This section is from the book "The Manufacture Of Boots And Shoes: Being A Modern Treatise Of All The Processes Of Making And Manufacturing Footgear", by F. Y. Golding. Also available from Amazon: The Manufacture Of Boots And Shoes.
Calculating the cost of the various sections and qualities of the cut work requires a considerable experience and judgment. The mode often adopted of marking up a selected skin into the kind of pattern to be costed is not to be recommended. The cutting up of the skin, or a number of them, is very little better, when they are selected from a parcel, so as to be the most suitable to produce the work under consideration, and afterwards the work is to be cut from skins not so favourably selected. It is important that the same conditions should be observed, when ascertaining the cost, as those under which the bulk of the work is to be cut.
For instance, suppose it is desired to obtain the cost of the various qualities a certain brand of calf kid will produce. Further, suppose a dozen of them to be given out to the cutter to cut right up into " what they are fit for." The relative cost is then apportioned to the results, and the prices determined used as a basis for testing the product of the bulk of the trade. If the bulk of the kids are not cut upon the same plan, viz. the Exhaustive, but are cut into orders that have not been selected to properly exhaust the skins into the qualities, etc., they will produce, then, the conditions being different from that ruling when estimating the sample parcel, the cost will not be uniformly realized. This is the more apparent when the cutter has "worked" or "run in" patterns in the test case to obtain economical cutting, but has been restricted in the bulk lot from following the same plan.
If lots of leather submitted by the leather merchant as samples are to be used for costing purposes, care should be taken to allow for enhanced selections, and a careful record of size, weight, etc., should be taken to prevent inaccuracies when cutting up bulk lots.
The way the leather is bought should be considered in costing. Leather is purchased by hand - so much per dozen or skin; by weight; or by surface - so much per square foot. When purchased by weight, the manner in which the weight is produced should be noted. Leather heavily-weighted with fatty substances or glucose is unprofitable, and tricky to cost. When cutting leather purchased by weight, it should be borne in mind that the lighter the material the cheaper the cutting, and a slight increase in substance of the bulk is sufficient to add to the cost of the cut stuff. When buying by hand, careful records should be taken of the surface-area and weight of each skin, as well as the average of each parcel, so that there may be no dispute with the bulk, or any other brand which may be supposed to look cheaper. Skins should be tested, when purchased by measurement, and the method tried by some of measuring the length and breadth of the skin, and then multiplying them to get the square measure of skin, should not be relied upon. Every portion of the skin is measured and included in the total, and should be verified accordingly.
Material and labour are sometimes costed together, a usage that has certain advantages, among which may be mentioned that with imperfect skins the cost of cutting material and labour is properly estimated, and any extra attention given by the cutter to his material is credited readily to his account.
The simplest materials to cost are those that produce work of a limited number of qualities, the difficulty of allotting relative prices to the several qualities being many. Fabrics, whether for outsides or linings, can be easily costed. The cost per yard, and the number of pairs that may be cut in a given area, being known, by dividing the price by the number of pairs an amount may be obtained which will give the "cost" of that particular part. The quality of the fabric is equal all over the same piece, and it is only a question of the area taken by the pattern, and the way the area is distributed as regards shape, that affects the cost.
Many of the leathers used for "fittings" are costed just as easily. It is only when the question appears of selecting (either as " best," " seconds," or " thirds," or into prime and inferior) the cut stuff into qualities, that difficulty is experienced.
For instance, supposing a roan cut into socks, by dividing the price of the skin by the number of socks cut the cost is determined. There may be, strictly speaking, a difference in quality between some of the socks, but they are not, in this case, sorted, so they are priced as though no difference existed. Compare this with a case of Persians cut into topbands or toplinings, and facings. The facings, by their office, demand the better material, and the introduction of this selection alters the mode of costing. The topbands are not so valuable as the facings, and if topbands only were required, leather inferior in quality and cheaper in price could be used, so that in pricing the cost of facings and topbands, the top-bands would be priced on such a basis that they could be produced in quantity without the facings. Area only is not what determines here the cost - the facings are enhanced in value over the area cost, for selection or quality purposes.
The cost of the various qualities of a given design may be determined by cutting up the skins considered suitable into that design, only "working in "other designs where absolutely necessary in order to save palpable waste. After the work is cut, it is carefully sorted into qualities. The various qualities should then be costed at such a price that they could be cut in quantity, if demanded, without loss. This often is done by assuming that the several qualities are produced from other skins, which yield that quality without producing large lines of stock.
Suppose a skin cost 12s., and when cut up yielded five pairs of ladies' lace boots, and one pair of shoes. Sorted in qualities, there were, say, one pair best, two pairs seconds, and two pairs thirds. The shoes were seconds. To price, start at the lowest quality of the easiest and cheapest produced in quantity. The shoes, cut out of other shins, or roundings, could be produced for, say, Is. per pair. The total of this would be 1 pair of shoes at 1s. ... 1s. 0d.
This, taken from the original cost, would leave l1s. to be divided pro rata among the five pairs. The cost of the two pairs of thirds is ascertained on a basis of its being produced in quantity without loss from other sources. This would probably be 1s. 9d. Total, 3s. 6d.
The average cost of five pairs is 2s. 3d., and may be used to price the seconds. The cost so far being, say 8. d.
1 pair shoes at 1s. 1s ... ... ... 1 0
2 pairs 3rd lace at Is. 9d. ... ... 3 6
2 pairs 2nd lace at 2s. 3d. ... ... 4 6 then 1 pair 1st lace at 3s. ... ... 3 0
The principle this is intended to illustrate is, that all parts or portions are priced on such a basis that, if called upon to produce them in a given quantity, it may be done without loss, or producing other parts that are useless for utility purposes.
Estimating the cost is often done on a plan not to be commended, viz. that of first obtaining the average cost per pair, and adding or deducting a fixed amount from this for qualities above or below. This is not reliable, owing to the varying proportions that are usually produced - in fact, it would only apply where the number of pairs in each quality were equal, and either could be produced in quantity if desired at the price. Comparative prices are also placed by some upon the various qualities, beginning with the commonest, putting thereon such a value that they may be cleared off hand. This practice, however, is not applicable to modern concerns, owing to the great uncertainty existing in supply and demand. It has been suggested that when three qualities are produced, that after the average price has been obtained, the thirds should be priced at a cost per pair that they may be produced in quantity out of any other skin, and the difference between this and the average will fix the amount to be added to the average to obtain the cost per pair of the best. Such methods only hold good when equal qualities are produced. When offal is cut into fittings, the cut stuff must be priced at an equivalent price, that would be obtained by cutting these parts from other material. It is advisable, when cutting work from the heavier leathers, to weigh the product, and thus obtain the cost of cut stuff per lb. It will be found afterwards useful in estimating the cost of varying designs. The "cost" of cut stuff may also be ascertained on a weight basis. This method is more largely used for kip, split, grain, calf, and the larger and stouter calf-kids. The offal and scraps are first weighed, the former being priced per lb. to allow for its awkwardness, heaviness, and loss in cutting therefrom, when compared with other material that may be substituted for it, or made to serve the same purpose. The remaining amount left after this has been deducted is to be divided pro rata for the primer cut stuff. Sometimes, however, the cost per lb. of cut stuff for the several qualities is arranged by adding to the original cost per lb. a per centage to obtain the cost of each quality, as per sample.
Taking the price given per lb. as a basis, then - to obtain the best add 50 per cent. „ „ seconds add 331/3 per cent thirds „ 25 „ fourths „ 121/2 „ „ the fifths being priced same as original.
A test of cutting, often resorted to, is to determine the proportion of the waste or cuttings to the whole, and this rate would vary from 1 in 5 to 1 in 8. About 20 per cent, is considered fair cutting. It should be noted that nothing should be deducted from the pricing to allow for slow-selling stuff, etc. If it be considered necessary to make an abatement for such purposes, the proper time to do so is when the profit per centage is added.
Where facilities are provided for measuring leather, or where skins are purchased by measurement, the costing and verifying of same may be done on a measurement basis. Some have advocated the measuring of the surface-area of the pattern. The shape of the pattern, giving a certain area, influences the amount of cutting surface more than the absolute area itself, so that the surface-area is only useful for cutting purposes, to compare the minimum area in contrast with the area obtained on a cutting basis.
To illustrate this, refer to Fig. 165, which shows a straight-top goloshed leg, and the area of a pair of such would be 90 sq. in. The cutting-area,, by such a system as Fig. 167, per pair would be 92 sq. in. Again, the goloshed leg shaped as Fig. 168 gives an area per pair of 107 sq. in., and cut on a system as Fig. 168, the cutting-area would be 128 sq. in.
To obtain the surface-area of a pattern, first divide it into a number of easily calculated plane figures. Usually triangles are the best to adopt. Fig. 183 shows a man's goloshed leg and woman's shoe so treated. The area of each triangle is now calculated, which may be done by any recognized rules. The total of the areas of all the triangles gives the area of the pattern.