Stage one the pivot

Every key has a pivot, the types of pivot are legion, there are flat spring pivots pivots with ballraces, sleeve bearings, slots points you name it, they all have advantages and disadvantages, the commonest in the early days and in many military keys is the sleeve bearing, and this is the one I'm going to use on this project, the advantages are it is basically simple to make IF it is done correctly, sleeve bearings have a reputation of being resistive and it has to be said they can be however the main advantage is they are very easily converted to ballraces which I think are the very best, and that will be an option on this key when it is finished in my experience if all the other criteria of a fine key design are met then the downside of sleeve bearings are minimal
Anyway lets get started on making this key, having obtained the necessary brass it is time to cut it into the required parts, which are two one inch pieces and one two inch piece, mark off the required length using a setsquare  below
Now cut this off using your hacksaw slightly oversize, the reason being if you are unfamiliar with using a hacksaw you will almost certainly cut it at an angle or off line such as I have done deliberately on the right, this is usual, cutting squarely is a skill that has to be learnt, and these edges need to be really square, but seeing as you cut it oversize the next job is to square it up, by using a file seeing as we have no power cutting tools, and the best way for a beginner is to fit two pieces of angle iron in a vice or workmate and place the work in between carefully lining up the mark with the edge of the angle iron see below left, then using a file take it down flush to the iron the brass being softer than the iron will smooth out nicely before the iron is hardly touched, the result will be a lovely square edge to the work as can be seen below right.
All three pieces are made the same way checking for size and squareness as you go, when you are happy that they are reasonable a hole has to be drilled in the centre of the two smaller pieces, the easiest way is to mark a cross from corner to corner where they cross in the middle is the place to punch a centre, centre punches are just a pointed piece of hardened steel which you use to punch the brass in the exact spot where it will be drilled, the reason being if you don't do this the drill will tend to wander about and not drill exactly where you want it to see below, if you haven't got a punch you could use a sharpened nail one or two times before it goes blunt. Next again below you get ready to drill it, the work will need to be gripped in a vice of some sort I am using my pillar drill but the same applies to any drill, when the work is in the vice make sure it is exactly 90 degrees to the drill bit by placing a rule on the work then standing back and look at the rule, it is far easier to see if the work is correctly positioned this way, then drill a small hole using a bit well up into the chuck of the drill, reason being small drills can easily bend and so go in at an angle, this is called a pilot hole, next drill the 1/4 inch hole, the bit will follow the pilot hole and you will have a nicely centred hole
OK so far, two holes drilled time to clean up the work, rub all sides with emery cloth so all are bright and shiny and remove all burrs with a fine file, these are the rough edges from the filing and drilling process, next on some pieces of ceramic tile or similar place the two end pieces on the top of the large piece and cut a length of 1/4 round brass the exact length of the large piece and assemble the pivot, as in the picture below, you can swap the end pieces about to get the best fit as there are bound to be a few minor variations in height and squareness, the ends should sit flat on the bottom piece and the round axle should parallel to the bottom no twists or wobbles, this is called alignment and is critical to the operation of the key, the axle MUST fit snugly in the holes even if the end pieces are not exactly straight spend some time getting it right pushing the pieces into position with a small screwdriver or similar (fingers are to podgy) when you are happy that it is all correct then you light your blow lamp and get the whole assembly VERY HOT, it must be almost red, when that point is reached take the blowlamp away and run the solder into the inner join where the side pieces sit on the bottom piece, the solder should run like water as the flux burns off, if it just melts and sits there in a lump things are not hot enough, the solder must run under the side plates, if done correctly this will produce a VERY tough joint, poorly done it will fail at some point and your key will fall to pieces usually just as you are showing it to someone (been there) then let it all cool off gradually no water, when cool the axle should turn freely in the sleeve you have drilled, to be honest the correct way is to drill the hole slightly undersize and then bore out the holes with a boring tool but this is advanced stuff, if it is a little tight you can polish the axle with fine emery cloth if it feels a little loose no matter it will hardly be noticeable when the key is assembled or of no consequence if ballrace bearings are fitted later, now clean the whole thing up with fine emery.
End of stage 1  great fun eh?