaw, sanders), hand (sewing machine) or leg (treadle press) the wood and leather is always guided by my hands. The only exception being when I stamp out leather parts using my press knives under the press.
What matters is that the clog is made to fit the foot with the correct ball to heel measurement. Bespoke clogs should be checked for fit when the upper is only tacked to the sole. The tacks can be withdrawn and the fit adjusted until before the leather is finally trimmed and nailed on.
Based on the years of re-wooding stepping clogs I have a sole design that features the shape commonly worn by off-the-toe dancers. It isn’t my standard shape but is available on request.