Chestnut tanned soles and insoles

Chestnut tanned soles and insoles

 Chestnut tanning creates a richer, darker coloured sole leather, tanned specifically with hardwood chestnut extract, with a longer period in the tan, to improve its durability, water resistance and edge finishing. It still has a kinder cut and remains highly fashionable. The chestnut tanned sole has a dark chestnut coloured finish.

The photo above is of the tanning pits at Thomas Ware and sons ltd in the UK our supplier of chestnut tanned soles. Thomas Ware have been tanning since 1840. Below is an extract of their tanning process . 



The first part of the Process which takes 10 days, is to prepare the hide ready for tannage. This is done in the Limeyard, or what was traditionally known as The Beamhouse.

First of all the hides are weighed, opened up and inspected before being soaked in a water pit for 24 hrs, then placed in a de-hairing pit for a further 24 hrs containing the appropriate materials to loosen the hair.

The hides are then placed in a solution of lime for 6 days to open up their fibre structure, to dissolve out all the unwanted inter-fibrillary proteins and to swell the hides so they can withstand the next two machines which remove the hair and scud and surplus flesh.

The hides, now called pelt, are then sorted, graded, rounded (cut up into butts, shoulders and bellies), lime split and de-limed as necessary depending on the end product.


The next process is the actual tannage which can take up to 13 months in tan liquor.

These liquors are made up of carefully selected blends of at least three different Vegetable tanning materials. The composition and strength, the acidity and temperature and the time in these liquors are all carefully controlled in the laboratory to give the end product the desired properties such as hardness, strength, colour and flexibility. Different processes are required for each individual type of leather.


Having been selected for specific end uses this leather can then go back into the Tanyard and Sheds to be further processed into speciality leathers i.e. for leather goods and for the equestrian trade. Therefore some leathers can take in excess of 15 months to be converted from the raw hide to the end product.

source :  Thomas ware and sons Ltd. 

Also in Blog

A guide to the Shoemaking Process
A guide to the Shoemaking Process

Welcome to part 1 of our tutorial series which shares our process for making handcrafted shoes.

Finding the right leather for your shoes is an ongoing quest .

Step by step guide:  patternmaking
Step by step guide: patternmaking

Pattern making is the process of drawing on the last and making the pattern pieces for the upper, heel, sole, insole and stiffeners.  The first step in making the upper pattern is to create a forme which is a blueprint of the last size, shape and heel.

While vegetable tanned leather does take longer to produce, in a process requiring the care of skilled craftsmen, making for a more expensive product, the tradition and handmade process add to the richness and the exclusivity of vegetable tanned leather. 
Sign up for our newsletter

This sizing chart is designed as a comparison to commonly used sizing systems . The systems differ in what they measure , what unit of measure they use and where the size 0 is positioned . The english system for mens shoes that i use is based on the length of the last measured in barleycorn 1/3inch . If you are uncertain of your size and how it translates to my sizing system please email and we will endeavour to assess your size .


English 3.5 4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5
European 35 36 37 37.5 38 38.5 39 39.5 40.5 41 42 42.5
Australian 5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5 11
U.S 5 6 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5 11 11.5
Japanese 22 22.5 23.5 23 23.5 24 25 25.5 26 26.5 27 27.5


English Australia 4 4.5 5.5 6 6.5 7 8 8.5 9 10 10.5 11 12 12.5 13
U.S 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5 11 11.5 12 12.5 13
European 38 38.5 39.5 40 40.5 41 42 42.5 43 44 44.5 45 46 46.5 47
Japanese 24 24.5 25 25.5 26 26.5 27 27.5 28 28.5 29 29.5 30 30.5 31
Sign up today!