Anchoring a gun safe

This is a discussion on Anchoring a gun safe within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I know nothing of carpentry so I apologize in advance if this is an elementary question to which the answer is completely obvious. Can I ...

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Thread: Anchoring a gun safe

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array Moga's Avatar
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    Anchoring a gun safe

    I know nothing of carpentry so I apologize in advance if this is an elementary question to which the answer is completely obvious.

    Can I use an electronic stud-finder to find the floor joists in my home? If not, how can I accomplish this task?

    I'm in the market for a good gun safe. Eventually it will be installed in my bedroom which has hardwood flooring. I'm looking to anchor it down for a few reasons. I have to make sure that it won't be simply carried out if it can't be breached in the event of a break-in, or worse, fall over while being opened.

    Anyone have experience in such an endeavor? Any suggestions would be great.

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    Two things - first - make sure the floor loading will take the weight. My safe is about 600 # but on a solid floor.

    You can find joists probably by using the metal detecting stud finder type - one that has a small inductive loop and registers nails. It should work even thru a hardwood top layer and pick up nails/screws from the fixing of base boarding, which would be probably 3/4" ply.

    Find a set of fastenings and mark each one - a pattern should then emerge and if on 16" centers, quite easy then to plan the joist distribution.
    Chris - P95
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    Ex Member Array F350's Avatar
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    Are the floor joists exposed from underneath (unfinished basement)? If nothing else works use the smallest diameter bit you can find that will penetrate the floor and drill through the floor (between slats, I often pry out base board/quarter round and drill behind, against the wall) under where the safe will sit and insert a small wire. Go into basement find wire and measure to joist. This method will also help locate exactly where the safe will sit on floor above incase you need to get floor jacks (tall screw adjustable metal posts) to help support a real heavy safe. This is how I located where my 1800# safe would sit in an old house with a basement for adding the floor jacks for additional support.

    I used this method when having to locate where to drill up into a wall when installing telephone systems, was shown to me by an old electrician

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    Distinguished Member Array 4my son's Avatar
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    I'd have to agree with both Chris and F350, If exposed joist, that is the best way, as F350 described, to add to Chris's note, just FYI, if you didn't know, the joist should be running from the exterior wall (front or back) to the center (loadbearing) wall. If their is a large Den below your room, I.E. no center wall, then It would be ill advised to place the safe in that room, all the weight would then be placed on the beam in the center of that large room downstairs.

    If any questions, give us a little more idea of the layout, the room in question and what's below.

    Also, if joist are exposed, It's possible to add additional joist to increace the load capacity of the floor w/o jacks. provided you use the basement and would need the space, better check with an engineer or architect on that one.
    "fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen." [Warren v. District of Columbia,(D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981)]
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    Senior Member Array Moga's Avatar
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    Thanks guys for all the replies.

    My bedroom is on the first floor in one of the rear corners of the house (NE corner). The safe will be mounted in the NE corner of the bedroom, away from the windows and safe from prying eyes. Is it safe to assume that the load limit would be fairly strong there as that corner is over the foundation of the house? I might also add that the safe is only 505 lbs.

    Unfortunately the floor joists are not visible from the basement. The basement ceiling is permanently covered in a material that's a fire retardant (not asbestos). It resembles drop-ceiling panels in dimension made from a super thick fiberglass-like compound.

    I am looking in Home Depot for a product that has the functionality that P95 described without success. Should I look someplace else, perhaps such as a builder's supply company?
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    Moga - I would hope the inductive finder is still available but mine was bought a long time ago - could be now they are all I guess working on some other principle - capacitance, ultrasound reflection - not sure.

    Could be even the modern type would work - once you get some sort of reading or two then you have something to go on to map things out - they are dead useful to have anyways for numerous jobs.

    If the safe is placed on a thick ply board and that all covering three joists (which I'd hope are 2x8) - then you'd be load sharing over 32" plus - so approx 200# per joist with gear in the safe. I'd say the loading then would be pretty safe but - addition of a floor jack from below would clinch it nicely.
    Chris - P95
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    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


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    would a metal detector work looking for nails? I am sure there has to be a place in Boston where Moga could rent one.

    Chris' idea of a floor jack is perfect. They are not expensive at all and will provide you with lots of support. Northen Tools have one for under $40 for 17,500-Lb. capacity.

    I don't know if your basement is dirt or concrete. If it is dirt, you may want to use a wide paver or bricks framed in 2x4s ('bout a foot square I think may be enough) to distribute weight.
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    VIP Member Array Sheldon J's Avatar
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    I see several issues here.
    1. secure mounting of a gun safe, Stud finders will work and are inexpensive to purchase, use lag bolts through the floor of the safe only, pre drill the floor studs to keep from splitting the wood. If you do the walls you will negate any fire rating the safe may have.

    2. will the floor take the weight? if you place it in a corner of the house then the load will be closer to the primary load bearing members of the building (foundation).

    3. how good (secure) is the gun safe from the determined attack? Unfortunately many low end gun safes can be easily compromised by a simple screwdriver, (had it happen to a friend) the higher the $$$ the higher the quality, the higher the weight, the heaver the steel door and sides, the harder to break into.
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    Distinguished Member Array 4my son's Avatar
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    I would think in the corner should be fine for load bearing, as for a starting place to look, from the end wall measure in 11-1/2 inches from the sheetrock, that should get you close. That allows for the 1/2" of insulating board, 3-1/2" for the wall studs, and another 1/2" for the sheet rock. Again assuming that the studs are 16" on center.

    Although very unlikley, I am going to put my safe against an interior wall, In the country, I fear that someone could with a hammer punch a hole through the siding and sheetrock on each side of the safe, run a chain through and yank away with a truck, then load it into the same truck and away they go. Pretty far fetched, but I'd rather not find out the hard way that it isn't as far fetched as I thought.
    "fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen." [Warren v. District of Columbia,(D.C. Ct. of Ap., 1981)]
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    When I got to speak with the locksmith who fixed my safe after it was battered during a burglary, he had a lot to say about securing gun safes. He's seen a few successfully broken into. The weak point of the safe is the bottom, and they will tip the safe over and go through there. (In my case, they couldn't tip the safe over because it was in a tight closet, so they tried to pound through the top.) He said bolt it to the floor and the back wall, because if the floor bolts aren't positioned right (like only one bolt in the middle), burglars can rock the safe enough that the floor bolts will snap. A bolt through the back of the safe will prevent them from rocking it, and he said it would not damage the fire rating of the safe (don't some fireproof safes have electrical access holes?). I'm sure your safe manufacturer can give you more details on what would and would not damage fire rating.
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    Betty...

    you need to change neighborhoods...did they catch the culprits?

    On safes...I have a Browing safe...waist high. Now I could bolt it into the concrete floor, but with guns and ammo it has to weigh at least 500#, and I have chosen to just keep in a back closet. We live in a great neighborhood with lots of 'curious' neighbors. I feel that break-ins are usually quick 'snatch and grabs'. It would take quite a few individuals to move this thing...
    Is it that important that I bolt the thing down?...it has four holes in the botton for bolts. I guess that I'm not that worried about it!

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    I did change neighborhoods. Nope, I don't think they ever caught them.

    I do know a guy who turned his safe into what ended up looking like a "crypt" - he surrounded all the sides and top with cinder blocks filled with concrete and rebar. It would be really hard tipping that one over. As long as nobody knows how to pick locks, use a cutting torch, or has lots and lots of time on his hands, his safe is fairly safe.
    "Americans have the will to resist because you have weapons. If you don't have a gun, freedom of speech has no power." - Yoshimi Ishikawa

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    VIP Member Array Sheldon J's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Betty View Post
    I did change neighborhoods. Nope, I don't think they ever caught them.

    I do know a guy who turned his safe into what ended up looking like a "crypt" - he surrounded all the sides and top with cinder blocks filled with concrete and rebar. It would be really hard tipping that one over. As long as nobody knows how to pick locks, use a cutting torch, or has lots and lots of time on his hands, his safe is fairly safe.
    Ouch you need a better Real Estate Agent.
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    Member Array kd5nrh's Avatar
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    Lots of people with basements never seem to think of putting the safe in the basement.

    Ever tried to get 500+ lbs of anything up a set of stairs in one go? Especially when it's anchored to the nice concrete slab most basments are floored with?

    If the store will deliver with a good winch, it's easy to get it in, and near impossible to get it out without alerting everyone for several blocks.

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    Senior Member Array gddyup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kd5nrh View Post
    Lots of people with basements never seem to think of putting the safe in the basement.

    Ever tried to get 500+ lbs of anything up a set of stairs in one go? Especially when it's anchored to the nice concrete slab most basments are floored with?

    If the store will deliver with a good winch, it's easy to get it in, and near impossible to get it out without alerting everyone for several blocks.

    That's where mine is going when I get it. I plan to build a small footing to place it on and have the lag bolts cemented right into the footing for the safe to sit on top of.
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