Title:
TOOL CASE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tool case including modular storage compartments. In one aspect, the tool case includes a translucent cover and the modular storage compartments can be removed from the tool case and displayed or mounted to a surface. In another aspect, the case may be configured such that the gravitational load of the contents of the case does not flow through the cover when the case is lifted by a handle, thus facilitating the cover to be made from lightweight translucent material. This configuration is achieved by connecting the handle to the floor of the base of the case, allowing the handle to protrude through an opening in the cover, the cover being separately removable.



Inventors:
Mueller, Gwen Willis (Valencia, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/524137
Publication Date:
03/20/2008
Filing Date:
09/20/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/372
International Classes:
B65D85/28
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LALLI, MELISSA LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FULWIDER PATTON LLP (HOWARD HUGHES CENTER, 6060 CENTER DRIVE, TENTH FLOOR, LOS ANGELES, CA, 90045, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A tool case, comprising: a base having a floor; a cover sized to removably mate with the base and formed from translucent material; a plurality of storage racks, each storage rack sized to be removably retained within the base; and a handle mounted on two support elements, each support element being connected to the floor of the base; wherein, the cover defines an opening sized to permit the handle to pass through the opening when the cover is mated with the base.

2. The tool case of claim 1, wherein the handle is rotatable while mounted on the support elements.

3. The tool case of claim 2, wherein the cover defines a recess whereby the handle may be rotated to reside within the recess, the handle remaining mounted on the support elements.

4. The tool case of claim 3, wherein, when the handle is rotated to reside within the recess, the handle is located entirely inside an outer profile of the cover.

5. The tool case of claim 1, wherein the base includes tubes integrally formed with the floor of the base, the tubes being configured to receive the supporting elements.

6. The tool case of claim 1, the base having a generally rectangular shape and a pair of end portions, and further including a rotating latching arm attached to each of the end portions.

7. The tool case of claim 1, the plurality of storage racks each including a plurality of recesses for storing tools.

8. A tool case, comprising: a base having a floor; a cover sized to removably mate with the base and formed from translucent material; a plurality of storage racks, each storage rack sized to be removably retained within the base; a handle; and means for connecting the handle to the floor of the base; wherein, the cover defines an opening sized to permit the handle to pass through the opening when the cover is mated with the base.

9. The tool case of claim 8, wherein the handle is rotatable while mounted on the means for connecting the handle to the floor of the base.

10. The tool case of claim 9, wherein the cover defines a recess whereby the handle may be rotated to reside within the recess, the handle remaining mounted on the means for connecting the handle to the floor base.

11. The tool case of claim 10, wherein, when the handle is rotated to reside within the recess, the handle is located entirely inside an outer profile of the cover.

12. The tool case of claim 8, wherein the means for connecting the handle to the floor base includes tubes integrally formed with the floor of the base.

13. The tool case of claim 8, the base having a generally rectangular shape and a pair of end portions, and further including a rotating latching arm attached to each of the end portions.

14. The tool case of claim 8, the plurality of storage racks each including a plurality of steps, each step including a plurality of recesses for storing tools.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 11/121,905, filed May 3, 2005, which is incorporated herein entirely by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to devices for storing and carrying items and more particularly, to a case for receiving and retaining tools.

Tool boxes have been used for many years to store tools, tool parts and fasteners. Tool boxes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be portable or fixed structures. Certain tool boxes are designed to hold a particular tool or components thereof. Other devices are configured to store a plurality of different devices.

Generally, tool boxes or cases are designed to maximize storing capacity. Tool boxes sometimes include trays and compartments utilized to retain tools. Typically, the tool box will have a cover configured to protect the tools or to aid in holding the tools in place. With the cover open, the tools can be viewed and selected from. Latches are provided to lock the cover in a closed position.

Certain of the known tool boxes include trays supported by hinges. Such trays can be moved to gain access to other areas of the tool box. These trays can also be supported by hinge assemblies that are interconnected with a tool box cover which through lateral movement causes the tray to better display its holdings as the cover is opened.

Prior devices, however, can lack features which enhance utility. For example, conventional tool boxes include covers which do not allow for a quick inventory to be taken of the container's contents. Also, the storage bins are generally affixed to the box and lack structure for displaying items held thereby separate from the tool box. Moreover, conventional tool cases are formed from durable but heavy materials which adds unnecessarily to the weight of the device. Typically, a toolbox with a cover has a handle affixed to an upper surface of the cover. Thus, any gravitational load taken by the handle flows through the cover, via clip attachments to the box, to support the weight of the tools in the box. This aspect may create structural problems where the cover of a toolbox is desired to be of lightweight translucent material not optimally suited for a loadbearing function.

Accordingly, what is needed is a tool case that allows for a quick inventory to be taken without removing a cover. A tool box which includes removable and movable components and one made from light weight materials is also desirable. The present invention satisfies these and other needs.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly and in general terms, the present invention is embodied in a tool case for storing tools and other items. The tool case is specifically designed to facilitate versatile storing capacity as well as tool display. Moreover, the tool case provides a light weight device with the capability of viewing stored items using a modular system. In one aspect of the invention, the tool case is structurally configured to reduce gravitational load in components that are designed to be light weight and therefore of reduced structural strength. Specifically, an embodiment is disclosed in which gravitational loads are almost completely eliminated from the cover which is made of lightweight translucent material.

In one aspect, the present invention is embodied in a tool case body including a removable lid or cover. The tool case further includes a plurality of removable storage trays or racks. The tool case device can also have a drawer for further storage.

In one embodiment, the tool case cover is formed from clear or translucent material. Being translucent, the items stored under the cover can be viewed and an inventory of the items can be conducted without opening or removing the cover. The cover is affixed to a tool case base by one or more latches and the cover can be completely removed from the base if desired.

In a further aspect, the tool case includes a plurality of storage racks or trays stored beneath the cover. The storage racks each include multilayered recesses for receiving tools of various sizes and configurations. One or more of the racks can be removed from the tool case. The storage racks can be equipped with a handle and mounting holes so that the racks can be easily handled and hung on a wall or other vertical support.

The tool case can be made from light weight, yet durable plastics. Moreover, a storage drawer can be formed in the base of the tool case, thereby providing additional space for receiving other tools.

In yet a further aspect of the invention, the base of the tool case may have a floor to which two support elements may be attached. A handle is mounted to the two support elements. The cover of the tool case defines an opening sized to permit the handle to pass through the opening when the cover is mated with the base. In another aspect, the handle may be rotatable while mounted on the support elements. Further, the cover may define a recess whereby the handle may be rotated to rest on the cover within the recess, the handle remaining mounted on the support elements. In a preferred aspect, when the handle is rotated to rest on the cover within the recess, the handle is located entirely inside an outer profile of the cover. This configuration has the advantage that substantially all the gravitational load of the contents of the tool case may pass through the handle without passing through the cover. This aspect permits greater flexibility in choosing an appropriate lightweight material for the cover that is translucent, permitting the user to inspect and inventory the contents of the case.

Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view, depicting a tool case of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 1 with a cover removed;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 2 with a modular storage component removed from the tool case;

FIG. 4 is a side view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a side view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 4 with a cover removed;

FIG. 6 is an end view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is an end view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 6 with a cover removed.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view, depicting a further embodiment of the tool case of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 8 with a cover removed.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view, depicting the tool case of FIGS. 8 and 9 with modular storage components removed from the tool case.

FIG. 11 is a plan view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 8 with a handle folded.

FIG. 12 is a side view, depicting the tool case of FIG. 8 with a handle folded.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to the drawings which are provided by way of example and not limitation, there is shown a tool case incorporating various features of the present invention. It is to be understood that a number of different embodiments are contemplated and that one particular embodiment may include all or fewer than all of the features of the present invention. The tool case includes modular components which can be displayed separate from a base and cover of the tool case. The tool case also embodies structure lending itself to conducting a quick inventory of its contents. An additional structural configuration is disclosed which facilitates the use of light weight translucent materials to enable inspection of the interior of the case.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, in one embodiments the present invention is embodied in a tool case 50 including a base 52 and a cover 54. Although various configurations are contemplated, the tool case 50 is generally rectangular in shape with the cover 54 including a pair of angled surfaces 56 extending a length of the cover 54.

The cover also includes a top surface 58 configured with a handle 60. The handle 60 can be made to rotate with respect to the cover 54 and can be folded within a rectangular recess formed in the top surface 58. The cover 54 further includes a pair of projecting surfaces 62 (only one depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2), each extending from an end of the cover 54. The projecting surface 62 is keyed and forms one component of a latching assembly used to retain the cover 54 on the base 52.

As can be best seen in FIGS. 2 and 4-7, the cover 54 can be completely removed from the base 52. Moreover, base 52 includes rotatable latch arms 70 which engage the projecting surface 62 of the cover 52 in a locking arrangement. When the cover 54 is attached to the base 52, the latch arms 70 overlap and lock with the projecting surfaces 62. To remove the cover 54, the latch arms 70 can be rotated out from engagement with the projecting surface 62. Other locking arrangements are contemplated as well for providing access to an interior of the tool case including a conventional hinge arrangement (not shown) permitting the cover 54 to be rotated away from the base 52.

In one particular embodiment, the cover is formed from clear or translucent material. Thus, the translucent cover allows one to make a quick inventory of the contents of the tool case. It is also contemplated, however, that the cover can be made from opaque materials.

Referring specifically now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the base 52 further includes a top surface 80 defining a plurality of compartments or recesses for receiving storage racks or trays 90. Various bosses and tabs 91 (See FIG. 3) can be formed on the top surface 80 to aid in securing the racks 90 in place. The base also is equipped with a drawer 92 (shown in a closed position). A cut-out 94 formed in the drawer 90 provides structure for facilitating grabbing and sliding the drawer to open and closed positions. The drawer 92 provides a space for storing hand tools or the like.

The storage racks or trays 90 define modular components which can be removed from the tool case 50. Each of the racks can have different configurations if necessary. That is, one rack 90 can define a two-step structure 96, the steps having various shapes, sizes and depths of slots, holes and recesses 98. Other racks 90 can have three or more such steps 100 or can in fact, have a single platform (not shown). The slots, holes and recesses can also be of a uniform shape and depth if necessary. Such slots, holes and recesses are intended to receive and hold various tools such as drill bits and other rotary tools 110.

Each of the racks 90 can further be equipped with a handle 112 extending from a top surface. The handle provides a convenient way of removing the racks 90 from the base 52 of the tool case 50. The racks 90 are further contemplated to include mounting structure 120 (See FIG. 3) formed on a back surface of the rack 90. The mounting structure 120 can be in the form of one or more recesses for receiving a wall mount or can define a conventional hook or latch or equivalent structure. In this way, the racks or trays 90 can be removed or replaced within the tool case 50 using the handle 112. Further, the racks 90 can be stored or displayed separately at a work bench or station utilizing the mounting structure 120.

Therefore, the tool case 50 of the present invention provides a versatile storage device. The modular components can be held within and carried to a work site or selected of the components can be separately displayed at a work bench. The translucent cover allows one to view the contents of the tool case and is removable to provide easy access to the stored tools. Further, the entirety of the tool case can be made from light weight materials such as plastics or can be formed from various combinations of materials thus making the device easy to transport.

It will be appreciated that, in the embodiment described above, when a user lifts a closed tool case containing the tools, the gravitational weight of the entire case and its contents flows, via rotatable latch arms 70 and projecting surfaces 62 into the cover, and then into the handle 60 from which the tool case may be suspended. Where the cover is made of lightweight translucent material, it is possible that such material may not possess great structural strength in comparison with more robust conventional but opaque materials. Thus, where the required structure provides for a translucent cover, that aspect may limit the maximum weight of the tool case as in the above embodiment.

Thus, in a further embodiment, the tool case of the present invention may be configured to withstand a heavier load than would otherwise be possible under the configuration of the previous embodiment, by arranging for the gravitational load that flows in the structure of the case, when the case is lifted up by the handle, to substantially bypass the cover and to flow from the base directly into the handle.

In order to achieve this advantage, a tool case 200 of a further preferred embodiment is configured, as exemplified in FIGS. 8-12 to have a base 202 and a removable cover 204 adapted to lockably engage with the base 202. Engagement between cover and base may be arranged, as in the previous embodiment, between rotatable latch arms 70 on the base, and projecting surfaces 62 on the cover in a locking arrangement. However, in the present embodiment, the cover 204, instead of having a handle attached to an upper surface, defines an opening 206 shaped to permit a handle 208 attached to the base 202 to pass through the opening 206. Thus, when the cover 204 is lifted from the base 202, the handle remains with the base, as exemplified in FIG. 9.

In one aspect of the invention exemplified in more detail in FIG. 10, the handle 208 may be configured in relation to the base 202 as follows. Two vertical elongate support elements 210 may be rigidly connected to the floor 212 of the base. Such connection is preferably achieved by one-piece molding of tubes 213 to the base. Each support element 210 has one end inserted in a tube 213, the other end extending upward. The lower end of the support element may be held in place by a bolt or screw (not shown) inserted from below into the floor 212 of the base 202 upward into the lower tip of the support element 210. While the bolt or screw provides structure to carry the weight of the base into the support elements, the tubes 213 provide structure for resisting bending of the support elements in relation to the base. In a preferred aspect, the support elements 210 have a length that allows them to protrude to a point just beyond an upper surface 214 of the cover 204 when the cover is attached to the base 202. Thus, terminal points 216 of the support elements are positioned just on the outside of the cover when the cover is attached to the base. The handle 208 may be rotatably connected to the terminal points 216 of the support elements 210 by conventional means 218 such as screws, rivets, or pins. It will be appreciated that, when the cover 204 is attached to the base 202, the described configuration permits the handle to be rotated through an angle of about 180 degrees without interference from the cover. In a preferred embodiment, the cover 202 defines a recess 220 to permit the handle to be folded horizontally to rest on the cover within the space of the recess 220. In this folded configuration the handle is located entirely inside an outer profile of the cover, as exemplified in FIGS. 11 and 12, thus allowing a plurality of cases to be stacked upon one another during storage or shipping.

Thus, the described embodiment is configured so that, when the closed tool case 200 is lifted by the handle 208, the gravitational load of the case and its contents flows into the floor 212 of the base, thence into the support elements 210, and thence into the handle 208 from which it is held by the user. Accordingly, the gravitational load path of the contents of the tool case substantially bypasses the cover 204. It will be appreciated that this characteristic allows the cover to be manufactured of lightweight translucent material that is not required to be significantly load bearing. This feature allows greater flexibility to choose suitable materials for the cover, and also provides a versatile and robust case capable of carrying larger loads than would otherwise be possible. It will be appreciated that the tool case of latter embodiment may include any of the advantageous features described in the tool case of the former embodiment, such as removable storage racks 90′, configured to fit the present embodiment, and including steps 96′ and recesses 98′ for holding tools.

Thus, it will be apparent from the foregoing that, while particular forms of the invention have been illustrated and described, various modifications can be made without parting from the spirit and scope of the invention.