Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Some things are worth doing myself

As people get to know me, and Lord Boner could probably vouch for this, they notice that I have a few trademarks: cufflinks, pocket handkerchiefs, and very well-polished black dress shoes. The third is something that I do myself, because I insist on a good shine on my shoes, and no one does it the way I like.

I no longer use wax, which gives the best shine at the cost of drying out the leather. Kiwi has been a favorite for decades, but it contains napthalene. I like Lincoln polish, which I think also has some evaporative agent to make the wax spreadable. The best to use on quality shoes is a quality shoe cream. Bostonian makes an excellent one that is available in its stores. The lanolin base keeps leather supple, and if you really work in the cream before you break in the shoe, it can help reduce creasing. Additionally, after I've worn a pair of shoes, I apply cream a few times to the creases. That helps keep the leather strong where it undergoes the most stress, and it renews the leather's color to reduce creases' noticeability.

Kiwi's new shoe cream is terrific and my other favorite. It comes in a tube with a sponge applicator on top; twisting the bottom pushes the cream through a hole in the center of the sponge. Spread a thin layer over the shoes, let dry, then buff. There's no need for water, either, and it comes off very easily (reminiscent of a good car wax). It's just like Kiwi's old "Twist'n'Shine" that it stopped making several years ago, except that was a wax. Today's product is a cream, so it's better for leather, and several coats give a gloss almost as good as wax (unless you put in the effort for a mirror-like military shine).

Once in a while, I'll strip off the wax and start over. Kiwi's "scuff remover" spray (not the scuff cover liquid) is isopropyl-based, so you want to be careful using it, but it dissolves excess wax. Kiwi's leather lotion and saddle soap remove the rest while conditioning the leather, and Kiwi's gel cleaner will scrub the leather clean. The gel is meant for sport shoes, but it works nicely on smooth leather too. Then I apply lots of regular shoe cream for the leather's sake: rub it in hard, buff it all off, then do it a few more times. After that, if necessary, I'll apply a little of Kiwi's leather dye to give the leather a uniformly smooth finish. And to finish, Kiwi's shoe cream.

Yes, this is an awful lot of work, particularly when I could go to a shoe repair store, kick back for five minutes, and pay someone only $5 to polish my shoes. There are several places around where I work, but I'd rather do all this myself and get the shine on my shoes that I like. I also ensure it was all done to my exacting standards, rather than someone who won't even completely buff off the wax. For the same reason, I always change my car's oil myself. That was prompted by putting in some 0w30 synthetic at winter's onset, and discovering that the putz at the oil change shop tightened the oil drain plug so much that he nearly stripped the threads.


Blogger Mike said...

Nice to see someone else out there who appreciates a good shoe shine. Of course, mine was kind of forced on me, being ROTC and all, which means I do get to "put in the effort for a mirror-like military shine." (I'll have you know that I can shave using my uniform low quarters.)

I personally use the ol' standby of kiwi, and occasionally use their instant gloss silicone crap before an inspection.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 12:06:00 AM  

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