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USMC Shoe Shine tricks?

Gents,

I was in the act of polishing my shoes (they are a few years old, but have never actually been shined before, this was my 1st attempt at shining) when my dad came by and asked me what I was doing. He noticed the apparent lack of shine or progress being made and decided to help me out. A few things he pointed out:

1) He never used a brush to apply polish, most rags he found were too "rough" and prevented polish from being applied. He recommended diapers.

2) On newer shoes, the leather grain could be seen and needed to be "filled" in beore you could see a respectable shine. He would throw some polish onto the shoe and use a glass bottle (spice bottle) to force the wax poish into the shoe.

3) Repeat the polish application/bottle cycle a few times and let the shoes sit for the polish to harden up. (overnight in a cool place)

4) Use a nylon (tightly stretched) to lightly buff the layer of wax that's been built up and hardened to get the shine out.

5) He lit the can of wax to soften it, (I had been trying to apply it straight) and claimed he used to add some sort of liquid, he thought it was silicone to the polish (this was over 53 years ago).

Some questions:

1) What sort of cloth would anyone recommend using? Any thoughts on the diaper?

2) Anyone use a glass bottle or object to work in the polish?

3) Anything special for new shoes besides elbow grease?

I'd like to hear thoughts on these as I did some research before shining and hadn't heard any of these methods. Was my dad messing with me? :)

- Just J
 
In boot camp we just put a little water in the lid of the polish can and got to work. Most likely to enforce discipline but I still polish my shoes this way to this day.
 
Your dads advice is pretty much on the mark. Just a few random thoughts: Kiwi wax is king, never underestimate the power of a little spit to bring out the shine and I never liked using cloth diapers - I just used old t-shirts.

You could always get a little crazy and break out a drill with a buffing wheel.

Oh, the mystery liquid your dad used may have been rubbing alchol.
 
Gents,

I was in the act of polishing my shoes (they are a few years old, but have never actually been shined before, this was my 1st attempt at shining) when my dad came by and asked me what I was doing. He noticed the apparent lack of shine or progress being made and decided to help me out. A few things he pointed out:

1) He never used a brush to apply polish, most rags he found were too "rough" and prevented polish from being applied. He recommended diapers.

Correct, but I always used a brown t-shirt (never got good results with a white t-shirt, diaper or cotton balls), wrapped around my two first fingers and then around my wrist.

2) On newer shoes, the leather grain could be seen and needed to be "filled" in beore you could see a respectable shine. He would throw some polish onto the shoe and use a glass bottle (spice bottle) to force the wax poish into the shoe.

Don't about that, but we used Shoe Trees to 'smooth out' the creases of your boots and/or shoes -low quarters ("bus drivers" for slang), Kiwi black leather boot dye (in the glass bottle).

3) Repeat the polish application/bottle cycle a few times and let the shoes sit for the polish to harden up. (overnight in a cool place)

Correct, but we Army types would repeat polish (Kiwi for the Army...Lincoln for the Corps), and boot dye.

4) Use a nylon (tightly stretched) to lightly buff the layer of wax that's been built up and hardened to get the shine out.

Same as comment # 1.

5) He lit the can of wax to soften it, (I had been trying to apply it straight) and claimed he used to add some sort of liquid, he thought it was silicone to the polish (this was over 53 years ago).

What I did was apply the polish, then lightly 'melt' the polish on the boot using a Bic lighter. Then using my brown t-shirt, start developing the spit-shine by lightly 'dabbing' my t-shirted fingers in the top lid of the Kiwi tin filled with 'cold water' (which I added a cap full of alcohol), and begin to shine / buff out the polish by making small 'circles' using a light touch and lots of patience.
Just J:
Your Father was right (and not 'messing with you'), about most things in getting a great shine, but to get a 'see your own face / mirror' Army spit-shine...you'll need (see above comments);

Also, these two (2), links' might be of interest and help you acheive / get a better ('bulling'), shine. :yesnod:

http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php/180361-Shoe-shines?highlight=

http://www.hucknallatc.talktalk.net/Getting%20the%20perfect%20shine%20on%20your%20shoes.pdf

Christopher
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"It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe". Muhammad Ali
 
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In boot camp we just put a little water in the lid of the polish can and got to work. Most likely to enforce discipline but I still polish my shoes this way to this day.

I used a T shirt and a little water for years in the Corps. Sometimes I would light my polish on fire to get it soft. It takes practice once you get a good start it takes just a little polish and a little water in a circular pattern. I have heard of Marines that would get a thicker polish on boots and put them in the oven LOL

Good luck
 
"What price glory...?"

Some time ago I purchased a pair of Dayton Boots. You probably never heard of them. They are a very high quality, hand made boot that has been manufactured in Vancouver B.C. (Canada) for decades. www.daytonboots.com

I'll suggest these guys have forgotten more about leather footwear than most ever knew. Their take on polish is that it's essentially detrimental to quality leather and should not be used. The aforementioned quote "...On newer shoes, the leather grain could be seen and needed to be filled" basically says the polish will clog the porosity of leather and not allow it to breathe, not good. The Dayton folks advised a good leather treatment oil can do pretty much the same thing as polish without gunking up the leather. I agree.
 
Thanks for the advice! It was a good bonding experience with the pops which I appreciated.

Just some clarification on the bottle step. We would use the bottle (or any glass object that had a smooth point to get the wax into the leather grain.) I was told this was to get wax into new shoes much quicker. After using the bottle, the shoe took on almost an immediate shine. You'd have to do this a few times, and then spit shine but it took much less time to get them shined. See the attached picture.

Also, what would the alcohol have done to help?

Thanks again!
- Just J
 

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If you are wanting a mirror shine then try using parade gloss instead of regular wax. Also, cloth diapers can be purchased easily at Wal-Mart.
 
T-shirt for initial buffing, but I've always used the cottonball method.

Wet the cotton ball and "smash" it so it's got a flattened surface and something to hang onto. Slightly moisten, apply wax, rub into shoe hard (stick other hand in shoe) in circular motion. Once you've done the whole shoe, set aside, do other shoe.

Then take another cottonball, wet it pretty good and use that for buffing. Lets you get a lot of concentrated, smooth pressure in one spot. Reapply water as needed. Lighting the wax never seemed to help in my case. I've been polishing low quarters and combat boots for over 17 years, and this always, with enough coats and time, got a mirror shine.A good, thick initial coat you don't even really try to buff, will seal in the leather, you can use the bootbrush to even that out before trying the cottonball method.
 
I use an old t-shirt or an old diaper. Lots of patience. A little bit added at a time to a damp rap. We are trying to build up polish, so a light touch is required. Good time to watch a movie or a ball game while polishing.
 
Wrap rag around index finger, dip in water, then dip in polish. Apply polish in small circular motion. Repeat.
 
They still polish low quarters, at least unless you buy Corframs. But corframs never quite look right after enough use.
 
Bulling boots with the back of a spoon and molten polish, with patience you'll get a Patent look to your toe caps
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Oh, the mystery liquid your dad used may have been rubbing alchol.

X2. This was the "secret weapon" to get the toe and heel caps on jump boots to look like patent. Brittle, though - and can cause some cracking eventually. But this trick is essential to get that deep wet look gloss. Oh, and don't forget that heels and edges benefit from polish - Roll Call Military Edge Dressing is the one I use, or, short of that, KIWI Honor Guard. If high gloss isn't essential, Feibers Edge Dressing is my go-to.
 
I have a lot of military buddies, including lots of older ones, and have gotten a good bit of advice from them; especially when I was having a lot of trouble getting my Red Wing Iron Rangers to accept a decent polish.

Some things I agree with and others I don't, but here it goes:

- Lincoln >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Kiwi. Kiwi Parade Gloss is OK for a really quick shine on combat boots or police duty but will end up cracking the leather eventually. It's ALWAYS worth using a higher-quality wax/polish and taking your time with it. If not Lincoln, use Angelus.

- Lighting your can of polish on fire. Not one I agree with but some swear by it. I DO agree, however, with applying just a little heat via a hair dryer.

- Clean the leather thoroughly with a good leather cleaner (I like Lexol) and the apply a high-quality shoe cream like Meltonian before ever touching it with a wax based polish. Always, always let the shoes/boots dry beforehand.

- Old white cotton t-shirts are your best friend right behind a high-quality horsehair brush.

- Repeat any process as many times as necessary. Some boots/shoes take instantly to a polishing regimen; others take hours depending on the type of leather.

- Rubbing alcohol, something else military brats swear by but I totally disagree with. Use it at your own risk.

- If you're spit-shining, always use the absolute smallest amount of water you can get by with.

- Edge dressing is s**t.

- Nylon stockings for the final polish.

- Always use small, circular motions with modest amounts of wax polish. Some tell you to just gob it on the first time around, but that's something else I don't agree with. Always let the boots dry atleast thirty minutes to an hour before going to the next stage of polish. Just apply as many coats necessary until the job is done, they'll end up looking much better had you rushed through the process.
 
Before you can get a great shine the leather needs to be clean, when I was in the Corps, we used saddle soap to clean and strip the leather (applies with new boots as well) and then apply black leather dye and then build up the polish from there. Since this was a tedious chore I only did this when absolutely necessary but it gave me a spit shine gloss much easier than if I skipped it.
Soft OLD white cotton t-shirt, warm to slightly hot water as well.
Used spit and cotton balls for the last shine.

I also never agreed with lighting the wax, the heat from the friction should be more than enough to get the polish to melt into the leather. Some guys would also put the polish on the boot and go over with a lighter to melt the polish down.

Stay away from the instant shine crap. I remember a guy who decided to go out drinking before a CO's inspection and used the quick shine stuff in the morning, it was very shiny and mirror like and was impressive at first. When walking to formation that high mirror finish on his boots cracked and looked like a glazed doughnut.
 
Wow, does this thread bring back memories!

I always "won" supernumery (that meant that unless someone got sick I got to sleep in while on guard duty- our company guarded the gate) when on gate guard duty on post and that was something special. Water or spit, standard Kiwi polish, and time and tiny circular motions does it. There are no shortcuts. It won't take long to begin to see a spit shine. It takes awhile to get it right. Once the leather is loaded it's easy to mantain.

It was pretty easy on our Corcoran jump boots. We all had them for parade and guard duty since that was our job (airborne). We let the legs look like legs. (Unless you were Airborne you won't understand. We held ourselves to a higher standard of readiness and everything else.) We were on the same base, but could be anywhere in the world in 24 hours.
 
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