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Antique Safes/Vault door


QUESTION: Im thinking of building a safe in my house. Was wondering what your opinion is on using an old bank vault door. And if it's not a bad idea. Could you help me find one.  Thanks

ANSWER: Price,

Yes, no and yes!

"IF" you have room then it isn't a "BAD" idea, however it may not be as smart an idea as it is a "cool" idea!

First off, a "bank vault door" requires a sufficient amount of support, meaning the floor AND the walls.

As you haven't indicated your level of commitment yet, it is hard to comment on what you are planning.   Even if your home is built on a concrete slab, in general, home slabs are NOT built to support the additional extreme weight.    With a 6" thick concrete slab, I would still recommend installing 1/2" of plate steel over the entire floor area, or at least covering a 6' area centered to support the walls and spread the weight.
It might also be necessary to cut out a portion of your concrete floor to built a stronger concrete foundation to support the door as well.

If you are not planning on building a concrete type vault, then you are not going to have the wall structure to sufficiently support the door.

If your plans are simply to make a modified security room, using two by fours and expanded steel or steel plate, and some sort of heat resistant sheet rock, then your options open up quite a bit.

There are numerous companies that manufacturer aftermarket doors, which are built on about the same standards as the better quality gun safes.    These doors can be retrofitted into most standard door openings, between studs, or you can build a custom opening.

So obviously you need to have a much better understanding of what you are getting into, and what your plans actually entail, so that I or anyone can answer your questions, or point you in the right direction.

As far as "do I know where you can get one?"   Of course I do - I've got 8 or 9 used bank vault doors in stock.    If you want me to point you to another dealer - um - no!   You are more than welcome to phone shop for a door, but it doesn't do me any good to pass you to someone else.    The purpose of this site and my volunteering is to answer general purpose questions - which you have posed.    Not to be a salesman for other companies.   I'm not here to sell you anything, however if you are buying, then WE are selling.

So back to the original premise of the question - While you have the seedlings of a great idea, I don't believe that you have begun to contemplate the engineering aspects OR $$$ costs of the project.    Even getting a door for free, wouldn't alleviate you from potentially $10K to $20K for the project.

So now, in order for me to help you further, I'm going to need much more info concerning your "ACTUAL" ideas, the type of building it is going in, and the TYPE of vault you are contemplating.

Hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Lol i wouldn't expect you to send me to another dealer. What i planned on doing is an addition to my house. And in part of that i want to put in a safe. I will pour a concrete slab and build concrete walls. But need a door first. Im in no hurrysince i expect finding a door may take awhile. I like the way the crane hinge vault doors look. Do you have any of those?

Hi Price,

Generally safe & vault dealers do not keep pressure bar, crane hinge type vault door in stock as they don't meet ANY current standards for banking and they don't meet any UL standards.   While they are cool, doors like that can sit in inventory for dozens of years waiting for the right customer.

As we aren't in the business of selling antique's, collectibles or "cool" items, it just doesn't make sense for the larger safe & vault companies to keep items like this in stock.   Usually when they show up on ebay or craigs list, they are still installed in some old building, and in addition to buying the door, the owner wants YOU to pay for removal.

Newer style doors, while not as unique or cool, are readily available, and I'll guarantee you that they will still have the "WOW!" factor when someone sees it.

As far as building or pouring concrete walls, you might look into "pre-fab" vault walls.   These go together relatively easily, though it still takes a team and some special equipment, but generally we can put up a 100-200 sqft vault in a weekend, if everything else is ready.   Poured walls can take several weeks to a month to build, pour and cure.

If you want me to keep an eye out for a door for you, I'll need you to send me an email directly so that I have contact info for you.     If the door is an "installed" door, then I usually let you and the seller work out all the details, and I stay out of it.

Good luck.

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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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