The time for the Calgary Mail-In Exercise is upon us once again. This year, Marshal Illes, didn’t ask my opinion, but he did come up with a great one.

During my youth in the industry, I was always told that there were two shoes that everyone should practice if they wanted to get good at shoe building. Those two shoes were … a pair of roadsters.

So that’s what we are doing for the Mail-In this year. That’s right. A pair. Of course, as a youngster, I really wanted to know how to make them. Here is a step-by-stepguide to get you started on your search for the perfect roadster that has eluded so many.

For rules and the entry form for the Calgary Mail-In Forging Exercise, click here.

As Marshal said, there are a lot of farriers out there that can make one good roadster. The trick is to make a pair. As I made the shoes for the article, I struggled with making them the same. However, with some practice it gets easier. Unfortunately, I am out of town for most of the next two months, so practice was not possible before this article was written.

Matching Them Up

Every time there is a pairs class at a contest, the winner is the best pair. Sometimes there are some really nice shoes that don’t pair up, and some not so nice shoes that do; yet the pair always trumps two nice single shoes that just don’t pair up. With that in mind, it is essential that each step be done carefully to match the other shoe as you go.

The shoes only have two measurements that have to be adhered to. They must be a minimum of 5/8th-inch thickness at the toe and 5 1/4 inches wide.

The starting 1/2-inch by 1-inch stock length when we get these shoes in Calgary is 11 inches, but I have found that to be a bit on the short side when having to make the shoes that wide. I would cut 11 1/2 inches of stock if I were doing this again.

Cody and I had about an hour together in the shop one day and decided to each make a roadster in the off chance that they would come out good enough for this article. Making specimen shoes is kind of like working with a young horse. You can’t go to the round pen with a schedule. You just have to spend as much or as little time working as is needed to get the job done.

Well, the shoes we made in that short hour didn’t come out too nice, but I still have some photos to use in this article. You will find that there are shoes being made by both Cody and I in this article, over the course of two settings. At least I am able to show all of the moves needed to make the roadster.

Mark The Stock

Begin by marking the stock 1/2-inch off center, with the lateral side being the longer (FIGURE 1).

Figure 1

I like to then move just over 1 1/2-inches from center and mark the outside edge of the bar stock (FIGURE 2).

Figure 2

Get a bright heat in the center of the stock, and then quench to your marks on the outside edge of the stock (FIGURE 3). 

Figure 3

Then bump the steel to achieve the thickness needed at the toe (FIGURES 4-6).

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

Do the same to both pieces so that they are the same length and the toe is the same thickness (FIGURE 7).

Figure 7

The toe bend is the next step. Make a good hind toe bend by first hitting between the marks (FIGURE 8).

Figure 8

Once it is bent, move to the horn to set the toe (FIGURE 9 AND 10). 

Figure 9

Figure 10

Figure 11

Work the toe on the horn (FIGURE 11) and check your measurements (FIGURE 12).

Figure 12

Do the same to both toe bends so that they are as matched as possible. Continuously check them against each other. Figures 13-15 show the two toe bends at this stage.

Figure 13

Figure 14

Figure 15

Forging The Caulk

The next step is to make the heel caulk on the lateral branch. Here are the moves and positions. Stick about an inch past the edge of the anvil with the ground surface up. Shoulder the stock so that you can bend it in the exact area that you want (FIGURE 16). 

Figure 16

Bend the shouldered edge over a rounded edge of the anvil (FIGURE 17). 

Figure 17

Turn the bent piece towards you so that the caulk is parallel to your hammer handle (zero degrees for those of you that have worked with me) and hit the caulk at an angle (FIGURE 18).

Figure 18

Turn the shoe to that the caulk is pointed away from you, and still hit with an angled hammer blow (FIGURE 19). 

Figure 19

Hit the caulk on the ground surface to shorten it (FIGURE 20), but keep this move to a minimum.

Figure 20

To clean up the inside edges of the caulk, hold the shoe so that the back edge of the caulk is on the anvil (FIGURE 21).

Figure 21

Take another heat to clean up the caulk and place it over the edge of the anvil (FIGURE 22).

Figure 22

Do the same to both pieces, and they should look like FIGURES 23-25.
Figure 23

Figure 24

Figure 25

On To The Wedge

With the lateral heel caulk made, the next step is the wedge. There are a lot of different types and styles of wedges. The one I am making here is a little bit old school, just like the rounded back on the caulk that we will be filing in a little later. To start the wedge, draw the stock down so that the width gets thinner and the thickness gets wider (FIGURES 26-28).

Figure 26

Figure 27

Figure 28

Again, match both pieces (FIGURE 29).

Figure 29

Place about an inch of the end of the shoe over the edge of the anvil with the ground surface down. Hammer using a half-face blow to make a shoulder for the leading edge of the wedge (FIGURE 30). 

Figure 30

Leaving the shoe in the same place, position yourself past the edge of the anvil and hammer into the back edge of the wedge (FIGURE 31). 

Figure 31

Without moving, turn the hammer in your hand to hit with an angled blow (FIGURE 32).

Figure 32

Cody likes to do this on the face of the anvil (FIGURE 33), but I haven’t gotten that move down yet. 

Figure 33

Match both pieces (FIGURE 34) and the next step is to rasp the heels up (FIGURES 35 and 36).

Figure 34

Figure 35

Figure 36

Progress Check

Since we are trying so hard to make a pair, it is worth taking the time to lay out the shoes carefully at this time. Mark across the toe (FIGURE 37) and set some calipers at 2 inches to mark the heel nails (FIGURE 38). 

Figure 37

Figure 38

With those points marked, use a wrench to mark an even mark from the outside edge of the shoe (FIGURE 39). 

Figure 39

With all of those marks on the shoe, you can use a center punch to carefully plot out the nail holes (FIGURE 40).

Figure 40

Heat the lateral branch and turn it (FIGURES 41 and 42).

Figure 41

Figure 42

Punch the nail holes at the spots you marked with the center punch (FIGURE 43).

Figure 43

Do the same to both shoes, and you should have the same as I do in FIGURE 44.

Figure 44

Heat the medial branch and turn it as well (FIGURES 45 and 46). 

Figure 45

Figure 46

Punch the nail holes, (FIGURE 47), and the shoes should be made. 

Figure 47

Spend some time rasping them up, and see what they look like together (FIGURE 48).

Figure 48

As is true of most pairs, I have one shoe that I like better than the other (FIGURE 49), but they don’t pair up too bad (FIGURE 50-53).

Figure 49

Figure 50

Figure 51

Figure 52

Figure 53

The toes are thicker then they have to be (FIGURE 54), but I am only 5 1/8-inchwide. I will make them out of longer stock if I make them again.

Figure 54

This has been a lot of fun, and I think that there will be some really nice shoes turned in this year. I hope that yours are among them. 

No Rules On Tools

Remember that in the Calgary Mail-In Forging Exercise, there are no rules regarding tool usage and no time limits. You can also build as many pairs of shoes as you want until you have the one you decide to send off to Calgary. Remember that all entries must arrive in Calgary prior to June 15, 2011.