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Vanax Kephart by Jim Rosa

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by JayGoliath, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. JayGoliath

    JayGoliath Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 27, 2010

    OAL: 8”, 3.75” cutting edge
    Thickness: 1/8”
    Blade width: 1-7/16"
    Handle width: 1-3/16"
    Flat grind primary bevel
    Secondary bevel :0.005" before sharpening.
    Scales: denim with orange liners (made by Lyold Harner III) and fastened with stainless Corby with G-Flex epoxy. Rockwell Hardness: 59


    Vanax 35, better known as Vanax (3rd generation powder metallurgy steel from Bohler-Uddenholm) is a Nitrogen-rich, Molybdenum Vanadium beast in the awakening.
    Due to scarcity and excellent corrosion resistance, I scooped this from Jim within a heartbeat.

    Jim shared the same passion in blade tech findings and he somehow formulated a testing similar to that of Spyderco Mule (same profile of blade, thickness and grind) to minimize the variables. I call his Mule the Fat Kephart- my first one as well.

    Testing 1: Edge strength with semi-thawed chicken drumsticks


    Virtually any human that breathes air and walks on 2 should be able to pick up a kitchen knife and perform the most basic tasks;from carving names into rice,dicing onions to skinning a Porosus crocodile.
    Such applications will reflect realistic results such as human factors/ergo rating via extensive cutting.

    First I sliced some gingers to the thinnest bit by holding the other side with my clunky digits without losing them:


    Having had to quarter the entire chicken thigh, I cut through the joints by applying pressure with my left palm and body weight,pushing the spine of blade towards the medial part of the bone.
    Job done and edge checked- no damage.


    Had a bit of difficulty with the second drumstick as I felt the bone was still frozen. I hammered the spine with the fleshier part of the left palm and it went through. Edge checked and the area where both extremes contacted was “chipped”.
    *It was then examined under the microscope that it was just a tiny roll.*:D

    Result: the edge in contact with the bone has rolled (with such thin edge, it looks like it chipped);more findings at the bottom, under the microscope.
    Check out the flatness of the cut after the cooking's done:

    Testing 2: Edge retention using UPS Express Box (6 sheets of cardboards) and A4 printing paper.



    Cardboard are some of the most abrasive materials available (believe it or not, you could get the edge working again -though not significant, by stropping it against the surface of the cardboard. It also blunt your edge quick by cutting against it.


    Resistance was felt after cardboard 1.Nevertheless it still glides through all of them. Initial paper slicing test: passed :D


    Results: Edge still shave hair with little effort. :D


    The edge ran through the A4 paper with little resistance but glided through with a little effort on it.
    However I’m unable to slice it circularly as it doesn’t bite. The process was repeated with the remaining 6 sheets of A4 papers.


    The adhesives on the blade were removed with dish cleaning abrasive.


    I found a “ding” right on where it got into contact with the chicken bone. Under the microscope
    the roll has gone to the right side, like a reversed C.


    A few swipes of Sharp-maker stone at 20°/side and it is back to its sharpness.

    Testing 3:Rust-resistance

    This Kephart has been exposed to sea salts off the breezy bay as i reside just inches from the beach. So far it shown no sign of corrosion. Further test of working this knife in the sea water should give me a better understanding of this steel. Will update time to time.

    -stainless so far
    -easy to sharpen and stays sharp
    -Tough enough to chop through bone considering the size and edge thickness.
    -very good-looking blade on overall

    -Surface of the blade scuffed easily with kydex sheath (irrelevant to the steel)
    -Would like a bit of finger jimping for thumb.

    * This blade is a solid performer as Jim have sliced mountain of cardboard with it, resharpened it and have it sent to me for another workout.
    Now it's just waiting to get a mirror polished edge.:D
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  2. untamed


    Jan 7, 2003
    Very nice knife in a comprehensive review! The overall shape and size looks like a great EDC-user.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013
  3. marthinus

    marthinus KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 10, 2006
    Awesome review! I am a big fan of Nitrogen containing alloys and have had good experience with Nitrobe-77, however, it is being discontinued. Vanax is the next one I am interested in, but since it is under development again it is hard to find.

    What are the degrees per side on your edge?
  4. JayGoliath

    JayGoliath Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 27, 2010
    Hi Marthinus,

    I've since profiled it to 20 deg/side.
    Vanax 75 is discontinued and B.U has named Vanax 35 to Vanax.

    Can you share your findings on Nitrobe-77?
  5. marthinus

    marthinus KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 10, 2006
    Most of my thoughts are here:


    I think the best way to describe it is: "Imagine something like 52100 and H1 had a love child"

    Speaking to those involved with Nitrobe 77 the steel was developed to roll rather then chip, chipping would have caused massive health issues for what it was developed for and I have experienced the same at low angles (5 degrees per side so 10 degrees inclusive). It will roll with heavy use but not chip.

    I am currently doing 15 degrees per side (30 inclusive) on the sharpmaker with the medium rods testing slicing aggression and for abrasive cutting having a coarser edge gives that nice bite.

    Basically, my hypothesis thus far is:

    A high hardness, very well heat treated, low alloy steel can offer the knife user the option to cater the edge to their needs. Thereby either a coarse edge for abrasive cutting, sawing motion or slicing motion, tasks or high sharpness for push cutting tasks.

    Nitrobe 77 and INFI has thus far confirmed this for me. Another steel I am interested in testing my hypothesis on is CPM-3V, 14C28N and 12C27 but all at high hardness and properly heat treated to get the best out of them.

    In all honesty, I have not found many of the "super steels" to have any advantage for me as I cut dirty material and no matter the steel, it goes dull at the same rate, so ease of resharpening is important for me.

    I am glad to see that Vanax 35 is being used, I think it is more in line with what I am looking for in a steel than Vanax 75, so I will be interested in hearing how the knife holds up in extended use.

    How does Vanax "feel" to you when sharpening, if that makes any sense?
  6. JayGoliath

    JayGoliath Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 27, 2010

    The Vanax runs a bit "soft" on this. It has been re-profiled into a compound bevel,with 2ndary at 17" P/S and light brush on a 20 deg P/S for longer edge life.
  7. marthinus

    marthinus KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 10, 2006
    I take it you are happy thus far with the performance of Vanax?
  8. JayGoliath

    JayGoliath Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 27, 2010

    I hope Jim could have run it a little higher on the hardness but then again it's Rosa Mule. The rust resistance is impressive, I haven't oil it at all and it's been exposed to salty sea breeze for the last 3 months.
    For the edge angle now it glides through paper very smoothly.

    Any findings on the Nitrobe 77? I would like to try the LC200N soon.
  9. marthinus

    marthinus KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 10, 2006
    Still enjoying the Nitrobe 77 and not having any issues.

    LC200N looks interesting, been looking out for someone using it but have not found any makers yet.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  10. spyken

    spyken Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 29, 2002
    I need to get Nitrobe 77 or Vanax 75. Does anyone know if Peters Heat Treat can do the HT for these 2 steels?
  11. marthinus

    marthinus KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 10, 2006
    Nitrobe is very tricky. It requires a lot of care during Austinisation, Quenching and Tempering, espceially if you go the high tempering route.

    Nitrobe PDF.

    As you can see with Nitrobe, if you go the higher austenization route, cryo, higher tempering range and cryo one can expect HRC of 62.

    Vanax, I have very little information on it. I know Vanax 75 has been discontinued and Vanax 35 is now revered to as Vanax. One would really have to play around with the heat treating from my understanding to get it above HRC 60, I have not seen any heat treating information about higher tempering range for the steel but if you go by the recommended heat treatment that includes cryo expect between 58-60HRC.

    Keep in mind, these steels are quite different. Nitrobe-77 was developed for the food industry as a blade material so chipping was not an option due to health issues so fatigue strength, compression strength, toughness and corrosion resistance was very important. Vanax was developed for the plastic mold industry so wear resistance, adequate toughness and corrosion resistance was important for that application. That is at least to my understanding.

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