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Antique Safes/Lettering and pinstripes


QUESTION: Who would you recommend for hand lettering and pinstriping of antique floor safes? Thank you for your kind attention to my request.

ANSWER: Hi Darin,

There are ONLY a couple guys in the entire US, working on antique safe restorations including painting, and pin striping.

As you are in California, I'm about the only company offering any restoration services, however I only take on one or two safes each year due to the amount of time and effort required to be put into them.

Depending on the condition of the safe, you could easily be looking at around $2500 to $3000 for a safe restoration job.

Other options would be to check on automotive painters or custom motorcycle painters & pin stripers.    You could also discuss your project with local college art departments to see if anyone can help you out.

Where are you and/or the safe located in California???

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

QUESTION: Greetings Andy,

Thank you for your timely reply! I am in Bakersfield. My safe is a circa 1890 Halls Safe and Lock Co. Floor Safe. Dimensions are 27 1/2"H x 17 1/2"W x 17 1/2"D.

Currently, my restoration project is under the capable hands of a brilliant machinist/auto body professional. The safe is currently disassembled, and parts are being machined/cleaned/repaired/plated etc. as we speak.  

Everything is going well, but the paint and lettering and pin striping can make or break it in the end. Do you recommend automotive paint finish or powder coating? Finally, if it is restored and painted, would lettering and pin striping still be $2000 and up?  

Again, Andy, thanks soooo much for your time and expertise and willingness to help!!!


ANSWER: Hi Darin,

While I wouldn't hesitate to recommend powder coating on modern safes, as it gives you a really nice durable finish, I wouldn't recommend it on an antique safe.    As far as the type of paint for the safe -  automotive paint would be more than appropriate as it is developed for metal surfaces - the question ISN'T automotive paint, it should be the finish!!!!

While most of the original paint jobs had a "dull" or satin finish, they were covered by varnish to seal and protect the paint, this appeared to give it a gloss finish, where it really wasn't.    There is nothing wrong with having a gloss or mirror finish paint job, other than any surface imperfections WILL really stand out, but regardless of if you choose a satin finish or a gloss finish, the paint should either have a varnish or clear coat to protect it.

As for the lettering and pin stripping, many of the manufacturers used decals instead or hand pin striping or lettering.    If you can't come up with someone who can hand stripe or letter, then you may want to check into one of the graphic design companies that do the lettering and graphics for trucks.

As far as the cost of doing the lettering and pin striping up here.    If you are doing all of the rest of the work, and then bringing the safe up here, I would probably put you directly in touch with my artist (cut the middle man out).    The cost of the art work WILL depend on what you want him to do, and how big the project is.
If you ship the safe to me to get the work done, then of course I'm going to have time and labor into moving the safe around and/or shipping it back to you.

Sorry, but there is no way of estimating what the total cost to you is going to be until I have a better idea on what you need or want done.    The cost that I proposed originally are based on the last couple safes we did.    It's all time and material.

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

QUESTION: Dear Andy,

Great information. THANKS! I could easily bring the safe to Hayward. Perhaps when it is ready I can contact you again and set up an appointment with your artist.  I can send up my image ideas in advance and wait until he can work on it then drive it up. This is all very exciting. Thanks again for everything. It is so refreshing to speak/work with someone so professional and willing to help.  


Hi Darin,

I would definitely recommend calling him up in advance to make sure he can fit it in.   His contact info is:

Steve Faraone
Faraone Paint

You can check some of his work out at:

Again, his priorities are his other work, doing the safes for me is "fill in" type work.

Hope this helps,  

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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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