The toe on the front of the sole always down faster than the rest of the sole, and for some who take big steps,the wear can be quite dramatically. Here a tip about sunken rubber toe taps which is a good solution to prevent this from happening.

 

The natural solution for most people with this problem (who want to keep the leather sole and don’t want to cover it with a rubber topy) is to attach an external metal toe tap. Sunken metall taps are quite rare since you in most cases need to have them attached directly in the factory. Surface taps naturally gives a really good protection, but personally I’m not too fond of it. I think they are uncomfortable when walking, and they it can look a bit so-so if they are seen from the side from above, it can be dangerous when walking in stairs or on the hard floor, and the shoes can’t be used indoors on parquet.

 

Five pairs with flush rubber toe taps. The three pairs to the left have had them installed in the workshop, the other's are attached by a cobbler.

Five pairs with flush rubber toe taps. The three pairs to the left have had them installed in the workshop, the other’s are attached by a cobbler.

 

My first pair of shoes with flush rubber toe taps were a pair from the Hungarian maker Vass. Like many other manufacturers Vass don’t want to put on sunken metal taps on shoes with single leather soles since the screws easily can go through the whole sole out on top, so they just do the rubber version on these. After trying this, I quickly realized that it is a very good solution. The feeling is just like walking with leather soles, they can hardly be seen at all, and the durability is still really good. For me the regular procedure nowadays is that I walk with the shoes for a while and wear down the toe, go to the cobbler and have sunken rubber toe taps installed, go with the shoes for a longer period, and then both the toe tap and the middle of the sole are often in about the same time span worn down to the extent that I need a resole.

I have also had sunken rubber toe taps installed by cobblers on several pairs. It doesn’t have to be done when they are brand new, you can wear them for some time, just make sure that there still are some margin to the welt so that the cobbler will be able to grind it evenly without having to risk to also sand down the welt. Most skilled cobblers can do this procedure, even if it’s something that isn’t too common (in fact, all the cobblers I asked had never done it before). Price wise, it costs between €20 and €45. Usually they have to sand down the sole stitch, but since today’s glue is so hard and the seam is also locked in every stitch for the rest of the sole it’s this nothing that weakens the shoe. And if the cobbler doesn’t understand what you mean, just show this blog post as a guide.

 

A comparison of three different versions of the sunken rubber toe tap. The Vass pair on the left have had them attached in the workshop, and with the dark sole edge it's hardly visible. The John Lobb pair in the middle has a very thin rubber piece inserted by a cobbler, the pair from Jan Kielman to the right have a thicker one.

A comparison of three different versions of the sunken rubber toe tap. The Vass pair on the left have had them attached in the workshop, and with the dark sole edge it’s hardly visible. The John Lobb pair in the middle has a very thin rubber piece inserted by a cobbler, the pair from Jan Kielman to the right have a thicker one.

The Vass shoe seen from the side. Neat and functional.

The Vass shoe seen from the side. Neat and functional.

Very thin one, hardly visible. Might wear down a bit faster though. As you can see there's no brass pins, since the sole is so thin the cobbler didn't want to attach those. Today's cement is so good that it's no problem.

Very thin one, hardly visible. Might wear down a bit faster though. As you can see there’s no brass pins, since the sole is so thin the cobbler didn’t want to attach those. Today’s cement is so good that they will stick.

Thicker version. For me who likes a low toe spring (height of the toe from the ground) toe taps are great since they keep down the wear here, and makes the tip keeping closer to the ground.

Thicker version. For me who likes a low toe spring (height of the toe from the ground) toe taps are great since they keep down the wear here, and makes the tip keeping closer to the ground.