TBKIV Torsion Bar Single Lever Cootie/Paddle

” Its the best key I’ve ever used!”

“Very smooth and precise action, no clicks and clacks thanks to the stainless steel flat springs. I tried it even at high speeds of above 30 wpm with very few errors caused by me and not by the paddle !!!  I own the Begali HST single paddle/sideswiper key, which is of course a great key, but I feel quite better and more relaxed with your key !!!” 

“Your craftsmanship is on par with my Begali collection…just stunning!”

“Love It! Love It! Love It!  I love it because I have the gaps set to 0.03 mm and it requires just a slight touch to form the dits and dahs.  I like a key with close gaps and a very light touch, and the key fits that bill nicely.  It’s also a good conversation piece as it’s unique.  I’ve made a lot of contacts and receive good reports.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I came across the Torsion Bar key in 2013 while cruising the SideSwiperNet website. Although the original design is a bit murky, the design and plans I first used were published in QST in December of 1982 by Tom Leary, W0VTP. It has also been featured on the Sideswiper Net (www.sideswipernet.org) on KA8OQF’s page. It was built for him by a machinist friend. I’ve tried a LOT of different keys, but was very intrigued by this “new” design. I had to have one to try, but of course I had to build it first. And when I did…I was hooked forever.

Scroll down to see the video! Note: the video is of my prototype. The latest version of the key is shown in the gallery pictures above. Improvements are the 10-32 Brass contact screws, larger 3/8″ brass contact posts, hand turned locking rings, and finger pieces with my signature mother-of-pearl dot on each side. Also spring contacts are heavier gauge and made of nickel silver.

The Torsion Bar Key uses a very simple and efficient method of centering the keying lever after it is depressed which has historically been achieved by using springs or more recently…magnets. The movement is very subtle. As you move the lever to either side, torsion is applied to the vertical 1/8″ bar that is locked in place at the lever bar, and the top BUT is free at the base. So that twisting motion puts tension on that vertical bar. When the pressure is released the tension is also released and returns the contact bar to center. As a result contact spacing can be very close and the key is very quiet, unlike the original design which had the contact bar making direct contact with the adjustment screws which made a very loud clanging sound. It didn’t bother me, but man, it was loud. So I changed the basic design and installed nickel silver contact strips. It made a huge difference, not only totally eliminating the clanking sound, but also acted as a bit of a cushion which makes the movement very smooth.

I’ve used a lot of keys and I have to say that this is the finest action I’ve found in any sideswiper key I’ve used….including my Begali Sculpture Mono (a single lever key) which is a tour-de-force in design and machining but for me when it comes down to it…it’s all about the feel and the sound, and the Torsion Bar Key is unique and wonderful. The touch is very light and I prefer close contact spacing so very little movement is necessary. Keys are sent with contact spacing set to .004 and the Torsion Bar set to deliver 25 grams of tension at the finger piece.

The other great thing about a key like this is that it’s wired to allow use as a standard paddle, a cootie key, or even as a straight key. No need to switch keys to accommodate other ops anymore. Paddle, swiper or straight key….all in one. Gotta love that.

Building time varies depending on my schedule. Usually max wait is 4 or 5 weeks. I’ll give you a heads up just prior to sending or if there are any delays. Your key will look like the key pictured in the image gallery on this page.

Thanks for looking and I hope you have the opportunity to try one of these keys soon. You’ll be amazed at the feel and sound of the Torsion Bar Key.

All parts are hand made, fitted and have a fine brushed finish.

Keys will have a brass name plate attached to the bottom of the key. “W1SFR Torsion Bar Key”

TBKII by W1SFR Ser.No 00X

See the video:

Price is $335 Plus $14 shipping


11 thoughts on “TBKIV Torsion Bar Single Lever Cootie/Paddle

  1. I have purchased SN 023 of this fantastic Paddle and it really has been machined to a very high standard ! Not yet tried on the air but the feeling is that this key is not only a very nice display piece but only an high performer !!! Great job Steve !!!
    73 de HB9DTA


    • Hi Alex, So glad you got the key ok and happy that you like the action. It’s much lighter than most can imagine, and quite unlike other keys. I hope you have many wonderful QSO’s with it OM. 73, Steve, W1SFR


  2. This is an awesome key to use and a beautiful piece of craftsmanship. I like a very light touch when using as a single lever paddle and that can easily be achieved with the Torsion Bar Key II. With a stereo to mono adapter and increasing the gap, it makes a great cootie as well. Mark KM4AHP


  3. Steve – Just want to add my kudos for one excellent key. You crafted the TBK-II for me and it has become my absolute favorite to use. I’ve had the key in my shack for over a year now and I swear it continues to just get better and better.
    Your craftsmanship is simply phenomenal.
    73 – Nolan KI5IO


    • Thanks so much Nolan. I use the prototype every day and even though it looks very crude compared to the keys I make now, it still works great. I do have to clean the contacts on occasion but that’s it. 73, Steve-W1SFR


  4. Steve, just to let you know, the W1SFR Handmade key TBKII No.18 has come into my care following the recent death of Colin Wantling G3TNE. The TBKII No.18 is a little tarnished here and there, but otherwise it’s in great condition. I have a picture of it if you’re keen to see it. My CW is good, and I’m looking forward to using it well! Keep up the good work. Best Wishes & 73, Tom G4BYE


    • Hi Tom, Well congrats about the TBKII. Sorry to hear about Colin. That’s a rare duck these days HiHi. I had a cover made for my original and after I polished it a few years ago it still looks good without tarnishing. I have a guy that makes covers for me and he can make one for you if you’re interested. All the best to you as well my friend. Cheers and beers as my bud in Rainhill would say! 73, Steve


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.