February 26, 2013 by Ville Raivio
The shoe trees one finds in most shoe stores are usually of twin-tube model. The trees have inset springs, conforming in length and width, which lead to satisfactory fit on most shoes. Other, certainly more rarefied options are three-piece shoe trees. This model is usually offered only by cordwainers or specialized, artisanal shoemakers due to its laborious production and restrictions on fit. Instead of springs, these trees rely on exact fit. Like the name suggests, the model is crafted from three pieces of wood, of which the middle piece is inserted last. The pieces are often connected with a string or chain. The model is either hollowed partly or fully on the ball of foot and heel; this allows moisture to dissipate faster and shows the skill of the lastmaker. Three-piece shoe trees are higher on the instep and heel as the fit must be exact. When inserted, they keep the shape of the shoe better than any other shoe tree model. In truth, the trees are closer to wooden sculptures than mere commodities.
Pictured: three-piece shoe trees from László Vass.
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