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Old 08-04-2010, 08:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Turning a Closet into a Safe

Been thinking about locking up the guns as my collection begins to (slowly) expand. Safes in my price range ($500-$600) are either small or cheesy or both. Either you get okay-but-not-great security or you get a glorified locker and still not tons of space.

Seems like for a fairly reasonable budget, I could just as easily turn a utility closet into a gun cabinet and have just as much or more security, with far more space, and at the same time, have a place for my guns that doesn't immediately scream "STEAL ME."

The closet I have in mind is about 3'x3'. The door clearly needs replacement, since it's a hollow-core. Thinking metal or a solid wood door, painted to match the rest of the house. Just wondering how best to lock it up. Seems like one deadbolt isn't near enough security, but I'm not sure what my options are for further beef on a budget. I'd also have to do something with the walls to harden them a bit.

Not looking for maximum security, but it's gotta be better than having my guns just hanging out in the closet. Thoughts?
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Old 08-04-2010, 09:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm currently running a Kaba Mas/LaGard lock on my "vault." Installation was fairly simple. I did modify it so that it used a separate "bolt handle(glass dummy knob)." I've got another lock in pieces that I need to get a key kit for it(high security vault lock).


If you are looking for something standard(IE readily available), get a good high quality deadbolt and lockset.
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Old 08-05-2010, 12:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I just took the door knob out and replaced it with a deadbolt. I built some racks to fit in the closet for long guns and shelves for handguns. It's no where near as secure as a safe, but it was pretty easy to do. When I get enough of a collection to warrant investing in a safe I'm sure I will do so.

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Old 08-05-2010, 12:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I just took the door knob out and replaced it with a deadbolt. I built some racks to fit in the closet for long guns and shelves for handguns. It's no where near as secure as a safe, but it was pretty easy to do. When I get enough of a collection to warrant investing in a safe I'm sure I will do so.

Chris
That's a pretty good idea. I live in an apartment so that might work for me. Might be a bitch cause all my clothes are in there. Underbed safe might be good for me too.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:46 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I am confident that if I forced an entry into a house with some big crow bars that I would have used to open a cheap safe, I would have no problem going through a steel door on wooden jams. If you upgraded the door with steel jams, Going through a 2x4 wall would be pretty easy. Upgrade that wall, lining the inside with steel, maybe it would be pretty secure from my cheap safe opening tools. By the time you did all that, i dont see how you have saved much or added much security over a $400 centurion safe from lowes. Mine holds 15 rifles. Your safe closet wouldnt offer any fire protection yet, so think about that too.
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Old 08-05-2010, 04:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Just buy a cheap safe and make sure that you have coverage for firearms and ammo on your insurance. If you have more than $1,500 worth of firearms and ammo, then talk to your agent and see if you need extra coverage to cover the value of your collection. Every insurance company is different so it is best to talk to your agent.

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Old 08-05-2010, 05:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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By the time you did all that, i dont see how you have saved much or added much security over a $400 centurion safe from lowes. Mine holds 15 rifles. Your safe closet wouldnt offer any fire protection yet, so think about that too.
This is what I ran into. I then refined my search in the 400-600 that would fit inside a larger wall closet, so that it was out of sight. As I have no where else to put a safe and I don't want it in plain sight.

The other issue in the 400-600 range was fire rating and water rating.

So now I am back to undecided, spending the money on other things.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I think if you were fairly handy, a steel door frame, and some plate to line the walls would be pretty easy and cheap to do. A steel core door, like for garages, could be beefed up with a little plate. I think, while not as nice (or fire resistant) as a safe, it would take a torch and a lot of time to penetrate.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:33 AM   #9 (permalink)
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In true pirate fashion, who says you need to keep your $400-600 safe stock? I've taken mine apart and looked at what needs to be beefed up. Look around on the internet and see how safes are broken into. The whole safe is taken, the owner's own powertools, axe or sledge hammer were used to make a hole in the side and the door opened from the inside, or the door was pried open with a giant crow bar.

Weld in some steel on the exposed side and fill the gap around the door.

As for insulation, all the cheap safes use drywall. Get some fire rated drywall and put in an extra layer. Or, if you really want to get fancy research ceramic wool or mineral wool. They look like fiberglass board, but are rated much higher. Price isn't too bad either.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As for insulation, all the cheap safes use drywall. Get some fire rated drywall and put in an extra layer. Or, if you really want to get fancy research ceramic wool or mineral wool. They look like fiberglass board, but are rated much higher. Price isn't too bad either.
cement board?

if you add drywall. Put a layer of masonite between 2 layers of drywall. Good luck getting through that. Don't forget the floor and ceiling.

Is this closet on an outside wall? how hard would it be to enter from the outside?
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm good at fab and hung doors on the side for a while. Thinking it through, I'd pull the jambs and trimmers, lag in some 2x4 Tube steel. The get a couple pieces of 3/8 plate and weld them together and hang it as a door. This wouldn't run you more than a few hundred bucks.

A 2x4 wall with a single layer of 5/8" on each side is rated for an hour, two sheets each side, two hours, 3 sheets, 3 hours and so on. Building a fireproof closet is dirt simple, making it theft proof is more difficult.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:47 PM   #12 (permalink)
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For theft proof, could you simply run some thin (12-16guage) steel underneath the outside layer of drywall, so it would be hidden?

Then, put all your fireproofing on the inside, since you can put as many layers as you want.
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Old 08-05-2010, 09:49 PM   #13 (permalink)
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apt is a nogo, but a home you plan to stay in works better...

3/8" stell plate lined floor-walls-ceiling welded together...roll=up door inside regular door, looks like a closet, til you open the door...hand a cloth inside the door to make it look more closety when door is opened...this is nearly theftproof...


I helped a friend build one of these...his place was broken into while he was on vacation...according to neighbors, about day two of a 10day vacation...police believed they were in the house for over 8 hours going thru things and never managed to get into the safe in the closet...they even tried going thru the bathroom wall to get in but couldn't get past the steel plate.
the rollup door had two deadbolts at the botton and a bar with two padlocks at the top.
they stole his tv and a vcr...ate some food there...ruined his microwave and cut all of his phone cords...left the fridge and freezer open.. opened a couple windows and turned the ac down to 40*...
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Not really a budget idea but for those who want to turn a closet area into an actual safe room.
(about $3500)
http://www.browning.com/products/cat...door-gun-safes
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Old 08-06-2010, 07:09 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Thanks for the input, everyone! Lots of good ideas in here for me. I have no doubt that on my budget, what I create will be pregnable with the right tools, but we've got a fairly serious alarm on the house, so my hope is to build something that will slow the thieves down enough that they either give up or the police arrive.

I'm honestly less worried about serious thieves than I am about my girlfriend's crackhead brother. He doesn't know what I've got, so getting my guns out of sight and in a concealed place where, should he decide to do something stupid, he wouldn't necessarily think to look appeals to me. Family ...

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3/8" stell plate lined floor-walls-ceiling welded together...roll=up door inside regular door, looks like a closet, til you open the door...hand a cloth inside the door to make it look more closety when door is opened...this is nearly theftproof...

I helped a friend build one of these...his place was broken into while he was on vacation...according to neighbors, about day two of a 10day vacation...police believed they were in the house for over 8 hours going thru things and never managed to get into the safe in the closet...they even tried going thru the bathroom wall to get in but couldn't get past the steel plate.
the rollup door had two deadbolts at the botton and a bar with two padlocks at the top.
they stole his tv and a vcr...ate some food there...ruined his microwave and cut all of his phone cords...left the fridge and freezer open.. opened a couple windows and turned the ac down to 40*...
Where did your friend get a roll-up door that skinny? Sounds like a better option than trying to harden a closet door and make it still blend in with the rest of the house.
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Old 08-06-2010, 09:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Not really a budget idea but for those who want to turn a closet area into an actual safe room.
(about $3500)
http://www.browning.com/products/cat...door-gun-safes
That is sexy......
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Old 08-06-2010, 09:57 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I have been considering this one. http://sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/st....aspx?a=593357
Not sure if it has enough space for you or not. On a side not I just ordered a hide-a-frame for my .357 sp101 to keep it out of my kids hands but within easy reach. They cans't steal what they can't find.


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The video is funny.... http://sportsmansguide.com/net/Video...=1136&a=407947
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Old 08-07-2010, 06:21 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Not really a budget idea but for those who want to turn a closet area into an actual safe room.
(about $3500)
http://www.browning.com/products/cat...door-gun-safes
I dig it.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:53 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I have been considering this one. http://sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/st....aspx?a=593357
Not sure if it has enough space for you or not. On a side not I just ordered a hide-a-frame for my .357 sp101 to keep it out of my kids hands but within easy reach. They cans't steal what they can't find.
Not to dog on this solution, but it seems to me like a cabinet like that offers very little in the way of actual security. That's fine, of course, if you're going to hide it behind a picture or something, but it seems to me that a solid wood door with a deadbolt (and with the strike plate and hinges installed with long screws) ought to offer just as much security, and have far more space.

Wish I could use (and afford) one of those vault doors, but neither my budget nor the door opening are wide enough
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I converted an old ski closet into a gun cabinet...

Granted it's just a dead bolt on a door but it keeps the kids out. Home owners has all my guns on insurance so I'm not worried about a break in, but it better happen when I am NOT there or the night court judge will be in session

edit - I'm going to put in some way to hold the rifles upright...maybe some quick fists on the top on the barrels and a butt shelf on the bottom...I want to put in a shelf as well to get the ammo and other shit off the floor to make it more organized
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:00 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I dig it.
Heeeeelllllllllllllllllll yeah!
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:22 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Not really a budget idea but for those who want to turn a closet area into an actual safe room.
(about $3500)
http://www.browning.com/products/cat...door-gun-safes
holy hell...that must be some serious door jam


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Old 08-08-2010, 09:13 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Steel frame for the 'fake' door.


And I'm thinking it should be set in a concrete wall, or welded to the inside walls of the safe room
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Old 08-10-2010, 09:50 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Disguise is a great security measure. If you have a larger closet, building a fake wall with hidden access works well. If they don't know it's there, they won't try to break in and steal the contents and you can store quite a bit in a 3'x5'x8' area.
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Old 08-10-2010, 10:10 AM   #25 (permalink)
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2x4 1/4" wall rectangular tube for the door frame. Steel door from home depot, weld HD hinges inside, and plate the inside walls of a closet with 3/16". Put tabs on the bottom to redhead into the foundation. Power thru a grommet, put a good deadbolt on it, and voila! Bad day for crackheads or experienced thieves alike.
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