What is a safe?

Posted by | Business, Locksmithing, Security Engineering | 0 |

This is today’s security related posting relating to safes and their history.

From Lockwiki.org http://www.lockwiki.com/index.php/Safe<span id=”selectionBoundary_1477678130881_16013171005944526″ class=”rangySelectionBoundary” style=”line-height: 0; display: none;”></span>


Renaissance era oak safe.250px-carved_oak_chest

Safes have existed in various forms for thousands of years. As with locks, it wasn’t until the late 1700s that security became the primary concern. Prior to this, the design and manufacturing of a safe was, for the most part, an artistic endeavor. The history of safes and their advancement closely parallels advances in metallurgy and the design of locks.

Safe Image
Safe Image

Ancient and medieval safes were built of wooden chests, with later versions bound by iron bands. These early safes were mostly artistic, often having detailed carvings and precious materials inlaid on their surfaces. Many safes of this era were markedly complex, with some having several dozen locking bolts. Despite their complexity, most could be easily picked or forced open.

17th century German safe; complex bolt mechanism.200px-lockwiki_safe_antiqueAs safes became heavier and more complex, the upward opening chest model became too difficult to open and close. Safes transitioned to outward swinging doors mounted to the side of the container. Safes began to use to full metal bodies, first with iron and then steel. Safes became wood completely encased in metal sheets that were riveted together, then full metal safes that were poured or molded to shape.

The refinement of metallurgy techniques led to the combination of additional metals with steel. These combinations strengthened the steel in many ways. Copper, for example, can be used to provide heat transfer or corrosion resistance. In the early 1800s, fire-resistant safes were introduced. Prior to this safes did not protect against fire, and often helped destroy valuables stored within by being made of heat conductive materials. Though a patent was filed by Richard Scott in 1801 for fire-proofing a safe, it does not appear that it was put to use.

Locking mechanism and main board of an electronic safe.

Electronic Safe Internal Mechanism
Electronic Safe Internal Mechanism

Many modern safes use electronics rather than a lock or dial, to lower manufacturing costs and prevent manipulation, however they often include a standard lock as a reset function. They function in the same way as standard safes, but use an electronic solenoid to prevent the bolt from retracting.

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