We needed to figure to out how to get the floor safe off the floor. A cabinet? Perhaps. A normal wall safe installation wasn’t an option, mostly because 100 pounds of safe is not designed to tuck safely into your average wall.
The new Sentry safe was about 50% larger than the other, older unit, which had been simply plunked on my office floor for years. Concealing the safe was unnecessary; we only use it to house some of Pam’s key prescriptions, sort of like a glorified medicine cabinet with a really big lock. There are some of those meds that she relies on me to dispense, preferring to trust my memory over her early Alzheimer’s version of mental function. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep the heavy duty stuff locked up to prevent access by anyone visiting our home. We don’t get many visitors, but even one theft we didn’t see coming would be a bad thing. Losing a month’s worth of a medication Pam needs to keep going day to day would hurt, and a thief is all too often the friend you’d never suspect.
In other words, the Sentry is there simply to keep the more or less honest people more or less honest. However, I was getting tired of kneeling on the floor to open the thing and still not being able to see inside. It was time to bring it up to eyeball height.
The obvious place to build a cabinet was along the north wall in my office, just to the left of the stub wall that blocks our Gato cat from going after the dispenser faucets on our drinking water dispensers. In fact, that wall could be incorporated right into the plan, serving as the right hand cabinet wall.
Caveat: There are no current plans to include a door for the front of the cabinet, so if you’d prefer to think of this project as merely a shelf, I’ll understand. But with walls on three sides and the only lack a door that could be added in the future if needed, it looks like a cabinet to me.
The first step was to intall a bit of stub wall framing for the left side. It would be 17 inches deep, which serendipitously matched both the main body of the safe (excluding handle and hinge) and the existing stub wall on the right.
Simple, right? Just whip out the tape measure, cut four pieces of 2″ x 4″ lumber to the needed lengths, fasten them to each other with 10d nails, and nail the entire arrangement to the ceiling, north wall, and floor…right?
Uh-huh. And that’s what I did, but I was not exactly on my game. Rather than muck up the limited space in my office with a screaming circular saw and plenty of flying sawdust, I make most saw cuts outside–which means walking back and fort a lot–and today’s little framing exercise came out looking like a class in Remedial Carpentry 101. One of the vertical boards ended up being the most problematic. I cut it too long. Then I cut it too short and had to cut a short (1 1/2″) block to tack onto the end in order to reach the proper length. Then when the board was checked one more time for fit, it turned out to be a whole lot too short; I’d tacked the little extender block right back onto the piece of 2″ x 4″ from which I’d cut it, not onto the board that needed it. So the block had to be pried loose, the nails backed out, and the whole thing reassembled.
And those are only the missteps I remember. In the end, it took a full 90 minutes to get everything assembled with a perfect fit.
Wow, was I ever glad that mess was going to be hidden inside the covering wall boards when all was said and done; no one would ever notice how clunky the framing had turned out…well, nobody except the folks who read this post on the world wide web, that is.
But, slow or not, it got done, and if you’re doing your own stuff (rather than operating under a money making deadline for someone else), that’s the entire point.
Fortunately, the rest of the project is pretty straightforward once the stub wall framing is in place. In stark contrast to the seemingly endless struggle it took to get the framing right, both wall covering boards fit perfectly on the first cuts. They were then nailed to the framing, and it was time to build the support system for the heavy safe. This began with the complete “square” of support boards being nailed together first, with the assembled “picture frame” then shoved into the cabinet opening as a single piece before being nailed to the three available walls.
For most utility shelves, I’ve been using 2″ x 3″ horizontal supports–but for this beast, nothing but 2″ x 4″ would do…and even that was not the end of it. In general, I overbuild by a healthy margin; relying on 10d nails to hold up a 100 lb. safe for the next umpteen years did not feel like much of a plan.
So 2″ x 6″ studs were then added beneath the horizontal 2″ x 4″ boards. With those also nailed to the cabinet’s interior walls and holding up all four 2″ x 4″ “picture frame” support boards, you could store a whole lot more than a mere 100 pounds on top with no concern whatsoever.
An OSB strand board shelf was then cut to fit (first try!) and tacked down.
Before I forgot (it was after 9:00 p.m. and I was working by flashlight, more than ready to be done), it seemed like a good idea to assemble and install the “picture frame” shelf support that would go above the Sentry safe. The shelf itself could wait, since that would entail nothing more than cutting to fit and tacking the strand board piece in place.
This support could go back to using 2″ x 3″ pieces. Other than the safe, nothing heavier than bottles of nutritional supplements are scheduled to fill the cabinet shelves. Pam and I keep a lot of those in stock, up to a year’s supply in reserve when finances allow, but they don’t weigh much. Just nailing those shelf supports to the three cabinet walls will provide plenty of strength for that.
All that’s left to do is lift the safe up over the forward lip of the receiving shelf and slide the beast gently into the cabinet. In sensible families, I suppose, this would likely be a two person project. But hey, it’s not that heavy…is it?
Nah. Piece of cake and a perfect fit to boot.
Update: January 19, 2014. The additional shelves have now been installed. Most of them are already being put to good use.