Title:
Enclosure system and method of use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An enclosure system and method for customizing the appearance of an enclosure includes an enclosure which has two spaced apart receiving rails. A panel assembly having two spaced apart rails is fabricated so that the rails of the panel assembly will precisely engage and slide along the receiving rails of the enclosure. Spacers ensure that the width of the panel assembly is slightly less than the width of the receiving rails of the enclosure. In a second embodiment, the panel assembly rails are spaced apart the desired distance by at least one connecting member.



Inventors:
Krinsly, Anthony S. (Wynnewood, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/156950
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
06/05/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/428
International Classes:
A47B96/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
ELOSHWAY, NIKI MARINA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TED MASTERS;TED MASTERS & ASSOCIATES, INC. (5121 SPICEWOOD DRIVE, CHARLOTTE, NC, 28227-0313, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An enclosure system, comprising: an enclosure having two spaced apart receiving rails; a panel assembly which slidably engages said receiving rails, said panel assembly including: a panel member having a first edge and an opposite second edge; a first rail and a second rail, said first and second rails shaped and dimensioned to slidably engage said receiving rails of said enclosure; said first rail connected to said first edge of said panel member, and said second rail connected to said second edge of said panel member; a first spacer disposed between said first rail and said first edge of said panel member, and a second spacer disposed between said second rail and said second edge of said panel member; said first spacer and said second spacer each having a width; and, said widths of said first spacer and said second spacer selected so that said first and second rails will slidably engage the receiving rails of said enclosure.

2. The system according to claim 1, further including: said receiving rails spaced apart a distance D; and, said first and second rails spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D.

3. The system according to claim 1, further including: said first spacer and said second spacer each having a height; and, said heights of said first spacer and said second spacer selected so that said panel member is positioned to a desired height with respect to said enclosure.

4. The system according to claim 1, further including: said first and second spacers each being one of (1) a bonding agent, and (2) a mechanical spacer.

5. The system according to claim 1, further including: said receiving rails each being recesses in said enclosure.

6. The system according to claim 1, further including: said receiving rails each having a lip which covers said first rail and said second rail when they slidably engage said receiving rails.

7. The system according to claim 1, further including: said first and second rails including at least one channel for receiving a bonding agent.

8. The system according to claim 1, further including: a jig for effecting the connection of said first and second rails to said panel member.

9. The system according to claim 8, further including: said jig having a first element having a first rail-receiving member and an opposite second rail-receiving member; a first adjustment member connecting said first rail-receiving member to said second rail-receiving member; said first adjustment member providing selective adjustment of a distance between said first and second rail-receiving members; said jig having a second element having a third rail-receiving member and an opposite fourth rail-receiving member; a second adjustment member connecting said third rail-receiving member to said fourth rail-receiving member; and, said second adjustment member providing selective adjustment of a distance between said third and fourth rail-receiving members.

10. The system according to claim 1, further including: said receiving rails spaced apart a distance D; said first and second rails spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D; said first and second spacers each being a bonding agent; said receiving rails each being recesses in said enclosure; said receiving rails each having a lip which covers said first rail and said second rail when they slidably engage said receiving rails; and, said first and second rails including at least one channel for receiving said bonding agent.

11. A panel assembly for customizing the appearance of an enclosure, the enclosure having two spaced apart receiving rails, said panel assembly comprising: a panel member having a first edge and an opposite second edge; a first rail and a second rail, said first and second rails shaped and dimensioned to slidably engage said receiving rails of the enclosure; said first rail connected to said first edge of said panel member, and said second rail connect to said second edge of said panel member; a first spacer disposed between said first rail and said first edge of said panel member, and a second spacer disposed between said second rail and said second edge of said panel member. said first spacer and said second spacer each having a width; and, said widths of said first spacer and said second spacer being selected so that said first and second rails will slidably engage the receiving rails of the enclosure.

12. The panel assembly according to claim 11, the enclosure receiving rails spaced apart a distance D, said panel assembly further including: the receiving rails spaced apart a distance D; said first and second rails spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D.

13. The panel assembly according to claim 11, further including: said first spacer and said second spacer each having a height; and, said heights of said first spacer and said second spacer being selected so that said panel member is positioned to a desired height with respect to the enclosure.

14. The panel assembly according to claim 11, further including: said first and second spacers each being one of (1) a bonding agent, and (2) a mechanical spacer.

15. The panel assembly according to claim 14, further including: said first and second rails including at least one channel for receiving said bonding agent.

16. A method for customizing the appearance of an enclosure, comprising: (a) providing an enclosure system including: an enclosure having two spaced apart receiving rails; a panel assembly including: a panel member having a first edge and an opposite second edge; a first rail and a second rail, said first and second rails shaped and dimensioned to slidably engage said receiving rails of said enclosure; a first spacer and a second spacer; (b) connecting said first rail to said panel member, and in so doing placing said first spacer between said first rail and said first edge of said panel member; (c) connecting said second rail to said panel member, and in so doing placing said second spacer between said second rail and said second edge of said panel member; (d) causing said first and second rails to slidably engage said receiving rails of said enclosure; and, (e) sliding said panel assembly into said enclosure.

17. The method of claim 16, further including: in steps (b) and (c), selecting widths of said first spacer and said second spacer so that said first and second rails will slidably engage said receiving rails of said enclosure.

18. The method of claim 17, further including: in step (a), said receiving rails spaced apart a distance D; and, in steps (b) and (c), said first and second rails spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D.

19. The method of claim 16, further including: in steps (b) and (c), selecting heights of said first spacer and said second spacer so that said panel member is positioned to a desired height with respect to said enclosure.

20. The method of claim 16, further including: in steps (b) and (c), said first and second spacers each being one of (1) a bonding agent, and (2) a mechanical spacer.

21. The method of claim 20, further including: in step (b) and (c), said first and second rails including at least one channel for receiving said bonding agent.

22. The method of claim 16, further including: in steps (b) and (c), providing a jig for effecting the connection of said first and second rails to said first and second edges respectively of said panel member, said jig including: a first element having a first rail-receiving member and an opposite second rail-receiving member; a first adjustment member connecting said first rail-receiving member to said second rail-receiving member; said first adjustment member providing selective adjustment of a distance between said first and second rail-receiving members; a second element having a third rail-receiving member and an opposite fourth rail-receiving member; a second adjustment member connecting said third rail-receiving member to said fourth rail-receiving member; said second adjustment member providing selective adjustment of a distance between said third and fourth rail-receiving members; using said first adjustment member to effect a desired distance between said first and second rail-receiving members, and using said second adjustment member to effect the same desired distance between said third and fourth rail-receiving members; before step (b), installing said first rail in said first and third rail-receiving members; and, before step (c), installing said second rail in said second and fourth rail-receiving members.

23. A panel assembly for customizing the appearance of an enclosure, the enclosure having two receiving rails spaced apart a distance D, said panel assembly comprising: a first rail; a second rail disposed parallel to said first rail; at least one connecting member connecting said first and second rails; wherein said first and second rails are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D; and, a panel member shaped and dimensioned to reside upon said at least one connecting member.

24. The panel assembly according to claim 23, further including: said connecting member including a tray upon which said panel member may reside.

25. The panel assembly according to claim 23, further including: at least one vertical spacer shaped and dimensioned to reside between said connecting member and said panel member, said spacer spacing said panel member a desired height above said connecting member.

26. The panel assembly according to claim 25, further including: a bonding agent which connects said spacer to said connecting member and said panel member.

27. The panel assembly according to claim 23, further including: said connecting member including a tray and said panel member including a plurality of panel members.

28. A method for customizing the appearance of an enclosure, comprising: (a) providing an enclosure having two parallel receiving rails spaced apart a distance D; (b) providing a panel assembly for customizing the appearance of said enclosure, said panel assembly including: a first rail; a second rail disposed parallel to said first rail; at least one connecting member connecting said first and second rails; wherein said first and second rails are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D; a panel member shaped and dimensioned to reside upon said at least one connecting member; (c) connecting said panel member to said connecting member; (d) causing said first and second rails to slidably engage said receiving rails of said enclosure; and, (e) sliding said panel assembly into said enclosure.

29. The method of claim 28, further including: in step (b), providing at least one vertical spacer shaped and dimensioned to reside between said connecting member and said panel member, said spacer spacing said panel member a desired height above said connecting member; and, in step (c), placing said vertical spacer between said connecting member and said panel member.

30. The method of claim 28, further including: in step (b), said connecting member including a tray upon which said panel member may reside.

31. The method of claim 28, further including: in step (b), said panel member including a plurality of panel members; and, in step (c), connecting said plurality of panel members to said tray.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the filing benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/933,417, filed Jun. 6, 2007, which is herein incorporated by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention pertains generally to enclosures, and more particularly to an enclosure system and method which permits rapid customization of the appearance of the enclosure and facilitates the use of non-metal custom artistic panels.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Enclosures such as those which contain electronic components are typically fashioned from metal. Many such enclosures have a removable panel which provides access to the interior of the enclosure. While the removable panels are structurally functional, they typically lack in aesthetic appeal.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to an enclosure system and method for customizing the appearance of an enclosure. The present invention permits the appearance of the enclosure to be easily and rapidly changed by inserting a decorative panel assembly (cartridge) of a desired look or feel (e.g. wood, marble, glass, mosaic, clay, carbon fiber, etc.). The panel assembly includes two rails which are connected to the edges of a panel member. The panel assembly rails slidably engage the receiving rails of the enclosure so that the panel assembly may be easily slid into and removed from the enclosure.

The present invention overcomes the problem of using panel members such as granite, marble, and the like, which cannot be cut to precise tolerances. In the present invention, a spacer is installed between each of the rails and the panel member. The width of the spacer is adjusted so that the overall rail-to-rail panel assembly width (panel member, rails, and spacers) is that needed to ensure precise engagement with the receiving rails of the enclosure. In other words, by using a spacer the finished panel assembly may be assembled to machine tolerances which are not possible with the panel member alone. This guarantees a consistent fit, even if the panel member is made from natural materials having low precision cut tolerances. Since the resulting assembled panel assemblies are the same size, they are interchangeable. This facilitates mass customization and allows customers to buy and replace entire panel assembly units. Alternatively, because the panel member and rails are separate components, the components of the panel assembly can be fabricated and sold separately. In fact, users can create their own replaceable panel assemblies from a panel member, rails, and a spacer. Using the “tray” style embodiment, users can create their own mosaic panels by simply pouring grout in the tray to the right height, and pressing colored tiles into the surface.

In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, an enclosure system includes an enclosure which has two spaced apart receiving rails. A panel assembly slidably engages the receiving rails of the enclosure. The panel assembly includes a panel member having a first edge and an opposite second edge. The panel assembly also includes a first rail and a second rail which are shaped and dimensioned to slidably engage said receiving rails of the enclosure. The first rail is connected to the first edge of the panel member, and the second rail is connected to said second edge of said panel member. A first spacer is disposed between the first rail and the first edge of the panel member, and a second spacer is disposed between the second rail and the second edge of the panel member, the first spacer and the second spacer each having a width. The widths of the first spacer and the second spacer are selected so that the first and second rails will slidably engage the receiving rails of the enclosure.

In accordance with an aspect of the invention, the receiving rails are spaced apart a distance D, and the first and second rails are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the first spacer and the second spacer each having a height. The heights of the first spacer and the second spacer are selected so that the panel member is positioned to a desired height with respect to the enclosure.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the first and second spacers each are one of (1) a bonding agent, and (2) a mechanical spacer.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the receiving rails each are recesses in the enclosure.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the receiving rails each have a lip which covers the first rail and the second rail when they slidably engage the receiving rails.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the first and second rails include at least one channel for receiving a bonding agent.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a jig for is used to connect the first and second rails to the panel member.

Other aspects 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 perspective view of an enclosure system in accordance with the present invention showing a panel assembly removed;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the enclosure system showing the panel assembly installed;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged front elevation view of the enclosure system with the panel assembly installed;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of area 4 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view as in FIG. 4 with the panel assembly removed;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged top plan view of the panel assembly;

FIG. 7 is a front elevation view of the panel assembly;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged view of area 8 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view showing a wider spacer;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged view showing a narrower spacer;

FIG. 11 is an enlarged view showing a vertical spacer;

FIG. 12 is an enlarged fragmented perspective view showing a rail having an uneven surface;

FIG. 13 is an enlarged fragmented perspective view showing a rail which has bonding agent receiving channels;

FIG. 14 is an enlarged fragmented perspective view showing a rail which has holes for receiving a mechanical spacer;

FIG. 15 is an enlarged top plan view of a jig with a panel assembly installed;

FIG. 16 is an enlarged front elevation view of the jig with the panel assembly installed; and,

FIG. 17 is an enlarged front elevation view of the jig without the panel assembly;

FIG. 18 is an enlarged top plan view of a second embodiment panel assembly;

FIG. 19 is an enlarged front elevation view of the second embodiment panel assembly;

FIG. 20 is an enlarged view of area 20 of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is an enlarged top plan view of the spaced apart rails and connecting members;

FIG. 22 is an enlarged front elevation view of the spaced apart rails and connecting members;

FIG. 23 is an enlarged top plan view wherein the connecting member is a tray;

FIG. 24 is an enlarged front elevation view of the rails and tray;

FIG. 25 is an enlarged top plan view of a plurality of panel members placed upon the tray; and,

FIG. 26 is an enlarged front elevation view of a second tray embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring initially to FIGS. 1-3, there are illustrated various views of an enclosure system in accordance with the present invention, generally designated as 20. Enclosure system 20 includes an enclosure 21 having two spaced apart receiving rails 23. In the shown embodiment, receiving rails 23 comprise recesses in enclosure 21 (also refer to FIG. 5). In the shown embodiment, receiving rails 23 are generally L-shaped. However it may be appreciated that other rail shapes can also be used, such as U shaped, rounded, semicircular, triangular, rectangular, etc. The rails also may not require support from below such as is provided by an L-shaped rail.

Receiving rails 23 are spaced apart a distance D. Enclosure system 20 also includes a panel assembly 25 which slidably engages receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21. Panel assembly 25 includes a rectangular panel member 22 having a first edge 24, an opposite second edge 26, and a width P (refer to FIG. 6). Panel member 22 may be made of materials of varied thickness such as wood, glass, marble, fiberglass, carbon fiber, metal, plastic, or the like. Panel assembly 25 also includes a first rail 28 and a second rail 30, wherein first 28 and second 30 rails are shaped and dimensioned to slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21. In an embodiment of the invention, rails 28 and 30 are fabricated from metal or a polymer. First rail 28 is connected to first edge 24 of panel member 22, and second rail 30 is connected to second edge 26 of panel member 22.

A first spacer 32 is disposed between first rail 28 and first edge 24 of panel member 22 (refer to FIG. 4), and a second spacer 34 is disposed between second rail 30 and second edge 26 of panel member 22. First 32 and second 34 spacers each having a width W (refer to FIG. 4), wherein the widths of first spacer 32 and second spacer 34 are selected so that first 28 and second 30 rails will slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21. That is, the widths W of spacers 32 and 34 are selected so that rails 28 and 30 are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than the distance D of receiving rails 23, so that panel assembly 25 will be precisely received by receiving rails 23. In this manner, spacers 32 and 34 are used to compensate for differences in the width P of panel member 22. In an embodiment of the invention, the widths W of first and second spacers are approximately equal, however this is not a requirement and one width could be different from the other. Also in an embodiment of the invention, first 32 and second 34 spacers are one of (1) a bonding agent (epoxy, silicon, grout, hardening foam, glue, fluid or non-fluid adhesive, etc.), and (2) a mechanical spacer such as a screw (with or without spacer washers) which can be used for attaching rails 28 and 30 to panel member 22. The bonding agent is used to connect rails 28 and 30 to panel member 22, and has the advantage of providing mechanical cushioning to lessen the possibility of breakage. In an embodiment of the invention, the bonding agent is disposed along the length of rails 28 and 30. It is noted that the disclosed bonding agent method of connecting rails 28 and 30 to panel member 22 provides a streamlined visually attractive junction, unlike that of mechanical fasteners which necessarily penetrate the materials and are plainly visible. If a mechanical spacer is used, rails 28 and 30 can be provided with spaced apart holes 31 to accept the screws (refer to FIG. 14). As a finishing step, gaps can be filled with a stable (non-expanding or shrinking) caulking material like silicon adhesive to hide mechanical fasteners or spacers.

In the shown embodiment enclosure 21 comprises an electronic component enclosure. However it may be appreciated that enclosure 21 could be used for other purposes. It may also be appreciated that while the shown embodiment is directed to a replaceable enclosure top, the replacement of other surfaces (sides, bottom, ends) would also be possible.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged view of area 4 of FIG. 3 and shows enclosure 21, first rail 28, panel member 22 having first edge 24, and spacer 32.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view as in FIG. 4 with panel assembly 25 components removed. Receiving rail 23 comprises the shown recessed area. It is noted that receiving rails 23 each having a lip 27 which covers first rail 28 and second rail 30 from view when the rails slidably engage receiving rails 23 (refer also to FIG. 4). This feature greatly improves the appearance of enclosure 21.

FIGS. 6 and 7 are enlarged top plan and front elevation views respectively of panel assembly 25. Shown are first rail 28, second rail 30, first spacer 32, second spacer 34, panel member 22 having first edge 24 and second edge 26, rail to rail distance d, and panel width P.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged view of area 8 of FIG. 7. Panel member 22 (having a width P, refer to FIG. 6), first edge 24, first rail 28, and first spacer 32. First spacer 32 and second spacer 34 have a width W which ensures that rails 28 and 30 are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than the spacing D of receiving rails 23, so that first 28 and second 30 rails of panel assembly 25 will slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21 (refer also to FIG. 3).

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view as in FIG. 8 showing a wider spacer. In this instance, the width P of panel member 22 is less (narrower) than that of FIG. 8. To compensate for the narrower panel member 22, first spacer 32 (and second spacer 34) has a width W1 which is wider than width W of FIG. 8. In this manner, the width (d) of panel member 25 is adjusted to precisely accommodate the width (D) of receiving rails 23.

FIG. 10 is an enlarged view as in FIG. 8 showing a narrower spacer. In this instance, the width P of panel member 22 is greater (wider) than that of FIG. 8. To compensate for the wider panel member 22, first spacer 32 (and second spacer 34) has a width W2 which is less than width W of FIG. 9. In this manner, the width (d) of panel member 25 is adjusted to precisely accommodate the width (D) of receiving rails 23.

FIG. 11 is an enlarged view as in FIG. 8 showing a vertical spacer. In this embodiment, when first rail 28 is connected to first edge 24 of panel member 22 and second rail 30 is connected to second edge 26 of panel member 22, first 32 and second 34 spacers include first 32a and second (not shown) vertical spacing elements having a height H. The height of the vertical spacing element (spacer 32a) is selected so that panel member 22 is positioned to a desired height with respect to enclosure 21. This typically means that the top of panel member 22 is flush with the top of enclosure 21. It is noted that the second vertical spacing element is not shown, but is disposed on the opposite (right) side of panel assembly 25 in the same relative position as first vertical spacing element 32a.

FIG. 12 is an enlarged fragmented perspective view showing a rail having an uneven surface. In this embodiment, first rail 28 and second rail 30 (not shown) have an uneven surface to promote adherence to the bonding agent spacer. The uneven surface can be the rough as shown, or could be grooved, scored, ridged, etc., to increase the surface area for binding the rails (28 and 30) and panel member 22 together.

FIG. 13 is an enlarged fragmented perspective view show a rail which as bonding agent receiving channels. First rail 28 and second rail 32 (not shown) each include at least one channel 29 for receiving a bonding agent. Channels 29 ensure a better bond with panel member 22.

FIG. 14 is an enlarged fragmented perspective view showing a rail 28 which has countersunk holes 31 for receiving a mechanical spacer 32. The holes 31 (only one shown) are spaced along the length of rail 28. As such, a mechanical spacer 32, such as the shown screw (instead of a bonding agent), can be used to connect rail 28 to panel member 22. This embodiment is useful if panel member 22 is made of wood or some other material which is capable of receiving a screw.

FIGS. 15 and 16 are enlarged top plan and front elevation views respectively of a jig 50 for effecting the connection of first 28 and second 30 rails to panel member showing panel assembly 25 installed in jig 50. In the figure, panel member 22 is shown in dashed lines so that the other components may be seen. Jig 50 includes a first element 52 having a first rail-receiving member 54 and an opposite second rail-receiving member 56. A first adjustment member 58 connects first rail-receiving member 54 to second rail-receiving member 56, and provides selective adjustment of a perpendicular distance between first 54 and second 56 rail-receiving members. Jig 50 also has a second element 60 having a third rail-receiving member 62 and an opposite fourth rail-receiving member 64. A second adjustment member 66 connects third rail-receiving member 62 to fourth rail-receiving member 64, and provides selective adjustment of a perpendicular distance between third 64 and fourth 66 rail-receiving members.

In the shown embodiment, adjustment members 58 and 66 are threaded and may be turned to obtain a desired distance between the rail receiving members. The distance therefore can be adjusted to be equal to d, the desired spacing of first 28 and second 30 rails. With jig 50 adjusted for the proper spacing d, panel member 22, first 28 and second 30 rails, and first 32 and second spacers 34 may be installed to fabricate panel assembly 25.

FIG. 17 is an enlarged front elevation view of jig 50 without the panel assembly 25 installed. Second adjustment member 66 has been adjusted so that third 62 and fourth 64 rail-receiving members are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than the spacing D of receiving rail members 23 of enclosure 21 (refer to FIG. 3). Also it is noted that third 62 and fourth 64 rail-receiving members are shaped and dimensioned to receive the rails shown in FIG. 13.

In terms of use, a method for customizing the appearance of an enclosure includes: (refer to FIGS. 1-17)

(a) providing an enclosure system 20 including:

    • an enclosure 21 having two spaced apart receiving rails 23;
    • a panel assembly 25 including:
      • a panel member 22 having a first edge 24 and an opposite second edge 26;
      • a first rail 28 and a second rail 30, first 28 and second 30 rails shaped and dimensioned to slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21;
      • a first spacer 32 and a second spacer 34;

(b) connecting first rail 28 to panel member 22, and in so doing placing first spacer 32 between first rail 28 and first edge 24 of panel member 22;

(c) connecting second rail 30 to panel member 22, and in so doing placing second spacer 34 between second rail 30 and second edge 26 of panel member 22;

(d) causing first 28 and second 30 rails to slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21; and,

(e) sliding panel assembly 25 into enclosure 21.

The method further including:

in steps (b) and (c), selecting widths of first spacer 32 and second spacer 34 so that first 28 and second 30 rails will slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21.

The method further including:

in step (a), receiving rails 23 spaced apart a distance D; and,

in steps (b) and (c), first 28 and second 30 rails spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D.

The method further including:

in steps (b) and (c), selecting heights of first spacer 28 and second spacer 30 so that panel member 22 is positioned to a desired height with respect to enclosure 21.

The method further including:

in steps (b) and (c), first 28 and second 30 spacers each being one of (1) a bonding agent, and (2) a mechanical spacer.

The method further including:

in step (b) and (c), first 28 and second 30 rails including at least one channel 29 for receiving a bonding agent.

The method further including:

in steps (b) and (c), providing a jig 50 for effecting the connection of first 28 and second 30 rails to first 24 and second 26 edges respectively of panel member 22, jig 30 including:

    • a first element 52 having a first rail-receiving member 54 and an opposite second rail-receiving member 56;
    • a first adjustment member 58 connecting first rail-receiving member 54 to second rail-receiving member 56;
    • first adjustment member 58 providing selective adjustment of a distance between first 54 and second 54 rail-receiving members;
    • a second element 60 having a third rail-receiving member 62 and an opposite fourth rail-receiving member 64;
    • a second adjustment member 66 connecting third rail-receiving member 62 to fourth rail-receiving member 64;
    • said second adjustment member 66 providing selective adjustment of a distance between third 62 and fourth 64 rail-receiving members;

using first adjustment member 58 to effect a desired distance between first 54 and second 56 rail-receiving members, and using second adjustment member 66 to effect the same desired distance between third 62 and fourth 64 rail receiving members;

    • before step (b), installing first rail 28 in first 54 and third 62 rail-receiving members; and,
    • before step (c), installing said second rail 30 in second 56 and fourth 64 rail-receiving members.

FIGS. 18 and 19 are enlarged top plan and front elevation views respectively of a second embodiment panel assembly for customizing the appearance of an enclosure 21 having two receiving rails spaced apart a distance D (refer to FIG. 3), generally designated as 125. Panel assembly 125 includes a first rail 128 and a second rail 130 disposed parallel to first rail 128. At least one connecting member 133 connects first rail 128 and second rail 130 to keep them in spaced apart parallel relationship (refer also to FIG. 21 which shows two connecting members 133). First 128 and second 130 rails are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D (refer to FIG. 3), so that first 128 and second 130 rails will precisely slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21 (refer to FIG. 3). A panel member 122 is shaped and dimensioned to reside upon, and be connected to, the at least one connecting member 133. At least one vertical spacer 135 (such as the shown washer) is shaped and dimensioned to reside between connecting member 133 and panel member 122, and to space panel member 122 a desired height H above connecting member 133: As with panel assembly 25, vertical spacer 133 is typically used to achieve alignment of the top of panel member 122 with enclosure 21 (refer to FIG. 11 and the associated discussion).

FIGS. 21 and 22 are an enlarged top plan and front elevation views respectively of two rails 128 and 130 spaced apart by two connecting members 133. These are the same views as FIGS. 18 and 19, but with panel member 122 removed.

FIGS. 23 and 24 are enlarged top plan and front elevation views respectively of an embodiment where connecting member 133 is a tray upon which panel member 122 (refer to FIG. 18) may reside. A bonding agent 137 connects spacers 135 to connecting member 133 and to panel member 122.

FIG. 25 is an enlarged top plan view of a plurality of panel members 122 such as tiles connected to tray 133.

FIG. 26 is an enlarged front elevation view of a second tray embodiment. In this embodiment tray 133 has four raised edges similar to those of a cookie tray. A vertical spacer 132 such as grout is then poured into tray 133 to a desired depth, and mosaic tiles 122 are then placed upon the grout thereby concealing the grout spacer 132.

In terms of use, a method for customizing the appearance of an enclosure 21 includes: (refer to FIGS. 3, and 18-25)

(a) providing an enclosure 21 having two parallel receiving rails 23 spaced apart a distance D;

(b) providing a panel assembly 125 for customizing the appearance of enclosure 21, panel assembly 125 including:

    • a first rail 128;
    • a second rail 130 disposed parallel to first rail 128;
    • at least one connecting member 133 connecting first 128 and second 130 rails;
    • wherein first 128 and second 130 rails are spaced apart a distance d which is slightly less than distance D;
    • a panel member 122 shaped and dimensioned to reside upon the at least one connecting member 133;

(c) connecting panel member 122 to connecting member 133;

(d) causing first 128 and second 130 rails to slidably engage receiving rails 23 of enclosure 21; and,

(e) sliding panel assembly 125 into enclosure 21.

The method further including:

in step (b), providing at least one vertical spacer 135 shaped and dimensioned to reside between connecting member 133 and panel member 122, and to space panel member 122 a desired height H above connecting member 133; and,

in step (c), placing vertical spacer 137 between connecting member 133 and panel member 122.

The method further including:

in step (b), connecting member 133 including a tray upon which panel member 122 may reside.

The method further including:

in step (b), panel member 122 including a plurality of panel members; and,

in step (c), connecting the plurality of panel members 122 to the tray.

The preferred embodiments of the invention described herein are exemplary and numerous modifications, variations, and rearrangements can be readily envisioned to achieve an equivalent result, all of which are intended to be embraced within the scope of the appended claims.