Stainless Steels
Hot Rolled Steels
Cold Finished Steels
Copper Alloys
Buy small quantities of metals at Online Metals
The 10 cold finished steel forms regularly available in the USA
General Cold Finished Steel Information
What is an alloy?
   An alloy is simply a mixture of metals melted together to form a new metal with characteristics distinct from those of the metals from which it is made.

What is a steel alloy?
   A steel alloy is an alloy that is primarily iron, with small quantities of  other elements mixed in during the melting process which vary the properties of the iron to maximize a particular characteristic of the final alloy.
   Some make the iron not rust (nickel), some make the iron possible to harden with heat treatment (carbon), Some make the iron easy to machine (lead), and so on. By varying the type and amount of the alloying element, even in minute quantities, a huge range of steels is produced, used for a myriad of industrial purposes.

Why does Cold Finished Steel have a smooth grey finish, while Hot Rolled Steel has a rough, blue-grey finish?
   Cold Finished Steels are just that - the final rolling is done when the steel is cold (room temperature), the whole operation bathed in oil, so the finished product is unoxidized, the grey of the actual steel, and as smooth as the rollers that do the processing.

   Hot Rolled Steels are just that - They are heated up red-hot and pushed through rollers that squeeze the metal, literally squishing it into a particular profile, depending on the shape of the rollers. The process takes a long time, and because the steel is so hot for so long in th open air of the steel mill, the surface of the metal has has a long time to oxidize, producing a thick, tough oxide scale with the characteristic blue grey finish of the final product.

Why are there so few shapes available in Cold Finished Steel and so many in Hot Rolled Steel?
   Steel is a very tough material when it is “cold” (meaning “room temperature”). When it is bent, hammered (such as in cold forging), or deformed in any way steel can actually harden in the area of distortion and begin to crack or weaken. Only if it is heated past a particular temperature (usually a red-heat) does it become plastic enough to be bent, formed hammered, and squeezed with relative ease and without damaging the metal. For example, few of us would be able to bend a bar of 1” thick steel at room temperature no matter how hard we tried, but if the middle of the bar were heated with a torch until it glowed a healthy cherry red color, most of us would have very little trouble bending the bar back upon itself until both ends touched. And when it cooled it would regain its toughness and strength in that bent condition and we would no longwr be able to bend it.
   This means that the intricate profiles apparent in, say, a Hot Rolled beam or channel is only possible to form if the steel is iin the red-hot condition. If these types of profiles were attempted in the cold condition both the metal and the equipment used to shape the metal would be ruined.
   This means that only relatively simple shapes like flats, hexagons or rounds are available in Cold Finished Steels. However, one of the great advantages of this process is
that the resulting products is a much finer surface (that is bare of oxidation) and sharp corners to the profiles of Cold Finished products as opposed to the rounded and rough finish of Hot Rolled Steels.

Can Cold Finished Steels be chemically colored or patinated?
   Yes. Because the chemical coloring of metals relies on the action of the chemicals with the metal itself and Cold Finished Steels do not have any oxidation present on the surface, they are perfect for the base metal fabrication that will eventually receive a secondary coloring process.    In addition, because the tolerances and profiles of cold finished metals (some stainless steel products are also produced with a cold finish process) are sharp and accurate the final work fabricated from these products gives an overall aesthetic of superior craftsmanship than working with Hot Rolled Steels.