8 Essential Tools for The Modern Cobbler



A cobbler is a skill that requires precision and patience, and the art of shoe making and repair is making a comeback. Due to mass production and the ever cheaper variety of shoes, cobblers have found themselves not as in demand as they used to be. 

That doesn’t mean that you can’t take it up as a hobby, or save some money by making and repairing your own shoes. There are a few tools that are essential for the modern day shoe maker.

Cobbler Sewing Machine

Sewing machines weren’t available to the original cobbler thousands of years ago, but they are available to you. Good cobbler sewing machines, like the ones on Get Sew, allow you to quickly do some of the slow manual work that would otherwise take a long time. The best cobbler sewing machines will allow you to take your shoe making game to the next level.

Measuring Tape

A measuring tape is one of the most essential tools for a cobbler, and it’s impossible to work properly without one. Making shoes requires a great deal of accuracy, especially when it comes to cutting fabrics and making patterns. 

Every piece of material must be cut exactly to size, and a good shoe making tape measure has one side that measures length in inches and centimeters. The other side will usually have shoe sizes, including half sizes, and will be covered in waterproof material to prevent stretching.


Lasts are the molds that the shoes are built around, and they help to keep the shoe in shape while they are being made. In the olden days cobblers used to make their own lasts as they could make them to very specific sizes. Nowadays you can buy lasts of all different shapes and sizes.

It’s important to note that lasts are not adjustable, so you need the correct shape and size for every shoe that you make. If you make a lot of shoes you could end up with a whole room full of lasts.


Every good cobbler needs at least one decent pair of scissors. If you make a lot of shoes, you will need lots of different pairs of scissors because each pair will be designed for a specific material. 

If you are cutting leather, use leather scissors. If you are cutting suede, use suede scissors. If you use the wrong scissors on the wrong material, you will not get clean lines and you risk dulling the scissor blades.

Rotary Cutter

A rotary cutter is similar to scissors, in that they are used for cutting material. Rotary cutters are faster at cutting material than scissors, but you don’t have as much control with them. 

Rotary cutters are best used to cut large pieces of fabric quickly, and then you should use scissors for the more detailed cutting work.


An awl is an essential tool for the cobbler that works with a lot of heavy materials, such as leather. When you need to stitch pieces of leather together, it’s hard to force the needle through the material as it is so thick. An awl is used to poke holes in the material prior to sewing, enabling you to easily push the needle through the hole.

Using an awl is a very slow process. Usually you will make a small number of holes in the leather and then stitch, before making another number of small holes. This process is time consuming, but it is also essential as you could end up with too many holes if you try and work too fast.

Speedy Stitcher

While the awl is an essential tool when working with leather, it is a time consuming process. The speedy stitcher was invented to try and speed up the process. 

The speedy stitcher is designed to poke holes in the leather and stitch the holes at the same time. This allows you to work much faster on thicker materials.


A cobbler may be a dying tradition thanks to modern technology, but it is still a useful skill to have. There a number of tools that are needed to make shoes and a sewing machine is one of the newer tools that are required. 

If you are planning on learning this handy skill, you will soon be on your way to repairing or even making your own shoes.