@blaineg The biggest problem seems to be that you can’t get the 3 biggest features you want in a safe for less than about $1000.
Theft. Fire. Water. You really need to think about what you want to protect and what the threats are and where you are going to put the safe. Surprise, the answer is different for different stuff.
The biggest challenge is that with everything going digital, the “fire” safes are not rated to protect media and electronics that are damaged far below the fire ratings which are geared to protect paper - 450°. The plastics on external disc drives, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, thumb drives, etc, will be ruined in a “fire” safe. You need a special “data” safe for them.
The materials for each threat are completely different, and you can only get all 3 with completely different materials.
Heavy strong steel (theft) sucks for the other two. Putting holes in the safe to bolt it down ruins the waterproofing. Built-in safes are great, but you can’t take them with you when you move.
Fire retardants are soft and powdery (they have a lot of water in them - because it takes a lot of energy before the water turns to steam) like in the video, and waterproof safes when closed keep water out, but also keep water in. So your papers are moldy, or your electronics are ruined from the humidity sealed in the safe. Or because it wasn’t a data safe.
These guys are top notch, and really want to sell you the right safe for what you want it for. Highly recommended, and they answer the phone and know their stuff. https://www.safeandvaultstore.com/
Hey I could break into my old minivan in less than a minute using a screwdriver and broom stick. Does that count? Didn’t even need to pick a lock (although those metal things you slide inside the window would open my door in 30 seconds or less).
Used a screw driver to pop the window open behind the driver side (no sliding door on that side it was that old - 1990, finally died in 2015). Used a broom stick reach across to push the lock on the passenger side sliding door. Bingo. In. Not reassuring for the security of the stuff in the minivan.
Why did I have those skills? Kid was responsible. We’d be somewhere, she’d want the keys to the car to get something and then lock them in. Oops. Kept a screw driver in my purse and back pack and had a broom stick loosely tied by the window I’d pop so I could get that once I popped the window.
Didn’t keep a spare key in my purse or back pack as I had to hide the keys from her or she’d swipe the car even prior to having a license. Finally got the ignition kill fixed (about got laughed out of the shop - they wanted to know who’d swipe that wreck - umm my kid). She had no clue as the key to turn it on was round, I always did that when she wasn’t looking and it was located to the left of my left leg. I’d leave it off when she was the one actually in the car driving. One morning she said to me, “Mom the car’s broken”. Me, “How do you know that?”. Busted. Told on herself.
LPL wasn’t messing around. Pulls out the Tool-Bosnian-Bill-and-I-made and dispenses with the “click on two, some binding on three, …”. Under 30 seconds.
I also respect the props he gave to the locksmith - and explained why the professional locksmiths you hire to open a lock give you the options they do, and it’s not just to rip you off. It’s not their fault they don’t have the special tools LPL and BB have collected or built trying to show weaknesses or strengths in lots of different weird locks that your average locksmiths will never run across.
@mike808 Good point. A lot of people confuse “professional” with world-class/artisanal/master/flawless (fill in most appropriate superlative for the given career field). Really, it means the standard of performance for the field (maybe better with experience), constrained by the amount of time they can afford to spend on a project, charge the market price, pay the bills, hopefully grow the business and still put bread on the table.
An obsessed and gifted amateur can do things that just aren’t feasible for most professionals to sustain. (Not counting professionals whose hobby and obsession are the same as their career). YouTube, Patreon, etc have allowed for an explosion of celebrity super specialists to push their arts to levels not accessible to most of us ordinary peeps. But you can argue that they are now professionals, just in a new field (e.g. Celebrity lock-picking).
It’s great for pushing the limits of a field, but it’s really not fair to compare with a guy or gal you can call up, have them show up in a half hour, and charge you $75 to get you out of a self-inflicted jam.
@mehcuda67 Yup. Or, not to mess around trying to compete with LPL or BB and to just cut the damn lock and be done. It also depends on the situation, too. If you tell the locksmith that not destroying the lock or not damaging what the lock is attached to is important, well, you’re the customer.
Most times, people just want access, and destroying a $20 lock isn’t worth saving. Especially if you can’t re-use the lock.
For example, I got a safe for my parents. My safe guy (not a locksmith, he is a specialist just for safes) told me that if wherever the safe is burns/floods/is destroyed or my parents die or forget the combination or lose the key, to not ever worry about forgetting the combination or the family not knowing it. Just leave a couple hundred in the safe to pay for drilling it and a stiff drink afterwards to pour one out, and problem solved.
Back in junior high, my favorite lock was a combination lock where the knob for the dial fell off. It was a cheap press fit affair and when the knob fell off, so did the number ring. However it still worked if I just press the knob back in and I soon learned how to open it by feel since it wasn’t a higher quality brand with false gates. I would take the knob with me whenever I wasn’t at the locker so it couldn’t be opened even if someone had the combination. This worked well until one day when I forgot to take the knob to school with me, so sadly it had to be cut off. I couldn’t find the same lock again, so had to go with a normal lock.
Now, you can get cheap fingerprint padlocks for almost nothing. While I wouldn’t expect it to protect the crown jewels, it should be plenty good enough for textbooks and lunch boxes.