Title:
Sandbox table
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An activity table that includes a container tabletop for containing items or material, such as sand, and that provides off-the-ground seating surfaces, in addition to standing access, for children or other users of the table. The interior of the tabletop is enclosed by a removably and replaceable top to inhibit rain, leaves, and other debris from contaminating the interior and any items in the interior.



Inventors:
Liabraaten, Becki O. (Spokane, MI, US)
Liabraaten, Elliott B. (Spokane, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/914607
Publication Date:
02/09/2006
Filing Date:
08/09/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILKENS, JANET MARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Merchant & Gould P.C (P.O. Box 2903, Minneapolis, MN, 55402-0903, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A table having a length and a width, the table comprising: (a) a support structure comprising at least one leg; (b) at least one seating surface; and (c) a tabletop supported by the support structure, the tabletop comprising (i) a container having an interior volume defined by side walls, a bottom, and a top, removably and replaceably positioned to provide access to the interior volume.

2. The table according to claim 1, wherein the table comprises four legs and two seating surfaces, each of the two seating surfaces being a bench extending along the length of the table.

3. The table according to claim 1, wherein the table comprises: (a) a support structure comprising four legs and at least two brace members; (b) two seating surfaces connected to and supported by the support structure; and (c) a rectangular container defined by four side walls, the bottom, and the top.

4. The table according to claim 3, wherein the two seating surfaces are connected to and supported by the at least two brace members.

5. The table according to claim 3, wherein the rectangular container is defined by a first pair of side walls having a first length and a second pair of side walls having a second length different than the first length.

Description:

FIELD

The present disclosure relates to a table that includes a seating surface and an activity area. More specifically, the activity area is a container having a volume, which can contain material, such as sand.

BACKGROUND

Children are generally very active and have creative imaginations, especially when it involves playing. However, it can be difficult to keep some children focused on an activity. Various designs of play stations, have been designed to provide a wide array of activities. Such multi-functional activity tables have been used as a play station or learning tool for children of all ages.

For some children, however, it is not the wide array of activities available that maintains their interest, but is instead dependent on the ease of doing the activity. For example, some children cannot stay standing at a counter or table for extended periods, either due to physical limitations or short attention span. Additionally, some children are uncomfortable being seated on the ground, such as in a conventional sandbox. Additionally, many parents do not enjoy having their children sitting in a conventional sandbox, due to the sure fact of the child getting dirty and having sand in all possible locations.

Therefore, improvements are desirable.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure relates to an activity table that includes a container tabletop for containing items and that provides off-the-ground seating surfaces, in addition to standing access, for children or other users of the table. In a preferred embodiment, the container tabletop is a sandbox. The interior of the tabletop can be enclosed to inhibit rain, leaves, and other debris from contaminating the interior and any items within the interior.

The table includes seating areas, so that a user can sit while using the table. The table is designed so that, if desired, the user can alternately stand while using the sandbox.

In one aspect, the present disclosure is directed to an activity table that includes a structure that supports a tabletop and at least one seating surface. The tabletop has an interior volume that can contain items or materials, such as sand. The interior is accessible via a removable or openable top. The at least one seating surface can be a bench, several benches, or be individual seats.

In a particular aspect of the disclosure, the table has a support structure comprising at least one leg, at least one seating surface, and a tabletop supported by the support structure, the tabletop comprising a container having an interior volume defined by side walls, a bottom, and a top, removably and replaceably positioned to provide access to the interior volume. The table may have four legs and two seating surfaces, each of the two seating surfaces being a bench extending along the length of the table. In another aspect of the disclosure, the table has a support structure comprising four legs and at least two brace members, two seating surfaces connected to and supported by the support structure, and a rectangular container defined by four side walls, a bottom, and a top, the container supported by the support structure.

Additional details regarding the activity table and methods are provided below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a table according to the present disclosure, illustrated in an exploded configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSURE

Referring to the FIGURE, there is schematically illustrated an activity table assembly 10. Table assembly 10 has a general table structure 12, having appropriate framing, such as legs 14 and cross-members 16, a bench or other seating surface 18, and a modified tabletop 20, as will be described in detailed below. The table structure 12 has a generally elongate configuration, having a length and a width. Table structure 12 supports and holds benches 18 and tabletop 20 a distance from the ground on which table 10 resides.

Positioned on and supported by table structure 12 is the tabletop 20, which has a length, a width, and a depth associated with it. Tabletop 20 is a container having an interior volume that is accessible from its exterior. Specifically, the tabletop 20 is a box-like structure having a side that is openable or removable in order to provide access to the interior of the tabletop 20. The side is also closable or replaceable in order to close access to the interior.

Referring to the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1, the tabletop 20 is a rectangular box having a pair of first opposite side walls 22, a pair of second opposite side walls 24, a bottom 26, and a top 30, with the walls 22 being longer than the walls 24. The walls 22, 24 and the bottom 26 form a container having an interior 25 that is accessible through the top 30, which may be removable and hinged or completely removable from the tabletop 20. The interior 25 is configured to retain items or material, such as sand or toys.

Although an elongate rectangular tabletop 20 has been illustrated and described, it is understood that other shapes of the tabletop 20 could be incorporated into a table in accordance with the present disclosure. For example, the tabletop 20 could be square, hexagonal, octagonal, or triangular. The number and configuration of side walls forming the tabletop 20 would vary, depending on the shape of tabletop 20. Generally, the table structure 12 would be modified to correspond to the shape of the tabletop 20. For example, if the tabletop 20 were square, the table structure 12 would have a width that is generally the same as its length.

In the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the table structure 12 has four legs 14 depending downward and angled outward from the tabletop 20 to the benches 18 and the ground. Each leg 14 is stabilized by the cross-members 16, being sandwiched between two cross-members 16. Additionally, the cross-members 16 support the benches 18, as seen in FIG. 1; that is, a bottom surface of the benches 18 sits on and is supported by a top surface of the cross-members 16. The table structure 12 may include additional elements to provide sufficient support for the benches 18 and the tabletop 20.

In alternate embodiments, the table structure 12 may have any number of legs sufficient to adequately and securely support the tabletop 20; common numbers include one, three, four, six, and eight. The legs 14 may extend perpendicular to the ground on which the table 10 sits, or the legs 14 may be angled with respect to the ground. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the legs 14 extend from the ground to the bottom 26 of the tabletop 20; additional brace members are present to better support the tabletop 20. In alternate embodiments, the tabletop 20 may be directly supported by some other element of the table structure 12, rather than being held directly by the legs 14.

The legs 14 have a sufficient length to provide adequate clearance of the benches 18 and the tabletop 20 off of the ground. Typically the benches 18 are at least 8 inches off the ground, but may be at least 12 inches off the ground, depending on the size of the intended users of the table 10. The tabletop 20 is at least 18 inches off the ground and may be at least 20 inches off the ground, again depending on the size of the intended users of the table 10. The preferred relationship between the benches 18 and the tabletop 20 is such that a user can be seated on the bench 18 and comfortably access the interior 25 of the tabletop 20.

Also as shown in FIG. 1, the benches 18 extend along the length of the table structure 12 and the table 10, with one bench 18 being positioned on each opposite side of the tabletop 20. In alternate embodiments, additional benches 18 could be added extending along the width of the table structure 12. Together, these benches 18 may provide a continuous seating surface encircling the table structure 12. As stated above, the table 10 can be shapes other than rectangular. For example, a square table 10 may have benches 18 encircling the table structure 12 on all four sides. Similarly, an octagonal table 10, with an octagonal tabletop 20 and generally octagonal table structure 12, may have benches 18 encircling the table structure 12 on all eight sides.

Tabletop 20 of the embodiment of FIG. 1 has four side walls, a pair of side walls 22 and a pair of side walls 24, that form a rectangular container. An appropriately sized bottom 26 is attached to form a sufficiently secure container so that material, such as sand, remains in interior 25 of tabletop 20. In most embodiments, tabletop 20 has a shape corresponding to the shape of table structure 12. For example, a table having three legs and a generally triangular shape would have a triangular tabletop.

The interior 25 of the tabletop 20, and any items or material therein, is protected by a removable top 30, which is a generally planar member that extends across the opening formed by the side walls 22, 24. The planar surface of the tabletop 20 provides an activity surface or an eating surface. The top 30 may be flush with or overhang the side walls 22, 24, creating a drip-edge. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the top 30 includes optional support braces 34 on its bottom surface to increase rigidity of the top member 32 and to center the top 30 the over interior 25. Preferably, the braces 34 fit in the interior 25, between the side walls 22, 24. The top member 32 may be formed from a single piece of material or may be a composite of several pieces that may be fastened together. The brace 34 is preferred if multiple pieces form the top member 32. The top 30 is preferably unattached to any of the side walls 22, 24 in order to facilitate access to the interior 25, however, the top 30 could be hinged or otherwise permanently or removably and replaceably attached to any of the side walls 22, 24.

The material for the table 10 is generally one or a combination of wood, metal, or plastic. Of course, any suitable material might be used. Pine is the most commonly used wood, although cedar, green treated, and other rot resistant materials can be used. Composite materials, such as a combination of wood fiber and polymer, can also be used for any of the elements of the table 10. The benches 18 may be covered with a plastic or other material to inhibit splinters. Similarly, the top 30 may be covered with a plastic or other water resistant or repellent material to inhibit water or debris from gaining access to the interior 25 or from marring the surface of the top 30. The tabletop 20 may include a liner within the interior 25.

Conventional fastening methods, including fasteners such as screws, bolts, and nails, and adhesives, can be used to construct any of the elements of the table 10, such as the table structure 12 and the tabletop 20.

On one exemplary embodiment, a table 10 was made having a height of 24 inches and a length of 47 inches. The table 10 included four legs 14, each being 21 inches long and 2¾ by 1½ inches, and four braces 16, each being 45½ inches long by 3 inches by 1½ inches. The table 10 had two benches 18, one on each side, with each bench being a 47 inch long 2×6 (having a nominal size of 1½ inches by 5½ inches).

The table 10 included the tabletop 20, which was a box 24 inches wide and 47 inches long on its outside dimensions, with side walls 22 and side walls 24 being made from ½ inch plywood, 3 inches high. The same ½ inch plywood was used to make the bottom 26 of the box 20. The top 30 for the tabletop 20 was assembled from five side-by-side boards to the provide top board 32 that was 25 inches by 48 inches. Three supporting braces 34 were used to provide rigidity to the boards and the top 30.

The material used for the table 10 was construction lumber generally available to consumers at a hardware store or do-it-yourself center that had been cut to the desired dimensions. Conventional fasteners, including carriage bolts and screws, were used to secure and retain the table 10.

The sandbox was filled with playsand to a level of about 2 inch deep, keeping the level below the top of the side walls 22, 24.

The inventive table has been described with reference to various specific and preferred embodiments and techniques. However, it should be understood that many variations and modifications may be made to the table and its features while remaining within the spirit and scope of the disclosure.