The Gentle Craft: Clicking

Clicking, whether it is done by hand or by machine, is the name given to the step of cutting out the leather. The clicker uses a sharp, personal knife or metal cutting die to ‘click’ the leather; a term derived from the sound the blade makes when it exits the leather, taking great care to avoid any blemishes that are in the leather.

But there is more to the quaintly named clicking than the simple gesture of cutting leather. Clicking is arguably the most important step in the preparation of the shoe upper. Because even when you use the best leather in the world, if it is not clicked properly the shoe will not look nor age well.

This has to do with the actual nature of leather, the way the collagen fibre patterns develop in the skin while the calf grows. The clicker must first of all take into consideration the direction of stretch in the leather, as strength is maximized when the pieces are cut with the direction of the backbone. Speaking of which, it is imperative not to cut across the backbone. Certain areas where tensile strength is weakest, such as the kidneys and belly area of the leather, must also be avoided. The clicker makes sure that pairing parts are obtained from corresponding positions in the hide, while maximizing the yield of a single skin.