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.
Skins should be sorted to size, quality, and substance. The largest and stoutest are usually reserved for the largest sizes. Some advocate that the largest skins should be cut into the smallest sizes for greater economy, on the lines that the larger the area to be cut in proportion to the pattern the greater the economy effected. But the substance of the skin would in many cases prevent the adoption of such a plan. If the pattern be large, then a skin that is wide and well-grown should be used for the purpose. The skin should be well examined on the face and flesh before cutting, and the broken grain noticed. The flaws and flesh cuts on the back should be indicated on the face by marking with a blunt instrument. They should not be pierced through as some inferior workmen sometimes do. This marking, instead of piercing, will enable the cutter to utilize the portion for inclusion in some part that will not be subjected to much strain and that is free from observation, such as under the button-piece or fly, in the outside quarter of a button boot; or the underlay if the size of the flaw be compatible. The skin may be started either at the left-hand side or from the backbone. The former should be resorted to, when the quality and substance of the skin at the butt and backbone permit of work being cut without deviating from the system proposed to be worked. If the skin be weak at the backbone, and not at all clear or suitable for the work to be cut, then it is advisable to start from the backbone. The work should be faced up as a general rule, so that the closer may seam them as the cutter intended them to be in the completed upper, viz. the quarters matching in texture, substance, tightness, and quality. Very light leathers demand that the material should be carefully watched, so that the tightest portions run in a similar way, preventing seams that go awry in the lasted boot. Leathers that are marked with a grain, such as Strasburg moroccos or boxcalf, should be matched up as regards the markings or grain. Fine markings should be matched with fine markings and coarse with coarse. The vamps, however, may be matched with a bold grain, while the quarters may be mated with a finer grained material. The portions that are subjected to strain during the manufacture should be cut firm to preserve the marking or impressions. Coloured leathers should be carefully matched, and usually it is advisable to cut complete pairs from the same skin, as the several skins in a parcel are of varying shades.
The cutting may be proceeded with upon one of three lines. After sorting into substances and qualities, the skins may be placed upon the boards, and the whole cut up into the purpose and kind of work it is most suited for. It is without doubt the best method to use for heavy leathers, such as kip and split. To obtain the best results, the patterns should be selected to fit or work closely, keeping in view the adaptability of the parts cut. This mode of procedure is termed the "exhaustive," and is often the one used for women's work.
The skins may be cut upon the plan known as the "selective," and when this mode is determined upon, the skins should be cut as far as possible into the quality desired, and that portion not suitable, left to be disposed of subsequently into other goods of inferior quality, or it may be sold. The selective method is resorted to for the very best or bespoke work, where the skins are selected of very fine quality, for the production of goods that demand quality as a first consideration.
The third way is a sort of combination of the others, the skins being selected as near as possible of the quality desired for the bulk of the work. These goods are then cut, and to prevent undue waste the portions not immediately adaptable are cut into other patterns for stock.