Polishing shoes

so i get my parade shoes like a mirror and when i wear them they crack and when i try to polish them after that it either results in me stripping the shoe or the shoe becoming ‘scratchy’ as i polish them.
can anyone else relate or have any tips?


don’t bother polishing them like a mirror.

no drama.

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It’s such a shame that this has been viewed 83 times and no-one has responded except for the sarcasm above. I remember when this forum was actually useful for Cadets to ask questions on. You wonder why there are so few cadets, let alone people, on this forum any more? It’s down to comments like that.

cdt_cpl: often if the shoes weren’t well worn in before they were originally polished, then they tend to crack. Have you had them for a long time? Try to not add quite so much polish around the area where the toecap bends, otherwise you’ll get cracks every time.

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yes i have had them for 2 years and thanks for the helpful feedback

Why there is this requirement almost to have mirror like toecaps when the inspection crib doesn’t require it baffles me. Ask to see the inspection crib and work to that. If you feel bulling them is what you want to do, carry on, but it’s not actually required. Over the years I’ve seen staff and cadets spend hours bulling and beeswaxing shoes to high glossy shine, then go on an activity walk across a field or grass area and almost be reduced to tears.

When I do inspections, mirror like toecaps cut no ice as long as the shoes are clean with the welts cleaned then I’m happy enough. A mirrored toecap is gilding the lily. I used to do this as a cadet and got really annoyed if I caught the toecap or someone stood on it. Since going for the ‘brush polished’ approach for the last 25 years, it’s much less hassle. Even as an AWO I never ‘bulled’ toecaps and when queried I said show me where it says bull them, it doesn’t so I never did. Even now my shoes are polished clean and after a few months they adopt something of an all over shine, which people think I’ve spent hours meticulously doing, but I’ve done no more that keep them brush polished clean.

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Overzealous SNCO type people is the chief reason for highly bulled shoes. I hear it time and time again when they think no other staff are around listening to their ramblings


its not sarcasm.

its genuine advice - the OP isn’t getting any brownie points for bulling his shoes up to a mirror shine, all he’s doing is wasting his time and setting imself up for agro and heartache when they inevitably crack as they come into contact with the world outside his bedroom.

take the hour that you spend bulling your shoes and do something constructive with it - read a history book, do an hours hard exercise, get a one hour paper-round and save the money up to buy a decent pair of hill-walking boots on eBay. there is almost nothing you could spend that hour doing that would be more of a waste of your time, effort and soul than polishing your shoes to a mirror shine.


AP1358C actually says:

I actually agree with this statement. “clean and polished” used to be the best guidance we had, though AP1358C now says “Black issue, highly polished…”

I have various issues with this - the expectation for highly polished shoes, the requirement for “issued”, DMS shoes when this is an additional expense and may be difficult to source/obtain etc.

Bear in mind though that we do want to put on a show for big ceremonial parades and you can’t easily get to that standard in a weekend. There is training/practice/shoe benefits from starting that process early. However, the best way to do this is with a pair of “parade” shoes that you don’t use for dossing about at the squadron or standing in a field. (yes, I know what I said about expense)

Once the preparatory work has been done, then “refreshing” the shine on highly polished (or bulled) shoes should take less than 10 mins. I would quickly brush polish all the shoe, including the toe cap; the brushing would act as a key for the new polish layer on the toe cap.

For cracking issues, I had used a polish/beeswax mixture as the base; this seemed to minimise the issue. For major cracks or dents, I would simply melt the polish (VERY CAREFULLY!) using a lighter. This would add about an extra 2 mins to the process…

If a cadet wants to have shinier shoes, without undue effort, then good for them. However, insistence that is is mandatory to have bulled shoes is wrong.

Same principle as ironing trousers, if you use the correct technique from the outset, the effect is better & stays that way for longer. Previous thread with some useful tips about technique.

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Before i got promoted i got told off multiple times by the SNCO’s for not having ‘good enough’ shoes and our OC has a very high standard for our uniform so it helps to have shiny shoes even though there’s not much point

you just need to learn to be snide.

you say ‘yes Sgt X, i see your point absolutely and i’m fully siezed of the need to improve - could you, because i obviously need help on this matter, point me to the ACP that sets out how i can improve in line with Corps policy?’

if Sgt X knows the rules but is acting out a sad dream to be the RSM of a Guards Regiment he will ping you immediately and try to bluster you, if Sgt X is just a know-nothing acting out a sad dream to be the RSM of a Guards Regiment he will try and be helpful and look increasingly panicky as his world falls apart.

the ‘requirement’ to have bulled shoes is no more, and little less, than a Sqn Policy that female Cadets should wear hold-up Stockings instead of tights. its utter tosh, completely without foundation, and indicative of similar - deeply unwelcome - attitudes.

if your OC wishes to waste his life over a shoe polish tin thats his look aout, but if you are marked down, or get agro, over not conforming to a completely unofficial dress code then you should make a complaint to him. if if goes nowhere, you should complan to your Wing HQ.

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Our current OC is stepping down this year so i think the ‘standards’ might change

Whilst funny it won’t do him/her any favours so don’t be snide.

Not so much snide as being a bit too smart. But then sometimes children ask awkward or unexpected questions and you do yourself no favours whatsoever to fob them off with some sort of bluster. You are better of telling them straight and seeing where it goes.
If there is a rule or regulation and you are trying to over state it to suit your own agenda and don’t show it to them then you shouldn’t be around children. When cadets have asked me about something I’ll dig out the relevant document and let them read it or even have a copy. What is there to hide? In the modern era with the internet it’s all there or places to ask questions.
I remember when I did my Staff 2 we went through every book finding answers and found out allsorts and then when I did updates to various books learned even more.

It’s known as a minimum standard.

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I take the view that the shoes I wear on Sqn unless it is a special occaision are simply brush polished as they are ‘working’ shoes and save the effort for a parade set of shoes. I only insist that my cadets have clean and brush polished shoes - if they want to go to the extra effort, that is up to them; this allows them extra time to try to press their uniform.

Minimum standard is bulled shoes.I dont think so.When I was serving shoes had to be clean yes.They were only ever bulled (and they were my parade shoes) if I were on an AOC Guard Of Honour or similar.
For work they were brush polished and clean.I apply the same standards to my cadets now.As has been previously stated the dress regs are clear.It really gets out of hand sometimes with people pushing cadets and basically telling them they have to bull their shoes for hours.Total waste of time.Yes spend time on your kit and get it to a good standard but not blooming hours.

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In response to the OP " the shoe becoming ‘scratchy’ as i polish them":

Cleanliness - I found scratches come from dust / dirt on the shoe / cotton wool / cloth, etc. so when you think you are polishing, you’re actually just grinding dirt into the shoe - thus scratches. Clean the shoe first - I always rinse the shoe under a running tap (for those not after a mirror finish, just doing this can be as good as (and quicker than) a ‘brush polish’!).

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Many people use the lid of the polish to hold water while bulling - I never do this because it can rust if not dried properly and that risks introducing rust flakes into the polish.

While I used to swear by my Selvyt cloths I just use them for general buffing now - I switched to cotton wool balls for bulling a couple of years back.

+1 for both cotton wool, and for giving the shoes a quick clean first.