Although Tony Miller is a well-known strop maker who has deservedly garnered the respect of many, I decided to try out a Straight Razor Designs strop. This strop consists of Premium I leather and Cotton Herringbone canvas. This combination is not normally available. However, through a wonderful feature called "Build Your Own Strop," I was able to create this custom pairing.
At first glance, I notice the richness of tan leather. There are black and red Latigo options but the Premium I comes in this color only. The leather is thick yet soft and supple, as advertised. The edges are smooth and clean. After some closer inspection, I notice a few scratches and scuffs on the leather. They are not egregious but the lighter leather allows imperfections to show clearer.
Adorning the leather are screws faceted with an ornate design. They add some flair to an otherwise neutral part. Flipping the strop over, I see that they are included on the cotton herringbone component as well. They are on the front sides of each strop.
The cotton herringbone arrived with plainly visible creases. Apparently, the canvas had folded upon itself during transport. This was exacerbated by the thinness of the strop. Tony Miller's smooth cotton strop is noticeably thicker and of finer quality. The SRD cotton looks and feels like the canvas strap on a bag; in other words, it comes off as cheap. I had to iron it for it to regain its proper shape.
The Premium I leather is as good as advertised. Right out of the box, I was able to use it without any treatment on my part. I own mostly hollow ground razors and the light draw works perfectly for them. It's somewhere between Horsehide or Shell and Latigo. I'm not a fan of the X-pattern and the 3" width suits me well.
As for the cotton strop, my fears were realized. When a leather strop has a light draw, the cotton or linen component is even more important. Much of the work of keeping a sharp edge is done on that component. This is why most, if not all, vintage shell or horsehide strops have a thick and pasted cotton or linen component. This canvas strop is neither thick nor pasted. I made a tiring and inordinate amount of passes on it and I never achieved my desired result.
I would've rated this strop much higher had it been the Premium I leather only. I'm very pleased with it. However, the herringbone must be included in my review and it brings the overall value of the strop down. I would not purchase the cotton herringbone again. In fact, I would've been better served to buy the Premium I leather strop replacement only at $44.99 + shipping instead of paying $91.73 shipped for both.
For those of you who are beginners to stropping, start with Latigo. It's more of an all-purpose leather. I recommend buying a Tony Miller Latigo and Smooth Cotton strop. It provides you with the Latigo component and a cotton component that far outperforms the SRD cotton component. As a supplement that, you can then buy the Premium I strop. Regards and happy shaving!