Title:
Expandable shelf
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The expandable shelf of the invention is formed of several telescoping tubular assemblies that are supported in parallel to one another between a pair of end plates. The end plates are mounted to opposed walls. A center bracket is provided to supportably mount between the end plates for embodiments having long or flexible tubes. In another embodiment, one end plate is mounted to a wall and a second end plate is supported on a floor-mounted column. A further embodiment has a removable end plate that is mounted to a wall surface and then the balance of the expandable shelf device is mounted to the removable end plate and the opposite end plate mounted to a second wall surface. An additional embodiment includes a solid surface platform that is adjustable in length to mount onto the expandable shelf.



Inventors:
Miller, Michael (Fort Lee, NJ, US)
Miller, Jack (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US)
Jablow, David B. (Warren, NJ, US)
Kaufman, Alan (Warren, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/387350
Publication Date:
07/01/2004
Filing Date:
03/12/2003
Assignee:
MILLER MICHAEL
MILLER JACK
JABLOW DAVID B.
KAUFMAN ALAN
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/90.02, 211/175
International Classes:
A47B45/00; (IPC1-7): A47F5/00
View Patent Images:
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20080197029PAINT SPRAYER TIP STORAGE DEVICE AND METHODAugust, 2008Feyereisen et al.
20060138061Spinning clothes-hangerJune, 2006Thipchuwong et al.
20090188877FULL EXTENSION REFRIGERATOR SHELF AND BASKET SYSTEMJuly, 2009Stewart
20080302747Lock for shelving assemblyDecember, 2008Nance
20080053937Curtain rod assembly with lightsMarch, 2008Chen
20050236351Board mounting to support systemOctober, 2005Curatolo
20090008347Hair tree holderJanuary, 2009Bell
20090107940STOCK WING MERCHANDISE DISPLAYApril, 2009Norman et al.



Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KAPLAN & GILMAN , L.L.P. (900 ROUTE 9 NORTH, WOODBRIDGE, NJ, 07095, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An expandable shelf, comprising: (a) a plurality of tubes having a first end and a second end and oriented substantially co-planar to one another; (b) a plurality of inner members having a first end and a second end and each first end being assembled slidingly into a respective first end of each of the plurality of tubes; (c) a first end plate engaging a second end of each of the plurality of tubes; (d) a second end plate engaging a second end of each of the plurality of inner members; and (e) a bracket positioned and adapted to support each of the plurality of tubes intermediate the first and second end plate.

2. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein the inner members are tubes of a dimension to fit slidingly into the plurality of tubes.

3. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein the inner members are solid bars.

4. The expandable shelf as described in claim 2, wherein the tubes and the inner members are substantially round in cross section.

5. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein a portion of the plurality of tubes and inner members define a plane.

6. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein the tubes and inner members are securely affixed to the respective first and second end plate.

7. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second end plates is removably attachable to the plurality of tubes and inner members and further comprising a plurality of studs extending from a side surface of at least one of the first and second end plates in an array configured to engage the first ends of the plurality of tubes or inner members.

8. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and second end plates is removably attachable to the plurality of tubes and inner members and wherein the at least one of the first and second end plates is formed with cavities in an array formed to engage the first ends of the plurality of tubes or inner members.

9. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein the support bracket is positionable along the plurality of tubes.

10. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein the support bracket is formed with a plurality of apertures that are each configured to encircle one of the tubes.

11. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein the support bracket comprises a brace assembled thereto so as to substantially support the expandable shelf intermediate the first and second end plates to prevent bending.

12. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, wherein the tubes and the inner members are each formed with external longitudinal ribbing.

13. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, further comprising an adapter assembled to each of the plurality of tubes to slidingly engage respective ones of the plurality of inner members.

14. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, further comprising a column for supporting the first end plate.

15. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, further comprising a column having a lower end and an upper end, the lower end adapted for resting on a support surface and the upper end adapted for supporting an end plate of the expandable shelf.

16. The expandable shelf as described in claim 1, further comprising a substantially solid surfaced platform that is configurable to cover a horizontal top surface of the expandable shelf.

17. The expandable shelf as described in claim 16, further comprising a plurality of clamps affixed to the platform and adapted for securing the platform to the horizontal top surface of the expandable shelf.

18. An expandable shelf, comprising: (a) a plurality of at least three tubes having a first end and a second end and oriented co-planar to one another; (b) a plurality of inner members having a first end and a second end and each first emd being assembled slidingly into a respective first end of each of the pluraltiy of tubes; (c) a first end plate and a second end plate configured to receive and support the second ends of the plurality of tubes and plurality of inner members; (d) wherein the first and second end plates are formed with a substantially linear body portion and a head portion extending perpendicular to the body portion.

19. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, wherein the inner members are tubes of a dimension to fit slidingly into the plurality of tubes.

20. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, wherein the inner members are solid bars.

21. The expandable shelf as described in claim 19, wherein the tubes and the inner members are substantially round in cross section.

22. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, wherein the tubes and inner members are securely affixed to the respective first and second end plate.

23. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, wherein at least one of the first and second end plates is removably attachable to the plurality of tubes and inner members and further comprising a plurality of studs extending from a side surface of at least one of the first and second end plates in an array configured to engage the first ends of the plurality of tubes or inner members.

24. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, wherein at least one of the first and second end plates is removably attachable to the plurality of tubes and inner members and wherein the at least one of the first and second end plates is formed with cavities in an array formed to engage the first ends of the plurality of tubes or inner members.

25. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, further comprising an adapter assembled to each of the plurality of tubes to slidingly engage respective ones of the plurality of inner members.

26. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, further comprising a column for supporting the first end plate.

27. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, further comprising a column having a lower end and an upper end, the lower end adapted for resting on a support surface and the upper end adapted for supporting an end plate of the expandable shelf.

28. The expandable shelf as described in claim 18, further comprising a substantially solid surfaced platform that is configurable to cover a horizontal top surface of the expandable shelf.

29. The expandable shelf as described in claim 28, further comprising a plurality of clamps affixed to the platform and adapted for securing the platform to the horizontal top surface of the expandable shelf.

30. A method for mounting to a first side wall an expandable shelf formed from a plurality of telescoping members that are removably attachable to a first end plate, comprising the steps of: (a) mounting the end plate to the side wall; (b) attaching end portions of the plurality of telescoping members to engagable receptors formed on a surface of the end plate; and (c) supporting a second end plate of the expandable shelf so that the expandable shelf is substantially horizontal.

31. The method described in claim 30, wherein the step of supporting a second end plate comprises mounting the second end plate to a second side wall that is opposed to the first side wall.

32. The method described in claim 30, wherein the step of supporting a second end plate comprises installing a column to extend from a floor surface to the second end plate so that the expandable shelf is substantially horizontal.

33. The method described in claim 32, wherein the column is telescopically adjustable and the step of installing the column further comprises adjusting the length of the column to support the second end of the expandable shelf to maintain the expandable shelf in horizontal orientation.

Description:

[0001] This is a continuation-in-part of design patent application No. 29/173,600, filed Dec. 31, 2002 and a conversion of provisional patent application No. 60/437,064, filed Dec. 30, 2002.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to the field of shelving for use in the home and workplace that is adaptable to being expanded to fit in a space of variable size.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Many areas of the home and workplace are dedicated to storing and organizing items. For example, in the home and workplace, closets, cabinets and similar storage spaces are used to store a variety of items, such as clothing, cleaning products, personal care products, kitchen utensils, office supplies, and the like. To improve the organization and capacity of storage spaces, shelving is commonly used.

[0004] Conventional shelving is fastened to the interior structure of storage spaces, for example the walls of the closets or cabinets, with screws and/or nails. The shelving is cut to closely fit the dimensions of the confined spaces between closet or cabinet walls. Cutting the shelving components to these dimensions is difficult for many homeowners or operators of small businesses who are attempting to install such shelving at a minimal cost (i.e., avoiding paying a contractor for installation).

[0005] As one solution to this problem, modular shelving products are offered in home improvement centers. Modular shelving products are precut and sized to fit within standard sized closets or cabinets. In many homes, however, the closets and cabinets are not of standard sizes, and therefore the modular shelving does not fit properly within the storage space without significant modification to its structure, which requires cutting the shelf unit or building out a portion of the adjacent wall.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The aforementioned problems are overcome by the expandable shelf of the present invention. The expandable shelf includes multiple outer tubes secured to one end plate and multiple inner members secured to another end plate, where the inner members fit within the outer support tubes in a telescoping manner.

[0007] In one embodiment, a central bracket is provided to support the outer tubes and inner members midway along their length, thus increasing the strength and security of the shelf unit. The central bracket is preferably attachable to a wall surface to maintain a horizontal orientation.

[0008] In another embodiment, the end plates preferably include a portion or member that extends downwardly with respect to a plane defined by the support tubes. One or more telescoping set of outer and inner tube is secured to the downwardly directed portion of the end plates. With the portion extending downwardly, their supported telescoping tube forms a hanging rod for clothes. Alternatively, the extending portion extends upwardly, in which case the telescoping tube forms a barrier to prevent objects placed on the support tubes from falling off the expandable shelf.

[0009] The expandable shelf of the present invention fits precisely within a variety of different-dimensioned storage spaces. By extending or retracting the inner support tubes from the outer support tubes, the dimension of the shelf can be rapidly and easily adjusted to form a shelf configured to snugly fit between opposing walls of a storage space. With the expandable shelf expanded to the desired configuration, a user fastens the end plates to the wall with conventional fastening means to provide a sturdy and rigid storage shelf.

[0010] In a further embodiment of the present invention, a solid platform formed of an upper platform and a lower platform that are slidably connected to one another is provided to be mounted on the expandable shelf of the invention. The solid platform serves to prevent small objects from falling between the telescoping tubes of the invention expandable shelf. The platforms are fitted with means for attachment to the expandable shelf.

[0011] In another embodiment of the present invention, a support column is provided to hold one end of the expandable shelf in horizontal position when a second wall is not available, e.g. if the expandable shelf is used in a room corner. The second end plate of the expandable shelf would be connected to a wall surface.

[0012] In a still additional embodiment of the present invention, one or both of the end plates is removably attachable to the telescoping tubes. In this embodiment, the end plates are each mounted to a wall surface and then the telescoping tubes, optionally held in a central plate for alignment, are assembled to the already mounted plates.

[0013] These and other objects, advantages and features of the invention will be more readily understood and appreciated by reference to the detailed description of the invention and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the expandable shelf of the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 2 is a side elevation view of the expandable shelf of FIG. 1.

[0016] FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the expandable shelf of FIG. 1.

[0017] FIG. 4 is a top plan view of a second preferred embodiment expandable shelf of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of the expandable shelf of FIG. 4.

[0019] FIG. 6 is a cross sectional view taken in the direction of line 6-6 of FIG. 1.

[0020] FIG. 7 is a bottom perspective view of an expandable platform for assembly to the expandable shelf of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 8 is a top perspective view of the expandable platform of FIG. 7 mounted to the expandable shelf of FIG. 1.

[0022] FIG. 9 is a top perspective view of a third embodiment of the present invention expandable shelf where one end thereof is supported by a column.

[0023] FIG. 10 is an exploded top perspective view of a fourth embodiment of the present invention where one end is separated from the expandable shelf for mounting to a wall surface.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0024] Referring to FIG. 1, a first preferred embodiment of the expandable shelf 10 is illustrated in perspective view. Expandable shelf 10 has a first end plate 20 and a second end plate 30. End plate 20 is formed with a series of mounting holes 22 and end plate 30 is formed with a series of mounting holes 32, each of the mounting holes 22, 32 adapted for receiving a fastener for securely holding the respective end plates 20, 30 to a wall surface. A plurality of telescoping assemblies made up of outer tubes 50 and inner members 60 are mounted between end plate 20 and end plate 30. Inner members 60 may be either solid or tubular. In this first embodiment of the invention, outer tubes 50 and inner tubes 60 are fixedly connected to respective end plates 20, 30. Outer tubes 50 and inner members 60 may each be removably connected to end plates 20, 30 by mounting onto a stud projecting from the surface of respective plate 20, 30 or inserting into a cavity formed thereinto. The engagement of outer tubes 50 and inner members 60 with the receiving studs or cavities is understood to be substantially tight, for example by conical fitting. To provide a gradual transition between outer tube 50, being of a relatively larger diameter and inner member 60, being of a relatively smaller diameter, an adapter 56 is provided at the end of each outer tube 50. Alternately, the end of outer tube 50 can be formed into a cone to smoothly diminish to approximately the diameter of inner member 60. In one embodiment, a center bracket 40 is provided to slidingly mount on outer tubes 50 so as to be positionable in a desired location along the length of the assembled outer tubes 50 and inner members 60 in accordance with the overall length to which expandable shelf 10 is expanded. Center bracket can be formed with a plurality of apertures through which to pass outer tubes 50 or with a plurality of upwardly open slots (not shown) in which to support outer tubes 50. For situations where adjustable shelf 10 is substantially long or where adjustable shelf 10 is expected to support a heavy load, plural center brackets 40 are supplied.

[0025] As is shown in FIG. 1, each of end plates 20, 30 and center plate 40 is formed with a linear body portion 24 and a head portion 26 that extends perpendicularly to body portion 24. Head portion 26 is intended to be installed distal from a rear wall to which expandable shelf 10 is mounted. A further telescoping assembly of outer tube 52 and inner tube 62 is mounted between end plates 20, 30 in a location out of a plane defined by outer tubes 50 and inner members 60. Those of skill in the art will recognize that expandable shelf 10 can be mounted as illustrated, wherein outer tube 52 and inner member 62 provide a rod for hanging clothing on conventional coat hangers with open hook tops. Alternately, expandable shelf 10 can be mounted upside-down with respect to the illustration of FIG. 1, wherein outer tube 52 and inner member 62 provide a barrier to prevent objects stored on expandable shelf 10 from falling off. When mounted upside-down, the distal outer tube 50 and inner member 60 assembly can support hanging clothing, as long as the open hook does not interfere with items stored on the shelf.

[0026] Expandable shelf 10 is illustrated in side elevation view in FIG. 2, with end plate 30 visible and center bracket 40 obscured. As is seen in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, center plate 40 is formed with a hanger 44 which is readily attachable to a wall upon mounting expandable shelf 10. A connector 34 is fixed to center bracket 40 so as to connect support brace 36, terminating in a wall-connective support plate 38. By fixedly connecting support plate 38 and hanger 44 to a wall against which expandable shelf 10 is mounted, the central portion of expandable shelf 10 is maintained at the level of the end plates 20 (see FIG. 1) and 30. FIG. 3 shows a top plan view of expandable shelf 10 with the features described above.

[0027] Referring now to FIG. 6, a cross sectional view of expandable shelf 10 is illustrated as taken in the direction of line 6-6 of FIG. 1. FIG. 6 illustrates the sliding relation of inner tubes 60 and 62 within respective outer tubes 50 and 52. Tube assemblies 50/60 will preferably be positioned at substantially equal spacing from one another along a line that is parallel to the top of side plates 20, 30 and center bracket 40. Tube assembly 52/62 is preferably positioned substantially below the outermost assembly of tubes 50/60. Tubes 50, 52, and members 60, 62 are made of thin wall metallic tubing and preferably painted or resin coated for appearance and handling. If a resin coating is applied, such coating can be contoured, e.g. ribbed, for increase in friction with items placed thereon. Tubes 50 52, 60 and 62 are illustrated as round, but it is recognized that other cross sectional shapes, e.g. square or hexagonal, would also be acceptable.

[0028] FIGS. 4 and 5 show respective top elevation and perspective views of a second embodiment of the invention. The expandable shelf 12 shown in FIGS. 4 & 5 is similar to the first embodiment of the invention, with the exception that no central bracket is provided. If no center bracket is used, either the length of expandable shelf 12 is to be restricted or the stiffness of outer tube and inner member assemblies 50/60 is increased to minimize bending.

[0029] The present invention further recognizes that for certain applications, for example when small items are to be stored on the shelf, a solid shelf is superior to an open shelf formed of parallel tubes. FIG. 7 illustrates a telescoping platform that is adaptable to be sized to substantially cover expandable shelf 10, as depicted in FIG. 8. Upper platform 70 is slidingly assembled to lower platform 72 by inserting a pair of fasteners 78 through a linear slot 76. Fasteners 78 are formed with a thin shank and a large head to retain platforms 70, 72 in sliding contact with one another. In an alternate embodiment of the invention, the telescoping platform shown in FIG. 7 may be made of a first tubular platform into which a second platform is slidingly inserted. Two clamps 74 are mounted to a lower surface of platform 70 and two additional clamps 74 are mounted to a lower surface of platform 72 so that the four clamps are positioned approximately at corners of the assembled platforms 70, 72. When platforms 70, 72 are mounted to shelf 10, clamps 74 snugly engage respective outer and inner tubes 50, 60. Clamps 74 are preferably of the spring clamp type, as is known.

[0030] The invention further recognizes that while shelves are commonly used in closets or cabinets where two opposed walls are available for mounting, this is not always the case. A further embodiment of the expandable shelf of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 9. Expandable shelf 12 is substantially similar to the shelf described in relation to FIGS. 4 and 5. In the situation where end plate 30 is positioned against and mounted to a wall surface, but end plate 20 cannot be mounted to a wall surface, end plate 20 is seen as being supported on bracket 82 that is supported on column 80 that is supported on base 84. As illustrated, bracket 82 is provided with formed holes for attachment to end plate 20. Column 80 is preferably formed of an outer tube and an inner tube with a locking ring therebetween for adjusting the length of column 80. Optionally, base 84 is to be anchored to the floor. In a further variation, shelf 12 may be mounted in an opposite orientation, where end plate 20 is mounted to a wall and end plate 30 is supported on a column 80. In an additional variation, column 80 extends upwardly beyond expandable shelf 12 to engage a ceiling (not shown), thus increasing the rigidity of the installation.

[0031] In a still further embodiment of the expandable shelf 14 of the invention, seen in FIG. 10, end plate 30′ is formed to be removable from each of outer tubes 50′. The means of attachment comprises a number of receptors 88, such as either studs extending from the side surface of end plate 30′ or as cavities (not shown) formed into the side surface of end plate 30′, allowing tubes 50′ to either slide over or slide into the mating receiving formation. Similar studs or cavities are provided on end plate 20′. In this way, a user mounts each end plates 20′, 30′ to opposed wall surfaces without having to hold the entire shelf unit up. When the end plates 20′, 30′ are hung, each of tubes 50′, 52′ and members 6062′ is assembled to respective receptors 88 and center bracket 40 is positioned near to the center of expandable shelf 14 for mounting to the wall.

[0032] In a further variation of the invention, one end plate, e.g. 30′ is separate from the balance of expandable shelf 12 and the other end plate, e.g. 20′ is permanently attached. The user thus installs the unattached end plate 30′ to the side wall, engages outer tubes 50′ to the receptors 88, and supports fixedly connected end plate 20′ while mounting it to the opposite wall surface. In a further embodiment of the invention, fixedly connected end plate 20′ is supported by a column 80, as shown in FIG. 10. In an additional variation, both end plates 20′ and 30′ are separately provided and individually mounted to respective first and second walls as described above.

[0033] As described above, a novel and useful expandable shelf is provided to permit adaptation and installation without the need to cut the shelf to length or to build special supporting structure.

[0034] While the present invention is described with respect to specific embodiments thereof, it is recognized that various modifications and variations may be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention, which is more clearly and precisely defined by reference to the claims appended hereto.





 
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