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A shoe tree is a device approximating the shape of a foot that is placed inside a shoe to preserve its shape, stop it from developing creases and thereby extend the life of the shoe. It is a reusable alternative to wadded rags or newspapers.
The development of the first shoe tree can be credited to Freddie Dunkelman, founder of DASCO.
Higher quality shoe trees are made from solid wood, usually cedar, which helps control odor and absorb moisture. Wooden shoe trees are often made with two or three pieces of solid wood with a solid metal stem inserted between the heel piece and the single or double toe piece/s which have a spring action so the trees fit more snugly into the shoes. They often have handles or brass knobs at the heel piece for the fingers to grasp and pull out the trees from the shoes when removing them.
Shoe trees may also be made of plastic or stamped sheet metal, with or without a coiled steel spring stem; these are typically cheaper, lighter, and are better suited for travelling. Types lacking a flexing steel spring may use extension springs or adjustable two-piece stems having an over-center mechanical action to wedge them in place.
Advanced shoe trees have a "toe flair" which keeps the toe of the shoe in shape without stretching the shoe along its entire length.
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