Title:
Christmas de-lights caddy
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A Christmas De-Lights Caddy that provides easy storage and retrieval of strings of lights and decorations such as Christmas ornaments. A small chest with drawers on two opposite sides is provided. The drawers of the chest are lined with cushioning material to provide protection of delicate decorations during storage. A spool is supported above the chest by two support arms. The arms extend upward from two opposite sides of the chest. The user attaches an end of the string of lights to a clip provided in the core of the spool and uses a hand crank to turn the spool and wind strings of lights around the spool. A terminal end of the last string of lights is attached to a clip provided on the carrying handle located above the spool. The carrying handle connects the tops of the support arms and is used for moving the caddy to and from storage.



Inventors:
Nickolai, Jeanne M. (Casper, WY, US)
Application Number:
09/927700
Publication Date:
02/13/2003
Filing Date:
08/10/2001
Assignee:
NICKOLAI JEANNE M.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B81/00; B65H75/40; (IPC1-7): A47F1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TRAN, HANH VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SETO PATENTS (SALEM, VA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. An apparatus for storing and retrieving strings of lights and other decorative items, the apparatus comprising: a chest with at least one drawer in a front side and at least one drawer in a back side of the chest, the drawers of the chest providing for storage of decorations such as Christmas ornaments; a spool that is used to store the strings of lights wherein the spool is in a horizontal alignment and is supported above the chest by two support arms that extend upward from opposite sides of a top of the chest, each of the support arms supporting opposite ends of the spool via a shaft that extends horizontally from a core of the spool wherein the support arms allow for rotation of the spool about an axis defined by the shaft; a hand crank that is attached to an end of the shaft that allows a person to rotate the spool; and, a handle for carrying the apparatus, the handle comprising a bar that has one end connected to a top of one of the support arms and another end connected to a top of the other support arm; wherein a first clip is provided on the core of the spool for holding an end of the string of lights so that that string of lights can be wound around the spool and a second clip is provided on the handle for holding an opposite end of the string of lights after the lights have been wound around the spool for storage.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein there are six drawers in the front side of the chest and one large drawer in the back side of the chest.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising: a cover that can be placed over the apparatus during storage.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the drawers are lined with a soft material, such as felt, that provides protection and cushioning to the decorative items stored therein.

5. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus is made from wood, wood by products, plastic, plastic by products or a combination of these materials.

6. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein a total height of the apparatus is less than three feet.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the hand crank includes a handle that allows free rotation around the hand crank thereby providing frictionless hand cranking by the user during winding and unwinding of the strings of lights.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the apparatus has been finished with a varnish, stain, lacquer, paint or similar finishing material.

9. A method of storing and retrieving strings of lights and decorative items involving the use of a chest with a spool supported above the chest by two support arms, the chest having drawers in two opposite sides of the chest, the method comprising the steps of: attaching an end of the strings of lights to a clip on a core of the spool; turning a hand crank attached to the spool so that the strings of lights wind around the spool and clipping an opposite end of the strings of lights to a second clip on a carrying handle located above the spool upon completion of winding; and, storing decorative items, such as Christmas ornaments, inside the drawers of the chest; wherein bottoms of the two support arms are attached to opposite sides of the chest and tops of the support arms are connected to the carrying handle.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein there are six drawers in a front side of the chest and one large drawer in a back side of the chest.

11. The method of claim 9, further comprising the step of: placing a cover over the apparatus during storage.

12. The method of claim 9, wherein the drawers are lined with a soft material, such as felt, that provides protection and cushioning to the decorative items stored therein.

13. The method of claim 9, wherein the chest, spool, support arms and carrying handle are made from wood, a wood product, plastic, a plastic product or a combination of these materials.

14. The method of claim 9, wherein a total height of the apparatus is less than three feet.

15. The method of claim 9, wherein the hand crank includes a handle that allows free rotation around the hand crank thereby providing frictionless hand cranking by a user during storage and retrieval of the strings of lights.

16. The method of claim 9, wherein the chest, spool, support arms and carrying handle are finished with a stain, varnish, lacquer, paint or other finishing material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to the field of storage of delicate items and more specifically to an apparatus for storing a string of lights and Christmas ornaments.

[0002] Christmas, in the Christian church, is an annual festival held on December 25, to celebrate the Nativity, or birth of Christ. The origin of the festival is unknown. Some researchers believe that it is derived in part from rites held by pre-Christian Germanic and Celtic peoples to celebrate the winter solstice. Christmas festivals, which have been observed by Christians since the 4th century, incorporate customs, such as the use of holly, mistletoe and Yule logs. The Christmas tree is the center piece of all the decorations. The tree, typically an evergreen, is trimmed with lights and other ornaments. The use of a Christmas tree began early in the 17th century, in Strasbourg, France. In 1841 Albert, prince consort of Queen Victoria, introduced the Christmas tree custom to Great Britain; from there it accompanied immigrants to the United States. Meanwhile, Dutch settlers had brought to the New World the custom of celebrating St. Nicholas' Day on December 6, and especially St. Nicholas' Eve, when gifts were given to children, of whom the saint was patron. British settlers took over the tradition as part of their Christmas eve celebration. The English name of the legendary jolly, red-garbed man who delivers presents to good children at Christmas, Santa Claus, is derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas, a modification of Sint Nikolaas.

[0003] Modern day Christmas trees are usually decorated with one or more strings of lights. A typical string of lights comprises two parallel wires encased in rubber or plastic that act as conductors of electricity to small light bulbs that are spaced along the pair of wires. The lights may be many different colors or they may all be one color, such as white. A string of lights purchased at a local retail store will usually come packaged in a preformed holder wherein each light bulb of the string is held in place by the holder. A user removes the string of lights from the holder by grabbing one end of the string and pulling. One by one, the lights pop out of the holder until the last is pulled out. At that point the string is ready to be placed on the Christmas tree. The problem with current packaging of Christmas lights and similar strings of lights is that when it is time to store the string of lights, users typically do not to take the time to replace each individual light bulb back in the individual light bulb holders provided in the package. Many users simply try to wrap the string of lights into a coil similar to what is done to a garden hose when putting the garden hose away. Unfortunately, when it is time to uncoil the string of lights the users find a tangled mess that may take hours to untangle. This storage method and others frustrate consumers and lead to the throwing away of working strings of lights.

[0004] A similar problem can be found with the storage of other Christmas decorations, especially delicate decorations and ornaments. Christmas ornaments are routinely sold in flimsy boxes that make terrible storage containers. These flimsy boxes do not provide adequate structural support to the box and as a result many delicate ornaments are unintentionally broken during storage. Ornaments may be packaged individually or in boxes of four, eight or any number. Thus adding to the storage dilemma because without size uniformity stacking of boxes becomes very difficult. What is needed is a storage device that allows easy storage and retrieval of strings of lights and adequate protection for delicate decorations and ornaments.

[0005] There is a need for a Christmas Caddy that provides for the storage of Christmas lights and ornaments. The caddy could be made of wood using well known carpentry and cabinet making methods. Cabinetmakers are usually employed by manufacturers specializing in cabinets and furniture. The skills of the cabinetmaker can be applied to any manufacturing venture. Cabinetmakers can provide precise joinery, knowledge of wood qualities and characteristics, and adherence to blueprint specifications.

[0006] Scores of joints can be used in wood assembly. The choice of joint depends on the quality of the wood used, the physical stresses expected in the finished product, and the preference of the artisan. Experienced woodworkers, however, usually choose the least elaborate joint that is suitable for a particular assembly. Most joints derive their strength from precise fit and glue; sometimes only wedging or pinning with brads or nails is needed.

[0007] The butt joint, used in box construction, is the simplest and most familiar joint. Two pieces of wood are simply placed end to end at a right angle and joined by nails, screws, or adhesives. The tongue and groove is best known as the joint used for installing hardwood floors. A bevel joint is created by cutting the ends of wood obliquely, or with a bevel, so that the pieces to be joined meet at an angle in a continuous line. The term miter is applied to a bevel cut at 45°. The cuts for the miter joint are often handmade by sawing the wood along the precut grooves of a miter box.

[0008] The dado joint—frequently found in bookcases, shelves, and drawers—is made by cutting a channel in a piece of wood with a router. The edge of another piece of wood is then fitted, glued, and sometimes nailed into the channel. The rabbet joint is similar to the dado, except that the channel, being at the end of one board, has an open side.

[0009] The dovetail joint and the notched joint are more time consuming joints that are used in the manufacture of furniture. The dovetail joint is used to create a strong right angle from two flat pieces of wood. For the assembly of some wood items, woodworkers drill holes and insert wood dowels (round wood pegs) to create hidden joints. The mortise and tenon joint is used to join two members perpendicularly. The tenon, a rectangular or square projection from the end of one member, fits snugly into the mortise cut in the second member.

[0010] The work of cabinetmakers and furniture builders is usually not complete until the object being built is smoothed with sandpaper or steel wool to remove the marks left by the various cutting tools and, finally, when one or more finishes are applied to the object. Finishes serve to protect and preserve the wood and to bring out the beauty of the grain—or, in some cases, to cover up the imperfections of lower quality wood. Common finishes include waxes, oils, bleaches, fillers, stains, shellac, varnish, lacquer, sealers, and paints, including enamels. Recently developed polyurethane sealers impart a clear, highly durable finish that provides excellent waterproof protection. The grain of more expensive wood can also be simulated on lower quality sheets of plywood paneling by means of photographic techniques.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0011] A method and apparatus that provides easy storage and retrieval of strings of lights and other decorative items. The apparatus comprises: a chest with drawers in the front and back, the drawers providing for storage of decorations such as Christmas ornaments; and, a spool that is used to store the strings of lights where the spool is turned by a hand crank and the stings of lights are wound around the spool.

[0012] A handle is provided for carrying the apparatus which may be referred to as the Christmas De-Lights Caddy. The handle comprises a bar that is connected to the top of each of the support arms and is used to carry the Christmas Caddy to and from storage locations. A first clip is provided on the core of the spool for holding an end of the string of lights during winding. A second clip is provided on the handle for holding a terminal end of the string of lights.

[0013] In an exemplary embodiment, the chest has six drawers in the front side and one large drawer in the back. The drawers are lined with red felt and the caddy is primarily made out of pine wood. The caddy is small, approximately two feet in height, and portable so that is easily carried by the carrying handle. The caddy also comes with a decorative cover to protect the caddy from dust collection during storage. The hand crank also includes a free floating handle that provides friction free cranking to a user during winding or unwinding of the strings of lights.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] The invention of the present application will now be described in more detail with reference to the accompanying drawings, given only by way of example, in which:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a frontal view of an exemplary embodiment;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a side view of an exemplary embodiment; and,

[0017] FIG. 3 is a back view of an exemplary embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0018] Referring to FIG. 1, a frontal view is shown of an exemplary embodiment of the present Christmas De-Lights Caddy 1. Carrying handle 2 has clip 3 attached to the bottom of one of the handle's ends. The ends of carrying handle 2 are connected to support arms 4 and 5 near the tops of the support arms. As the name implies, carrying handle 2 is used for carrying the caddy from place to place. The size of handle 2 and of support arms 4 and 5 are decided based on the total weight of caddy 1 and are made large enough to support the total weight of the caddy 1. Supported between support arms 4 and 5 is the spool which is comprised of core 7 and wheels 6 and 9. In operation, an end of the string of lights is attached to clip 8 that is provided on core 7 and the string or strings are wound around core 7 for storage. Wheels 6 and 9 act as outside barriers to keep the strings of lights within the area between wheels 6 and 9 during winding. A portion of core 7 extends through each of wheels 6 and 9 and engages with support arms 4 and 5. The connections at support arms 4 and 5 with core 7 provide for low frictional rotation of core 7 and also limit the lateral movement of core 7. Hand crank 10 is attached to core 7 outside of support arm 5 so that hand crank 10 can be easily accessed by a user. Hand crank 10 is used to turn the spool during the winding of strings of lights. Hand crank 10 can also be used during the unwinding of strings of lights. Upon completion of the winding of Christmas or other lights, the terminal end of the string is attached to clip 3.

[0019] Chest 11 provides a base for the entire support structure including the spool and the support arms. The bottoms of support arms 4 and 5 are attached or otherwise mounted on chest 11. Chest 11, in this embodiment, has six drawers identical in size to drawer 12. Chest 11 also has footings 13 located at each of its four bottom corners. The footings are made of rubber and provide cushioning during movement of the Christmas De-Lights Caddy 1. In one embodiment, the chest is 13 inches (″) wide, 16″ deep and 7″ tall. The six drawers on the front side of the chest are each 34″ wide and 3″ high. One large drawer on the back side of the chest is 12″ wide and 6″ high. The support arms on top of the chest are each 18″ tall. The spool held between the support arms is 12¾″ long and the wheels of the spool are each 12″ in diameter. Other embodiments can be made to any size with a limitation being on the usefulness of the carry handle as the weight of the caddy, which increases with size, approaches weights that are too heavy to lift.

[0020] Referring to FIG. 2, a side view of an exemplary embodiment is shown caddy 1. Carrying handle 2 can be seen poking through the top of support arm 5. The end of carrying handle 2 can also be covered by an end cap, if desired. Wheel 9 of the spool is behind support arm 5. Hand crank 10 is in front of support arm 5 and easily accessible to the user. Freely rotating crank handle 14 is grasped by the user whom provides the power to turn the hand crank 10 which rotates core 7 and winds or unwinds the spool. FIG. 2 further shows chest 11 with no drawers on this side and footings 13 attached to the bottom corners of chest 11. Other embodiments include using different shapes for the support arms and the hand crank. The support arms, for example, could be more narrow or wide and might include carvings and designs in the wood. The hand crank, for example, can be wider at the base and more narrow at the handle.

[0021] FIG. 3 shows the back side view of caddy 1. Looking at the caddy 1 from this side, hand crank 10 is on the left hand side and clips 3 and 8 are on the right hand side. Wheels 6 and 9 are also on opposite sides as they are shown in FIG. 1. The only new feature of caddy 1 is drawer 15. In this embodiment, there is only one large drawer on the back side of chest 11. In other embodiments, there can be more than one drawer on the back side of chest 11. In still other embodiments, there may be no drawers on the back side of the chest. In such embodiments the drawers in the front side of the chest can be made deeper and/or the depth of the entire chest can be decreased. Of course the base of the support arms would be modified to match the size of the chest.

[0022] If the caddy is made of wood or wood products, then the chest can be made using any of the traditional carpentry and cabinet making manufacturing and assembling processes. The spool can be a manufactured spool or a hand made spool comprising a dowel rod and two wheels. Although wood is the preferred material, the present caddy can also be made of other materials such as plastics, plastic products, or a combination of wood and plastic. A cover can also be provided for the caddy to protect the caddy and the strings of lights from the collection of dust during storage.

[0023] The foregoing description of the specific embodiments will so fully reveal the general nature of the invention that others can, by applying current knowledge, readily modify and/or adapt for various applications such specific embodiments without departing from the generic concept. For example, the support arms could be located on the same sides as the drawers, or the caddy could be made larger than three feet with wheels provided for movement. Therefore, such adaptations and modifications should and are intended to be comprehended within the meaning and range of equivalents of the disclosed embodiments. It is to be understood that the phraseology of terminology employed herein is for the purpose of description and not of limitation.





 
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