Shoe Last Definition

What is a shoe last?

Is it to put inside a shoe while it’s in storage?

Shoe Last

No, but that’s actually what I thought it was for.

It looks like a shoe tree which is to hold the shoe in its original shape without warping.

And that’s exactly what I thought a shoe last was also made for.

Turns out I was wrong.

A shoe last actually has one important role and I will explain what that is in this article.

Keep reading to find out what a shoe last is for and whether or not you need one.

What is a Shoe Last?

A shoe last plays an important role in the manufacturing process of shoe making.

Parts of the shoe are constructed around the last and then removed at the end of the production process.

Shoes cannot be made without a last because it needs a “Base”.

And of course we cannot put a real humans foot into every shoe so we need a copy, and that’s exactly what a shoe last is.

Not all shoe lasts are the same.

There are lasts made for boots, sandals, sneakers, dress shoes, flats, and every other type of shoe out there.

You cannot use the same last made for a sneaker to make boots, they have their own last for that.

So if you’re getting into shoe making, you have to know what type of shoe last you need before constructing it.

That is the easiest way to describe what a shoe last is and why you need one.

They are not for holding the shoe in shape while in storage, stretching the shoe, or anything like that.

What are Shoe Lasts Made of?

Shoe lasts are typically made of wood, cast iron and high-density plastics.

Hardwood and cast iron lasts are mainly used by bespoke shoe makers or DIY.

Wood hold their shape well even when wet and can last a long time.

However, they don’t have the capabilities for mass production requirements.

For example:

A factory creates thousands of shoes per day!

One assembly line can make 1000 – 1500 pairs of shoes a day.

In some factories they have about 5 assembly lines, resulting in 5000 – 8000 pairs of shoes a day from one factory!

The machines tack and pin different parts of the shoe before they are glued together.

You cannot put pins into cast iron, and wood is not durable enough for producing massive amounts of shoes consistently.

So they have to use shoe lasts made of high-density plastics.

These plastic shoe lasts can withstand thousands of tack holes before needing a repair, and can be recycled over and over again as they are 100% recyclable.

Do You Need a Shoe Last?

Unless you’re looking to get into shoe making then you do not need a shoe last.

Their primary role is to be the foot for the shoe to be constructed around, until the end.

If you’re just a regular person wondering what the heck these things are, chances are you do not even need to be close to one.

Shoe makers and cobblers definitely do though.

You can either make your own or purchase them from someone in your area that specializes in them.

I have found this guide that shows you how to make your own.

Remember all you need is wood or cast iron as high-density plastic is best used for mass production.


In conclusion, shoe lasts look weird and chances are you will never need one in your lifetime unless you get into shoe making.

Other than that, I hope you have found all the answers you are looking for.

If you enjoyed this article or have anymore questions, please ask me in the comments below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

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