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Locksmithing/When a safe must be bolted down


QUESTION: I am planning a new safe that weighs $750 lbs empty and $1400 lbs full. It's 25" X 25" X 25" and TL-15 rated. Location is second floor (up 12 stairs) and getting it delivered will be expensive, about $500 - $750. The question in whether the weight and location on a second floor offers me protection from theft of the entire safe.

I have no option but to locate the safe on the second floor

My choice is to either fasten down 2 X 10 planks to the wood floor with long screws (and tap into the joists if I can find them) thus damaging the floor. The safe will be bolted into the planks.

I can also set the safe on a mat on the floor w/o bolting down.

Comments are much appreciated.

--- John ---


The answer is a "two-parter".

Part one - If the reason that you have the safe is for insurance purposes, then for it to maintain a "TL-15" rating, if the safe (regardless of the contents) weighs 750 lbs or less, it MUST be bolted down to a CONCRETE foundation to be considered to have the TL-15 rating.

Part two - If you are NOT required to have a "TL-15" rating for insurance purposes, and simply want the extra rating for security, then you have no requirements, other than common sense security.

As far as anchoring into a wooden floor, the anchors are ONLY as good as the wood that you anchor into.   Bolting into the planks or plywood does little good and can be ripped out with little effort.   Bolting into the joists is much better as the FULL length of the lag bolts (don't use screws) will be inbedded in the wood.   Again, the strenth of the anchor is ONLY as good as the wood.
A better approach would be to gain access under the floor to utilize large carriage bolts with sufficient steel backing to spread the surface area of the bolt over a larger area.   This would use the strength of the floor as opposed to the contact area of the lag bolt and wood for security.

Obviously if you don't have access to the underside of the floor the additional security is a moot point.

As for simply setting the safe on a "mat" and not bolting it down, you are taking your chances.   Just as betting in Las Vegas is taking a "risk", YOU determine the amount of risk that YOU are willing to accept.   If you don't believe that someone will attempt to steal the safe and roll it down the stairs, then sitting it on the mat without bolting it down may be acceptable.   If you aren't willing to accept this level of risk, then the next step would be to bolt it down to the floor.   If this level of risk is also still too low, then your next step would be to construct a suitable anchoring platform either on or in the floor to maximize the way the safe is bolted down.

Bottom line is YOU have to decide what is an acceptable anchoring condition for your safe.

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

QUESTION: Great way to put things. Now I'm getting perspective.

If insurance companies regard 750 lbs as comparable to bolting into concrete then that's considerable on its own, especially since the weight will be closer to 1500 lbs full...any comment?

Now, since I'm not really able to assess actual risk or someone dragging a 1500 lbs square object and pushing down a set of stairs I have considered your suggestion of carriage bolts but I can't access the floor underside. However, giant toggle bolts require no such underside access...If I can find toggle bolts that span-out 6-8" do you think that'd be a good option?


-- John --


Insurance companies DO NOT consider what you are putting inside the safe as "weight", only "value".
While they generally have the 750 lb limit as a requirement to be bolted down, they recommend that ALL safes be anchored to avoid or to restrict a burglar's ability to move or remove a safe.   When it is correctly anchored to concrete, it is considered to be "part of" the building, for all intents and purposes.   The key words being "correctly anchored".

Toggel bolts, because of their construction DO NOT offer the same resistance and/or pull out strenth as a concrete fastener.  Toggel bolts are considered light weight (or lighter weight) fasteners as compared to a concrete anchor, and they are designed for hollow walls, or anchoring to hollow cinderblock.    While obviously anchoring to a wood floor, the shear strength of a toggel bolt will offer more holding power than it does to a wall, mainly because gravity is working with it rather than against it, does NOT change the fact that it is STILL constructed as a light weight fastener.

As far as the "risk" evaluation goes, lets change the word to "comfortable".   If you go away on vacation for a period of time (1 day, 1 week or whatever), what is the $$$ amount that YOU will feel comfortable about leaving in the safe for that period of time????  Considering how you are protecting it AND how the safe is bolted down???

The bottom line is when you return home and find out you have been burglarized, regardless of the fact that the bad guys have totally ruined your safe, if the contents are STILL there, then the safe did its job, AND the method of anchoring that YOU employed worked.   If either fail and the safe is gone, then obviously the job was insufficient.

The insurance companies also use values (amount of $$$$) that will be stored in the safe to determine WHAT rating of safe to require (again this is the level of RISK that they are willing to accept).   So for instance if you are going to be storing $10K to $50K (value) of stuff in your safe, then you would need a TL-15 safe, with the caveate of the weight of the safe exceeding 750lbs or it must be correctly anchored to a concrete floor.
For instance a 1/2" wedge type concrete anchor embeded 2-1/2" in concrete (2K-4K psi or normal concrete floor) would allow the equivilant of 4000 to 7000 lbs of tension (hold down strenth), with a shear strength of 7000 to 9000 lbs (side to side).   So at a minimum this would convert your 750 lbs safe to having the weight of at least 4750 to 7750 lbs.

Toggle bolts in a wood floor, might add 450 to 1000 lbs of resistance, REGARDLESS of the size of the bolt you are planning on using.   Remember that the WEAK link in all of these calculations is the material that you are anchoring into, regardless of if it is concrete or wood.

When we deliver a safe and someone has us anchor it to a wooden floor, we have them sign a hold harmless form that transfers ALL responibility and liability to the owner, as (regardless of the method of anchoring), it does not provide adequate hold down strength.   About all anchoring to a wooden floor does to a taller safe, that may be "front heavy", is to give it more resistance to tipping during normal opening and closing - that's it.  The taller the safe is, the easier it is to rip out of a wood floor. (Fulcrum Principle).

In answer to your question concerning the use of a large toggel bolt to anchor your safe, under the conditions described, it WOULD be better than simply lagging to the floor.   However a better option would be to anchor directly to a floor joist.   If the safe has two holes and you can hit a joist with one, and not with the other, use a long lag bolt into the joist and the toggel bolt in the second.   This is one of those "parties" where more is always better.   If you only have one hole to work with then Lag/Joist is first choice, with Toggle bolt as second choice.


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 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. 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 Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

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 Expert 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 and Western Nevada)

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