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Antique Safes/Removing Safe Interior


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I am restoring a Victor safe and the middle vertical wooden panel has a significant chunk of the leading edge missing.  Please help with advice how to remove the wooden interior panels as I see no hardware to hold them in place.  Are the side, top, and bottom panels typically glued in or is there a trick to removing them for repair?

Hi Peter,

I did answer your question several days ago, but it appears that you didn't get the answer (or open it up), so I'll repost it here.

Simple Answer:   If you are planning on replacing the wood, then you don't have to be "nice" to them.

Generally the top and side panels are glued and wedged into place.   The top and bottom panels may be wedged in by the side pieces, or the side pieces may be wedged in by the top and bottom.

There is a very good chance that they were glued in place, so I would simply take a wide sharp tool and a hammer and clean it out.   If you aren't saving them, then don't fret over them!

What I would recommend is that while you are removing them, keep a sharp eye out for how they were installed, it may give you some ideas for installing your new panels.

NOTE:   Dry fit all of the new panels, supports, drawers and shelves before gluing and nailing, to ensure that everything will be nice and tight.    Remember that when you open your safe for someone to look at, this is NOT a large cabinet, so they WILL be looking at or noticing every detail, including screw-ups, so take your time and do it right.    Remember - measure three times, cut once.

I would also recommend doing all of your staining and varnishing with the wood disassembled to ensure complete coverage.    Trying to do it installed winds up with runs and puddles that may be un-noticed until too late.     Again dry fit everything to ensure proper fit, before final installation.

Send me photos when you get finished, I would be happy to see what you have done.

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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

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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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