Keeping your firearms safe and out of harm’s way can be a real challenge. Did you know that there are thousands of deaths and injuries from gun accidents every year in the US?
Figures from a few years ago showed that annually over 1,000 American children need medical treatment for gun-related accidents. Keeping your guns locked up can help to reduce the risk of this happening.
Then there is the risk of your gun getting into the wrong hands if an intruder breaks in and steals it. Up to 600,000 firearms are stolen in the US every year, many from vehicles but also from homes and businesses across the country.
Bearing this in mind, it is clear that getting a gun safe is a must-do. Yet, what if you don’t have the money to buy one, or simply can’t find one that suits your needs perfectly? Could you find out how to build a gun safe and keep your weapons protected in this way instead?
Thanks to the guys over at ArmsList.com for the image!
Why Build Your Own?
As hinted at above, there are a few different reasons for thinking about building your own gun safe. For many people, it is a simple question of finances. The very best gun safes are highly expensive and the cheaper ones may not offer the interior space or the protection that you need.
Another reason may be that you simply can’t find the exact model that you need. It is true that there are lots of different models around to choose from but maybe you have some special requirements that you can’t meet by just buying a safe.
Of course, some people might also decide to take on this task simply because they love making stuff. This is a big job that not everyone will feel comfortable with, but if you think you can handle it then it is something that you could get a lot of pleasure out of.
If you don’t fit into any of these categories then you should begin by asking yourself why you build a gun safe in the first place. Is it a strong enough reason for you to spend the time and effort needed to do a really great job?
You really need to be highly motivated to build your own safe, as it is going to take up a lot of time and could give you a few headaches along the way. Otherwise, you would be better off buying a model that is already built and ready to use.
Decide How Much Security You Need
Probably the simplest type of gun safe to build is the wooden cabinet type. This is perfect for adding a nice piece of furniture to your home. It can be especially attractive if you have some good-looking rifles that you plan to show off through a glass panel.
Yet, this kind of gun cabinet is obviously far less secure than a steel safe. Therefore, you need to think about you priorities. Do you want a place to put your firearms on show or somewhere that is really tough to get into?
This probably comes down to what your greatest fears are. Do you worry about the kids getting hold of your guns or is your biggest concern that someone could break in and use your own guns against you? Perhaps you just want somewhere it is easy to store and organize them in?
It is fair to say that for most people it is far easier to build a fairly secure wooden gun cabinet rather than a much tougher steel gun safe. If you want to add the maximum amount of security and protection that it is going to be a much more difficult job.
Check out the “stealth shelf” below! Great way to hide your handgun!
What Kind of Safe Suits You?
If you are seriously thinking about learning how to build a gun safe then it is time to consider the different types of safe you could choose from. A good starting point is to check out some of the commercial models on sale.
Do you want a small, portable gun safe to go in your night stand? Or maybe you want to hide your guns under your bed? Another possibility is that you need a big rifle safe that is bolted to the floor? There are many different ways of getting a safe that meets your needs and blends in to your home.
When you build your own gun safe then you hide it more easily in your house. For example, you could build it into a wardrobe or bed. It is certainly worth putting some serious thought into what kind of safe best suits you before you go any further.
Enhance a Basic Safe or Start from Scratch?
Just because you want to build your own gun safe doesn’t automatically mean that you need to do it all from scratch. You should first of all consider whether it makes more sense to buy a basic safe and add some extra features to it.
Maybe you could buy a fairly simple model and increase the protection, to make it harder to break into. You might also want to add a biometric scanner to it or otherwise enhance its features and ease of use.
Adding an interior light is an easy improvement that immediately makes a customized gun safe more convenient to use if you need to open it during the night. You could also add some nice carpeting or foam to protect the firearms inside it.
If you aren’t completely confident about your DIY skills then enhancing an existing safe is likely to be the best approach. In this way, you get a highly customized safe that is probably going to be better than the original as well as giving you a lot of satisfaction.
On the other hand, if you are confident in your skills then you might be tempted by the challenge of starting from scratch.
Use Existing Furniture, Walls or Floors?
When you buy a gun safe then it will have 4 walls, a floor, and a roof. Of course it does. That’s what all safes need, isn’t it?
Well, when you build one at home you can use existing parts of your home or things in it to make life easier. For instance, is there a sturdy cabinet that you can use a starting point?
Another option is to use the walls and floors of your home as part of the safe. For many people, the simplest solution is to use an existing basement space, pouring in additional concrete as needed.
As well as being easier to do, this also gives a stronger type of safe that can’t be just lifted up and taken away. Of course, it is important to get the location right, as it can’t be moved once you build it.
What Tools Do You Need?
To work out what tools you are going to use it is important to understand first of all what kind of gun safe you need. If you are thinking of the wooden style of gun cabinet mentioned earlier then you will need a good selection of wood working tools.
If you are going to be working with steel then you need welding equipment. The best gun safes offer no weak points that intruders can attack. Skip welds are often used but while they offer strength, they can be attacked.
Hot plated welding is a way of fusing together two sheets of metal seamlessly. This ensures that the result is more like a single sheet of sheet rather than two sheets that have been welded together.
This is the most difficult part of the process for most people who want to discover how to build a gun safe. Quite simply, most of us lack the skills and the tools to carry out the welding part to a high enough standard.
An alternative option is to out-source this job. By getting an experienced welder to build the body of the safe then you get a higher quality build, although this will push up your costs.
The door of the safe is another vital element. It is a good idea to look at some manufactured safes to see the doors have been built to make them extremely difficult to pry open. A thick, solid steel door will stand up to a sustained attack on it.
Look at Locks and Bolts
The next question is around how you are going to secure the door. With the body of the safe now ready you can start looking at the different types of locking mechanism.
You want this to be as tough to force open as possible. However, you will also want it to be easy to open quickly and without any problems in the event of an emergency.
The size and number of bolts give a good indication of how secure a safe is, but these issues aren’t the only factors to take into account. You also need to think about where they are located and how they are secured.
Again, check out the locking mechanisms on high quality safes to see how they are permanently riveted to the safe. If the rest of the safe is sturdy and well-built then an experienced thief could identify the bolts as a possible weak point to be attacked.
If you have decided to go for one of the less secure gun cabinets then it is less likely that the locking mechanism is going to be the weakest point of the whole thing. In this case, you don’t need to worry quite so much about the bolts, as thieves are likely to find easier ways in through the wood or glass anyway.
Will you be opening it with keys, a fingerprint scanner or a numbered keypad? The best quality safes on the market will typically use a scanner with a back-up key. Using just a scanner is dangerous, as you might find yourself locked out.
Work Out the Cost
By this stage, you should start to have a clear idea of what your safe is going to look like. This will let you begin to see how much it will cost too.
If you are going to pour concrete into a basement room and then add a secure door it will be a lot cheaper than welding together the full body from thick sheets of steel. Customizing and strengthening a basic safe will also let you work from a smaller budget.
Now is a good time to work out your budget. Is it going to work out at a reasonable price or might it be pretty similar to what you would pay to buy a gun safe anyway? If saving money is your main concern then you might end up thinking that the saving isn’t enough to justify the effort.
Don’t forget that the big manufacturers save money by buying the parts in bulk and building safes very quickly. They have teams of experienced workers who can assemble safes quickly and efficiently.
If you are going to build a high quality gun safe then it isn’t going to be particularly cheap to do. You will save on the labor costs but the price of the parts will still add up to a tidy in most cases.
Test It Thoroughly
So, what if you are bold enough to find out how to build a gun safe and then actually do it? Congratulations if you do this, as you are sure to feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction from seeing your completed piece of work.
However, before you start using it you will want to test it thoroughly. After all, professional safe building companies spend hours and hours testing their products before putting them up for sale. To do this well, you should look for weak points and try different ways of prying it open.
If you find any weak spots then it is back to the drawing board to try and solve the problem. It can take a good deal of trial and error to get it just right, so you need to be patient about the testing phase.
Once you have a safe that is ready to use it can be a good idea to get a friend to test it too. They might find a weakness that you had overlooked.
Finally, once you are sure that it will stand up to even the toughest test it is ready to use. The pleasure you get from using a home-made gun safe that you built yourself will be far greater than if you were to just buy one.