Construction techniques for gun room


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Father Knows Best
July 18, 2005, 11:26 AM
I need some help, High Roaders. I'm going to convert part of my basement into a gun/reloading room. The space I'm going to use is currently a 20x30 workshop, and I'm going to take the back 10 feet of it (reducing my workshop to 20x20). It currently has cinderblock walls on two sides, and a standard stud wall on a third (10') side. I'll be building a 20' wall to separate it from the rest of the workshop, and of course that wall will need a door. There are no windows.

I'd like the room to be secure enough that I can feel comfortable leaving my guns in racks on the walls, rather than in a safe. I don't, however, feel the need to build an over-the-top SHTF safe room that is hardened against thermonuclear blasts and has scrubbers to protect against chem and bio attacks. I'm not trying to prepare for WWIII; I just want a secure room that will keep my kids and unwanted visitors out.

I've seen some vault doors that look just like standard interior doors, and would seem to be just the ticket for making the entrance secure. What I'm wondering about is the walls. It doesn't do me much good to have a solid steel vault door with 24 locking lugs set into a sheetrock wall that my five year old could kick a hole in. The I'm not worried about the exterior cinderblock walls, but the two interior walls will need some reinforcing.

Any suggestions? How should I go about reinforcing the one interior wall and building the second?

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NoViuM
July 18, 2005, 12:31 PM
Well, if half of the walls are cinder block you might want to just finish the rest of the room off in cinder blocks for consictancy. I don't know too many 5 year olds that could kick that in. Otherwise, frame up a wall, and use decent plywood decking.

Polishrifleman
July 18, 2005, 01:03 PM
I wish I had a basement, here in the Seattle area the water table is to high for basements are far and few.

If I was in your situation I would second the cinder block walls, it will give you better than average security and an added amount of fire protection too. I would also put in a false ceiling of fire rated sheet rock for the same purposes.

Good luck, and pictures when you are done would be great.

dolanp
July 18, 2005, 01:09 PM
I know little about reloading, so maybe this is off base entirely, but is it safe to do reloading in a confined space like that? Don't you handle lead and all that?

50 Shooter
July 18, 2005, 01:16 PM
Here's some ideas.

http://www.advancedprotectionproducts.com/hardware/panels.htm

http://www.gaffco.com/gaffco_saferooms.htm

http://www.shelters-of-texas.com/fortworthstartelegram.html

http://www.odl.state.ok.us/usinfo/tornado/saferoom.htm

http://www.survivordepot.com/id1.html?src=overture

http://www.shelters-of-texas.com/steelclad/keepsafe.html

Father Knows Best
July 18, 2005, 01:20 PM
Reloading has risks, just like everything else. My reloading is probably more hazardous that some others, because I do load lead bullets and I also load black powder.

When working with lead bullets, you just need to take a few basic precautions. Mainly, that means not eating while you are reloading, and washing your hands thoroughly when you are done. Inhalation isn't much of a concern, unless perhaps you are casting, which so far I don't do. Even then, I've never heard of lead inhalation from casting to be a significant problem.

Perhaps the bigger hazard is explosions. Smokeless powders are not explosive (they are "propellants") and so not much of a concern. Black powder is an explosive, and could theoretically do serious damage to the room, its occupant (me) and surrounding structure in the event of an explosion. The way I handle the risk is to be careful with the stuff, not have more on the bench than I need at any given time (less than a pound, typically), and not do anything really stupid like smoking in the reloading room. While I keep substantial quantities (I order it by the 25 pound case for economy), most is kept in a home-built powder magazine outside my house and I only bring in what I need.

Henry Bowman
July 18, 2005, 01:33 PM
Well, if half of the walls are cinder block you might want to just finish the rest of the room off in cinder blocks for consictancy. I don't know too many 5 year olds that could kick that in. Otherwise, frame up a wall, and use decent plywood decking. Cinder block walls often give a false sense of security. If they are hollow (rarely are they filled in with gravel or concrete), you can knock a hole big enough to crawl through with a 2 lb. hammer in about 15 minutes or less. I've seen it done.

I would use a combination of materials that make it hard to pound or saw through. For example, 3/4 inch plywood is hard to pound through. Hardware cloth or even chicken wire is hard to saw through, especially if it is against open studs allowing it to move back and forth some. Of course, all of these are penetrable if you are expecting it and come with the right tools. But if you don't, it is frustrating and time consuming and may shift your attention to a door, instead.

TexAg
July 18, 2005, 02:18 PM
Putting a couple layers of sheetrock on either side of the studwalls with a plywood backing (and even a (Tyvek) vapor barrier as well) would add to the fireproofness of the walls. A one hour firewall is only 2 layers of 1/2" sheetrock. You could break through it, but thats where the plywood comes in, it'll slow a burgler and the sheetrock slows a fire. And as someone else said, put a false sheetrock cieling in to protect from above.

CAS700850
July 18, 2005, 02:21 PM
I recently prosecuted a B&E of a local business. Theives went up to the wall, stripped the siding, cut through the plywood with a cordless circular saw, tore out the insulation, and beat through the sheetrock with hammers. During their interview, they said they were through and inside in about 10 minutes.

I think Henry has a good diea. Block wall, covered on the outside with plywood. Can't exactly beat through the plywood, and can't use a saw well because of the block. Plywood will give a better appearance on the outside than block does.

Polishrifleman
July 18, 2005, 03:27 PM
On another thought, I think that Hardiboard (sp) has good strength and fire resistance. Maybe they have a product that might work and look good too.

saddenedcitizen
July 18, 2005, 03:51 PM
that the 2 cinder block walls are 'below grade' and have 'earth' on the other side -
Given that,
build your new wall and replace the one stud/drywall wall
with block, concrete, and rebar.
Expensive ? - Not as bad as you may think.
A LOT of work - Yep, but worth it.
Ensure that access is difficult at best from above and unless we have another attack from the 'Mole People', I wouldn't worry too much about the 'bottom' !!!!
Only caveat is MAKE SURE the foundation will support the weight of the new walls.
No, I'm not paranoid but I have had things stolen from me and it IS NOT a pleasant experience (regardless of age or what is stolen).

Bill2k1
July 18, 2005, 05:31 PM
Make sure you think about a way to pipe fresh air into that fortress you are building :neener:

If you want to keep out kids and neighbors just build a standard wall and get a solid core door and a dead bolt. If you want to protect your weapons from theft, buy a safe. Building a room to vault quality like you maybe thinking is over the top. If someone does break in, and no one notices they are gonna have as long as they want in the basement to break through your plywood, chicken wire, paper mache wall.

in summary
Build normal wall with good quality door
safe for weapons
locking cabinates for reloading supplies
fresh air

odysseus
July 18, 2005, 05:46 PM
Another vote for ventilation. Sounds like you need good ventilation, but your desire for a "secure" room might stumble you. I know I need it with the chems I use - since I like good fresh air as much as possible. A good workshop should have good lighting, good ventilation, good storage, and good ways to address a fire from starting and supressing it on the inside too.

Don't know your collection, but I would still want a good safe. This can allow you to not try to make your workspace a safe, so you can focus on better things.

Snake Eyes
July 18, 2005, 05:51 PM
5/8" Type X Gyp inside. Full 3-Coat stucco over metal lath on the outside of the wall.

Fireproof, pound and saw resistant, noise dampening. Cheap.

Use metal lath NOT chicken wire.

Norton
July 18, 2005, 07:00 PM
Wow...those Steelclad safe rooms are pretty slick. We're looking at putting a 12' addition across the entire back of the house and one of those SteelClad things would drop in the hole underneath where the bedroom extension is going very nicely.

$5-8K is a lot of money, but when compared to the costs of other methods it may not be much.

Good thread

Hawkmoon
July 19, 2005, 01:38 AM
Cinder block walls often give a false sense of security. If they are hollow (rarely are they filled in with gravel or concrete), you can knock a hole big enough to crawl through with a 2 lb. hammer in about 15 minutes or less. I've seen it done.
Slow workers, eh? Shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to demolish a 10-foot long wall of hollow concrete blocks. That stuff is really no more secure than sheetrock, it just looks that way.

The existing concrete block walls should have the cores grouted solid. Basically that means pouring sloppy concrete or mortar in from the top and allowing it to fill up all the voids. Ideally would put some rebar down each core to tie everything together, but since the walls are already in place that's not much of an option.

For the new wall, either build it with normal concrete blocks, reinforce with rebar and grout as you go, or use solid concrete blocks (no cores). The solid blocks are expensive, and VERY difficult to lay properly because of the weight.

oldfart
July 19, 2005, 01:39 PM
I don't know if you have an alarm system or not, your situation may or may not make one worthwhile. Still, setting something up that will activate a very loud horn if someone tries to break in might help send them away. I went with two layers of 3/4" plywood with a single wire looped back and forth between them. Sure, a motivated burglar can get in with a Sawzall but once he breaks that wire everyone within a two-block radius will hear about it. A motion sensor on the interior of the door, also tied to the horn, pretty well keeps things safe.

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