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Locksmithing/Asbestos?-used 1940's-1950's Shaw Walker



HI Andy,
I'm looking at buying a used Shaw Walker large safe, 25" X 27" X 52", probably 1940's-1950's.  But Im concerned about asbestos in its walls.  Can you tell me for sure that they never used asbestos like I saw in a post somewhere??  Local lock guy tells me they did, and if so I think I'll pass
on the purchase.

Hi Ed,

Most "local" locksmiths don't actually do any research, and usually just pass on "something they heard".    I prefer to at least give you an answer based on some actual research.

The "Shaw-Walker Company" began with its founding in 1903.  The company was mainly interested in making metal office furniture, which included desks, chairs, file cabinets and even a small line of safes.
While their equipment WAS extremely similar to most other equipment that was made at that time, and for the next 87 years, I'm not familiar with their ever using "ASBESTOS" as an insulation material in any of their equipment.  

The Department of Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO), which processes equipment from one military entity over to almost anyone else, has a listing of equipment which MAY have asbestos, which would have to be "FLAGGED" for disposal.  The "Shaw-Walker Company" is not one of the companies listed.
While this DOES NOT mean that they never used asbestos, it only means that equipment which was procured by the military or GSA for government use, from this company, was NEVER known to contain asbestos.   In general, if they weren't including it for use in equipment designated for military use, they wouldn't have used it for equipment in civilian use, as much of this type of equipment found its way into other government offices.

Short answer - This is not a company that I would necessarily worry about.  

HOWEVER, if you actually have any concerns, have a sample of the insulation material from your container tested for asbestos.   if you don't have a local testing agency, you can always obtain a "home test kit" from Lowes, Home Depot, ACE Hardware, CVS Pharmacies and many more similar stores, or by going on line to:

If you are considering buying the container, have the owner test the insulation in the safe to determine and/or eliminate the possibility of the container having asbestos.

Hope this helps,


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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

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 and Western Nevada)

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