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Antique Safes/getting a smooth surface


I have a Mosler 1910(?) floor safe 37"h x 24"w x 25"d I'm restoring. I sanded about 1/2 the paint off and got all the loose paint off. When I painted it, it shows a lot of little dents, scratches, and ripples. You also can tell a difference in the paint texture where it was bare metal and old paint. I did use a primer but not sure it was the right type. I tried using glaze putty and it helped with the worst scratches, but you can still see them. (glaze putty is like bondo) I'm painting it a flat black. Is there anything you recommend to help make it smoother? Also, what's the best way to do the trim work (gold stripes)?


sorry but painting is not one of my strong points.   I recommend that you talk to a local paint company to determine what problems you are actually having with the paint.

As most of the older safes used very rough (porous) steel, it is imperative to use some type of a fairing compound to give the safe a smooth skin.   sand, reapply, sand, reapply, sand reapply until it is smooth, THEN you are ready to paint.   Again, sand, repaint, sand, repaint, sand, repaint.    Note:   every time you sand it must be with a finer sand paper.

I've also heard alot of mixed reviews about using a wet/dry type sand paper, but I've seen enough great glossy paint jobs to believe that it works.

You might also discuss your painting technique with a local auto paint shop.   Someone who can turn out an automotive paint job that looks like you can reach your hand through the paint, is someone that can probably explain painting way better than I.

Again, I don't trim, strip or letter.   I have artists that I use to do this work for me.    What was it Clint Eastwood said in Dirty Harry - "A man's GOT to know his limitations".

If you don't have the knowledge for a DIY project, then you have two options - sub the work out, or learn the correct processes.

good luck with it.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes". Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 Listed in AllExperts top 50 Experts. All Experts Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service area is Northern California - Fresno to Oregon, including western Nevada

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