I've been where you are. (And still am a little) Metal is probably the most challenging material for me to create. Much of it relies on the enviroment that the metal is reflecting. What sort of metal are you trying to make? Aluminum, brusjed stainless, galvanized, ect, ect? Is it in a scene with other objects or is it a stand alone product shot? A little more info and I can probably give you some decent advice.
Win 7 64-bit; Dual Xeon E5-2687W @ 3.10 GHz; 64 GB Ram
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570; Quadro 4000
Metal comes in many types and conditions, so it's hard to give specific advice without a specific question. But if you look almost all the way down the first page of the forum, you may find this thread. Check out the tips that I link to in my post, and read the rest of it if that happens too be to look you want.
The most important thing with metal is that it will not look like metal unless it is reflecting something. So, step one is to turn on the background color checkerboard texture in your material editor. Now, that will only show on the material sample (sphere) if you are using Mental Ray or ray-traced materials. You can also simulate metal very quickly with a reflection map on a standard material, even with the scanline renderer. Here are some topics to check out in the help docs:
hope that gets you started,