GunSafe of Arthur, Illinois, has combined the finest in handcrafted custom furniture with the essential elements of security and safety to allow gun owners to again display guns in their homes with confidence.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Americans buy four and one-half million new guns each year, to add to the hundreds of millions they already own.
More than 40 percent of adult citizens have firearms, and the average owner claims 4.4 of them. Many gun owners cite safety and security as key concerns. To protect their guns from curious children or potential thieves, most gun owners buy trigger locks and specialty steel safes. Some even take apart their unloaded guns and store the pieces in different locations.
A fledgling Illinois company called GunSafe, a division of Wedge Woodworking makers of fine custom cabinetry, suggests a new alternative—showcase the unloaded firearms in a handsome, handcrafted and secure hardwood cabinet with some very unique security features.
Designed and custom crafted by skilled Amish artisans, GunSafe cabinets are the perfect complement to existing furniture arrangements and styles. Displayed firearms become part of the décor and are made secure through visible deterrents and protective safeguards.
“Many people collect firearms for their beauty or rarity,” said William Schlabach, GunSafe’s 32-year-old founder and president. “Some own family keepsakes, and others are simply proud of their guns. Like a precious painting or other work of art, collectors want them out to view and enjoy.”
Now they can. Schlabach and four full-time workers have more than 60 combined years of Old World experience making custom kitchen cabinets and other elegant furniture from hand-picked, exquisite hardwoods. Standard gun cabinets include 6-gun and 12-gun models in red oak and northern cherry. GunSafe products are not cheap—prices start at $3,999 and run to $5,279, plus $475 freight.
The cost reflects the solid beauty of Schlabach’s creations and stems from long hours spent making fittings join perfectly and crafting flawless scrollwork. Nuance touches, such as leather-lined gunstock protectors and finger-tap subdued lighting, add to value and functionality.
Cleverly designed, built-in security measures are highly effective without detracting from the top-quality look and feel of a GunSafe cabinet. Two steel bars encased in fittings of rectangular hardwood make theft impossible without completely destroying the cabinet itself. The removable top bar unlocks via a specialized “dimple key,” the same protective device used by makers of casino gaming machines because the locks are virtually unpickable.
The dimple key also fits a small steel safe in the cabinet base. The safe is handy for storing ammunition, pistols, gunpowder or other reloading components. An adjacent shelf is adjustable and provides more storage space for cleaning kits and accessories.
Additional security is available as options. For example, lockable glass doors can be ordered to ensure childproofing. To prevent someone from taking apart any gun locked within the cabinet, Schlabach offers a clear panel of quarter-inch polycarbonate that locks in place with a steel bar. A burglar would have to steal the entire cabinet and its contents or risk damaging valuable firearms by trying to break apart the safeguards.
“Security is a big issue for me,” said New Jersey double-gun collector Frank Finch, who bought a 12-firearm GunSafe. “When I challenged William to find a way to stop someone from disassembling any gun locked in the cabinet, he came up with the Lexan (polycarbonate) panel. I’m satisfied now my collection is very secure.”
Standard dimensions are 34 inches wide for the six-gun model and 42 inches wide for the 12-gun model. Both cabinets are 77 inches high and 21 inches deep. Options include specialty woods such as walnut, mahogany, maple and birch; beveled or antique glass; and treatments such as distressing, glazing or other unique finishes.
Finch ordered his GunSafe in dark oak to match the furniture in his home on the Jersey shore. “We have Victorian-style furniture,” he said, “and any piece we added had to have eye appeal. The cabinet William made is a very nice design and fits right in.”
Another satisfied customer, Curt Mettam of Danville, IL, noted that his wife also approved of the GunSafe's attractive style: "I am very happy with the GunSafe that William made for me. I was afraid my wife would not like it and was glad to see that she thought it was a nice addition to the furniture in our home."
Custom orders is a growing segment of Schlabach’s company, which began doing business in May 2004. Some customers want the gun cabinets built into bookcases or to complement office furniture and décor. The biggest project to date was a large entertainment center incorporating two six-gun cabinets. Built for an East Coast client, the order required 100 hours of labor and cost $15,000.
Schlabach, the father of four young children, whom he and his wife are raising in the Amish tradition, enjoys the challenge of creating fine cabinetry. “For generations we have worked with our hands,” he explained, “and see no reason to change our ways. Every piece we build and ship is done to standards set before my time.”
Finch agrees that GunSafe cabinets are built to perfection. Concerned about humidity from the Atlantic Ocean outside his home, he asked Schlabach if he could replace the standard doors on his 12-gun cabinet with slightly oversized doors to help keep moisture at bay.
“Not only did he rebuild the doors at no cost,” Finch said, “He shipped them for free. Where else can you get that kind of customer satisfaction?”
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