Student pleads for high heel/wooden shoe design info


I’m an ID student at San Francisco State. For my senior R&D project I’m doing wooden high heels. I need some technical information about shoe design and am hoping someone can help me find it. I need two types of information. One is the general specs for high heels. For instance, what are the length, width and and angle measurement for various sizes and heights of heels? I believe there are also guidelines for the amount of rise at the toe for varying heel heights. I think this information must be available to shoe design professionals, but I have been unable to find it. Is there an official reference book that everyone has? If not, where can I find this information?

The other information I’m looking for is regarding the production process for wooden shoes, which must surely be different from that of shoes made to lasts. If anyone can refer me to information on these topics or anything else you find relevant I would be so enormously grateful.

Thank you for your time.


I would recommend purchasing a variety of these types of shoes in a womens size 7 (industry standard for technical drawings and initial samples), you can get cheapies at Nordstrom Rack, Marshals, TJ max, and Payless. Then I would recommend cutting them up in your school shop. Cut one side length wise, and the other side horizontally across the toe, arc, and heel. From this you can measure out some standards (it will also look impressive to your instructors). You won’t find any published industry standards on this type of thing. It is all based off of years of traditional shoe making.

I believe these are still constructed with a last (hopefully some of thee fashion footwear designers will have more insight here), but I assume they still need to be constructed around a footform. The bottom is probably hand-cut and sanded to a template. The upper would be cut to a pattern, the last laid on-top and the upper nailed to the wood, then the whole thing might be molded with heat and steam so the leather retains the shape of the last… if it’s the type of shoes I’m thinking of.

It would help if you posted a couple of reference photos as to the type of stuff you are working on.

The rise you are talking about is called toe spring - there are not really any requirements or standards for this, that I’m aware of, or was ever taught at footwear school - fashion dictates it more than anything else. There have been fashions recently for very low heels and a lot of toe spring. Even the angle of the underside of the last from heel to toe varies depending on fashion (I’ve heard it alled ‘crank’ , don’t know if theres a more techincal term for it.

BUT if you’re making woods, you do need more toe spring than usual - because the sole does not bend, you need to create a curve on the bottom, hence giving the shoe a ‘rocking’ effect when worn,otherwise the shoes will be impossible to walk in. To ascertain what this should be - buy a wood of a smliar heel height to what you are working on and copy this curve.

Wood soles are made pretty much like anyother wooden object. The factories usually use metal patterns, draw round the bits of wood by hand and then cut.
Curved shapes can require a lot of sanding. Wood soles are pretty much hand made.

Lasts are still often used on wood soles - the only difference is the upper is attached to the sole by rivets or screws - not glue.