Sole edge waxed

To not forget taking care of the sole and heel edges is something that I often talked about here on the blog. One way to do this, which also can be extra easy to get good protection and a nice shine, is to use dried wax polish.


I learned this tip a few years ago from a cobbler here in Sweden, and who is considered by many to be one of Sweden’s top cobblers. What you do is take a can of polish, not the softer cream that usually comes in glass jars or tubes, but wax polish that is almost exclusively in tin cans. Ideally, you take an old polish tin that doesn’t have too much left, and that you may have stopped using anyway as it’s just annoying that it’s in pieces (although it can be solved decently, see this article here). Since the soles of even light-coloured shoes are usually dark, a dark brown polish is ideal, as it works on everything, even perfectly fine on black shoes (although it doesn’t hurt to use black there). If the wax is still whole, so to speak, it’s a good idea to cut it a bit into smaller pieces with a regular dinner knife or similar, and it will dry faster. Then leave the jar out without the lid for a few weeks, so it dries up into hard pieces of wax.

A can of well-used polish, perfect for letting dry into hard pieces to be used for sole and heel edges. Usually it can be even smaller and crumblier pieces than this towards the end. Image: Ol Leather Shoe

A can of well-used can wax polish, which is perfect for letting dry to hard bits to be used for sole and heel edges. Usually it can be even smaller and crumblier pieces than this towards the end. Picture: Old Leather Shoe

Normally you apply cream to the sole and heel edge with a brush or polishing cloth, and then in the next step polish with a polishing cloth. The problem that often arises with the edges, especially on budget and mid-priced shoes, is that the edges can be a bit rough after some time, and the cloth sometimes gets stuck easily in the bumps and it can release bits of cotton that get stuck, plus it’s a bit difficult to get a nice shine if you’re after this. The reason why the edges are often a bit rough is simply that it takes time to get them smooth, with very many different sanding steps, and time is money as we know, and so some of the steps are chosen away to keep down the time in production. Also of course, with wear you can scratch edges etc, cement can be pushed out a bit and the setting of the edges gets looser with time.

This is how most people put on the polish, with a regular polishing cloth. Here you can also see how the sulk edge is a bit rough and not quite even in the surface. Image: The Fine Young Gentleman

This is how most people apply the wax polish, with a regular polishing cloth. Here you can also see how the edge of the polish is a bit rough and not quite smooth. Picture: The Fine Young Gentleman

If you have dried pieces of polish, it’s much easier to apply it to the slightly uneven surface. You simply take a piece of dried polish and apply the wax to the sole and heel edges, rubbing it in evenly and nicely. If you want extra shine, you can dip the index finger in water and go around the edges after. Then let it dry for five or ten minutes and brush the surface. Repeat as necessary. This way you can often get quite a nice, protective finish on the edges and a nice shine. Even on shoes with smooth edges, it can be easier to get a good shine with the dried polish, rather than applying it in the same way as the rest of the shoe. In many ways this makes a lot of sense, shoe factories and shoemakers alike often have ready-made hard wax bits to treat sole edges with (even if also heat and heavy pressure is involved as well), this is just an easy way even for the general public to make their own bits for this purpose from the wax polish they already have at home.

Nicely groomed sole and heel edge on a boot with a rubber sole. Image: Reddit

Finely groomed sole and heel edge on a rubber-soled boot. Picture: Reddit