sparkly boots – calling all squaddies….

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  • sparkly boots – calling all squaddies….
  • iDave

    two of my kids just joined the air cadets. i have taken on the role of boot polisher, and they MUST have the best toecaps in the squadron. 1st effort was ok. i used three layers of normal polish, done with damp cotton wool, burnt off with a lighter then a layer of parade polish. what will work better?? i want a mirror finish for Thursday. ta

    surely half the point is they have to do it themselves?

    I've a bar of some obscure wax that you rub into a cloth then buff the shoes with, its almost blinding to look at, cant remember what its called though as I've had it for years.


    yes they have to do it themselves, but it is my duty to pass on these skills

    Premier Icon sockpuppet

    tornado nosecone paint. job done.

    Premier Icon beaker

    Cotton wool lightly dampened with water. Kiwi black polish. Small amount of polish on the cotton wool, polish in tiny circles on the toe caps, repeat until happy. That or take it to the Painters and finishers on the nearest RAF camp. £5 a pair….. (ex RAF TG3)


    Is Big John the shouty Sergeant Major ?


    guy at school heated up a spoon then ran it over the toecap before buffing.


    Not a squaddy but I do like things shiny. Second the little circles, damp cloth method. Don't believe in all the melting polish / hot spoon / fag lighter voodoo myself.

    Premier Icon BigJohn


    Premier Icon BigJohn

    A shoe shine boy once told me that he used a pad wrapped in womens tights for the final finish.

    I think he was talking about polishing shoes.

    Give them a quick bull, then Klear.


    beeswax for drill boots, regular polish for combat highs. You'll never have the shiniest shoes because there is always some idiot that'll spend longer shining boots than you. I've always been more impressed with fitness than shiney boots, a much better use on a soldiers time.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    Ex. army cadet here.

    I was bulling my boots in the garage one night using the lighter method when the hot burning polish dripped onto the newspaper and set it alight. I had calmness and presence of mind to locate a wet towel from mum's laundry basket and smother it before it took hold but the lid of the freezer still bears the scorch marks some 25 years on.

    my sister's guinea pig never fully recovered though – coughed for a week or so then croaked.


    All a lighter will do is accelerate the removal of volatile flammables surely?


    you dont bull combat boots

    Burning polish is over rated imo.

    I went for brush polishing 10 to 15 times. It fills the cracks better. It's all about having a good even covering on the boot before you start bulling. I didn't get on with parade gloss, it was too oily. Once you've brush polished and put enough polish on that you can't see the grain then you can start bulling. I went for the bit of polish (literaly a dab so it barely registers on the cloth), spit and small circles. Keep doing that working on small areas at a time. Bulling a new set of boots will take a while. Usually (and this is rough estimates) 3-4 hours for Monday parade boots, 10-15 for Rememberance parade. Once you've got a set of bulled boots it's easy to keep them that way. Just brush polish back over the bull once and then half an hour bulling will bring them back to shine. The more you do this, the deeper the shine will be.

    Or Klear so long as it doesn't rain. 😉

    Or tornado nose cone paint if you can get it. 😉 😉


    Another vote for Klear

    You don't need any ridiculous methods
    1) Buy Kiwi Parade Gloss polish rather than the ordinary stuff
    2) Apply with damp cloth, rubbing well – I think the moisture opens the pores of the leather slightly allowing the polish to penetrate
    3) Polish with a dry cloth, removing excess polish
    4) Final polish to mirror shine with a clean cloth

    Do not use brushes if you want to get the best finish

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    A touch of meths in the water also helps the polish adhere. Advice from a very old soldier was to use an old cotton handkerchief for the bulling part of the job, the cotton will be very thin and softened from all the washing.
    Hot spoons were only used for removing the tooling from dunlop welted boots prior to the application of polish, or to remove the cracks from walking in them.


    For normal parade use we'd go with Klear and hope it didn't rain (boots go blue). Then the very nice people at RAF Bruggen sorted me out some Tornado nose none paint, which was okay.

    However, I spent many, many hours sorting out my boots for a drill course the 'proper' way.

    [*]Hot spoon on the leather to smooth all the dimples.[/*]

    [*]Fill in cracks/dimples with beeswax and then use wire wool and fine sandpaper to get it nice and smooth.[/*]

    [*]Kiwi Parade gloss (black) and Kiwi Oxblood (gives it a deeper finish) were then applied in a circular motion using damp cotton wool at a ratio of 3-to-1 for many, many hours.[/*]

    [*]After each ten layers run toecap under tap (cold) while continuing circular motion with cottonwool.[/*]

    [*]Once happy with the finish remove all polish smears by buffing lightly with the wife's best nylon stockings.[/*]

    Boots were then transported as if they were filled with Nitroglycerin, wrapped in the wife's other pair of best stockings.

    They were immaculate, but still got lobbed across the room on the first kit inspection!


    Avoid parade gloss. IT will do short term but not long. NOrmal kiwi. Is it shoes parade shoes or boots? The new shoes, if new are rubbish best bet is meths the leather clean then hours of tiny circles. Failing that send them on camp and get them to raid the stores gash bin for old style shoes. Got mine from Honington, the joys of the smaller footed man.

    But simply polish shine polish shine polish shine. The only way is the hard way. Everything else will crack.


    Is it shoes, parade shoes…

    Parade shoes? Only the virtuous ladies of the WRAC wore shoes when I was in the mob. I don't know, the youth of today etc… etc..


    When I was in the army cadets at school everyone used to try and stamp on each other toe caps 5 minutes before parade anyway so there really wasn't much point trying to be the shiniest as you just made yourself a better target…


    Do not use Parade Gloss. It leaves a fatty residue on the toe caps that makes them look smudged. Use normal Kiwi black and then have at it with the cotton wool (damp) in small circles using the "fingers of fire" method.

    When it starts looking like glass, walk them (carefully) to the kitchen sink and run the cold tap over the toecaps whilst ever so gently bulling. This will get of th last of any residue, but you have to blow dry th water off to make sure there are no marks.

    By the way, make sure the bots are worn in first, or the polish will just flake off when they walk. Unless the boots have been beeswaxed first, in which case, they will get blisters if they actually try to use them for walking.


    They are kids.

    The footwear will be used for everything, therefore get scuffed up.

    Your efforts will be pointless.

    Just teach them to get their footwear to 'well polished' and they will be better for it. If you have a polishing fetish, polish a bike frame or something. Normal Kiwi polish, brush for hte welts, cloth for the rest, finish with a buff from an old pair of tights. Anything else is just silly.


    Use a tiny amount of polish on a slightly damp piece of cotton wool. Small circles for hours and hours. (It is theraputic in a meditative kind of way)

    There are no long lasting shortcuts, just hard work to get good results.

    Unfortunately my naval career didnt last long enough for me to have a spotty oik to do them for me.


    ok, thanks all, i will direct them towards damp cotton wool, nylon stockings and hours of effort. i will watch from a safe distance.

    now, this ironing of shirts lark……

    Premier Icon firestarter

    i used to bull mine up with different layers of black polish and dark tan and use many layers one after the other and as a final layer once almost happy a layer of ox blood (as above small circles i found a cloth as good as cotton wool but i used to do the first few layers under a running cold tap)


    great, so i have to slaughter a cow? surely that will provide a lot of blood for just 2 pairs?

    Premier Icon firestarter

    lol oddly the ox blood is a polish (looks a very pink colour when you open it btw rather than what you would imagine it to look like) i used to get it from proper cobblers as it was hard to get. this method was good enough for hrh guard inspections 😉 i also had the best shoes on my fire brigade training course when i left the forces (got me out of some crap that did lol)

    Premier Icon epicyclo

    At least they don't have a kilt to keep pressed and spats to keep blancoed. Not to mention the sporran. No brasses to polish anymore? 🙂


    now, this ironing of shirts lark

    For immaculate collars (this worked especially well with the old army 'hair' shirts) always iron from the collar tips inwards.

    For creases in army jumpers, press once on the outside of the sleeve with the iron on high steam. Turn jumper inside out and run a damp bar of soap up the crease on each sleeve. Turn jumper right way out and iron the creases again, first with steam and then dry.

    This also works on shirt sleeves and trousers – but don't put a crease in combats, as a razor sharp crease can be spotted by an enemy sniper from 1000 metres (probably).

    For the shoulder and elbow pads on the jumper, use starch, but apply it in thin layers as you iron. Also use a handkerchief over the top of the pads to stop the starch going white. If the starch does go white then just wipe with a damp cloth.

    Correct shaping of the beret is also very important, as you look like Fred Scuttle if you don't bother. Alternately dip said beret into hot and cold water to shrink it, then mould it to the head and leave it there to dry. It should then retain the shape, even when you take it off!

    It all sounds a bit OCD, I know. However, the phrase bullsh*t baffles brains really is true of the armed forces!

    When I was 'loaned' to the TA, the cadets who shared the centre were always immaculately turned out – unlike their instructors, who we had to have 'words' with on more than one occasion!


    Ah yes… Nothing says "dodgy officer" more than having a beret that looks like a helicopter landing pad. Top tip: remove the plastic thingy from inside the beret first, possibly even the lining too, before shaping.

    Top tip #2: when wetting beret with hot water, do not get the leather bit wet or it will shrink too much to wear.


    crikey this brings it back.

    Parade gloss, cotton wool, tiny circles and SPIT.
    the enzymes in spit work on the parade gloss, iirc.
    easy to do infront of the telly of an evening,

    if you reeeally bothered about a proper shine, youll need two pairs of boots for them.

    shiney boots get stamped on, and are as good as back to square one if they get in the filth.

    get a shiney pair for shiney days.
    and a pair more like walking boots for muddy days.

    Boba Fatt

    heat the polish first (just set fire to polish with a lighter) extinguish then apply with a slightly damp yellow duster in small circles, apply a few more coats then buff to a mirror shine

    get a seperate pair for exercises and what not and keep the other pair for parades

    teach them how to do it too, they'll need to if they go to any camps. When they get to their first camp tell them to buy proper RAF parade shoes, a much smoother leather and better placed for a mirror shine

    10 years in the ATC, best thing i ever did


    Spent many a lost evening with parade gloss and small bits of cotton wool on a newspaper laden dining table trying to get a decent mirror finish on my RAF Shoes from Silvermans. Never managed to get them as good as the guys who purloined a can of Tornado Nosecone paint from Conningsby when we re there on Summer Camp. They must have lucked in while I was servicing Tornados on the apron or checking the best before dates on a hercfull of NBC suits (it was Gulf War era).

    Boots were British Army 10 hole DMS and I;ve still got them now. Amazing boots and only required a basic brushing with kiwi black to keep them waterproof and matt. Noone wants shiny boots on exercise. Hell we even had blackened cap badges for such occasions.

    <created new reminiscing post about ATC to save polluting this thread>

    Premier Icon beamers

    I'm surprised that no one yet has mentioned the Sylvette polishing cloth.

    Any good Batman should know how to do the following:

    1. Soak cloth
    2. Wring out cloth
    3. Place trigger finger and middle finger inside cloth and twist cloth round finger tips
    4. Get some Kiwi (black / black / oxblood as described above – NOT parade gloss) on the part of the cloth on your finger tips.
    5. Move you fingers in small circles until the shine appears
    6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the desired effect as achieved.

    I would agree with the points above though that you would only want to be investing time in a pair of shoes or boots which are only going to be used for parades. One brush with undergrowth and your hard efforts will be wasted.


    Good thick coating of polish on the toe caps.
    1 can of lynx
    1 lighter
    few quick blasts.

    Premier Icon molgrips

    Surely a buffing wheel on a drill woudl be good?

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