Title:
Continuous modular shelving system
United States Patent 3919950


Abstract:
A modular shelving system comprising shelf units including substantially hollow cantilever shelves made integral with planar surfaces adapted for mounting to a vertically disposed support surface, such as a wall, and connecting units including cantilever shelves made integral with planar surfaces adapted for mounting to the vertically disposed support surface co-planar with the shelf units. At least first ends of the shelves of each connecting unit are offset so as to extend into the adjacent open ends of the shelves of the shelf units so as to provide continuous shelves from each shelf unit to each connecting unit. With both ends of the shelves of a connecting unit being offset, the shelving system provides continuous shelves from one shelf unit to a second shelf unit through the intermediary of the connecting unit. The connecting units may be L-shaped to provide continuous shelves around both inside and outside corners of a wall.



Inventors:
Frazelle, Ronald B. (Fountain Valley, CA)
Fuller, Neal B. (Anaheim, CA)
Application Number:
05/480221
Publication Date:
11/18/1975
Filing Date:
06/17/1974
Assignee:
PBR Company (Anaheim, CA)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
108/64, 108/108, 108/152, 211/135, D06/570
International Classes:
A47B87/00; A47B96/02; (IPC1-7): A47B57/00
Field of Search:
108/114,64,59,65,66,90,92,111,153,152,89,108 211
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
Mccall, James T.
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hinderstein, Philip M.
Claims:
We claim

1. A shelving system comprising:

2. A shelving system according to claim 1 further comprising:

3. A shelving system according to claim 2 for mounting to a corner of a vertically disposed support surface wherein said planar surface of said connecting unit is generally L-shaped to conform to said corner of said support surface so that said connecting unit and said shelf units provide a continuous shelf around said corner.

4. A shelving system according to claim 3 wherein a portion of said planar surface of said connecting unit extends forwardly from the remainder thereof for mounting to an inside corner of said vertically disposed support surface.

5. A shelving system according to claim 3 wherein a portion of said planar surface of said connecting unit extends rearwardly from the remainder thereof for mounting to an outside corner of said vertically disposed support surface.

6. A shelving system according to claim 2 further comprising:

7. A shelving system according to claim 1 wherein said shelf unit further includes:

8. A shelving system according to claim 7 further comprising:

9. A shelving system according to claim 8 for mounting to a corner of a vertically disposed support surface wherein said planar surfaces of said connecting unit are generally L-shaped to conform to said corner of said support surface so that said connecting unit and said shelf units provide continuous shelves around said corner.

10. A shelving system according to claim 9 wherein a portion of said planar surfaces of said connecting unit extend forwardly from the remainders thereof for mounting to an inside corner of said vertically disposed support surface.

11. A shelving system according to claim 9 wherein a portion of said planar surfaces of said connecting unit extend rearwardly from the remainders thereof for mounting to an outside corner of said vertically disposed support surface.

12. A shelving system according to claim 8 further comprising:

Description:
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a continuous modular shelving system and, more particularly, to a shelving system comprising interconnecting shelf units and connecting units, both units including substantially hollow cantilever shelves which are made integral with planar support surfaces for mounting to a support structure such as a wall.

2. Description of the Prior Art.

Available modular shelving systems are predominantly of two types. The first type generally includes a perforated channel and interlocking support brackets which are connectable thereto for supporting horizontal support members. Such shelving systems are regarded as unattractive by many and are difficult and time consuming to install. Furthermore, the only way to provide a series of continuous shelves over a substantial distance is to place the shelves end to end. Furthermore, since the back of the shelving system is open, they are only suitable for use with finished walls.

The other common type of shelving system is the free-standing type, typically fabricated from metallic members which are assembled to provide individual shelves and a supporting frame. Such shelving systems have all of the disadvantages of the systems using perforated channels and brackets and are so unattractive that they are almost exclusively used in commercial and industrial applications.

In U.S. Pat. No. 3,613,604 issued Oct. 19, 1971 to Ronald J. Butler, there is disclosed a display unit having substantially hollow cantilever shelves which are an integral part of a support surface for mounting to a vertically disposed structure such as a wall or studs. Such a display unit substantially improves conventional shelving systems in that it is attractive, can be easily and readily mounted to a support structure, and since the display unit includes not only the shelves but an integral support surface, it can be mounted directly to wall studs, eliminating the necessity for a finished wall. Other advantages are set forth in the specification of said patent.

On the other hand, the display unit of the Butler patent is limited by it's construction to primarily domestic applications. That is, the display unit of the Butler patent has a single set of shelves, which shelves are limited in their lengths. For commercial applications where, for example, it is desired to line a storage room with shelves, the display unit of Butler does not have the flexibility to cover an entire wall or to provide continuous shelves around an inside or an outside corner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, there is provided a modular shelving system having all of the advantages of the Butler display unit but further having the capability of providing continuous shelves for any length of wall. Furthermore, the present shelving system has the capability of providing continuous shelves around both inside and outside corners of a support structure.

Briefly, this is achieved, according to the present invention, by providing a shelf unit and a plurality of different types of connecting units which terminate the ends of shelf units and connect adjacent shelf units. More specifically, each shelf unit includes at least one planar surface adapted for mounting to a vertically disposed support surface and at least one substantially hollow cantilever shelf made integral with the planar surface and extending generally perpendicular thereto, the shelf having upper and lower surfaces joined by an integral outer edge and being open at the opposite ends thereof. Each connecting unit includes at least one planar surface adapted for mounting to the vertically disposed support surface coplanar with the shelf unit planar surface and at least one cantilever shelf made integral with the planar surface and extending generally perpendicular thereto, the shelf having upper and lower surfaces joined by an integral outer edge adapted for mounting coplanar with the shelf unit upper and lower surfaces and outer edge, respectively, and a pair of end walls made integral with the upper and lower surfaces and the outer edge to enclose the opposite ends of the shelf.

The upper and lower surfaces and the outer edge at one end of the shelf of each connecting unit is offset inwardly by an amount approximately equal to the thickness of such surfaces so that such offset end of the shelf of the connecting unit can extend into the open end of the shelf of a shelf unit to provide a continuous shelf from the shelf unit to the connecting unit. The other end of the shelf of some connecting units is not offset whereby such connecting units may be used to terminate a shelf unit. On the other hand, the other end of the shelf of other connecting units is similarly offset so as to extend into the open end of a shelf of a second shelf unit whereby such a connecting unit provides a continuous shelf from one shelf unit to a second shelf unit. Still further, the planar surface of some of the connecting units is generally L-shaped for mounting to both inside and outside corners of a support structure so as to provide a continuous shelf around such a corner.

OBJECTS

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a continuous modular shelving system.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide a shelving system comprising inter-connecting shelf units and connecting units, both units including substantially hollow cantilever shelves which are made integral with planar support surfaces for mounting to a support structure such as a wall.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide a shelving system including plural shelf units and plural inter-connecting connecting units.

Still other objects, features, and attendant advantages of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a reading of the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments constructed in accordance therewith, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like numerals designate like parts in the several figures and wherein:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shelving system constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention including plural shelf units and plural connecting units;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one of the shelf units and one of the connecting units of FIG. 1 showing the inter-locking connection therebetween;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged top plan view of one of the shelves of the shelf unit and connecting unit of FIG. 2;

FIGS. 4-7 are enlarged top plan views of four embodiments of connecting units constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged sectional view taken along the line 8--8 in FIG. 3 and showing one method of mounting the present shelving system to a wall or other support structure; and

FIG. 9 is an exploded perspective view of the bracket structure of FIG. 8.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to the drawings and, more particularly, to FIGS. 1-3 thereof, there is shown a shelving system, generally designated 10, including one or more shelf units, generally designated 20, and one or more connecting units, generally designated 40. Each shelf unit 20 includes at least one but preferably a plurality of planar surfaces, such as surfaces 21-25, surfaces 21-25 being coplanar and adapted for mounting to a vertically disposed support surface, such as a wall 12. Each shelf unit 20 further includes at least one and preferably a plurality of substantially hollow cantilever shelves, such as shelves 26-30, shelves 26-30 being made integral with and extending generally perpendicular to planar surfaces 21-25.

More specifically, each shelf, such as shelf 26, has upper and lower surfaces 31 and 32, respectively, joined by an integral outer edge 33. The inner edge of upper surface 31 merges into the lower edge of planar surface 21 whereas the inner edge of lower surface 32 merges into the upper edge of surface 22. In like manner, shelf 27 includes upper and lower surfaces 31 and 32, respectively, joined by an integral outer edge 33, shelf 27 being made integral with planar surfaces 22 and 23, etc. It is further significant to note that each shelf 26-30 is open at the opposite ends thereof, there being no end walls, for reasons which will appear more fully hereinafter.

Each connecting unit 40 includes at least one but preferably a plurality of planar surfaces, such as surfaces 41-45, surfaces 41-45 being coplanar and adapted for mounting to the same vertically disposed support surface as surfaces 21-25, such as wall 12. Furthermore, surfaces 41-45 correspond exactly to surfaces 21-25, resectively, and have the same overall heights. Each connecting unit 40 further includes at least one but preferably a plurality of substantially hollow, cantilever shelves, such as shelves 46-50, shelves 46-50 being made integral with and extending generally perpendicular to planar surfaces 41-45. Shelves 46-50 correspond exactly to shelves 26-30, respectively, and are adapted to be aligned therewith in parallel, end to end relationship.

More specifically, each shelf of connecting unit 40, such as shelf 46, has upper and lower surfaces 51 and 52, respectively, joined by an integral outer edge 52. The inner edge of upper surface 51 merges into the lower edge of planar surface 41 whereas the inner edge of lower surface 52 merges into the upper edge of planar surface 42. In like manner, shelf 47 has upper and lower surfaces 51 and 52, respectively, joined by an integral outer edge 53, the inner edges merging into surfaces 42 and 43, etc.

The major distinction between shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 is that each shelf 46-50 of connecting units 40 has a pair of end walls 54 and 55 made integral with upper and lower surfaces 51 and 52 and outer edge 53 to enclose the opposite ends of each shelf. Furthermore, upper and lower surfaces 51 and 52, respectively, and outer edge 53 at at least one end of each shelf 46-50 of each connecting unit 40 is offset inwardly by an amount approximately equal to the thickness of such surfaces, as shown most clearly in FIGS. 2-3. Thus, and assuming that the surfaces of shelf unit 20 are approximately as thick as the surfaces of connecting units 40, the offset ends of shelves 46-50 of connecting unit 40 are adapted to extend into the open ends of shelves 26-30, respectively, of shelf unit 20. In this manner, connecting unit 40 and shelf unit 20 provide a plurality of continuous shelves from one end of connecting unit 40 to the other end of shelf unit 20.

If desired, planar surfaces 41-45 of connecting units 40 may terminate at the start of the offset end of shelves 46-50 so that surfaces 41-45 are planar from one side to the other and rest against wall 20. Alternatively, and in accordance with the preferered embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIGS. 2-3, the opposite ends 58 and 59 of planar surfaces 41-45 of connecting unit 40 are also offset rearwardly by an amount approximately equal to the thickness of surfaces 41-45 and 21-25 so that surfaces 21-25 overlap offset ends 58 and 59 and remain coplanar with the central portions of planar surfaces 41-45.

All of shelf units 20 are identical and they may be made in any convenient length. If a particular length is too long for a given wall section, it may be readily cut along a vertical plane perpendicular to surfaces 21-25.

On the other hand, in order to provide a fully adaptable, continuous, modular shelving system, a number of different types of connecting unit 40 are required. A first type of connecting unit, generally designated 40A, is shown in FIGS. 1-4. Connecting unit 40A has only one end 56 of each shelf 46-50 offset, at the right hand end thereof, so that the left hand end operates as a terminating edge, as shown in FIG. 1. A second type of connecting unit, generally designated 40B, is shown in FIG. 1. Connecting unit 40B is similar to connecting unit 40A in that only one end of each shelf 46-50 is offset. However, in the case of connecting unit 40B, the left hand end 57 of each shelf 46-50 is offset so that the right hand end operates as a terminating edge, as shown in FIG. 1.

A third type of connecting unit, generally designated 40C, is shown in FIG. 5. Connecting unit 40C has both ends 56 and 57 of each shelf 46-50 offset so that connecting unit 40C may be positioned between coplanar shelf units 20 with offset ends 56 and 57 of shelves 46-50 extending into the open ends of the shelves 26-30 of such shelf units 20. With such a configuration, connecting unit 40C and the two shelf units 20 on opposite sides thereof provide a plurality of continuous shelves from one end of one shelf unit to the far end of the other shelf unit.

Fourth and fifth types of connecting units, generally designated 40D and 40E, respectively, are shown in FIGS. 1, 6 and 7. Connecting units 40D and 40E are adapted for mounting to outside and inside corners, respectively, of a vertically disposed support surface, such as wall 12. Thus, the planar surfaces 41-45 of connecting units 40D and 40E are generally L-shaped to conform to such a corner of wall 12. In the case of connecting unit 40D, portions of planar surfaces 41-45 extend rearwardly from the remainders thereof for mounting to an outside corner of wall 12. In the case of connecting unit 40E, portions of planar surfaces 41-45 extend forwardly from the remainders thereof for mounting to an inside corner of wall 12. In either event, both of connecting units 40D and 40E preferably have both ends 56 and 57 of each shelf 46-50 offset since it is most likely that connecting units such as units 40D and 40E will be utilized to provide continuous shelves from one shelf unit to another shelf unit, around or inside of a corner. On the other hand, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that connecting units 40D and 40E may be made similarly to connecting units 40A and 40B with only first ends of each shelf offset.

Referring now to FIGS. 3, 8 and 9, there is shown a simple and convenient manner for inter-connecting shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 and for connecting same to wall 12. More specifically, each shelf 46-50 of each connecting unit 40 may have adhered, in any convenient manner, to the inside of the upper surface 51 thereof, a generally L-shaped bracket 60 having an opening 61 in the side thereof facing wall 12. Opening 61 receives the arms 62 of a second bracket 63 in interlocking relationship, as shown in FIG. 8. Bracket 63 has a generally U-shaped lip 64 which engages a channel 65 which may be connected to wall 12 in any convenient manner, such as by means of screws 66. Thus, as seen most clearly in FIG. 9, brackets 63 are supported by channels 65 but are freely movable laterally along the length thereof. Furthermore, with arms 62 engaged in opening 61 of brackets 60, brackets 60 and shelfs 46-50 are supported and prevented from moving away from wall 12.

With such a construction, a plurality of channels 65 may be horizontally mounted on wall 12 and vertically spaced by a distance equal to the spacing between shelves 46-50. Thereafter a plurality of brackets 63 may be vertically aligned on the channels 65, one bracket on each channel. Then, it is a relatively simple matter to place a connecting unit 40 against wall 12 so that arms 62 snap into openings 61 of brackets 60. In this regard, it should be noted that the leading edge 67 of each arm 62 is inclined so as to deflect edge 68 of bracket 60 upwardly and over arms 62.

After all of connecting units 40 are secured to wall 12, suitably spaced by the lengths of shelf units 20, shelf units 20 may be positioned in place, overlapping the offset ends of the connecting units, in the manner shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. Thereafter, any one of a number of techniques may be used to secure shelf units 20 to connecting units 40. For example, a conventional heating tool may be used to heat and fuse the joints between shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 to make a solid, one piece, continuous shelf system.

Other types of attaching methods will be obvious to those skilled in the art. Shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 may be secured to wall 12 by means of nails, screws, toggle bolts, as well as adhesives attached to the back sides of planar surfaces 21-25 and 41-45. Furthermore, shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 may be connected either to a wall 12 or directly to wall studs or any other vertically disposed support surface. The general dimensions of shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 are not critical but such units are ideally sized for usual installations.

Shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 may be fabricated of any material of construction adapted for fabrication of one piece, three dimensional structures. While shelf units 20 and connecting units 40 may be made form metallic materials, they are preferably formed from structural thermoplastic and thermosetting materials.

It can therefore be seen that in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a modular shelving system 10 having all of the advantages of prior systems but further having the capability of providing continuous shelves for any length of wall. Furthermore, the present shelving system has the capability of providing continuous shelves around both inside and outside corners of a support structure.

While the invention has been described with respect to the preferred physical embodiments constructed in accordance therewith, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and improvements may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited by the specific illustrative embodiments, but only by the scope of the appended claims.