Knife Steel

What Is CPM Cru-Wear Steel: Properties and Compositions

What Is CPM Cru-Wear Steel Properties and Compositions

Cru-Wear steel has been gaining popularity in the knife industry for its unique blend of properties that make it suitable for various applications. This high-performance alloy, developed by Crucible Industries, is known for its wear resistance, toughness, and edge retention capabilities. As a tool steel, Cru-Wear is primarily used in the manufacturing of cutting tools such as knives, but its attributes make it suitable for many other applications as well.

Understanding the characteristics of Cru-Wear steel can help you make an informed decision when selecting knives or other cutting tools. This article discusses the composition and properties of Cru-Wear steel, as well as how to sharpen and maintain the edge of these implements. We will also compare Cru-Wear steel to other knife steels and explore its applications and notable products made from this versatile alloy. Explore everything about Cru-Wear steel in this article!

What is Cru-Wear steel?

What is Cru-Wear steel

Cru-Wear is a high-performance tool steel that is known for its exceptional toughness, wear resistance, and edge retention. It is developed by Crucible Industries, an American company specializing in producing high-quality tool steels. Cru-Wear is a powder metallurgy (PM) steel that was developed specifically for use in high-end knives and tools. 

In addition to the powder metallurgy version, Cru-Wear steel was also produced using traditional ingot methods. However, the ingot version was in the past, Crucible now only manufactures CPM Cru-Wear steel.

Cru-Wear steel is known for its exceptional toughness, wear resistance, and edge retention. It’s often considered a superior version of the popular D2 steel.

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Cru-Wear steel composition

Cru-Wear steel is made up of a unique blend of elements that contribute to its outstanding properties. Here are the key elements in its composition:

  • Carbon (C): Roughly 1.1%, carbon is responsible for the steel’s hardness and wear resistance. This percentage is higher than many other tool steels, which contributes to Cru-Wear’s improved edge retention.
  • Chromium (Cr): At around 7.5%, chromium increases the steel’s corrosion resistance and toughness. While not as high as stainless steels, it still provides a good level of protection against corrosion.
  • Molybdenum (Mo): About 1.6%, molybdenum increases the strength and wear resistance of the steel, making the blade more durable against wear and tear.
  • Tungsten (W): Approximately 1.15%, tungsten increases the hardness and wear resistance of the steel. It also enhances the steel’s high-temperature performance.
  • Vanadium (V): With about 2.4%, vanadium improves the steel’s strength and wear resistance, further contributing to the durability of your tool.

While each type of steel has its own unique composition that leads to specific properties, it’s important to consider the overall balance of elements found in Cru-Wear steel.

Properties of Cru-Wear steel

Cru-Wear steel offers a blend of desirable properties that make it a popular choice for various applications, specifically in the knife-making industry.


Cru-Wear steel is renowned for its toughness. It can withstand heavy impact and resist chipping. As a result, you can expect knives made of Cru-Wear steel to be very reliable, even under demanding conditions.


the hardness of cru-wear steel

This alloy boasts a Rockwell hardness (HRC) rating that typically falls in the 60-65 range. In general, higher hardness levels indicate better edge retention, which means your Cru-Wear knife will maintain its sharpness for an extended period.

Edge retention

Thanks to its hardness, Cru-Wear steel offers outstanding edge retention. You’ll find that your knife remains sharp, even after continuous use, which translates to less time spent on maintenance and more time enjoying its performance.

Corrosion resistance

While Cru-Wear steel rates reasonably well in terms of corrosion resistance, note that it is not a stainless steel. As such, you may need to apply some additional care and maintenance to prevent rust and maintain its appearance.


Cru-Wear steel is known for its excellent edge retention and toughness. When it comes to sharpening, you’ll find that it requires a bit more effort than some other steels. However, once you get the hang of it, keeping your Cru-Wear blade sharp won’t be a problem.

In general, Cru-Wear is moderately easy to sharpen due to its fine carbide structure. When sharpening, you can use either diamond or ceramic stones, as traditional oil or water stones may not be aggressive enough for this type of steel. Always maintain a consistent angle while sharpening to achieve the best results.

To help keep your Cru-Wear blade sharp, it’s crucial to practice good edge maintenance habits. Here are a few tips:

  • Clean the blade after each use to remove any debris or moisture that may cause damage.
  • Apply a light coat of oil to the blade to protect it from rust and corrosion.

Keep in mind that a well-maintained Cru-Wear blade will keep its sharpness longer than one that’s been neglected. By following these tips and dedicating time to proper sharpening and edge maintenance, a Cru-Wear knife will continue to perform at its peak potential.

Cru-Wear steel alternatives

When choosing a knife steel, it’s essential to compare Cru-Wear steel to other popular types. This will help you understand its performance, limitations, and alternatives.


Alternative steels for Cru-Wear

You have several alternatives to consider when looking for a knife steel that meets your specific needs:

  • D2: A semi-stainless tool steel with high hardness and wear resistance. While it has better corrosion resistance than Cru-Wear, it may be harder to sharpen.
  • S30V: A strong stainless steel with balanced performance in terms of corrosion resistance, edge retention, and sharpenability.
  • CPM-3V: A close competitor to Cru-Wear, CPM-3V offers superior toughness and wear resistance but with slightly lesser corrosion resistance.
  • M390: A premium stainless steel known for its excellent corrosion resistance and edge retention. However, it can be harder to sharpen compared to Cru-Wear.
  • Elmax: A stainless steel offering excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance, making it a suitable alternative if you’re looking for a low-maintenance option.
  • Magnacut: A new steel designed by Larrin Thomas, developed by Crucible Industries. Magnacut boasts impressive corrosion resistance and edge retention, possibly outperforming Cru-Wear.

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Cru-Wear steel limitations

Although Cru-Wear is a well-rounded steel, it has some limitations. Its corrosion resistance is lower than stainless steels like M390 and S30V. Thus, you may need to take extra precautions to prevent rust, especially in humid environments.

In terms of edge retention, Cru-Wear performs well, but it may not hold an edge as long as more wear-resistant steels like Maxamet, M4, or Elmax. However, it is easier to sharpen compared to these ultra-hard steels.

Remember to consider your specific needs and preferences when evaluating these alternatives. No knife steel is perfect, and each material has its own unique set of advantages and tradeoffs. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your intended use and personal preferences.


Cru-Wear steel is a high-performance tool steel that provides a balance between toughness, wear resistance, and hardness. This makes it an excellent choice for various applications, especially where durability and edge retention is crucial.

When selecting a material for your store, consider Cru-Wear steel is definitely a good candidate. You may find it perfect for tasks requiring heavy-duty cutting or chopping. Remember to inform your customers to follow proper maintenance and care routines. This includes regular cleaning, sharpening, and rust prevention practices.

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