Step 10: Picture Frame & Safe Door Construction & Assembly

Picture of Picture Frame & Safe Door Construction & Assembly

The easy way out... maybe...

You could probably purchase a picture frame that would work, but I decided to make my own because I had scrap oak lying around and so I wouldn't need to set the safe door back into the wall so that it would not push the picture frame out from the wall increasing the gap between the two. The other problem with setting the safe back into the wall more was that the hinges I used didn't allow the clearance I needed to do that. So instead I made my own 11" x 14" frame that were the dimensions I needed it to be.

The picture frame construction...

I used a chop saw to cut to length and miter the 1.25" x 3/4" oak, which I then ran through a router table to route out a shelf that the plexiglass, picture, mat-board, and safe door would sit in and be flush with the back of the frame.

Another benefit of making your own frame is that on the hinge side of the frame you can route further to the edge of the frame so your cabinet hinges don't need as much clearance to open the picture safe. But you can still place your picture in the center and keep everything looking normal. Just make sure you leave enough thickness to attach the safe door to your frame.

Corner clamps and wood glue are your friend...

I used corner clamps to clamp the frame together and put wood glue between all the joints. Then I drilled some pilot holes to prevent splitting and hammered the eight 1.25" Furniture Finish Nails into each corner of the frame to keep it together. I used a punch to hammer the finish nails in past the surface of the wood, followed by wood filler and a good sanding. You can choose to stain your frame at this juncture; I used a oil based stain followed by a clear poly urethane coat. Although you may want to wait until after you have installed the safe and door to avoid damaging the finish.

The safe door construction...

For the safe door, I constructed it out of 3/4" thick birch plywood I had available. You could use pine board or mdf. I measured my frame and cut the door so it would fit exactly inside of the frame except for the side where the locking bolt slides back and forth to lock and unlock the safe. On that side, I left a small gap so that I could have my plumbers tape act as a latch for the safe to hold onto the bolt when it was extended to prevent the door from opening.

Drilling the holes for the cabinet hinges...

Drill the appropriate size hole with a forschner bit for the two cabinet hinges so that the holes are on the absolute edge of the plywood door. The closer you get to the edge of the safe door the less clearance your hinges need to provide for the door to open fully.

You may notice in the pictures that my holes are not on the edge. I had messed up on my measurements for the door size and location for drilling the holes. Fortunately, these two mistakes canceled each other out because I simply trimmed off the excess on the table saw so that the holes were on the edge. If you look at pictures of the door opened when the safe is installed you will see this change.

Drilling the holes for the lock...

Use a 2 1/8" Forschner bit to drill out a hole for the magnetic lock. It should be just deep enough to accommodate the tumbler and a thin piece of plastic and few thousandths of an inch gap that will help reduce friction on the tumbler so it can spin freely. It's key that the tumbler is allowed to spin freely with no hangups.

The hole for the tumbler should be placed far enough in on the door. So when the locking bolt is extended it will slide through the a hole on the plumber's tape latch, and when it is retracted be flush with the edge of the birch plywood. You may notice that the forschner bit's pilot point will penetrate through the plywood partially. This is okay; it will be covered up by the thin plastic on the inside of the tumbler hole and a picture and plexiglass on the outside. Just make sure to de-bur the hole with an exacto knife so it won't interfere with the tumbler.

Drill a hole through the side of the door closest to the hole for the tumbler. This will house the aluminum tube that will allow for your 2.5" long finish nail that acts as the bolt for the catch to slide freely. The hole should be be a tight fit on the piece of the aluminum tube, so it won't move around, or slide out. Glue can be used if necessary to ensure a secure fit.

Assembling the safe door...

Using equivalent spacers that are equal to the thickness of the plexiglass, mat-board, and picture of choice; line the inside shelf of the picture frame with the spacers. Next place the plywood door on top of the spacers. Carefully drill four angled pilot holes through exposed backside of the safe door into the picture frame, but don't go all the way through to the outside of your picture frame. Remove the spacers and replace them for the plexiglass, mat-board, and awesome picture of you and your son building a snow fort (or other great picture.) Using four dry wall screws or other short wood screws attach the frame to your safe door.

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