Category Archives: Design & Materials

Handmade Boots and Repair.

There are a handful of men I trust to repair my boots, and even fewer willing to do it.

(FACT: If you buy custom cowboy boots this isn’t a problem. Your bootmaker will resole, repair and re-ink any boot he/she makes. They will charge you money for this service and some may grumble in the privacy of the shop, but that’s the deal.)

Okay. Now, this is where we separate the boot nerds from the rest of the internet. Look at the this photo. See the WHITE stitches around each toe? See the NATURAL colored leather welt where the stitches sit?  And, see the edge of the welt? It is inked BLACK …just like the heel and sole… then coated with a thin layer of wax… then buffed and burnished.

This is the AFTER shot… not the BEFORE. I want them just like this.

It would be very easy to make this all go away.

Why does it matter to me? Because, it’s beautiful… Because this is a handmade boot and I love to look at its parts. There is a special tool to press the ditch between each stitch. I like to look at the contrast between the heavy thread and the leather. I like to look at the tiny shadows.

The natural welt acts like chrome on a cool car… especially on a brown or black cowboy boot. It lets you see the boot’s shape, angles and curves.


So, I fret about boot repair. And I wait too long. I dodge the guy at the airport with the shoeshine stand… and the guys at the mall. And anyone who has a brush in their hand and is pointing at my feet… yelling… “¡Ma’am, Ma’am!!”

I box up my boots and send them to a friend… who knows exactly how I got to be this kind of crazy. And I get the boots back, not with an invoice… but a play-by-play of the day I missed at the shop. .. with a star written in all caps.


… what Brian C. Thomas actually said to me,   “I SCRUBBED THE SNOT OUTA THEM.”

Thanks, Brian.

If you want Brian C. Thomas to fix your boots, call him at (325) 672-2344 (Abilene TX.) Photos:


I paid Brian C. Thomas cash money to repair my boots … enough cover his materials, but probably not for all his trouble. Brian is a longtime friend. He fixed my boots without any expectation I would write about the work on my blog.



The same only different

cowboy boot made by tex robin
Tex Robin Boots. Worn. (Abilene, TX.)

I love the word “toebug” …Toebug …toebug …toebug. I say it every chance I get. #Toebug. Bootmakers know what I’m talking about, but everyone calls the crisscross of thread something different, like…

“toe flower” — Lee Miller (Austin,TX), Evan Voyles (Austin,TX), Alan Bell (Abilene, TX) and Brian C. Thomas (Abilene, TX)

“bug and wrinkle” — Mike Vaughn (Bowie, TX)

“wrinkle and stitch” — James “Smitty Smith (Beggs, OK)

“toe stitch” —  Paul Bond Bootsorder form (Nogales, AZ)

“medallion” —Roberto Herrera (Tijuana, Mexico); Rocketbuster Boots (El Paso, TX) and T.O. Stanley Boots (El Paso, TX)

“el medallón” — translation by Roberto Herrera (Tijuana, Mexico)

Pretty great, huh? Order Form Order Form. Detail.

Heel Counter

Schwarz Custom Boots (Dillon, MT)


Most cowboy boots have a four-piece top. The piece of leather that surrounds the wearer’s heel is called the “heel counter.”

On most boots, the heel counter is just an echo of whatever is stitched on the toe. Not nearly as strong or as clear. Simple repetition …or all together plain.

A few boots do it better.

A working cowboy boot has a plain toe destined for muck and trouble. Schwarz Custom Boots put a pair of horse heads on the heel counter of these stitched boots. Shadows. Matched in color to the sole, heel and counter, the horse heads are hard to spot …hard to forget.

Rocketbuster Boots (El Paso, TX.)

Just married. Rocketbuster Boots made these white-on-white wedding boots. Instead of tying cans to a car bumper… Nevena Christi stitched these boots with good luck horseshoes, hearts and sparkles. Perfect.

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”



Don’t miss out. This is part of my photo glossary series.

Photos by Marty Snortum (El Paso, TX.)

Cowboy Boot Photo Glossary – Piping


Narrow trim that runs along the boot top and side seams. Sometimes called the side welt.” White piping is popular throughout central Texas…on almost any color boot.

Bootmakers can buy piping in spools from supply companies, but often make their own to match custom designs and fancy materials.

Bootmakers will cut a narrow strip of leather, skive (thin) the edges… then lay a cord or string down the middle, giving the trim a smooth rounded shape. On the Dave Wheeler Boot (above) the custom made blue piping is a match to the 10 rows of hand stitching. Beautiful.

On the Rocketbuster boot (left) the piping is nearly disguised in the hotrod pin-striping design. Very cool. The pull is on the inside of the boot. You can see the red piping runs along the top of the boot and down the side seam. Notice how the piping is almost invisible, camouflaged in the narrow inlay and the criscross double-row red stitching.

The right-hand photo shows and old Tex Robin boot. The leather has worn thru and you can see the cotton cord. The piping on this boot matches the boot leather and lets your eyes focus on the stitch pattern. This pair was found at a Texas yard sale, I love how the previous owner left the fray hanging.

If you have a copy of my book. Flip through the pages… look at the piping. Tell me what you think in the comments below.

Top 2 photos by Marty Snortum. Bottom right photo, by me.