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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Folks,
I apologize in advance if this is the wrong forum for this topic but I could not find anything more specific. This is my first thread here.

I just bought a fully functional safe in good shape on Craig's List to be used as a gun safe. It is a real safe as opposed to being a 'gun cabinet', but it is simple bare metal on the interior. I need some advise on how to turn it into a proper gun safe. It is ideal for my storage needs right now as it is approximately 48" x 40" x 20", double walled plate steel with a Sargent Greenleaf combo lock. I am trying to figure out right now what type of lock it is to acquire the right change key to reset the combo (I assume it is a three wheel combo lock as that is standard but it could be a four wheel combo). It is set right now and the lock functions and all. It does have external hinges but for $290, and it being in great shape it was a bargain.

It will be in the house itself, rather than in a basement, attic, or garage, so climate control will not be that much of an issue but I will put a dehumidifier pack in it anyways. It does not have a gasket around the door.

But my question revolves around what materials to use to line the walls and shelves. Off the top of my head options would include getting like a couple of the thin, rubber (Approx 5mm) pilates mats and cut them down and apply them with spray adhesive. Another option might be to do the same thing with some sort of cloth or felt, or maybe even the self-sticking shelf paper.

Right now it has two full width and depth metal shelves. They are fine as they are now as I have no long guns, but in the future I intend to custimize the shelves to make room for long guns. I was thinking about replacing the existing shelves with ones that are cut back either in a front corner or across the entire front to allow long guns vertically.

Right now the current configuration is pretty ideal as the top shelf has all my ammo, extra holsters and mags, etc. The second shelf holds my gun boxes, including the empty ones for our two home defense guns, and the bottom is perfect for holding my wife and my own range bags, so we can keep them loaded up without having to remove the contents.

I am also considering different sort of racks that I can mount on the inside of the door. I'd probably have to drill through the thin metal of the access plate that covers the entire interior of the door.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Wreckshooter
 

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If you want it to be fire resistent, you'll have to line it completely with sheet rock (gypsum board). You'll probably need about a 1" thickness for a two hour fire rating, but that's a guess. Verify if you want to go that route.
 

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Good idea for conversion. Good size too.

IMHO, such things as empty boxes & gun leather take up a lot of increasingly valuable room IN the safe. You probably will notice over a short time, that "all that room" will accumulate more of your valuables, and your gun collection will tend to grow also.

I've never found it necessary to glue shelf liners down; probably your idea of rubber is good choice.

Location: "out of sight, out of mind" for the casual visitor, welcomed or otherwise. If it's heavy enough you might not need to bolt it down.

If you watch some of the safe-busting youtube videos, you'll note most forced entry requires knocking the safe over on it's back first. This gives access for easier pry bar work. My theory is to make it harder to knock it over.

Also, located here several months ago, is the sad story of a power-tool breached premium safe, worth considering in your overall plans.

The question of interior racks remained unsolved until I came across some very useful coated metal rod 'dish racks' from Wal Mart, which are perfect for what *I* wanted. Low cost, take up no room, and make things way more organized instead of piles of stuff.

Welcome to the forum.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
First of all, thanks for the quick replies. Fire resistance might be desired but somewhere in the future. I want to get the internal configuration set right now, including the liner. Once that is set (probably in several months through trial and error), then I will possibly fire-proof it. Nothing in my firearms collections would be difficult to replace and there are no real high-value pieces or heirlooms.I do need to catalogue everything and have it specifically added to my property insurence.

In terms of liner material I am looking primarily for something that will be gun-finish 'friendly'. Is there any advantage of cloth or felt such as that found in purpose-built gun safes over plastic or rubber such as from a pilates mat or plastic adhesive shelf paper?

Wreckshooter
 

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Mine has carpeting inside. I imagine it's glued to 1/4" plywood or something similar, then screwed to the walls.
L.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
P.S. I know it really SHOULD be bolted down. My wife has vetoed that idea for now. It is on tile (with a rubber mat underneath it) and I do have the right tile to replace, and under the tile is the foundation slab. My desired end state is to drill through the tile into the slab and put in some concrete bolts, and then bolt it down. I have extra tile to replace what I damage when and if we sell the house. But since we just got the safe this weekend we will have to make sure that is where it is going to stay, and then I will have to negotiate with the wife to properly bolt it down. It will probably require the purchase of jewelry but that is for later down the road. It does weigh well over 200 pounds, and with the contents probably close to 300, but I know two people could throw whole thing into a truck and chip away at it at their leisure once they got back to their crack house.
 

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safe lining?

greetings!

I too have been searching for a gun safe. one thing I noticed is that virtually all of them are lined with carpet. seems to me that there would be better materials. I would think that carpet would tend to hold moisture. not to mention stray fibers and "fuzzies" which could work their way into places we wish they weren't.

Some sort of closed cell rubber would be my suggestion. Check out marine/rv stores. They sell "rubbery" placemats that are designed to keep things from sliding around when under way.

PaulG
 

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Wreckshooter, . . . take an afternoon off from your busy schedule, . . . take your digital camera, . . . go down to a couple of local gun shops, . . . open their safes they have on display, . . . find the configuration you like, . . . take a picture of it.

Generally, it is particle board or OSB or plywood, covered with a very thin carpet type fabric. Use about any fabric you want, just be sure to do so as it keeps the weapons from being all scratched up, . . . protects scopes from being dinged against the side of the safe, . . . and cleans up with only a vacuum.

Think twice about using it before fireproofing it. Once you start using it, . . . you will be much less likely to ever go back and do it later. One thickness of 5/8 drywall (covered with 1/4" luan mahogany toward the inside of the safe) and then do the fabric covering with 3M spray glue, . . . and voila, . . . you will have something you can be proud of that you did.

Cut the top to fit, . . . wedge it in by the back, . . . then the two sides, . . . placing the bottom in last, . . . the shelves will keep the sides in place, . . . you can screw shelf supports to the 1/4 in mahogany, . . . and the 5/8 drywall should give you (if my memory serves me correctly) a 30 minute fire wall.

My gun safe, purchased new, was several times what you paid, . . . congratulations on a good purchase.

May God bless,
Dwight
 

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First off, Merry Christmas!:cool:

I'd love to see a picture of the safe you bought just because I find non-gun related safes to be wickedly cool! I ran into a few that were being sold at 'going out of business' sales at a jewelry store. It was a move on your own deal and these things looked like they would need a crane to move while you blasted the front of the building to get out. They were even wired for an alarm and had some type of timed lock on them. Simply amazing!

The fire protection is over rated. Personally I think that its an unnecessary expense. Crash course in drywall.... when the gypsum heats up it converts the calcium sulfate hemihydrate to steam.

CaSO4·2H2O + heat → CaSO4·½H2O + 1½H2O (steam)-----> for the fellow chemistry nerds....

And since most of the damage to the firearms is the result of water during a fire.... well..... duh....

I digress, anyway. How to finish the inside of your safe. Get some plywood, 1/2" or so. Visit your local car stereo installer and buy some auto carpet from them in your favorite color. Carpet the plywood shelves per the design of your choice.
 

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safe

I had a similar situation and glued carpet (tight nap commerical) throughout.
If H20 is a potential basement problem you ay want to elevate the safe. I made a 2x6 form, from 2x6's (!) and poured a Redi-mix in it.
 

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If bolting the safe to the floor is a problem, bolt it to the wall framing instead. It's not ideal, but it will keep anyone from picking it up and running off with it. Keep the bolts away from the edges (out of reach of a Sawzall). The drawback with bolting it to the wall is that a determined thief will just saw your wall apart. As far as moisture issues go, I've had a Goldenrod dehumidifier in my safe since I bought it 20 years ago. We live in a very humid climate on the coast, the safe is on a concrete floor (elevated on 1½" blocks), and I have never had any moisture problems.
L.
 

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I found this large safe which a jewelry shop had. I lined the shelves and bottom of the metal drawers in a non-fuzzing felt, because I wanted the guns to be resting on a soft, breathable surface. I also installed both a large Golden Rod and a Remmington dehumidifier.

 

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Safe Conversions

Just a couple of notes...

1. I found my gun safe mysteriously growing smaller over time and wound up having to remove all of the interior fixtures except the top shelf. This greatly increased the storge capacity, of course, and the strategic use of products such as Bore Stores has prevented things from banging together or against the bare interior walls. Mine looks more like a 'normal' safe on the inside now, but it actually works better for me in this configuration.

2. The manufacturer of my safe lined the interior door panel with loop-type material so there is space to hang smaller items using hook-type straps (Velcro hook-and-loop, just to be clear). This type of arrangement should be fairly easy to duplicate.
 

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My "gun safe" is a Sears Mechanics Craftsmen Roller box (bottom) with bolted on mid & top boxes utilizing key locks. Powder & accesories go in the bottom. Reloading accesories in the top. Guns stored in the middle. Not high tech, but it is in a back walk-in closet that would be difficult, but not impossible to remove. I use regular thick cotton kitchen towels to line the shelves--removable, washable, replaceable, breathable. Tracy
 
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