inside a shoe last factory

Today we are visiting a shoe last factory operated by a good friend of mine, Jackie Huang. The Dongguan Lian Xiang shoe last factory is located on a busy side street in the South China shoemaking town of Houjie. Jackie operates the business and meets with customers while his brother, an accomplished last master, works to shape new lasts.

This small factory makes sample development and production shoe lasts for many top international shoe brands. They have over 25 years of experience making all types of lasts for athletic, fashion, and casual shoes. The factory can make over 50,000 plastic lasts a month and is equipped to make development and custom model lasts one by one. Jackie and his skilled craftsmen can make you a new custom last in just a few hours. Let’s see how they make a new shoe last.

how shoes lasts are made

Inside a shoe last factory:

Inside the last factory you will find a small office, a 3D last scanning machine, a shaping bench, computer controlled high speed last cutting lathes, a finishing area, and a last marking station. You will also find cutting saws, drill presses, hydraulic presses, and plastic extrusion machines.

Getting started on a new shoe last project:

shoe last scanning machineThe last scanner:

The last scanner is a critical piece of equipment in any shoe last factory. The scanner is used to duplicate and record any new lasts that arrive at the shop for adjustments. The scanner is also used to record any handmade modifications.

making a shoe last the last masterThe last shaping bench:

In the last master’s workroom, there will be a workbench specifically designed to hold the last in place while its shape is being refined. While all plastic lasts are cut by the automatic machine, subtle adjustments like adding and removing material are still done by hand.

shoe last cutting machine

Last cutting lathes:

The last cutting lathe machines are the workhorses of the last factory. Able to cut 6 lasts at once, the last cutting lathe can transform “blanks” into lasts in just a few minutes.

Making a new shoe last:

To make a new shoe last, Jackie and his team need a few details. If you know the function of the new shoe, such as running or soccer, Jackie can search his extensive computer files for a suitable last. If you have a photo of a similar style, Jackie can find or create a new last similar to the product shown in your photo. Maybe you have a sample shoe to follow? The factory team can “reverse engineer” a last to duplicate the fitting. Of course, if you a have a last that needs modifications, they can scan and reshape a last per your requirements. Once the last file is found or created, it is simply sent to the cutting machine.

If you require the services of Jackie Huang and his team at The Dongguan Lian Xiang shoe last factory in China, we can put you in touch with an English speaking contact. Send inquiries to [email protected]