What is Shoe Last

+5 votes
Why shoe last is important in shoe making and what are the points of consideration in choosing a last
asked Aug 9, 2017 by M G Leather

4 Answers

+4 votes

Shoe lasts are the basis of making quality shoes. Perfectly fitting shoes can only be 

made with the use of a perfect last. The best lasts are made of beech wood.

Shoe lasts are three-dimensional moulds shaped like simplified human feet, and are 

usually made of wood. shoes are built around lasts during the later stages of shoe 

construction. As such, lasts are an extremely important element of shoemaking. Perfectly 

fitting shoes can only be made with the use of a perfect last. By taking into account 

the balls of the foot, heels, and instep, as well as how heel height changes the rolling 

motion of the foot, lasts determine the fit of the completed shoe.

 Ancient Greeks and Romans took into account the differences between the left and right 

feet, whereas later shoemakers only measured one foot and used this measurement to make 

shoes for booth feet. Naturally, this practice resulted in considerable wearing 

discomfort. At the beginning of the 19th century asymmetrical lasts were rediscovered 

and came into use, as before, to ensure perfect shoe fit.

Only the finest wood is used to make quality lasts. During processing and storage, the 

wood needs to be able to withstand high pressure, blows of the hammer, nails being 

driven in, humidity, and temperature fluctuations. Types of wood that meet this criteria 

include beech wood, maple, oak, elm, and walnut. The absolute best choices, though, are 

copper beech and hornbeam.

In a last maker's workshop, logs are sawn into pieces approximately 32 cm in length. 

These pieces are also 30 to 40 cm thick, which means that four to six lasts can be made 

from each piece of wood. The wood is then steamed at 120 degrees and set aside to dry 

for about two years. At the end of this period the wood is left with a moisture content 

of just 16 to 18 percent. For further processing, though, this proportion needs to be 

reduced to 10 to 12 percent. This is achieved with the use of a drying chamber, where 

the wood that will be used to make lasts is treated with hot air for three weeks.

While last makers once made lasts exclusively by hand, today last makers all around the 

world use so-called printer. The wood is mounted on a lathe in the printer, and a last 

template is selected corresponding to the desired shoe type and size. The printer then 

produces a pair of asymmetrical lasts within five to six minutes.

Last makers add final touches by hand to printer-made lasts. The last maker saws off the 

bits used to mount the wood at the toe cap and heel, and drills a number of horizontal 

holes into the upper third of the last, which makes it easier to remove the last from 

the shoe that is stitched over and around it. The last maker also saws off a finely 

curved wedge from the last to facilitate last removal once the last has fulfilled its 

shoemaking purpose.

The last is passed on to the shoemaker, who keeps the completed last. He will use it to 

test out shoe prototypes and, in the event of issues with the shoes made from the last, 

ask the last maker to make adjustments. If the shoemaker is finished making shoes with 

the last, he puts it away in storage. Quality shoe lasts can be used for many years, 

provided that they are stored in a room at the proper temperature and level of humidity.

These days Plastic lasts are very common due to ease in making and non availability of 

quality wood.The process is very similar to wooden lasts but the material treatment is 


answered Aug 10, 2017 by 64 (350 points)
Shoe lasts are very important for good fitting and comfort in shoe wearing. A quality shoe can only be made on perfect fit and good last. Last making is a very skilled and precision work which needs a lot of skilled experience along with technology and expertise.
why Lasts are important for shoe making ?
0 votes

Shoe last is the form that shoemakers use in shoe molding and it is the anatomical “copy” of our feet.Shoe last comes in different forms, shapes and are made from different materials. It is used only in shoe making . This is the first “tool” that we are using in making of shoes and we will be using it through the entire process of shoemaking:

  • We apply our footwear design on the shoe lasts
  • We make our pattern with the shoe last
  • We lasting shoes, uppers on the shoe last
  • We make shoe sole and leather heels on the shoe last

There are 3 materials shoe lass are made from;

Let’s begin from the last and least used material – Aluminum​In general we use aluminum last in shoe making for shoe sole molding. This kind of lasts are placed in special ovens in high temperature. 

1. Wood         2. Plastic         3. Aluminium

Plastic lasts  are the most used in making of shoes. Maybe this is not the best material for molding shoes and it is defiantly adds to our pollution problem, but it is used in shoes mass production and in bespoke shoemaking as well.   

Wooden Shoe Last

Last is the “foot copy” mold upon which a shoe is constructed. That is why shoe lasts that are made of wood is usually used in bespoke making of shoes.Shoemaker or a lasts maker takes the persons feet measurements and creates wooden lasts that are perfectly fits that person. Shoe last making is a craft on its on with a long history and in the traditional way of last making is to shape a last from a hard type of wood (usually maple) with a last makers knife.

Bespoke making of shoes could be and it is pretty expensive. Focus here is on making the perfect shoes for you and it always begins from bespoke wooden lasts. 

Wooden shoe lass

You must make shoes on a lasts with correct heel height. That means, that we can make few footwear designs on the same lasts but we can’t  make different heel height shoes on the same lasts.Measure the height of your shoe last (the heel) and make shoes accordingly. This is how we take measurements and create stacked heels for shoes..  

There are different shoe last types and in this post I will talk with you about most common shoe last types.We have men’s lasts, women’s lasts and children’s lasts. But this is not all the shoe last types that we have.almost every footwear type have its own shoe last type. Why each footwear type must be done on a specific shoe last? Because each shoe type has its own construction and this construction must suit also your feet parameters, that is why we need different lasts for each type.

Sandal Lasts Vs Pump Lasts

Usually sandals have open construction: it is open in the toe, in the instep and heel part, and most of them have fastening in the ankle area. the pumps are constructed in the way where they sit tightly on your feet and without any fastening.

1.Sandal lasts almost don’t have toe allowance ( not bigger than 5 mm)

The pump last is always longer than your feet length and have toe allowance at least (not smaller than) 8 mm.You never will find sandals with pointed toe shape ( only if it is some fashion trend).  The toe shape  of sandal last is similar to the shape of feet toes and doesn’t have many variations. The toe shape of pump last has different variations ( square shape, rounded shape, pointed toe shape etc).

What Is a Shoe Last ? 


answered Apr 24, 2020 by Shoe Mag
0 votes

Shoe Lasts and Metrology

The majority of measurements are volume rather than the traditional length and width associated with shoe fit.

Throat opening
The distance from the vamp point to the back seam tuck.

The length measurement of the foot from the back of the heel to the tip of the longest toe.

Foot Girth
There are four girth and circumference measurements taken on a last. These are the ball; waist, instep and heel (back of heel to instep). Measurement requires careful assessment of the foot, which cannot be accomplished with the same precision as linear measurements. The modern last maker uses precision instruments to determine girth but the old shoemakers used the hand span to this same effect. Aspects of the foot were measured against the shoemaker's hand; the ball of the foot was compared to the girth between the thumb and the middle finger. The instep was measured between the thumb and the little finger. This method was subject to enormous variations depending upon the size of the shoemaker's hand.

Ball girth
This is the girth measurement around the ball of the last to determine the width and volume allowance inside the shoe.

Waist girth
The girth at the waist on the last.

Instep girth
The circumference around the foot at the instep.

Heel girth
The distance around the foot from the rear base of the heel to the top of the instep.

Recede Toe

This is the part of the last, which projects beyond the tip of the toes forming the rounded contour of the front of the shoe. A tapering recede as in sharp toed shoes increases the overall length of the shoe. In a poorly designed last the recede may encroach on the toes increasing tension on the ends of the toes. This may be referred to as tight lasting.

This dictates the position of the hinge of the forefoot (metatarsal phalangeal joints) and the widest part of the shoe (across the metatarsal heads).

Toe Spring
This describes the elevation of the under surface of the sole at the toe to give a slight rocker effect to the shoe. The amount of toe spring (built into the last) depends on the shoe style, sole thickness and heel height. This is built into the last design and compensates for the stiffness of the footwear and provided a stress free take off into propulsion. The more rigid the soling material the greater the toe spring. Many shoes will also display a slight heel spring.

This describes the width across the sole under the ball of the last and it should correspond to the dimension of the feet. The tread point on the last represents the bottom forepart just behind the ball and in contact with the base plane.


This describes the curve or contour of the last. The swing is determined by the position of the forepart when the last is bisected longitudinally forwards from the centre of the heel arc. With inflare lasts there is an inward medial swing to the forepart and most modern shoes are made on an inflare last (banana last) because it is thought shoes are more comfortable. An outflare last describes the opposite with the swing lying to the lateral side of the forepart. Sometimes used in bespoke footwear for infants with diagnosed foot development problems. Straights last describe neither an inflare or outflare preference. The long axis of the last when drawn through the bisection of the heel curve describes two equal longitudinal halves. The normal foot has a straight axis and hence straight lasted shoes can be worn on either foot. Prior to the introduction of machinery to make heeled shoes it was common to have shoe made with a straight flare until the turn of the twentieth century.

answered Apr 29, 2020 by SHOE MAG
0 votes

Shoe Lasts and Metrology

"The close relationship between a man and his shoe maker was based on the shared secret of the client's measurements. The statistics of clients were never disclosed."

Most shoes are made to a last which is a foot model with dimensions and shape similar to the anatomical foot but sufficiently different to not be exact. The last accommodates shoe manufacture and to some extent influences it’s the final fit and shoe durability.

Before mass production, the original shoemaker started the shoe making process by taking a footprint outline of the sole. A block of wood (last block) was whittled or chiselled into a wooden last from the print. In the beginning a last (‘laest’, Old English meaning footprint) was made from wood but now are made in metal or plastic. These are complex structures compiled from many foot measurements. The finished lasts is not the exact size and dimensions of the anatomical foot but instead an abstract representation with specific functions. It is usually deeper in the midfoot region with a sharp 'feather edge' where the upper surface meets the sole. The last is clipped along the topline (around the ankle) and is flared over and extended in the toe region. This provides shape and applies appropriate tension when the shoe distorts to contain the loaded foot. Lasts give a working surface on which flat leather components can be given plastic form. The physical dimensions accommodate the foot during activity and the last contains contemporary fashion and styles such as toe shape. To allow the last to be removed from the shoe they are often hinged around the instep. Modern lasts are totally unlike the foot with the sole of the last, flat in order to assist in manufacture. The last is the single most important element in the shoe making process. The last is made from measurements to ensure proper size and fit of the shoe which includes tread and shoe performance. Standard measurements include girth of ball, waist, and instep for given shoe sizes relative to the type of footwear.

Studies show over 90% of people have different sized feet and the individual foot has an infinite variation of morphology despite this lasts are made to match as a pair. The concept of a perfect fit is not a reality. This is further complicated by the distribution or proportions of foot mass which differ with individuals resulting in linear measurement such as length and breadth of the foot as inadequate. It is also important shoemakers consider mass and volume if an exact fit can be afforded. To ensure a best fit, measurements are taken at strategic locations and the shoemaker uses both linear as well volume measurement to construct a shoe. The modern last is made in three dimensions although it is not a direct replica of the foot. Instead it is made with production requirements, in mind. The last maker may take up to 35  measurements before the model last can be made. A shoe fitter may concentrate on length, ball width, heel, topline, arch and instep. The shoe is expected to wear well, feel well, keep its shape with wear, retain its style character, tread properly, allow for reasonable foot freedom, maintain both foot and shoe balance, remain structurally intact. These features are not always dependent on the quality of materials or components, or the manufacturing process. The design and multiple dimensions of the last provide the basis for the above.


All about shoes

answered Apr 29, 2020 by SHOE MAG
what is Aluminum shoe Last ?