Professional or at-home repairs that will save your soles.
When to Go to a Pro While you can do a few quick repairs at home, it's often easier ? and just as affordable ? to make that (wobbly) trip to the shoe-repair shop.
Broken Heel The Solution: A shoe pro can replace the metal pin that runs down the center of the heel. "Replace both heels at once for better balance," says Louise Ramuta of Ramuta's Shoe Repair, in Seattle. Cost: $10 to $30 per heel. Options:If your stilettos tend to snap, create a sturdier pair of shoes by having the shop grind a quarter inch off the existing heels. Cost: $10.
Torn Strap The Solution: Your shoe repairman can sew, glue, or tack a ripped strap back into place. Resist the urge to DIY with superglue, says Ramuta ? it tends to crack leather. Cost: $6 to $12 per strap. Options: If your straps are so brittle that you'd rather have them replaced, a shoe repairman can sew on a new, bone-colored strap, then dye it to match your shoes. Cost: $15 to $18.
Worn-Out Soles The Solution: "Replace your soles when the centers feel soft and spongy," says Frank Sorrentino, who replaces 50 to 100 soles a week as owner of Mont Clare Shoe Repair, in Chicago. Cost: $25 to replace leather soles; $15 to replace rubber soles. Options: Apply thin rubber sole guards to the bottoms of new shoes to prolong their life. When the guards wear out, you can replace them rather than the soles. Cost: $15 to $20.
Ill-Fitting Slingbacks The Solution: Your shoe repairman can shorten the straps, add elastic, or punch an extra hole in the buckle, says Nick Valenti of B. Nelson Shoes, in New York City. Cost: $5 and up to shorten the straps or add an extra hole; $8 and up to add elastic. Options: Transform slingbacks into slides by having the back straps removed. Ask a shoe pro for advice, though, since the front part alone might not be enough to hold your foot. Cost: $5.
Fading Color The Solution: To restore your black pumps to their original shade, pros remove as much of the existing color as possible, then apply at least two coats of dye, allowing 48 hours between coats. Cost: $12 to $20. Options: If those pink slingbacks are now a bit too Barbie for your tastes, you can dye them a new color, like black, navy, or camel. However, going from light to dark works best. Cost: $12 to $20.
Badly Scuffed or Torn Shoes The Solution: A shoe repairman can sand and smooth the plastic base of the heel or replace the heel cover. But if there are deep gouges in the leather, you may need new shoes. Cost: $20 to $30. Options: If your dog is the culprit, Valenti recommends spritzing your shoes with bitter apple. RS pick: Grannick's Bitter Apple Spray, $5, PetSmart, www.petsmart.com.
Boots That Don't Fit in the Calf The Solution: Can't get that zipper all...the...way...up? Your shoe-repair shop can stretch the calf area or add a zipper or an elastic gusset (a triangular insert that allows more stretch up top). Cost: $15 to stretch the calf area; $35 to add an elastic gusset or a zipper. Options: Alternatively, if your boots are too big up top, have them taken in. "We take the boot apart, recut it to fit the contour of your leg, then resew it," says Sorrentino. Cost: $35 and up.
Uncomfortable Pointy-Toes Shoes The Solution: If your pointiest shoes have become unbearable, your shoe repairman can give them a more comfortable round-toe shape by using a round mold, says Ramuta. Cost: $35 and up. Options: You can also go from round to pointy-toed or change your conservative pumps into open-toed shoes. Cost: $35 and up.
When to Do It Yourself You're not quite ready to hand tool a pair of loafers, but you can do your own quick fixes to solve these common shoe problems. Scratched Leather The Solution: Camouflage scratches on black or brown shoes with a matching fine Sharpie pen, then apply a cream polish in the same color. Buff the leather with an old T-shirt, then top off the job with a horsehair brush (plastic bristles leave marks). What to Use: Meltonian Shoe Cream, about $3 at shoe-repair shops. Horsehair brush, $7, www.joesshoeservice.com.
Salt Stains The Solution: To remove salt marks on leather or suede, Ada Hopkins, a conservator at the Bata Shoe Museum, in Toronto, recommends using a soft sponge dipped in a solution of one cup of water and one teaspoon of white vinegar. What to Use: White vinegar (16 ounces), about $1 at supermarkets.
Bad Odor The Solution: Shoe deodorants with odor-absorbing ingredients, like baking soda and charcoal, will help. But your best bet is to "wear them on alternate days to give them time to dry out," says Tom Adams, owner of Tom's Shoe Repair, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. What to Use: Odor-Eaters Foot & Sneaker Spray Powder, $6 at drugstores.
Water Damage The Solution: If you get caught in a downpour, place your rain-soaked shoes on cedar shoe trees (cedar absorbs moisture) as soon as you get home. Make sure they're at least a few feet away from a direct heat source so they can dry naturally. What to Use: Cedar shoe trees, $17, .
Shoes That Are Too Small The Solution: Spray-on shoe-stretching liquid makes leather more pliable, says Howard Davis, a professor of footwear design at Parsons the New School for Design, in New York City. Saturate your shoes with the spray, then wear them around the house for about a half hour. What to Use: Premier Shoe Stretch, $3, www.shoeshinekit.com.
Shoes That Are Too Large The Solution: Insert Spenco pads, which have a thick, flat insole and a heel grip in the back to fill out a shoe that's a bit too big. "Your shoe will feel a half-size smaller," says Ramuta. Note: These pads work only with closed shoes, like pumps and boots - not sandals. What to Use: Spenco Heel Supports, about $20, www.spenco.com for store locations.
Dry, Brittle Leather The Solution: Perspiration usually keeps leather lubricated, but if your shoes have been sitting in storage over the summer, you can apply cream polish or mink oil to restore them. And if patent-leather pumps have lost their shine, use Windex or Pledge, says Nick Valenti. What to Use: Meltonian Mink Oil, $4, www.shoeshinekit.com.
In addition to using furniture wisely, it is important to handle it carefully. Safe handling and moving of furniture begin with a basic understanding of how a piece is constructed. The second step is to plan carefully.
Before picking up a piece of furniture, determine how it is put together and if any of its parts are removable or detachable. Make sure you know where the furniture is its strongest - generally along a major horizontal element - and try to carry it from these points.
Then examine the room and the route whereby the furniture is to be moved. Look around to make sure you know where everything is. Identify potential trouble. Light fixtures that hang low, for examples, or that extend out from the wall may be damaged or cause damage. Glass table tops are also easily damaged if bumped. If necessary, clear the way by moving or removing fragile or obstructive items. Protect the furniture to be moved with soft padding or wrap it in a blanket pad. Padding, which will provide extra insurance against bumping and gouging, is especially important if an item is going into storage.
Before moving an item, make sure you know exactly where it goes next. Plan ahead to adjust the temperature and relative humidity in the new location so they are the same as where the furniture presently is. Extreme changes in temperature and humidity can cause splitting of joints and veneers.
Never hurry when you are moving furniture. Scratches, dents, and gouges from bumps against door knobs, doorways, and other furniture are always more likely in haste. Each item needs to be approached individually, without haste, and with sufficient manpower present.
Make sure you have a firm grip on the piece with both hands. Do not wear cotton gloves. It is essential that hands not slip from a piece of furniture while it is being moved.
Never slide or drag furniture along the floor. The vibration can loosen or break joints, chip feet, break legs, etc., to say nothing of what dragging does to the carpeting or finish on the floor. Whenever possible, use trolleys or dollies for transporting heavy pieces.
Handling valuable furnishings requires a special attitude: in general, movement should be carried out at a slower pace. Here are some quick tips for moving furniture properly. Remember: If you don't break it, it doesn't have to be fixed!
Just as gymnasts work with "spotters" to catch them when they misstep, have helpers on hand to guide the movers so they don't crash into walls or other pieces of furniture
Anticipate trouble; think through every step; plan ahead; and do everything with care
Make sure the route is clear and has no obstructions, such as narrow doorways or hanging chandeliers that might hinder the safe passage of furniture and movers
The following sections offer suggestions for moving specific types of furniture: SEATING FURNITURE
When lifting a chair, remember that the seat rail is its strongest part, not the chair back. Frequently lifting by the back, especially the crest rail, will eventually result in breakage. For small chairs, lift by the side seat rails, one hand near the front on one side, the other near the rear on the other side.
When lifting a large chair or sofa, the principles are the same. Grab underneath the side frame, making sure to lift with your legs rather than your back. For upholstered chairs or sofas, place your hands underneath the frame to avoid touching the upholstery. If upholstery must be touched, use cotton gloves. For chairs with slip seats, remove the slip seat and wrap and move it separately to prevent its being soiled or falling out during the move.
The strongest part of a table is generally the apron. Whenever possible, lift the table carefully from the apron, never by the top or legs. Lifting on the top rather than the apron may break the glue-blocks that hold the top to the frame or strip out the screws that hold the top on. Grabbing the legs, particularly tables with long, unsupported legs, will cause unnecessary stress on the leg and the joint connecting it to the apron. Whenever possible, wrap padding around a table's legs before moving it to prevent chipping or breakage during the move.
If you are moving a drop-leaf table, first determine which support members move. Is the table leaf supported by a bracket or by a swing-leg? Fold the leaves down, and restrain them with padding and a tie band. If the support is provided by a swing-leg or gate-leg, tie it in place as well. The only safe place to grab a drop-leaf table is underneath the end aprons. Grabbing by the legs, especially swing-legs, will increase the chance of damage to them, and grabbing the table by the side leaves will often result in fracturing the long rule joint that allows the leaves to drop.
While case pieces, especially large ones, may appear very different from tables and chairs, the same rules apply. Never try to move a large piece by yourself. A case piece requires at least two people. While a case piece requires can be moved by carrying it carefully, holding on to the bottom as you would a table or chair, it is better to move the piece on a dolly. A dolly makes the move safer for both the movers and the object, and that is all the more true for large objects.
First, examine the piece. How was is put together? And how can it come apart? Take the piece apart as much as is possible. That is, remove the top piece of a cabinet from its base; remove the cornice or pediment, if there is one.
If the carcass is sturdy enough, remove an drawers to lighten the load and make the move easier. Carry the drawers separately to the destination. However, if the carcass is weak and shifts from side-to-side, leave the drawers in place to provide stability and prevent further damage to the joints. Tall pieces that do not come apart into separate sections need to be set on their sides on a dolly to prevent their topping over.
If the piece has handles, wrap them with padding. Padding protects the handles, the furniture surface (if the handles have swinging bales or drops), the movers, and the surroundings in case you bump up against anything.
Never grab a heavy piece like a chest of drawers or bookcase by the cornice at the top. The attachment of the top to the base may be loosened and pull apart from the rest of the piece.
Lift the piece straight up, using your legs, not your back. Don't let it tilt, and do not grab it by its hardware or any other protrusions.
The moving project becomes increasingly difficult with objects that are large and complex. Objects that come apart into many pieces or are unwieldy require extra care and preparation. Because of their many parts grandfather and grandmother clocks are very difficult to move.
Always remove the pendulum and weights from within the clock before doing anything else. These pieces are heavy and will damage the clock case if they smash into the side of the case. They may also cause damage to the mechanism itself. Wear cotton gloves when you remove the pendulum and weights, to avoid corroding the metal pieces from skin contact.
Remove the hood from the top of the clock (they often slide forward), and lay it down to pack and move separately. Make sure the door to the case is locked or securely closed before moving the clock. Use bare hands, not gloves, for moving and packing the carcass of the case. For short moves, like those of only a few feet, it is permissible to lift by grabbing the narrow case from the underside of the molding at the top of the waist, or center portion of the case, provided that the molding is firmly attached to the case itself. For longer moves, or if that molding is not secure, the clock case should be carried flat like a coffin.
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