How to Build a Gun Safe Door | Tools, Materials and Steps to Take

Key Takeaways

  • Building a DIY safe room vault door requires carpenter and power tools, lumber and plywood, and steel sheets. 
  • Storing guns vertically saves floor space, while keeping them horizontally increases capacity.
  • The thickness of a safe door depends on the safe and the level of security needed.
  • A thicker door provides higher security and protection against theft and intrusion.

You’ll save money by building your own gun-safe room door instead of buying one and gain valuable DIY skills you can use in other projects. In this article, we’ll show you how to build a gun-safe door in a few steps.

Steps on How to Build a Gun Safe Door

The size of the gun safe is the crucial factor when buildin a gun safe door. Depending on how heavy your gun safe is, you'll have to make different modifications. Here are the steps to build a standard-sized vault door for your firearm collection.

Step 1: Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before you build your gun-safe door for the gun-safe room, you’ll need the following tools.

  • A circular saw or table saw
  • A drill
  • A hammer
  • A pry bar
  • A level
  • A measuring tape
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • ½’’ plywood
  • 2x4 lumber
  • ¾’’ plywood
  • Steel sheeting

You can search hardware stores around you for all these tools. A walk-in gun vault door frame requires more plywood. The exterior walls of the safe room mainly cater to fire protection. But a fire-proof gun safe is worth considering.

Step 2: Building the Frame

Having assembled your tools, start building the frame for the vault door. Here’s how to make the frame:

  • Measure the opening of your gun safe and cut four pieces of 2x4 lumber to fit.
  • Lay two pieces flat on the ground and stand the other two on their sides to form a rectangle.
  • Use wood glue and screws to attach the four pieces at the corners.
  • Use a level to ensure the frame is square and fits your safe room.

Building a frame helps you assemble everything for the vault room door on the ground floor. 

A person building a frame

Step 3: Adding the Plywood

Adding plywood reinforces your gun safe door for proper ventilation, strength, and durability. To add the plywood, do the following;

  • Measure the frame’s opening size and cut a small piece of your ½’’-plywood, ensuring it fits.
  • Use wood glue and wood screws to attach the plywood to the frame.
  • Measure and cut a piece of three-quarter-inch plywood to fit over the ½-inch plywood.
  • Use wood glue and screws to attach the 3/4 inch plywood to the 1/2 inch plywood.

Please note that you need two layers of plywood attached securely for a perfectly safe thickness for the gun-room door.

a person adding the screws

Step 4: Adding the Steel Sheet

The final step in building a secure door is to add steel sheeting. Here’s how to add a steel sheet;

  • Measure the size of the opening in the frame.
  • Cut a piece of steel sheeting to fit.
  • Use a pry bar to bend the edges of the steel sheeting to fit snugly over the plywood.
  • Use self-tapping screws to attach the steel sheeting to the plywood.
Steel sheets in a storage

Do Gun Safes Have to Be Bolted to the Floor?

While bolting a gun safe to the floor is not always required, we recommend it for maximum security and protection against theft. Also, consider what to put under the gun safe on the hardwood floors to avoid damage.

Consider the following factors when deciding whether or how to bolt down the gun-safe to your gun room or storage room floor.

  • The weight and size of the gun safe. Heavy gun safes don’t require bolting because they’re bulky and thus heavy to move.
  • The location of the gun-safe room/panic room
  • The level of security needed for your specific situation. Often, an underground safe room is secure.

You can choose a secure location to secure a gun safe in your apartment, a garage or underground panic rooms. The decision to bolt your gun safe to the panic room floor should match your needs and circumstances. 

A panic room

Is It Better to Store Guns Vertically or Horizontally?

Rifles sorted in the storage

Storing guns vertically saves space and takes less floor space. The vertical position makes it perfect for a small metal storage container and gun-safe rooms with limited gun room space. The position reduces wear and tear as the guns won’t lie on any surfaces. and makes accessing your guns easy hence faster response time during emergencies. 

You can also have a nice door organizer and yet, won't have to invest in a more costly gun safe

Storing them horizontally ensures that long guns like rifles and shotguns won’t tip over, which reduces damage. Also, it increases the capacity for storing long guns.

Vertical and horizontal storage have their benefits. The right choice ultimately depends on what size gun safes you need and other specific needs and preferences.

How Thick Should a Safe Door Be?

The ideal thickness for a safe door for your walk-in gun vaults or safe room depends on the safe, the level of security required, and the material used to build a gun safe.

The ideal door thickness for different safes includes the following;

  • Home safes: A home defense gun safe for personal use should have a door at least 1/4 inch thick.
  • Commercial safes: At least 1/2 inch
  • High-Security safes: High-security safes require a door thickness of at least 1 inch to provide maximum protection against theft and intrusion.

To build a fireproof gun vault it may require a thicker door than a regular safe. Likewise, the higher the security level you need in your home defense gun safe, the thicker the door. The material used to construct the safe will also affect the door thickness. Steel is the most common material used as steel results in wider vault doors.

Steel safe doors


How Thick Is 10 Gauge Steel for Gun Safe?

Ten gauge steel is 0.1345 inches thick. It is a standard thickness for gun-safe walls. Thicker steel is suitable for doors and frames.

What Thickness of Steel Will Stop a Bullet?

Steel thickness that can stop a bullet depends on the bullet’s caliber. Thicker steel can stop higher caliber bullets but also makes the safe heavier. A minimum of 10 gauge steel is okay for bullet resistance.

What Is Good Thickness for a Gun Safe?

Gun-safe thickness depends on its purpose. Experts recommend at least 11 gauge steel for basic security. For high-level security, experts advise a thickness of at least seven gauges.

What Is the Weakest Part of a Safe?

The weakest part of a safe is usually the door. Some safes may have weak points around the locking mechanism. Cheaply-made safes may have weak points in their construction.

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