Cut an opening between the studs; remove drywall for the safe's flanges. Add double headers at top and bottom.

How to Build a Wall Safe

A small wall safe in your home is a convenient way to protect valuables, and it's very easy to install.

Tools: ­

  • Pencil
  • Keyhole saw or saber saw
  • Measuring rule
  • Carpenters' square
  • Hammer
  • Caulking gun
  • Magnetic stud finder
  • Brace and bits
  • Putty knife
  • Butt chisel
  • Adjustable wrench

Materials:

  • Wall safe
  • 2×4's
  • 16-penny common nails
  • 1/2×2-inch lag screws
  • Spackling compound
  • Construction adhesive
  • Scrap drywall
  • Sandpaper
  • Finishing materials

Time: About 4 hours

Buying a Safe

Because burglars like to hit and run, the odds are against a burglar's opening a wall safe or removing it from the wall. At least as important, a home wall safe is a protection against fire; many home safes are constructed to withstand temperatures up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Safes are available in a variety of styles and types. Buy the safe you need from a lock and safe company. Look in the telephone advertising pages for the listings.

Where to Install a Safe

The best location for a safe is in a wall that partitions off a closet area. The safe's depth may range from 6 to 10 inches or more; since it's installed between studs, back space is necessary to accommodate this depth. If wall space isn't available, the safe could be installed in a floor over a crawl space and covered with a trap door or throw rug. Choose a location out of the room's traffic pattern -- under a shelf in the pantry, for example, or in a kitchen base cabinet.

To install the safe in a wall, choose a site and locate two parallel wall studs with a magnetic stud finder; most wall studs are 16 inches apart. Draw a vertical line identifying each wall stud; the safe will rest between these studs. Measure the length of the safe, and draw lines between the stud lines to mark the top, bottom, and sides of the safe.

Cutting into the Wall

With a brace and a 1/2-inch bit, drill holes in the wall at opposite corners of the outline, inside the lines and just touching them. Make sure the holes are inside the stud; once you've exposed the stud, it can serve as your vertical sawing guide. Saw out the hole for the safe with a keyhole saw or a saber saw. Trim any miscutting with a butt chisel. Remove the drywall over the studs where the flanges of the safe will be connected to the studs.

If there's a finished wall on the opposite side of the wall, remove the wall sheathing from the safe area on this side. Transfer the dimensions of the wall safe onto this opposite wall, drill starting holes, and cut along the lines as above; make sure the hole on the opposite side lines up perfectly with the original hole. Do not cut out drywall for the safe's flanges.

Building the Headers

Measure and cut four 2 × 4's for headers to fit between the studs. Make double headers by nailing two 2 × 4's together with 16-penny common nails. Toenail these double headers to the wall studs, setting one just below and one just above where the safe will rest.

Installing the Safe

The safe is lag-screwed through the flanges to the studs. Position the safe in the hole, and have a helper hold it steady from the back while you pencil in the position of the lag screws on the studs. Remove the safe and drill pilot holes at the marked screw points with a 1/8-inch bit. Reinsert the safe, align it with the drilled holes, and have your helper hold it in place. Drive lag screws through the holes and into the studs with an adjustable wrench, and tighten them firmly.

When the safe is fastened into the wall, cover the flanges and the bolt heads with strips of scrap drywall; attach the drywall with construction adhesive. If necessary, cut tiny holes for the lag screw heads in the gypsum board. Fill all joints of the patches with spackling compound and let the wall dry. Then sand the surface smooth and finish the wall.

For more information on do-it-yourself home improvement projects, try the following links:

  • If your floors need work, you won't need to hire expensive specialists with our article on How to Repair Floors.
  • Learn how to create your own walls with our article on How to Drywall.
  • For instructions and tips on doing a good paint job, see our article on Painting Walls.