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Antique Safes/Painting an old safe


Terry - I have an old safe that used to be in my great grandfathers hardware store in Houston Tx, dating back to the 1860's; however, I think the safe is that old.  The safe is about 6 feet tall and has double doors.  It was painted in the 1960's and I'd like to get it repainted in a high gloss and have the name of the hardware store placed on the inside of the doors.  I intend to place it my home with the doors open.  

Specifically, I'm looking for a specialty painter in Houston, Tx who can do this work.  Any ideas would be appreciated.  Thanks, Kenny.

Hi Kenny,

Sorry but I have no recommendations in Texas for anyone specializing in safe restoration or safe painting.


1.  Actually ID the maker of your safe, so the outside can reflect the manufacturer.
2.  Paint the inner doors to reflect the ownership of the safe by your grandfather, reflecting his business.


1.  Completely sand blast, or sand the safe down to allow a decent paint job.   Gloss paint, especially an automotive finish WILL require that the surface be "faired" to smooth skin.
2.  If you can't find a specialty painter, then you may want to check with someone who does automotive paint jobs.   They generally have the equipment to do a really decent job.    HOWEVER, close attention must be paid to the doors.    Because the doors tent do be rather tight fitting, overspray or too much paint in the door jambs and/or on the frames will NOT allow the doors to close correctly.     If you are going to leave the safe open - for ever - then this really isn't a concern, but if you plan on closing them at some point it is important.
3.  The bolt work and lock needs to be completely cleaned and serviced, and/or any exposed parts may need to be polished or replated.    Remove these items from the safe prior to painting, though they do need to be reinstalled and operational prior to the safe leaving the painter and/or the final coat.    Failure to do so may result in chipping or paint damage and/or the doors may not work correctly.
4.  Art work and lettering can be procured from a graphics artist.    If you don't have someone to do the lettering and pin striping or other art work, I'm sure there are plenty of graphics companies in your area that specialize in lettering of vehicles.   I've even seen a couple safes that had "graphic wraps" that were done very good.

Hope this gives you some ideas.   Discuss your project with companies in your area to determine your best approach.   Have all of your ideas agreed upon BEFORE starting the project as changes MAY require starting over from scratch which could be very expensive.

Cost for the project could easily be in the $3000 to $5000 range, but ultimately as this is a family heirloom and a memorial to your Great Grandfather - worthwhile!

Good luck and send me photos.    If you need to ID the safe, I would be more than happy to look at it but will need photos.    Send me a request and I'll send you a list of all the photos that I will need.

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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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