Title:
Folding bench with or without back
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a folding bench where two side pieces fold substantially flat against a back piece in a closed or folded position and fold outwardly about a hinge to an open position. Support means for a seat secured against the back piece and side piece is completed with removable means for easy assembly and low cost construction.



Inventors:
Hwei, Yang Wen (Claremont, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/801139
Publication Date:
09/12/2002
Filing Date:
03/08/2001
Assignee:
HWEI YANG WEN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C4/04; A47C11/00; (IPC1-7): A47B3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHEN, JOSE V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
David T. Bracken (Orange, CA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A folding bench capable of being easily unfolded from a closed or folded position to an open position and further capable in a fully assembled position to support the weight of one or more persons comprising: (a) a lower back piece having three equally spaced apart lower vertical back legs of about the same length forming a vertical plane with two end legs, all three back legs connected at top ends by a back piece L-shaped seat support, the lower vertical back legs connected about halfway down their lengths with a horizontal bar, where bottom ends of the lower vertical back legs are adapted to support the bench on a ground surface; (b) two lower side pieces, each in the open position supporting from the lower back piece a vertical front leg adapted to be substantially parallel to an end leg and spaced in a perpendicular direction from the vertical plane, thereby both legs providing the rest of the supportive contact between the bench and the ground surface, where each front leg is connected at a top end by an end of a side piece L-shaped seat support extending from that top end to near an end of the back piece L-shaped seat support, whereby in an open position the L-shaped seat supports are adapted to support and laterally contain three sides of a rectangular seat; (c) two hinge means, each providing the sole supportive connection between the back piece and a side piece such that each hinge means permits independent movement of a side piece from an open to a closed position; and (d) two removable struts, each having means for removable attachment to, at a first end, a point substantially on or near the front leg at about half of its length and, at a second end, at a point underneath the seat about six inches or more from the top of the front leg and substantially within a plane formed by the front legs in the open position, the attachment of both such removable struts and placing of the seat in the L-shaped seat supports forming the bench in the fully assembled position.

2. The bench of claim 1 wherein the lower back piece extends vertically upward to form an upper back piece.

3. The bench of claim 2 wherein the upper back piece is adapted to be a back rest for the one or more persons.

4. The bench of claim 1 wherein the lower side pieces are extended upward to form armrests for the one or more persons.

5. The bench of claim 4 wherein the lower back piece extends vertically upward to form an upper back piece adapted to be a back rest for the one or more persons.

6. The bench of claim 5 wherein the hinge means extend from a rear portion of an upper side piece to an end portion of the upper back piece.

7. The bench of claim 6 wherein the lower side pieces each comprise a welded strut connected at a first end at about the location on the front leg as the location of the removable connection for the removable strut.

8. The bench of claim 7 wherein each welded strut further comprises a second end connected to an underside of a side piece L-shaped seat support close to a rearward end thereof.

9. The bench of claim 1 wherein each side piece comprises a substantially rectangular support frame with a top portion of the front leg being a front edge thereof and an opposite rear edge thereof having extending therefrom a portion of the hinge means, the complementary portion of the hinge means extending from an end leg.

10. The bench of claim 9 wherein a top support of the rectangular support from is the side piece L-shaped seat support and the opposite support is a rod connected at about midpoints of the front and end legs.

11. A folding bench capable of being easily unfolded from a closed or folded position to an open position and further capable in a fully assembled position to support the weight of one or more persons comprising: (e) a lower back piece having three equally spaced apart lower vertical back legs of about the same length forming a vertical plane with two end legs, all three back legs connected at top ends by a back piece L-shaped seat support, the lower vertical back legs connected about halfway down their lengths with a horizontal bar, where bottom ends of the lower vertical back legs are adapted to support the bench on a ground surface; (f)two lower side pieces, each in the open position supporting from the lower back piece a vertical front leg adapted to be substantially parallel to an end leg and spaced in a perpendicular direction from the vertical plane, thereby both legs providing the rest of the supportive contact between the bench and the ground surface, where each front leg is connected at a top end by an end of a side piece L-shaped seat support extending from that top end to near an end of the back piece L-shaped seat support, whereby in an open position the L-shaped seat supports are adapted to support and laterally contain three sides of a rectangular seat; (g) two hinge means, each providing the sole supportive connection between the back piece and a side piece such that each hinge means permits independent movement of a side piece from an open to a closed position; and (h) a removable rod connectable at near top ends of each front leg in the open position and adapted to support from underneath the remaining edge of the seat; and (i) removable tensioning means for preventing collapse of the bench attachable at about midpoints of the front and end legs, therefrom extending to a center connection, such that, in the open position, connection of the removable rod and tensioning means along with placing of the seat upon the L-shaped supports and the removable rod places the bench in the fully assembled position.

12. The bench of claim 11 wherein the lower back piece extends vertically upward to form an upper back piece.

13. The bench of claim 12 wherein the upper back piece is adapted to be a back rest for the one or more persons.

14. The bench of claim 11 wherein the lower side pieces are extended upward to form armrests for the one or more persons.

15. The bench of claim 14 wherein the lower back piece extends vertically upward to form an upper back piece adapted to be a back rest for the one or more persons.

16. The bench of claim 15 wherein the hinge means extend from a rear portion of an upper side piece to an end portion of the upper back piece.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to bench seating devices that are capable of folding to a substantially flat side view.

[0002] U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,099,709 and 4,236,460 disclose that a flat back piece can be vertical and have at its vertical end sides hinges that permit side pieces to fold away from the back piece to form two L-shaped vertical supports from the back piece so that a shelving assembly can be made that folds relatively flat. The shelves may either be inserted into grooves in the side and back pieces or hinged to the back piece to be raised and secured in place by connections to the side pieces. The construction of the devices in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,099,509 and 4,236,460 are of sufficient bulk that no additional support is provided to the shelving pieces. It would be preferable to develop a device with less such bulk while preserving the relatively free space beneath the support surface, i.e., the shelving in these patents.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention comprises a folding bench. The bench folds substantially flat for storage or shipping and is easily assembled so that a combined weight of over 300 pounds can be supported thereon in an open and fully assembled position. The invention comprises at least a lower back piece and two lower side pieces, preferably of bendable solid metal bar material to reduce visible bulk and obtain a pleasing appearance. An upper back piece and two upper side pieces are preferable but optional and extend upward from the lower adjacent pieces thereby forming a backrest and/or armrests as the case may be. The side pieces are hingeably attached to the back piece so that they may lie substantially parallel to the back piece in a storage position. In an opened position, the side pieces form two L-shaped vertical supports from the back piece. The top edge of the lower pieces comprises an L-shaped seat support for the bench seat. The L-shaped support supports a substantially rectangular bench seat laterally on three sides and from underneath near those three sides. Each of two removable struts are attached from above a forward leg or edge of a lower side piece, where the attaching location is substantially above ground level, to the forward, unsupported edge of the bench seat. The two removable struts are surprisingly short for the necessary support strength required, as one of the preferred embodiments comprises the bench seat as having a mortar-seated mosaic on its top surface, thereby increasing the overall weight supported by the rest of the folding bench. Another embodiment is presented that is less visibly desirable. This embodiment does not have the leg to bench seat strut of the preceding strut-supported embodiment, although requires substantial additional support structure to achieve the invention objects. This other embodiment is substantially the same as the strut-supported embodiment but includes a removable bar extending from the top and forward edge of each lower side piece substantially parallel to the L-shaped seat support together with a tensioning X-shaped strut assembly connecting the four corner legs of the folding bench at about a distance of at least about 8 inches below the L-shaped seat support and substantially parallel to it.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0004] FIGS. 1-3 are front perspective views of the strut-supported embodiment of the invention having an upper back piece functioning as a back rest and two upper side pieces functioning as armrests. FIG. 1 shows a side piece to the left in the folded position and the other side piece to the right in an opened position. FIG. 2 shows both side pieces in open positions. FIG. 3 shows the bench seat being lowered to be supported by the L-shaped seat support.

[0005] FIG. 4 is a magnified view of a threaded end and wing nut as means for making the assembly connections for the leg to seat struts.

[0006] FIG. 5 is a section A-A of FIG. 2 including a cutaway view of the L-shaped seat support and a portion of bench seat comprising a support pan having mosaic topped mortar therein.

[0007] FIG. 6 is a section B-B of FIG. 3 of a bench seat comprising a support pan having mosaic topped mortar therein.

[0008] FIG. 7 is a wireframe diagram for the invention embodiment without the upper back piece or upper side pieces.

[0009] FIG. 8 is a wireframe diagram for the invention embodiment with the upper back piece or upper side pieces.

[0010] FIGS. 9-12 are perspective views of an alternate embodiment of the present invention without a leg to seat strut but having a removable support bar and a tensioning X-shaped strut assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The invention is now discussed with reference to the Figures.

[0012] FIG. 1 shows the invention folding bench in a preferred embodiment as shown more generally in FIG. 8. The folding bench 100 comprises an upper back piece 101 continuous with a lower back piece comprising legs 109 and 1 10 that continue upward to become side edge supports for upper back piece 101, where the legs 109 and 110 and their upper extensions 104 are continuous bars and/or are integrally weld connected by lowest bar 111, a back to section of L-shaped seat support 113 and top bar 102. Top bar 102 and the back section of L-shaped seat support 113 are connected by bars 103 to improve structural strength and the effectiveness of a back support for the folding seat. Piece 101 therefore comprises a substantially planar and vertical structural element of the invention. The center back leg 110 and upper extension thereof are a critical aspect of the invention support in the back piece.

[0013] With the exception of the bolt and wingnut connections for removable strut 117, the wireframe FIG. 8 shows black dots as locations of such integral weld connections. The present embodiment is discussed in a form as if iron or steel round rods were used with a diameter of from about {fraction (3/16)} inches to about ⅜ inches were used. The most lightweight, low cost and visually appealing forms are of the invention are constructed from this material.

[0014] Referring again to FIG. 1, two side pieces are hingedly attached to the back piece. A back piece comprises for the FIG. 1 embodiment two horizontal pieces in the armrest 105 and side section of L-shaped seat support 113 and two vertical pieces in the front leg 108 and its upper extension and the hinge 106 attachment to the back piece end leg 109. It is preferable for visual and structural support that welded strut 107 be connected at about half way down leg 108 and at close to a rear position on the side section of L-shaped seat support 113. It can be seen in FIG. 8 that this angled orientation provides a folding bench with a more visually open structure than if it were horizontal as welded strut 107 is shown in FIG. 7. Structurally, the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 8 as to strut 107 are more preferable than that the strut 107 of FIG. 7, as the weight of the seat 114 and a person seated thereon is directed down toward the front leg 108, which has the beneficial effect of causing an upward lift through removable strut 117 on the bottom of seat 114. It will be understood by the skilled person that the side pieces of FIG. 1 in the upper section comprise a rectangular frame where a rear vertical frame piece supports a portion of hinge 106. It is preferable that hinge 106 extend forward and outward from the back piece so that when a side piece is folded against the back piece (as is the side piece on the left as viewed in FIG. 1), the side piece is substantially parallel with the back piece. The folding bench is of such a length (over about 3 feet) so that the folded side pieces in the closed position do not interfere with fully contacting the side piece against the back piece, i.e., the side pieces don't block each other from closing.

[0015] FIG. 1 shows two opening direction arcs 112 which indicate the directions for opening and closing the side pieces against the back piece. FIG. 2 shows the two side pieces in an open position relative to the back piece. Each side piece and the back piece 101 of FIGS. 1-3 and 8 are horizontally intersected with a critical support piece, the L-shaped seat support 113 having a L-shaped cross section as shown in FIG. 5, which is adapted to securely support from underneath and laterally seat 114 on three edges 113′ (as in FIGS. 7 and 8). The L-shape of support 113 are maintained through its length so that seat 114 is retained therein when seat 114 is lowered onto support 113 from above in direction 115 as in FIG. 3. Final assembly requires that bolts mounted underneath seat 114 (not shown) in locations 116 are connected to upper ends of removable struts 117 with wing nuts 120 as in FIG. 4, thereafter connecting lower threaded ends of strut 117 to a curved, decorative spiral extension of strut 107 near about halfway down the front leg 108. The act of attaching both struts 117 to the underside of seat 114 and effectively to leg 108 completes all the structure needed for the invention folding bench, where (as in FIG. 8 in broken lines) an effective seat support line 111 is formed. Line 111 shows that although seat 114 does not have a continuous support bar as support 113 does for edges 113′, a complete peripheral bottom and lateral support is formed for the invention folding seat comprising the L-shaped seat support 113 and the support provided by struts 117. Seat 117 in the fully assembled position cannot move forward (away from the back piece) because it is constrained by the struts 117 or backward or sideways because of the vertical portions of the support 113. The ends 118 and 119 of struts 117 are shown in close up in FIG. 4 as using a threaded end with a wing nut 120, although other such removable means are adaptable for the objects of the invention so long as such attachment means leave strut 117 removable from the other bench pieces.

[0016] FIG. 6 shows a cross section of the seat 114 as a preferred mosaic topped embodiment. A continuous pan 121 is filled with an effective amount of mortar or grout 123 so that a top layer of decorative mosaic pieces may form the top viewable portion of the seat 114.

[0017] FIG. 7 shows an alternate embodiment of the present invention for a folding bench without an upper section for the back or side pieces. In FIG. 7, it is intended that the rectangular frame of the upper side piece of FIG. 8 (formed by armrest 105, upper section of leg 108, a side section of support 113 and a rear vertical bar comprising part of the hinge 106) is effectively removed to the lower section of the side piece. In effect, the hinge 106 of FIG. 8 moves to the location of hinge 150 of FIG. 7 so side pieces are movable about arc directions 112 of FIG. 7 to obtain the open and folded positions of FIGS. 1-3 for the side pieces. Further, the top support of armrest 105 of FIG. 8 becomes an equivalent support for the hinge 150 of FIG. 7 as a side piece of support 113 and the side piece of support 113 of FIG. 8 becomes an equivalent support for the hinge 150 of FIG. 7 as horizontal welded strut 107. In all other respects, the embodiment of FIG. 7 operates to support and restrain seat 114 in the same way as does the embodiments of FIGS. 1-3 and 108. Thus the invention lower sections of the back piece and the side pieces may be used with or without the upper sections thereof that form back support and armrests otherwise.

[0018] An alternate embodiment of the invention folding bench is shown in FIGS. 9-12. Folding bench 200 comprises many of the inventive features and objects as the devices above, although the means required for providing equivalent support as compared to struts 117 is somewhat different. It will be seen that the back piece 101 is substantially the same as in FIG. 1, although seat 114 comprises a hinge attachment at a rear edge 125 to a simple rod support 126 that replaces the back piece L-shaped seat support of FIGS. 1-3. In addition, a removable rod support 131 comprises ends C′ and D′ (as in FIG. 10) insertable into hole supports C and D (as in FIG. 11). This rod support 131 in part will accomplish support for seat 114 folded down in direction 127 to contact side pieces L-shaped seat supports 113 and support 131, but the support is insufficient to prevent buckling of the structure upon full weight loading. Additional tensioning means must be applied at about halfway down and horizontally inward from legs 108 and 109 at about locations 132 so that a central ring 128 and adjustable bolts 129 connect thereto through struts 130. Struts 130 are adapted to with distal end hooks E′, F′, G′ and H′ such that they respectively hook into support holes E, F, G and H. Struts 130 are further adapted with proximal ends E″, F″, G″ and H″ that hook into rings of ring bolts 129. Bolts 129 are connected to ring 128 with nuts or with threaded holes in ring 128.

[0019] As shown in FIG. 11, the bolts 129 have been tightened so that application of downward force on the seat 114 as shown in FIG. 12 will prevent legs 108 and/or 109 from buckling outward.

[0020] The above design disclosures present the skilled person with considerable and wide ranges from which to choose appropriate obvious modifications for the above examples. However, the objects of the present invention will still be obtained by the skilled person applying such design disclosures in an appropriate manner.