Monday, November 21, 2011

Cowboy Boots Rubbing Legs

Occasionally, I receive questions from visitors to my website or this blog.

A recent question was, "do any of the cowboy boots that you own rub your legs and cause sores or blisters?"

My answer to that question was...

...yes, some of my cowboy boots have done that. This problem occurs when the boot shafts are a bit narrow (so they are closer to my legs) and the stitching on the inside of the shafts is not finished well. That is, the stitching may be loose or uneven. The threads used these days are usually nylon, which is rather rough and abrasive when it rubs on the side of legs. (Kevlar is even worse). Walking can cause the threads to rub against the legs in the same places over and over again, causing (in the worst circumstances), the skin to be abraded and maybe even a bleeding sore.

There are four ways that I have dealt with this problem when I feel it.

1. I will closely examine the inside of the boot shafts where I am feeling the rubbing sensation. If there are any loose threads or unfinished ends of leather, I will try to cut them off or if I can't cut them, to melt them. Yeah, I said "melt." Boot threads made of nylon will melt when exposed to a flame. So I will take the boots and my lighter outside to a clear area (I am always a fire-safety guy!) ... light the lighter and carefully wave the end of the flame near the threads to melt them. I am very careful not to get the flame too close to the leather, because it will cause leather to discolor and to shrink (in the area directly exposed to flame.) I am also very careful not to burn the threads completely through -- if that happens, the boot may begin to fall apart.

After the threads are melted, I will carefully pull or break off the melted ends to smooth them out. Then I proceed with the next step.

2. I will get some medium (100 grit) sandpaper and rub it on the offending loose threads, beading, or ends-of-leather. Essentially, I will "sand down" the parts that are causing the rubbing. After I have sanded all areas that I think are causing the problem, I will gently wipe the areas that I sanded with a damp cloth, then pull the boots on to check if the problem has gone away. If not, I will repeat the process until the problem is resolved.

3. In cases where I cannot melt or sand an offending area to smoothness -- such as where a boot pull attaches to the inside of a boot -- then I will get some regular masking tape ("paper tape") and carefully place the tape over the offending area. Usually that works, but not always. Tape also has to be replaced from time to time, as it is not a permanent fix.

4. I may use the professional boot stretcher that I own to try to stretch the boot shafts, slowly over time. If I am able to stretch the shafts of leather boots even 1/4" (6mm), I may eliminate the problem because the area that was rubbing is no longer close to my legs for me to feel it.

Such is life of a Bootman. Not all boots are made the same. I hate to say it, but it doesn't really matter if the boots are made by an expensive custom one-of-a-kind bootmaker, a commercial mass-production vendor, or where in the world the boots are made. Sometimes there may be loose threads, beading, or bits of leather that will rub on your legs. It is fairly easy to resolve yourself with a bit of ingenuity and tactics as described above.

Life is short: make your boots comfortable!

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