Tag Archives: safe construction

A Good Alternative to a Gun Safe for Storing Guns

Instead of buying a cheap gun safe because your budget is limited, consider spending a similar amount on a good used commercial safe and make your own “gun safe”.  You may be way better off both fire-wise and security-wise.

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For example, pictured is a commercial safe we took in last week.  It was used in a high security situation – you can see where several types of alarms were mounted to the front.  It also has a legitimate 4-hour U.L. certified fire rating.  There are several gun safes with ratings as high as 2.5 hours, but those ratings are bogus and the safes would never pass U.L. tests for that long.

The Mosler safe shown is 76”H X 42.5”W X 30”D outside and 60 X 33 X20 inside.  That is 23 cubic feet of inside capacity.  We will sell it for $1500.  So if you invested a few hours into making a gun rack, and maybe painting it, you would end up with an outstanding unit for the price of a poor quality gun safe.  Check with your nearest safe dealer for similar opportunities.  If you live in Michigan come see us.

Interior Options on Gun Safes

If you have shopped for a gun safe you have run into the “one size fits all” interior configurations.  Everyone is supposed to want the same set-up – a vertical divider in the center and 10 to 15 gun spaces on each side.  But that doesn’t work well for everyone.

I sold a gun safe to a woman this week who has just two rifles, and plans on one more.  She has lots of other stuff that needs to be secured, however.  So why should she waste half of the interior space for just two rifles?  A Fort Knox unit in the 60 X 31 X 27 size with a four-gun interior works perfectly for her.  She has four full width shelves for jewelry, pistols and documents with just a small area dedicated to long guns.

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Fort Knox has many different interior configurations so the owner can use the space efficiently.  A 60 X 31 X 27, for instance, can be set up to handle 4, 8, 13, 18, 26, 31, 36 or 40 long guns.  If your needs change in a few years you can order different shelving.  The photo shows a small unit, 60 X 26, with a 3 gun interior.  Lots of usable shelf space.  Other alternatives include the “all gun” rack shown at the bottom, which has 18 spaces.

Fort Knox dealers will have lots of gun safe options in stock, and lead times for special orders are usually only about 6 to 8 weeks.  Fort Knox specializes in allowing you to get exactly what you want by offering many sizes, security levels, colors, lock arrangements, etc.  Don’t “make do” with a gun safe that doesn’t fit your needs, just because it’s the only choice offered.  Go to a Fort Knox dealer and spec out a unit that is exactly what you want, including the right interior.

Vault Doors by Graffunder

The photo shows a Graffunder vault door waiting to be delivered and installed (handle spokes not yet installed).  This unit is an in-swing version, in the smaller of their two sizes, a VB7834.  The paint is textured “Medusa Gray” with chrome hardware, which I like because it seems to show the depth and the lines.

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Even though this is Graffunder’s smaller size and lightest construction it still weighs 1300# and has plenty of strength built into it.  The door is ½” solid plate steel, the outside and inside frames are 5/8″ and ½” respectively, and the threshold plate is 1” solid steel.  Like the doors on Graffunder gun safes, Graffunder vault doors fit tighter into the frame than any others on the market.  There is absolutely no way to insert any kind of prying tool.  They also have special lock protection, unique relockers and other security features not found on other units.

Graffunders are the very best.  Other good, less expensive options are American Security, Golden Spike or Fort Knox vault doors.  If you are building a new home, or if your existing home has a place for one, a walk-in vault door is a terrific addition that adds value to your home.

Small Antique Safes for Sale

I have been collecting small antique safes for a long time, but I have been informed that it is time to thin out the collection.  Most of these safes are from about 13” to 18” tall.  They are too small to be very functional, but cute as decorations or conversation pieces.

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Some folks claim these are salesman’s samples but most were actually sold to be used for storage of cash and jewelry in a home or office.  They typically weigh from about 70 to 100 pounds – a thief could walk away with one, but at least he couldn’t run with it.  Several have handles on top so maybe a poor salesman did have to lug them around on a regular basis.  They were built to be fire proof.  Some units have real wheels underneath, some have fake wheels, some have little feet and some sit flat on the ground.  There are both key and combination lock models.

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Finding small antique safes for sale with good original paint is difficult so they don’t sell cheap.  If the paint is too plain or worn out to be attractive, they can be restored or customized to suit your taste.

A small antique safe could be your adult version of a piggy bank, or a visible reminder of that special savings goal.  A financial planner I know has a very classy little unit in his office, I think because it sends a message to his customers.  A small antique safe might make a great Christmas gift.  The units shown start at $700.  Call if any of these grab your attention, 616-458-6365.  Antique safes can be delivered, picked up at our shop or shipped across the country.

Used Safe Deposit Boxes Can Be Useful

We sometimes get blocks of safe deposit boxes from inside large safes.  But a large local bank is getting ready for a renovation project which includes removing over 2600 safe deposit boxes of various sizes from a large vault.

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Safe deposit boxes typically have ½” thick stainless steel doors, while the bodies are light duty steel or aluminum.  They usually have dual key locks, a “guard key” for the bank employee, and a “user key” for the box renter.  Some come with combination locks, these are usually for bank personnel.

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Safe deposit boxes are not hot sellers but a few folks find uses for them.  Coin collectors, for instance, may segregate different classes of coins in separate boxes.  Ammo can be organized with safe deposit boxes inside a gun safe.  If you have a use for safe deposit boxes your local safe specialist probably has some around.  If you need 2600 of them call us right away before this group gets scrapped.

Securing Historic Documents, Signatures, Stamps, Part 2

The last post was about why most fire safes are not appropriate for securing collections of historic documents, signatures, stamps, etc.  Media/data safes are the best way to store these items.

Media safes are built to protect computer discs, tapes, thumb drives, etc., which get damaged at much lower temperatures than paper.  175 to 200 degrees F – or high humidity — is all it takes to ruin discs and tapes.  Data safe insulation does not give off moisture like traditional fire safes, and it will keep the inside temps lower.  During the same test in which the inside of fire safes must stay below 350 F, the inside of data safes must remain below 125 F or 150 F, (lower than the melting point of plastics).  While the inside of most fire safes will become saturated with moisture in a fire, data safes are built to stay under 80% humidity.  Doors on media safes are also more air tight, and many units even have two air tight doors.

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There are trade-offs with media safes, however.  Thicker walls and doors mean that for safes with comparable exterior dimensions, data safes will be smaller inside.  They are not as burglary resistant as some other safes, either; it makes sense to keep the safe holding your collection in a locked room.  Cost of a new data safe is about three times that of other types.  But since few businesses now use data safes, used ones are selling cheap.

For example, the used Schwab 1844CTS pictured is rated 1Hour/125 F.  During the one hour test up to 1700 F, the inside will stay under 125 F at less than 80% humidity.  It is 50.5”h x 22.75w x 13d outside, 38.5 x 12.8 x 13 inside.  Original list price was over $8000, but we’ll sell it in like-new condition for $1000.

Don’t let your bit of history be ruined in a fire.  Protect your collection in a data safe.

Securing Historic Documents, Signatures & Stamps

Collectors of signatures, historic documents or stamps should secure their collections in good safes with two-hour fire ratings, right?  Maybe not.

Fire safes protect papers from charring and burning if there is a fire.  If you experience a fire, however, your documents are likely to be damaged by moisture in most types of safes.  When subjected to heat the insulation gives off water vapor to the point where the inside air is saturated with water.  As the safe cools down, lower internal temperatures cause the air to become super-saturated, so that papers will become damp or even wet.  They will get wrinkly and inks may get blurry.  In addition, water pressure from a fire hose may penetrate the crack between the safe door and frame, forcing water into the safe.  If the safe is in a basement and water pools up there, that water may also seep inside the safe.

People in the safe and gun safe industries usually recommend that valuable documents be protected by putting them in plastic sleeves or Tupperware-type containers to protect them from moisture damage.  This advice may be erroneous.  There are hundreds of different plastic compositions and each has its own characteristics. Good information is hard to find, but the melt point will vary depending on the exact chemical composition.

Consider Tupperware:  Most of their products are made from low density polyethylene (LDPE), high density polyethylene (HDPE) or high density polypropylene (HDPP).  From what I can find these materials begin to melt at temps as low as 278 degrees F for HDPE, or 266 F for HDPE.  Characteristics of the melting process also vary by chemical composition – they may just lose their shape, they might become sticky or they might give off damaging chemicals.  That process might damage the items you are trying to protect.  When fire safes are tested the inside temperature can go as high as 350 F before they are considered to have failed.  Plastic containers, therefore, could potentially melt inside a safe that is “performing well”.

Next:  A better type of safe for historic docs.

Plastic Fire Safes

The photo shows a very low-end fire box or fire safe which is sold at big box stores.  We get these in at our shop because they frequently need some kind of work.  The cost of our labor often approaches the cost of a new unit.

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These fire boxes have an Underwriters Labs “1 hour 350” rating so they apparently do well in a fire.  The problem with these, however, is that people buy them for burglary protection because the packaging calls them a “safe”.  You need to look pretty hard to find any steel here – both the exterior and interior are plastic, as are the working parts.  Even the metal bolts are held in place by plastic.  Poor excuse for a lock, too.  If a burglar breaks into your home and finds one of these units he will go into a “happy dance” before he pops it open.

You need to use some common sense when buying a safe – if you are going to put valuables in it, spend enough money to buy real burglary protection.

Coolest Gun Safe on the Market, From Fort Knox

Fort Knox Safes is famous for allowing the consumer to customize the gun safe he wants.  This year Fort Knox introduced two more options that offer cool new looks, more ways to get your gun safe your way.

Old, very retro industrial design is fashionable.  This is especially true where old factories and warehouses are being converted into desirable apartments and condos.  Fort Knox’ new “Distressed Industrial” finish fits right in.  Each gun safe is different with the addition of big rivets and random distress marks to the paint.  Besides rehabilitated industrial buildings these units look good in your work shop area or man cave.

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The other terrific new option is Fort Knox’ crane hinge.  This is also a throw-back to the old days.  A hundred years ago very heavy safes and vault doors were frequently built with crane hinges to help the doors move more freely.  This system makes safe doors that are actually double-hinged, so they move in a more three dimensional manner.  Crane hinges are available on all Fort Knox gun safes (except Mavericks) and in all finishes.  D6031 and D7240 shown.

If you want to really impress your friends — and get serious security at the same time — get a Fort Knox gun safe or vault door with the new Distressed Industrial finish and crane hinges.  Awesome!

TL Rated High Security Gun Safes

Customers that do research in order to find the best gun safe on the market sometimes decide they need a “TL” rated gun safe.  But while they find all kinds of units with Residential Security Container (RSC) ratings, they cannot find any TL’s.

Very few gun safes qualify to carry TL ratings.  You are basically buying a jeweler quality safe with a gun rack interior.  Here are the reasons most manufacturers do not offer them:  While buyers like the idea of getting a high security unit, few are willing to spend $5000 to $10,000 for that security.  High security gun safes do not hold as many rifles, because thicker walls leave less interior space.  Few homes can accommodate the weight and dimensions of a TL rated gun safe.  Most dealers don’t carry TL rated safes because they cannot move them.  The majority of manufacturers use production techniques than are incapable of producing TL rated safes.  The costs of U.L.’s TL certification tests are too expensive in relation to the low volume of potential sales.

That being said, if you are serious about a high security TL-rated safe, here are some options:

Amsec RF6528, TL-30, Exterior 72h x 35w x 29.5d, 3455#, 24 gun max.
Amsec RF582820X6, TL-30×6, Exterior 64h x 34w x 29.5, 3418#, 24 gun max.
Amsec RF703620x6, TL-30×6, Exterior 76h x 42w x 29.5d, 4578#, 58 gun max.
Fort Knox L Series 5520, TL-30×6, Exterior 63h x 28w x 32d, 3716#, about 20 guns.
Fort Knox L Series 6532, TL-30×6, Exterior 73h x 40w x 32d, 4512#, about 50 guns.
Fort Knox L Series 7240, TL-30×6, Exterior 78h x 44w x 32d, 5460#, about 55 guns.

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“TL-30” means the unit has been tested for burglary resistance through the front.  “TL-30×6” means it has been tested for burglary resistance through all six sides. These safes have legitimate two hour fire ratings.  Freight and delivery are expensive on these units.  Pictured is an Amsec RF6528, gun racks covered by shelf pieces.  Note the door is 6″ thick.

The decision whether to purchase a high security gun safe depends on a number of factors like where you live, security systems in your home, and the value of its contents (I suggest $80,000 and up).  Yes, they are expensive; but if you need the best protection a TL rated gun safe is a great investment.