Looking for a safe...

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Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:32 pm

I'm in need of a safe for the house. Nothing large or fancy, just something to keep documents of moderate importance in. Now, I'd like input from gerbildom, specifically from people who already own safes. I'd like to here your positives and negatives and why you bought what you did. As far as size goes, 1-1.25 cu ft is big enough, but I am considering bigger just because it will be heavier.

Let me hear your thoughts.

--SS
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:58 pm

Given how easily the morons on Storage Wars pop the things open, I wouldn't consider any consumer-grade safe "safe".
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:08 pm

Is this intended to be "safe" as in "from burglars", or "safe" as in "from fire, but I want a lock so that a nosy landlord can't just look at my stuff"?
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:30 pm

What ever you get, bolt that sucker down. The small consumer grade safes are comparably light and easy to walk away with. I'm talking masonry bolts or what ever it takes to make it an immovable object.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:41 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Given how easily the morons on Storage Wars pop the things open, I wouldn't consider any consumer-grade safe "safe".


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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:44 pm

Great question. I looked at the plastic dials and wondered how they could possibly hold up in a fire. Heavy weight or bolted down crucial too.

More fire safety and basic security for me = but then I read they can crack if a beam hits them, etc. Safe?
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:48 pm

I wouldn't consider any home safe to be anything more than a deterrent to a burglar. Anything that I could just "bolt down" with masonry bolts doesn't provide any real protection from someone wanting to get into it either, nor would it give me the "warm fuzzies" with regards to fire protection.

Main reasons are fire protection, basic security (nosy guests and kids), and some amount of theft deterrent. For the latter, the goal is not to stop someone from stealing stuff, but there is all sorts of stuff in the house that would be way easier to cart off than a 100lb, or even 50lb safe, and be worth more too: computers, TV/home theatre, camera gear, etc. We don't even really have any jewelry worth putting in a safe. Mainly it's papers that would be a royal PIA to replace: birth certificates, mortgage papers, car titles, social security cards, my master passwords list, wills, etc.

Still, nobody has actually answered my original question: what do you have, and why did you buy it (what features made you choose what you did)?

--SS
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:08 pm

I don't actually own a safe as I haven't yet found one that suits my needs. I have done some research though.

Fireproof safes tend to be made with a water retaining medium (typically a concrete and vermiculite mixture) sandwiched between thin sheet metal or in some cases heavy plastic. Be aware that many manufacturers recommend you air out your safe periodically. Be sure to keep a good dessicant inside the safe at all times as moisture evaporating from the insulation can often travel into the safe's interior creating a damp environment that rusts metals and dampens paper based belongings.

I don't think they advertise this "feature" and you need to look at instruction manuals that accompany the safe.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 8:50 am

I want to get one as well, but aren't sure where to put it in my house. If it needs to be bolted down, I don't know how to do that either, so i guess I have to pay someone to do so.

There are some nice gun safes at the sporting good stores, they look awful heavy for a non-professional thief to get into.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:03 am

Hawkwing74 wrote:I want to get one as well, but aren't sure where to put it in my house. If it needs to be bolted down, I don't know how to do that either, so i guess I have to pay someone to do so.

There are some nice gun safes at the sporting good stores, they look awful heavy for a non-professional thief to get into.

I'm sure you can do this with any safe, but my grandpa just cut into his wall to put his gun safe in (I didn't even realize what it was util many years later). With something like that, and considering that you're only trying to get minor protection, that might be enough. If you're trying to store something more important, sure, bolt it down, but preventing a burglar from getting his hands around it would probably be enough. And anyone willing to tear out your walls is probably willing to do more, anyway.

And also like the gun safe idea, since I would prefer to keep any of mine in a safe. I only have a lock box since I still live in an apartment.

EDIT: Oh, and I know that they likely carry monthly fees, but banks have safety deposit boxes. I know having it within your reach at all hours of the day would be nice, but if you are just looking to protect paper documents, that could be an agreeable alternative.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:25 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:I wouldn't consider any home safe to be anything more than a deterrent to a burglar. Anything that I could just "bolt down" with masonry bolts doesn't provide any real protection from someone wanting to get into it either, nor would it give me the "warm fuzzies" with regards to fire protection.

Main reasons are fire protection, basic security (nosy guests and kids), and some amount of theft deterrent. For the latter, the goal is not to stop someone from stealing stuff, but there is all sorts of stuff in the house that would be way easier to cart off than a 100lb, or even 50lb safe, and be worth more too: computers, TV/home theatre, camera gear, etc. We don't even really have any jewelry worth putting in a safe. Mainly it's papers that would be a royal PIA to replace: birth certificates, mortgage papers, car titles, social security cards, my master passwords list, wills, etc.

Still, nobody has actually answered my original question: what do you have, and why did you buy it (what features made you choose what you did)?

--SS


We have a small floor-mounted fireproof Sentry safe at home - we purchased it to store various papers (and some $$$ cash) which might get damaged in a fire. Sentry makes a lot of different products, many of them are fireproof, and they seem to be a decent build quality - just check out their website and find the one with whatever interior volume you think you'll need: http://www.sentrysafe.com/
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:27 am

How did you get your safe floor-mounted? Did you pay the safe company to do that, or do it yourself?
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:42 am

Hawkwing74 wrote:How did you get your safe floor-mounted? Did you pay the safe company to do that, or do it yourself?

On smaller models (many of which come with all necessary mounting bolts) you can do it yourself, it's a fairly easy procedure (you can see exact steps in user manuals on Sentry's site). Be aware, though, that some models lose their "waterproof" rating after you bolt them down, so if you'll do that - make sure you don't bolt in in a location where the water can easily accumulate.
See this link as an example for the small model: http://www.sentrysafe.com/pdfs/OwnersManuals/516247.pdf
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:08 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:my original question: what do you have, and why did you buy it (what features made you choose what you did)?
I bought a SentrySafe 6000, a fire safe file cabinet.
I left a review up there, and agree with what most of the other reviewers say.
As for motivation: I already had a normal cabinet, so I was specifically looking for a fire file. Actually, pretty much just like you - important, irreplaceable papers. I also keep some small valuables in it. The lock is very basic but I keep it next to my tv and xbox so would-be thieves are distracted. :p If you just want to keep out snooping guests or kids, it's good enough IMO.
Anyway, I didn't see a lot of consumer options. Fire King is nice but like a grand. Regular box store safes aren't really set up for files, and are actually easier to pick up and carry off than this thing.

FWIW, I once did look into a real, honest to God, high quality steel safe from a "we only do real safes" store. They went out of business two weeks after I picked up a catalog.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:58 am

I just don't know what's best. Some people don't like to use safe deposit boxes though I have most of my important docs in one of those. You can read stories online of people getting into these safes with a hammer and crowbar.

I also have seen the small lock boxes on storage wars get broken into, they are completely a joke.

One interesting method I saw was a man who wanted to protect his valuables in a gun safe. He also had a lot of bullets so he loaded them into the bottom of the safe as "ballast". It would be pretty hard to move that safe. Of course, interesting things could result if there was a fire. :o
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:27 am

Hawkwing74 wrote:One interesting method I saw was a man who wanted to protect his valuables in a gun safe. He also had a lot of bullets so he loaded them into the bottom of the safe as "ballast". It would be pretty hard to move that safe. Of course, interesting things could result if there was a fire. :o

Not sure why would anyone need a ballast in a good quality gun safe (their weight can reach up to 600lb by themselves)... Unless the safe is some inexpensive model made out of thin metal :wink: And even if the safe is like 200lbs, I doubt that anyone will bother to try to move it or carry it out somewhere, especially if the thief doesn't really know if the safe's contents are worth bothering with and if your house is located in a fairly civilized area :wink:
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:37 am

I kind of view it as similar to computer security. If someone is really very determined, you're probably not stopping them forever. But you can make it awkward and difficult and thus discourage a lot of people right off the bat.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:41 am

paulWTAMU wrote:I kind of view it as similar to computer security. If someone is really very determined, you're probably not stopping them forever. But you can make it awkward and difficult and thus discourage a lot of people right off the bat.

You said what I was going to say...in fewer words..
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:10 pm

As others have stated here, safes are not foolproof and you can and will get into any of them with the proper equipment. And even the fire ratings on safes are only good for a certain temperature for a certain duration. So if you burn it long enough, everything inside will be ruined.

That said, what a safe buys you is time. Burglars don't want to spend too long in your house, because you might come home early that day. Or some noisy neighbor might notice their van in your driveway. Whatever. If your house catches on fire, at some point the fire department will come and hose it all down. In both cases, the safe merely has to outlast the threat.

I haven't looked at the safes at Costco, but if they're like the ones I see at a sporting goods store, then only the top of the line safe in their selection is what I would consider a decent safe. I have five safes at home (yes, I am a little paranoid). Only one of those five is a "good" safe (it's a Liberty) and I keep most of the firearms in it. I have two handgun safes that are really just to keep prying teenage hands away during parties and a couple of fireproof document safes. One of which I doubt is really worth much in any case, but we bought it first before we spent serious money on the others. And a simple fireproof document box that I keep the car titles in.

First step is to figure out what level of threat you're trying to deter. Fire is easy, since it doesn't bust locks or walk away from your house. An hour's worth of fire protection is what I would consider to be the minimum amount of protection. For two-legged threats, the first thing to watch out for are safes with exposed hinges. That's 20 minutes with a circular saw and a proper blade. I would also open up any safe you're considering and look at the thickness of the steel and if there is insulating material on the inside.

IIRC, I paid about $900 delivered for my good safe at a gun show. Liberty and Fort Knox are good brands and there are others. Good luck.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:14 pm

Those safes are big...do you try to find a place out of view? I am not sure I have anywhere in my house where a large safe like that would be out of view.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 1:22 pm

Hawkwing74 wrote:Those safes are big...do you try to find a place out of view? I am not sure I have anywhere in my house where a large safe like that would be out of view.

With a large high-quality gun safe it's tough to hide them unless you design a closet around them. The few I've seen in the wild are pretty much display pieces/furniture.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:58 pm

I've seen plenty of guys just get masonry bolts and affix them directly into the foundation (for serious gun guys). One of my old friends from high school had a father obsessed with 1930s era firearms with a collection that was pretty damn nice...he had some huge, nearly walk in size safe that had either been set in or bolted to his garage floor when he built his house. My grandfather found a way to bolt a safe to the studs in the wall behind it as well as the floor, and my brother did something similar to his. Again, it would't stop someone determined and skilled, but it'd take them a damn long time to get through them. None of them are really hidden, but frankly, I wouldn't worry too terribly much.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:32 pm

I've just got a little $250 Sentrysafe bolted to the hardwood floor from the inside. It's not going to stop a team of trained professionals, but it might deter the average dimwit long enough for their anxiety to get the better of them. It's also supposed to last about 2 hours in a fire I believe.

That's about the minimum protection worth spending money on though. If anyone buys one of those plastic/composite clamshell document safes, you might as well flush your cash down the toilet. My sister had one and lost the key --- I had it open in about 5 seconds flat, simply by throwing it down on the pavement.
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:50 pm

Here's all of the various ratings:

http://www.thesafesource.com/safe_ratings.htm
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:20 am

Thanks Captain - so the bottom line is the $650 (plus a lot more for shipping) 185 lb, Amsec 2-Hour Fire Safe with about a square foot of internal volume is it for under a thousand.

This is clarifying. You get what you pay for.

I wonder what OS it runs....
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:08 pm

Bought a big ole' Chubb fire safe for the onsite LTO4 tapes we (sadly) still use.
Fire safe and Security safe are mutually exclusive, within a reasonable budget - so I'm guessing you're after fire safe; Any locked-box that looks like a safe (even a fire safe) will be a deterrent enough for the casual theives, and as mentioned, the hardcore guys that are specifically after your safe will be able to get into anything anyway.

Fire safes are still big and heavy so you probably just want to hunt around locally - the value of the safe will probably be less than the value of the shipping if it has to come far. Just pick up the cheapest looking thing that's certified to whatever your equivalent fire-rating standards are. I went for a safe conforming to NT Fire 017 60P spec - If the building is still on fire after an hour, you're pretty unlucky. FYI, almost no safes last more than 2H
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Re: Looking for a safe...

Postposted on Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:08 pm

Purchased a Sentry 2180 model that is less than 0.8 cu ft. It does the job of keeping casual people out. It's a bit small. Your target of approx 1.25 cu feet would serve better.
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