medwards

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kitonbrioni

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I've got shoetrees out of mahogony, Serbian beech, German boxwood, maple, etc and they all work well. The German ones are sharp looking but you can get 3 USA cedar ones for that price.
 

Andy

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Panzeraxe:

Unfinished Cedar wood is best, it not only keeps your shoes in shape, but protects the leather by absorbing moisture, which leather absorbs from your feet and the elements.

Birch is often used in Europe, since Cedar is not native wood there. Both work equally well.

Finished shoe trees will keep the shoes in shape, but does not absorb moisture. They are used most often as display shoe trees in stores.

Metal or plastic shoetrees may help keep the shape of your shoe, but offer none of the absorption advantages.

 

couch

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Panzeraxe said:
nothing much in those posts on wood vs. cedar - anyone?
Panzer: Cedar is a light softwood with aromatic oils and one that is naturally fairly resistant to microbial deterioration when wet--that's why it used to be one of the woods house carpenters would choose for window sills or making roofing shakes. That said, its lighter density would probably offer only marginal improvements in absorption rate or total absorptive capacity over other, denser unsealed woods, given the relatively small amount total water volume retained by leather from wear (unless soaked, of course).

The lower density and slightly greater porosity of cedar compared to hardwoods like beech might offer some marginal improvement in evaporative speed (greater internal surface area) but again I would expect this to be pretty minimal. A basswood, poplar, or other softwood tree would be comparable, I expect. I've never seen any actual data on this, so take this as a working hypothesis based on known premises.

But many high-end bespoke makers, as you know, use all kinds of other woods in custom trees. Given that shoes are made and rest on the last, I've always suspected that the more important function of the tree was not to facilitate evaporation, but to allow the shoe to shrink and dry after wearing around the correct form, just as when it's made. To the extent this is true, the composition of the wood would be pretty much irrelevant, which explains why some bespoke makers even seal and finish their trees. Indeed, on this view, a denser wood might even be preferable, as less likely to crush or dent if dropped or otherwise compromised.

I like the cedar aroma and see no reason not to use cedar, but I wouldn't snub other woods. If you are concerned with maximizing the absorptive / evaporative capacity of any wood, you probably want to sand the surface lightly every few years to help remove salts and body oils which will collect there over time. With cedar that gets you a stronger aroma than with some other woods, which is a bonus.

Bottom line for me: I'd take a tree that was better-shaped to my last any day over a less well-fitting tree, regardless of which wood. Other things being equal, I'd probably choose cedar. I think I'd prefer unsealed in either case, to cover all functional bases.

[Edit: duh, added poplar to softwood list, being the wood in question]
 
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