Yes, We Built A Walk-In Gun Safe

It’s been a very busy spring. Flannel Man (FM) has been hard at work getting up early everyday to work on building the walk-in gun safe with his dad. Since we converted our house from an oil burning furnace to a geothermal heat pump last fall we no longer have a big 225 gallon fuel oil tank taking up space in our basement.

FM had been eying that space up for a walk-in gun safe because he would only have to build two new walls. I know putting in a walk-in gun safe sounds crazy but we really need it. Because both FM and I shoot multiple types of competition both indoor and outdoor we need a lot of rifles. And since they are all custom they don’t fit well in the standard gun safe meant for hunting rifles. Plus, FM has a small collection of old military rifles & pistols. So to fit our collection and allow for future expansion we would need a very large custom gun safe that would cost as much as FM’s truck! Being the cheap savvy DIYers that we are we decided to build one instead.

As fare as resale value goes we aren’t too worried about it. We plan to be here for a very long time and when it comes time for we/our children to sell the house they could always advertise it as a very secure wine cellar…or a walk-in gun safe. I mean it is Wisconsin half of the men I know are jealous we have one!

We started out by buying +80 cinder blocks, rebar, cement mix, grout mix, and mesh ladder (to reinforce the grout joints). FM and Papa Flannel laid the first row of blocks then drilled holes in the basement floor to hold the rebar in the cavities of the block.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5 & 6

Before installing the door FM put a plaster-like bonding agent on the outside of the cinder blocks. The bonding agent seals everything up and is meant to be painted but we’re fine with the white color it came in.

Using some of our tax return from our geothermal system we ordered a vault door from a company out in California. We ordered a standard size and then upgraded a few features (interior release, left swing, digital lock, and improved heat resistance). The door is made of steel and has a poured ceramic in the door to withstand a 2300 degF fire for 1 hour. It has 14 steel bolts and weighs a total of 600 pounds! We needed four guys to move it into place but moving it was surprisingly fast.

We used lag bolts designed for concrete to fasten the door frame to the walls.

Everything was going good but the door seemed a little out of alignment with the frame and was sticking. But Papa Flannel had a great idea to stick some shims in-between the door frame and the door where it was sticking then close the door hard. Apparently it works well on regular doors but on this vault door it got stuck, very stuck…while FM was inside. With all of us pulling on the door and FM pushing weren’t able to get it open for a good 10 minutes! For a while there we all thought FM was a goner. But he’s out safe and sound now.

The wood door in the back right is our garage which makes the truck really easy to load and unload with our heavy equipment!

Next its onto the inside. Building shelves, painting the walls with Drylock, and dehumidifiying the space.


24 Responses to “Yes, We Built A Walk-In Gun Safe”

  1. 1 Todd - Home Construction Improvement June 9, 2010 at 12:23 am

    That’s a serious closet! WOW! Not only that but a serious talking point with friends and family. I bet my wife would fall down if I mentioned a walk-in gun closet.

    BTW…very nice job!

    • 2 Robin June 9, 2010 at 3:51 am

      Thanks that means a lot coming from you. But my husband and father in law did all of the work. I just helped load and unload all the block and make lots of trips to the hardware store.

      I know I’m not the average wife I’m giddy with excitement about it! Until now most of our expensive rifles have been hanging around in guncases instead of a proper safe.

  2. 3 Sara @ Russet Street Reno June 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Whoa. I don’t even know what to say about this since I’ve never touched a gun in my life. However, I do drink loads of wine so I think I could put this vault to good use! haha

    Looks like your men built a really nice space, love the fancy door!

  3. 4 kitliz @ DIYdiva June 9, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    LOVE this project. I insist on keeping my one gun next to the bed, so no need for a huge gun save, but I think I’d like one to store my valuables in. Like the last package of pop-tarts that always seem to disappear before I eat them…

  4. 5 Robin June 11, 2010 at 2:25 am

    LOL yes it would be perfect for wine and pop-tarts! You know kitliz my pop-tarts have been disappearing too. No joke. Some boy who will remain nameless likes to take them as snacks in his dirty lunch cooler. We are planning on building extra shelves underneath our guns for valuables though. We keep joking this is going to be our bomb shelter so some food would come in handy. How long can you live off of pop-tarts before you go delusional?

  5. 6 Sarah September 25, 2010 at 4:53 am

    What an awesome project! My husband & I would LOVE this and we don’t even own a gun. You can keep anything you don’t want kids getting into in there…

  6. 8 gunsafe October 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    We mark the top Biometric Gun Safe if you are interested then you can jaunt.

  7. 9 Leslie @ NE PDX Bungalow February 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

    This is an awesome DIY project- and I never considered this a DIY. Can’t wait to share this with my husband, and add it to our “must haves” for the house we plan to build.

  8. 10 ryan March 13, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    what did you do to fireproof the top inside the safe?
    that is my second concern as my first is theft.

    my grandfather lost about a dozen guns to a fire because they where in a closet or gun cabinet.

    could you post some pictures of what you did or thoughts.

  9. 11 Kreg March 23, 2011 at 9:14 am

    We are also building a walk in with our new home plans. We are building under the front porch so the safe will be poured concrete on 4 sides with a swing in vault door that is in the basement and a concrete roof. The room will be narrow but long. 5’wide but 33′ long. It will double as a storm shelter. That is why we went with a swing in door. My biggest concern is for ventilation. The room will be insulated but I’m sure I will still want a dehumidifier.

  10. 12 Brian January 15, 2012 at 2:30 am

    Looks like the ceiling is totally unprotected.. Your safe is a typical DIY where a chain saw would take 15 min to be in and out and probably still have a five to ten min head start leaving the area. Try driving five min away from you home and you’ll be amazed how far you travel. Steal plates set on top of the block wall welded to brackets bolted to the walls would slow a top entry. Your floor is most likely a floating slab 3 to 4 inches thick (slab-on-grade) unless your reinforced it, however if the floor heaves you could see structural damage to your home. Now that your safe is complete, you could consider isolating the walls from the rest of the floor and securing the isolated walls with helica piers thus locking down the safe walls seperate from the rest of the basement floor. The home foundation walls (exterior walls) are already supported by piers or footers and are fine as is. Just a few suggestions, however it does look good..

  11. 13 Jay January 15, 2012 at 8:11 am

    I love it,I’ve been doing research on building my own and this is quite helpful. How did you finish the ceiling? If I’m going to go this far why not create a room that is safe and secure from all sides?

    • 14 Robin January 19, 2012 at 12:50 am

      I’m going to take some pictures and add a description of the ceiling to the post but we used 3 layers of 1/2″ thick fiber cement board sealed off with fire caulking.

  12. 15 Adrian Dylan Stock January 31, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I don’t think all of my guns would fit in there…..I have a problem and admitting it is the first step……right?

  13. 16 JohnS February 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    You did a fantastic job. Excellent write-up. This is what I want to do at my house.

    Question: Were you concerned about the weight of the blocks on the basement slab? I’ve read that that much weight can cause the slab to settle and/or crack. Just wondering if you’ve noticed any cracking or sagging. Thanks!

    • 17 Robin February 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks John. No we haven’t had any issues yet. Our slab is most likely 6-8″ deep and reinforced with rebar (this was the standard construction at the time). Previously there was a big steel tank and 225 gallons of fuel oil sitting in the corner for 35 years and it showed no signs of cracking or sagging with that on it either. The closer the weight is to the footings (under all of our foundation walls) the better distributed the weight should be so I think we’re OK.

  14. 18 Karen August 18, 2012 at 6:57 am

    yes very interested in building a walkin safe for family photo and presious things we don,t own any guns, but on of our conserns is to keep the moisture out and and yet it is still fire proof to some degee

  15. 19 frank August 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I stumbled onto this looking for ideas to build my own 10x 10 room few questions i had was how did you address the ceiling was it left unfinished kinna wouldnt make since to have a 2300 deg. door and no protection over head. also where is a good place to get doors?
    thanks in advance for your help

  16. 20 Ozzy October 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I have a question …… Is the entire room made from cinder block only? It looks like you used concrete header on top please explain.

  17. 21 Frank Mitchell November 27, 2012 at 7:56 am

    After a lot of thought i decided to go with a liberty 50 the door on a walk in vault alone would have ran me the price of the safe or more. And i could not figure out a feasible way to make a solid concrete roof without MAJOR demo and remodeling! The walk in vault in pic lacks security from roof and fire protection . Your project did inspire me to create a 4 inch reinforced wall around safe to increase fire protection and ax breach on all sides except front which is fairly thick already. Thanks for your inspirational journal it has helped.

  18. 22 Allen December 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Extra props if you laid a ceiling of concrete lintels or concrete plank.

  1. 1 The Walk-In Gun Safe Is Finished! « 3 acres & 3000 square feet Trackback on November 3, 2010 at 8:40 am
  2. 2 2010 Accomplishments & 2011 Goals « 3 acres & 3000 square feet Trackback on December 29, 2010 at 8:03 am

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
DIY Savings

%d bloggers like this: