DIY Gun Vault


January 30, 2009, 10:42 PM
Our house has an underused closet Iím thinking of converting to a ďvaultĒ for firearms and other valuables. Itís about 6íx 8í under a staircase so the roof steps down to the floor. Iíll install a good metal exterior door with deadbolts and reinforced jamb. Iím looking for advice:

What should I use for the walls? I donít think I can achieve a fireproof room. Iím just hoping to make burglars give up and go away.

How should long guns be stored? Horizontally? Vertically with muzzle up or down?

Handguns just lying on shelves or upright in some kind of rack?

Do I keep ammunition in there, too?

Iím thinking Iíll just roll a dehumidifier in there. Is that good enough?

Any other ideas?

I appreciate everyoneís input.


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January 30, 2009, 10:56 PM
Ive seen a friend room similar to this. He put 1" plywood on the inside and carriage bolts through the studs with the nuts inside the room. Something similar with the ceiling and floor. Basically your every day construction on steroids.

January 30, 2009, 11:00 PM
For the walls,I would probably use 6" concrete blocks, and core fill them with quickcrete, maybe even some re-bar. This should come pretty close to even being fireproof, provided you can come up with something sufficient for the ceiling. Instead of using a dehumidifier, perhaps a few bags of charcoal here and there. Use this to grill with, and rotate with new from time to time.

January 30, 2009, 11:22 PM
Would a burglar find a locked door and start cutting a hole in the wall next to it? If not then it doesn't seem necessary to add anything to the walls unless the purpose is to make it fire resistant. I bet some 1/4 sheet metal would hold off some fire for a while. The small safes sold in department stores are about 2mm steel wall on inside and 2mm outside with some fire resistant insulation in between and they are good for 1700 degrees F for 30 minutes. Maybe do the same with two sheets of steel and some insulation also. If you can weld it would be real easy to do. This sounds fun. I think I'll cut a hole in one of my walls in a closet and make a small one. I almost made one in the floor but that was just going to be cement at sides and bottom and a really thick steel trap door.

January 30, 2009, 11:26 PM
Roadwold17: Thanks for the idea! Carriage bolts and plywood sould like something I could do. I hate to admit it, but I had not given one thought to the ceiling until these posts.

ThrottleJockey: The concrete blocks would be very secure, but beyond my skills at this point. I hope to take a masonry course some time, so I have my first project! Can the charcoal do it's job inside the bags, or should they be opened?

January 30, 2009, 11:34 PM
You can leave it in the bags effectively, as the paper bag will still draw moisture much better than the steel gun, and the char will take over from there. Don't use the stuff with the lighter fluid already in it though, not sure if it would work the same or not. My father has always kept a bag in the drawer below his hunting rifles. No rust after 45 years. He turned 60 today, took a ice fishing trip to Red Lake in northern MN, he'll be there for a week.

January 30, 2009, 11:35 PM
Impureclient: Would the steel have to be welded? Would seperate sheets butted together and screwed to the studs be good enough?

Years ago, my grandparents' house was the target of a break in, and the bad guy kicked out the drywall to get into the garage to steal a bunch of tools.

I'm afraid dead bolt locks on an interior closet closet door might attract that kind of attention.

January 30, 2009, 11:50 PM
The steel could be just bolted to the wall for ease of installation but, I wouldn't have any open edges that fire can pass through. Just think of it like there were no walls around it. You place a piece/pieces on floor. Then pieces on the wall and where they come together have a piece of flat steel overlap the seams and use self tapping screws on both sides of the sheets. Corners all the way around you use the angle pieces. When it's done it would be able to stand on it's own. Of course yours would have walls to support it so the sheetmetal can be thinner. Work from bottom to top and be sure that as it's bolted together you are building it as if it would stand on it's own with no support from the walls outide it. Maybe look at the better safes that can withstand a few hours of fire and see what thickness those are.

Somebody must have directions for this on the internet so I would research it thoroughly to the last detail if you are going for the fireproof way. I'd hate to be the one to recommend to you only 1/8" steel when it needs 1/4."

January 30, 2009, 11:59 PM

I'll look into the sheet metal thing. My dad used to be a machinist, he may have some of that stuff sitting around the garage.


January 31, 2009, 12:02 AM
False door. Have a door on the outside. maybe with a simple cheap key lock. opening out. when you open up. There is a steel door with two dead bolts. that opens in.

January 31, 2009, 01:53 AM
steel plate can be pretty heavy, as in heavy enough to possibaly break studs.

January 31, 2009, 03:04 AM
Two issues I'm seeing with the super-armored ideas. #1, weight. Including the concrete blocks or steel plate, the guns, ammo, charcoal/dehumidifier, and other valuables, will the floor hold up? If it's not a first floor closet or if the house has a basement, the weight could be a real issue.

#2, space. The OP says its a roughly 6x8 closet. Concrete blocks will make that a 5x7 closet. Just lost 13sq feet in an already small room.

January 31, 2009, 03:26 AM
"#2, space. The OP says its a roughly 6x8 closet. Concrete blocks will make that a 5x7 closet. Just lost 13sq feet in an already small room."

The OP also says he wants a gun vault, not a panic room, or even gun room. VAULT

January 31, 2009, 07:07 AM
Steel plate would work, but if weight is an issue. Get plywood and back it with aluminum sheets. This would deter a burglar, unless they were carrying a sawzall?:uhoh:

THe second outer door is a good idea as well. Your run of the mill burglar is looking for quick grab-n-go items. If they were to open the door and see a vault door, the would likely just leave it alone, thinking the entire "space" is built like a tank.

January 31, 2009, 07:14 AM

There you go, and a good price to boot. Just make sure you get a pro to instal and reinforce it.

For those looking to build a home, before they pour your basement, buy a safe and get a contractor to measure distance and placement where ever you are placing it. Then they can place carriage bolts (thread-up) into the concrete. Then you can sit your safe on those, and bolt it down, I bet you all my guns, no one will move it!!

January 31, 2009, 08:57 AM
Use sheets of expanded metal lag bolted into the studs.
Less weight. Less cost.
Thief will need a whizz wheel or sawzall to get through it.

January 31, 2009, 10:41 AM
A friend did something similar to this. used three layers of sheet rock for fire protection and put a layer of hardware cloth sandwiched between two of the layers. Maybe not vault standards but enough to slow someone down.

January 31, 2009, 11:54 AM
Create a "hidden" room or closet with bead board, finished plywood panel or something similar, with trim moulding and magnets to hold it in place to hide the real steel door/frame with deadbolt(s).

January 31, 2009, 06:41 PM
Iíll install a good metal exterior door with deadbolts and reinforced jamb.

I sold commercial metal doors to contractors. A door and jamb from a lumberyard, metal or not, won't hold up.

Look into a commercial hollow metal door and frame, get 16 guage minimum, and look for welded edges on the door - not folded seams. Seams can be pried open by hand, and a 14 year old juvenile girl can do it, as our local youth center found out. Hat channel reinforcements in the door and double deadbolts will secure it.

The metal jamb must be specified to fit the finished wall thickness, as it wraps around it all and is anchored to the rough jamb. Lateral reinforcements across to the next studs, like fire blocking, will help at latch height to prevent simply spreading the jamb and popping the latch. If an outswing door, get security hinges with pins that close into matching holes in the door edge to lock it in place, or security set screws for the hinge pins to prevent removal.

Like the celing and walls, don't forget the floor if exposed in another area.

4" block can be used just like 8" regular - it's just thinner. Drystacked and filled with rebar and quickcrete, you can put up a concrete shell that will be fire resistant and durable without taking up space. It doesn't take a degree in masonry to do, and even has it's own instructive websites - just google "drystack."

One of the best security measures is just don't tell anybody local it's there. Not neighbors, friends, etc. Then, they can't gossip to the wrong person casing folks for their next job to finance drugs. That's the Number 1 method to steal guns.

January 31, 2009, 07:33 PM
You could wrap some heavy duty chicken wire around the inside(like wallpaper) and fasten it securely to the studs. That might deter the average thief who happens to break through the outer wall.

January 31, 2009, 08:47 PM
We used to build secure rooms for Department stores. Just use spray contact cement (glue) and layer sheets of Firerock. I know for a fact that you can't drive a sledgehammer through 6-8 sheets and it is basically self supporting and fire resistant. If you put down an extra layer of flooring it should help support the weight by spreading it across all the floor joists in the room. Not an ideal solution but one of the best for an already finished room.

Hans Esker
January 31, 2009, 11:55 PM
ENC, Would you please elaborate on what is "Firerock"

February 1, 2009, 12:07 AM
I'm assuming he means Fire-Rated 5/8" sheetrock. Six to eight sheets glued together would be 4"-5" thick. If you layered some cheap chicken wire or 1/2" hole fencing inbetween some or all of the layers, you'd have one hell-of-a barrier.

February 1, 2009, 12:34 AM
The best 'armor' is a false wall under the stairs,instead of a door.It could be a piece of mahogany wall paneling ,cut to fit,held up with dry wall screws.the screws go into a false wall framing of two by four studs,turned flat against the existing wall this is just to give you wood to screw into,and step your paneling ''wall'' away enough that the real doorknob doesn't poke through.For years my collection was kept this way,and in a hide a bed couch,that had the crappy little mattress and sheet metal bed spring frame removed ,and tossed.I then made a reinforced plywood 'gunbox' secured with flat, bolt cutter resistant, padlocks.The whole thing was invizable under the sofa milsurp Enfields,Mausers and Mosin-Nagants sat in that box for fourteen years with people who sat on that couch none the wiser.

February 1, 2009, 06:31 PM
MinnMooney got it.


February 1, 2009, 06:37 PM
Hi Libshooter,

One little 'security' trick is to hinge the drywall and install bookshelves. To access the closet move the books in front of the knob and open it.

Note: the door has to open in and the ends of the shelves cut at a 45 degree angle

February 2, 2009, 09:19 AM
Use sheets of expanded metal lag bolted into the studs.
Less weight. Less cost.
Thief will need a whizz wheel or sawzall to get through it

thats exactly what we do. both of us that own our buisness came from the contracting world and we do builds like this for people. when we do a basic gun closet, we gut it, put up a 3/4 ply layer, stretched metal layer, and then finally slot wall. this layering system makes it nearly impossible to get in thru the walls without power tools. even then, it would take quite a bit of time. as for the door, a steel door is good, a hidden door is better, but a vault door is best. we even do hidden skins over vault doors alot of times.

as far as storage, we use the slot wall for a few reasons. you can rearrgae the room a million ways with slot organizing peg/hooks/shelves. DONT store guns on their butpads!!! over time it will leave flat spots.

and dont leave out the dehumidifier...

February 2, 2009, 10:24 AM
What's the best way to attatch the Pegboard walls to Poured concrete walls????

February 2, 2009, 10:39 AM
Either use construction adhesive to attach 1" strips of wood which you can then screw it too. Or use self tapping concrete(tapcon or similar) screws to attach the 1" strips with.

February 2, 2009, 01:11 PM
What is "slot wall"?

February 2, 2009, 11:24 PM
i guess ur google button is out for repair?

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