Monthly Archives: April 2015

Antique Safes: San Francisco Tea Company

Antique safes can be interesting and fun, and they offer a little glimpse into our history.  They also make great conversation pieces in the home or office.  Unfortunately, the exteriors of many have been painted over, like the Mosler Brahnamn which is the subject of this post.


A customer got this old safe from an abandoned building.  The combination was unknown so it needed to be opened.  While the original outside paint in covered up, the interior is still very cool. In about 1885 the San Francisco Tea Company must have paid top dollar for this safe with all the extra decorations.  Check out the great paintings inside.  In particular, look at the well-dressed Indian chief.  Doesn’t he look rather European for a Native American?

Nice antiques are getting hard to find, and going up in price.  If you are seriously interested in getting an antique safe, email us with information on the size you want as well as price range.

How To Fix Cheap Shelves in a Gun Safe

Cheap gun safes, especially Chinese made safes that are sold in big box stores, almost always have weak shelves.  The shelves are made of inferior particle board which is thinner than it should be, so the selves hold very little weight before they sag or break.  I have seen brand new Chinese made safes that sag just from their own weight.  Naturally, the wider the safe is this worse the problem becomes.


In my opinion it should not be necessary to fix a problem like that with a new safe, or avoid using the shelf for fear of it breaking, but there is an easy fix.  The clips that the shelves rest on are usually 1/2” or 5/8” wide.  At your local home improvement store buy some metal u-channel or square tubing that is big enough to go over the clips.  Cut the material to the correct length and slip it over the clips on both sides of the safe.  Your shelves will then lay flat and hold much more weight than before.

Fort Knox being a quality oriented company uses better, thicker shelving material.  And on 51” or 61” wide safes they install tubing for support at the factory.  As I always tell people, don’t save a few dollars by buying Chines made junk – buy an American made gun safe from one of the few trustworthy manufacturers.

New Home Design, Plan for the Safe

One feature which is frequently overlooked in the design of a new home is where to put a safe or vault room.  Too often the home owner calls us after the house is built, and then it is more difficult find a good place for the right safe.  In the home pictured, a cubby hole was built so that the owner’s gun safe fits right where he wanted it, and it does not stick out into the room.

Blog, Safe Planning (2)

Most owners of medium to high-end homes have need of a safe.  Everyone has important documents that should be kept private and protected from fire – wills, trust papers, investments, mortgage papers, etc.  Many home owners also keep substantial amounts of cash, jewelry, metals, coins, stamps, sports memorabilia, and so on.

Each application has different requirements.  For example, if a woman regularly wears expensive jewelry she should have a jewelry safe located where she dresses, so she can access it easily.  If the safe is in the basement she will still leave her jewelry sitting out.  Cleaning people may then be tempted, or someone who breaks into the home for a quick “grab and run” may find it.  If her safe is small it should not sit on the floor.  Getting down on hands and knees to look for a ring or necklace is inconvenient.  And remember that as she gets older her knees and back will give her more trouble.  A small safe mounted securely at about eye level works out much better, and tall skinny unit works even better.  Proper planning when the home is designed makes these options possible. Likewise, putting a vault door or a really heavy safe in a home is much easier if planning is done in advance.

If you are the builder or architect, make sure to ask the homeowner about safes early in the process.  If you are the homeowner, don’t be tempted to put this issue off until later.