Cowboy boots are the symbol of the western United States and the pride of people there.
But did you know how cowboy boots were born? And what stages of production must go through to get a perfect cowboy boot?
No more words, today let’s find out how to make western boots!
Let’s check it out!
History of cowboy boots
Western boots have a long history. They appeared in the late 18th century – early 19th century.
If work boots were the first boots to appear in Europe to serve workers in the industrial revolution, cowboy boots were one of America’s first boots.
Cowboy boots were born with the same purpose as the British work boots, but western boots were born to serve farmers – also known as cowboys, not workers.
To serve the cowboys, western boots need to be durable to support cowboys to ride horses and protect their feet well. Besides, the price of boots is also affordable.
Also, the design of cowboy boots has a high shaft to protect farmers’ feet from external forces or against dangerous animals such as rattlesnakes, scorpions…
Besides supporting cowboys to ride horses, cowboy boots have high heels to easily hook into the stirrup, thereby providing good balance and stability.
Not to mention the traditional cowboy boots have pointed toe to slip into the stirrup easily.
As for the skin, the material to make these boots is easy-to-find and abundant in the Western United States – cowhide. Cowhide is affordable and very durable.
Over the long period of development and transformation, today’s cowboy boots are developed into many different types. These include newly developed cowboy boots such as stockman, buckaroo, roper…
Today’s cowboy boots not only appear on immense farms, but they are also one of the unique and expensive fashion accessories.
Besides, western boots are also the embodiment of a popular culture and folk art.
Read more: What to do with Old Cowboy Boots
How to Make Western Boots?
To answer this question, we need to pay attention to the important parts of cowboy boots: the shaft, the vamp, the stitch, the pattern and the sole.
Now, we come to the main steps to produce a perfect cowboy boot:
Step 1: Cutting leather
Cowboy boots are made from many different types of animal skins. The most popular skins are cowhide and ostrich leather. Besides, some other types of leather include snakeskin, elephant skin, crocodile skin…
The most expensive cowboy boots are usually made from crocodile skin. The famous Lucchese brand has a pair of cowboy boots made from Blue Crocodile from the Nile, its price is up to $6000.
To create the shape of boots, put a stencil on the animal skin’s surface and use chalk to mark, then cut this part out.
The bootmaker usually uses a specialized hydraulic cutter with about 10 tons of hydraulic pressure to cut the skin into small and large pieces. This cut leather will be used on the outside of the western boots.
The lining is also usually made from leather. It will be printed with a number showing the size, style number, manufacturing date, width and the company’s logo.
You may not know this: Some cowboy boots are stated: “Full-grain leather foot and upper”, which means that the western boot vamp and shaft are made entirely from a large piece of leather, not made from many small pieces of leather.
- Tandy Leather Al Stohlman Brand Round Knife is a versatile tool for cutting parts of the product, thinning (scrubbing) of leather;
- Blade 4-3 / 8 "is made of stainless steel and polished to a mirror shine, which helps it to easily slide on thick skin;
- Comfortable handle to give you a simple and safe grip so you can work faster with full control;
- Professional knife for cutting and scribing leather;
- The shape of the blade allows you to cut the skin in the usual way, and "roll".
Step 2: Cording
This step is meant to create the outlook of cowboy boots.
The appearance of western boots is one of the beauties that has conquered the hearts of fastidious people. The motifs of cowboy boots are elaborate and artistic. To make such a boot, bootmakers must be skillful and creative.
There will be a template for creating the patterns of cowboy boots. Apply glue on the template and use the twine to stick on line of patterns. Then, the leather is placed on this template and put on a tray.
Put the tray into the sewing machine to make stitches and get the cording pattern.
You may not know: Each pattern, the stitching on the western boots do make sense, they are a signature of each different boot maker.
Step 3: Sewing leather together
Sew all parts of leather together to connect the outside and lining leather. They are sewn together inside out.
Next is to roll down the seams for wearing cowboy boots smoothly without rubbing your legs.
If your new western boots rub your legs when you first put on new western boots, which means the seams of boots are not rolled down carefully!
The last thing in this step is that the western boots are sucked into a tube to turn it right side.
- ✔【52 PCS Practical Leather Tooling Kit】: The kit includes: 20pcs Leather Stamping Punch Tools + 7pcs Leather Sewing Needle + 5pcs Nail Files + 4pcs Prong Punch + 5pcs Waxed Threads + 2pcs Scribing Wheel + 2pcs Wooden Burnisher + 1pcs Adjustable Groover + 1pcs Copper Awl + 1pcs Wooden Awl + 1pcs Scissors + 1pcs Tape Measure + 1pcs Swivel Knife + 1pcs Tool Box. The Tool set meets the basic needs of the leather DIY process, and it is rich and durable.
- ✔【Durable & High Quality】: Leather Stamping punch tools has 20pcs, It is made of durable metal and can choose the desired pattern, make your own unique design and pattern on wallets, handbags, belt etc. Adjustable stainless steel swivel knife can be adjusted to change the length of the tool adapted to your requirement, suitable for dynamic engraving.
- ✔【Metal Handle Sewing Awl & 7 in 1 Groove】: Adjustable leather edge stitching tool is easy to adjust and can be used to groove the edges of leather. And the copper taper-shank awl with 3 needles are good for sewing or repairing canvas leather, shoes, and soles, etc.
- ✔【Easy to Store & Organize】: Kit comes with a durable toolbox, so you don't have to worry about losing your tools. Tool box can be placed in a locker or trunk to save space.
- ✔【Surprise Gift】: It's the perfect gift for crafts lovers, suitable for beginners and professional craftsmen. It can be used as a gift for parents, friends, and family. The unique leather suit can change everything around anytime, anywhere!
Step 4: Attaching the sole to the western boots
In this step, dip cowboy boots into the water and stretch them over the plastic last.
Then use a hammer to nail the cowboy boots into the sole. This is a very difficult step, requiring very high skills of the worker. This process plays an important role in the feel and shape of western boots.
Next, the toe of the western boot is shaped and lasted.
Western boots have many types of toe shapes such as square toe, pointed toe, snip toe. Different types of toe shapes will determine different styles of western boots.
Step 5: Drying the cowboy boots completely in the hot house
As you already know, water is the leather’s number one enemy. As cowboy boots get wet from the previous step, it’s time to dry them!
Cowboy boots will be stored in the hot house within 24 hours to completely dry them from the inside out.
The temperature in a hot house ranges from 100 to 120 degrees.
Step 6: Connecting leather insole and outsole
In this step, make the holes along the arch with a hammer and fill them with lemonwood pegs.
Some boot makers often use metal nails instead of lemonwood pegs, but cowboy boot lovers still prefer lemonwood pegs.
For your information, lemonwood pegs soak up water as well as leather do. So if you wear cowboy boots in the rain, snow, or you have sweaty feet, the cowboy boots will either shrink or stretch simultaneously, which helps the western boots remain the same.
Otherwise, when it comes to the metal nails, they gradually emerge from the sole over time.
Read more: How to resole cowboy boots?
Final step: Staining and giving the western boots a dashing look
- A flexible, durable and water resistant acrylic top finish for dyed, antiqued or polished leathers
- Provides a soft, mellow shine while protecting your project for years to come
- Is water-resistant and will not peel, crack or rub-off when fully dry while remaining flexible
- Water-based formula cleans up easily with soap and water
- Apply in light coat layers to avoid tacky build-up
For the finishing touch, use a staining varnish to paint all over the sole. Then buff the sole to achieve a beautiful shine.
The next step is to print the logo on the sole of western boots!
Have you ever wondered why a new cowboy boot always stands upright and has a glossy appearance? Here’s why: Each Western boot is put in a hot ironing board so that it can be stiffened and steamed on the sides.
Next, brush the leather with an open flame to eliminate the remaining threads.
That’s it! We’ve got a complete western boot!
Read more: How to Dye Cowboy Boots Black
How long does it take to make a pair of cowboy boots?
It depends on whether cowboy boots are handmade or machine made.
The time to make handmade cowboy boots ranges from 24h to 48 hours. In which the process of drying cowboy boots in the hot house takes up most time. The remaining stages won’t take much time.
For machine-made cowboy boots, it takes only an hour to produce many cowboy boots. It is one of the main reasons why cowboy boots made from machines are much cheaper than handmade ones.
Above are the main steps every cowboy boots must go through.
However, if you count small steps, it will take more than… 200 steps to complete a handmade cowboy boot. Incredible!
Cowboy boots have the beauty that few boots have because they converge quintessence from historical values, culture, or multiple production stages to get a complete cowboy boot.
If you admire the culture and quintessence of the American West, what are you waiting for?