Preparing The Bottom-SoleOr: Learning to love Barge®
This step could've waited until later, once the boots have been built and turned right-side out, but I've found it's much easier to do it now. The only reason it gets a page of its own is because the pages previous and following are just too damn long for more stuff.
You will eventually be appying a sole of some kind to these boots. You can stick with leather soles, but I will warn you right now that if you're performing outdoors, you will regret the choice. You will feel every rock, every twig, and they will wear out too fast. I like to use Vibram® soles myself, model #2060. It's a thick, long lasting sole. Model #2010 is similar, but thinner. You should be able to find them from a supplier in your area, but if not go to your local shoe repair shop and ask. They can either order them for you, or they'll have them in stock and will sell you a pair, though typically that will cost you more money. Wholesale, November 2002, they ran me about $10.00 U.S. per pair - two years later, the price had actually dropped twenty cents or so. If you visit a shoe repair shop, expect to pay retail - $15-20/pair. They have to make a living, too! (Don't want to tackle doing the sole yourself, or don't trust your cementing talents? Take your boots to the shop and have them soled. I have no idea what the going rate is, but I've found the shops to be happy to help, even with homemade boots.)
I wear a size 10-1/2 shoe - when I make these boots I buy the 12 sole and have to be careful how I shape the mid-sole so that it's not too wide. The reason is that commercial soles are shaped for commercial shoes (huh - go figure) which are narrower at the instep than you'd think. Always buy a larger sole than the size shoe you wear.
Now the kicker: 2060's are hard to come by larger than size 14. If you can't get a large enough sole you can buy Vibram in sheets. You lose some of the nifty shaping of the molded sole, and the springy cut-outs under the heel, but they're just as durable for walking.
Anyway, lay the heavy leather sole on the Vibram sole and trace around it. Trim the extra off, cutting outside the line by no less than 1/8". Do not try to cut it to match the leather sole exactly; you'll end up mind-bogglingly disappointed when it comes time to glue the two together. Leave a margin.
If you have access to a band saw, now would be the time to use it, expecially if the sole is a thick one, but not because you want the edge to be clean. We don't care about that right now. Band saws make it easier. If you use a razor blade or tiling knife, you will be hard pressed to make a clean edge anyway. Don't worry about it. Later we'll be sanding it down.
One other point if the sole is a thick one: Make sure that you don't angle the blade of whatever it is you're using. If you must angle, angle in such a way that the tread side of the sole is wider than the glue surface.