A shoe tree is a device in the approximate shape of a foot that is inserted into a shoe after wear. Shoe trees have been used for centuries by men (and women) who understand the power of this tool as a shoe care device. Today, shoe trees come in many shapes, sizes and materials, but their primary benefits remain the same.
There are so many ways in which a shoe tree can be different. Different shape. Different mechanism. Different material. Different grading etc. Below are some of the more popular styles you will find.
Cedar is the industry standard for shoe trees. It is a very durable softwood, is resistent to decay, and is relatively inexpensive and easy to work with. Hardwoods such as beech, maple and birch are also used. The benefits of wooden shoe trees are that they are durable, porous, and shoes love them. Plastic shoe trees are cheap as they are abundant. Their utility is questionable and their effectiveness is mediocre at best. Still, they are often lighter than their wooden cousins and are preferable when travelling.
If you've bought a quality shoe tree it will most certainly outlast several pairs of shoes. Shoe trees require little maintenance but the following advice will ensure your trees are performing at their best.
Resting them occassionally will preserve the trees' spring tension. Lightly sanding them will improve moisture absorption and re-engage natural oils. If soaked, allow the shoe trees to completely dry (not next to a heat source) before reusing them.