Title:
Kneeling bench
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bench that is adjustable between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration. The bench includes a frame, a leg, and a pivot member coupled between the frame and the leg. The leg and the frame are configured to pivot about the pivot member. The bench also includes a slidable member coupled to the frame and configured to prevent relative movement between the frame and the leg when the slidable member is in a locked position. The slidable member is configured to disengage the frame to allow relative movement between the leg and the frame when the slidable member is in an unlocked position. The bench also includes a biasing mechanism positioned between the slidable member and the pivot member. The biasing mechanism is coupled to the slidable bar and configured to maintain the slidable bar at the locked position when the bench is in the unfolded configuration.



Inventors:
Liao, Dick (Bridgewater, MA, US)
Application Number:
10/448589
Publication Date:
10/14/2004
Filing Date:
05/29/2003
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47C4/00; A47C9/10; A47C11/00; A47C16/04; (IPC1-7): A47C7/50
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GARRETT, ERIKA P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FISH & RICHARDSON P.C. (BO) (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A bench adjustable between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration, comprising: a frame; a leg; a pivot member coupled between the frame and the leg, the leg and the frame being configured to pivot about the pivot member; a slidable member coupled to the frame and configured to prevent relative movement between the frame and the leg when the slidable member is in a locked position, the slidable member configured to disengage the frame to allow relative movement between the leg and the frame when the slidable member is in an unlocked position; and a biasing mechanism positioned between the slidable member and the pivot member, the biasing mechanism being coupled to the slidable bar and configured to maintain the slidable bar at the locked position when the bench is in the unfolded configuration.

2. The bench of claim 1, wherein the biasing mechanism comprises a spring.

3. The bench of claim 1, wherein the biasing mechanism has a first end coupled to the slidable member and a second end coupled to the pivot member.

4. The bench of claim 3, wherein the biasing mechanism is configured such that an external force is required to expand the biasing member in order to move the slidable member from the locked position to the unlocked position.

5. The bench of claim 1, wherein the frame includes a notch configured to engage the slidable member when the slidable member is at the locked position.

6. The bench of claim 1, wherein the leg comprises a connecting bridge that is pivotly coupled to the frame.

7. The bench of claim 6, wherein the connecting bridge includes an opening for receiving a portion of the slidable member and to allow the slidable member to move between the locked and unlocked positions.

8. The bench of claim 1, further comprising a seat rest coupled to a first side of the frame and a knee rest coupled to a second side of the frame.

9. The bench of claim 1, wherein the leg comprises a connecting bridge that is pivotly coupled to the frame.

10. An apparatus, comprising: a frame; a leg; a pivot member coupled between the frame and the leg, the leg and the frame being configured to pivot about the pivot member; and a locking mechanism including a movable member and a biasing member, the biasing member being positioned between the movable member and the pivot member, the biasing member urging the movable member towards a locked position when there is no external force, the locking mechanism configured so that when the movable member is in the locked position it engages the frame and the leg to prevent movement of the leg relative to the frame, and when the movable member is in an unlocked position it does not prevent movement of the leg relative to the frame.

11. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the biasing member has two ends, one end being connected to the movable member and the other end being connected to the pivot member.

12. The apparatus of claim 11, wherein the biasing member is expanded when the movable member is moved from the locked position to the unlocked position.

13. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the leg comprises a vertical member and a connecting bridge, the vertical member being substantially vertical during usage of the apparatus, and the connecting bridge being pivotly coupled to the frame through the pivot member.

14. The apparatus of claim 10, wherein the biasing member comprises a spring.

15. The apparatus of claim 10, further comprising a seat rest and a knee rest coupled to the frame.

16. An apparatus comprising: a first elongated member having a notch at one end; a second elongated member pivotly coupled to the first member through a pivot member spaced apart from the notch, the second elongated member having an opening; an elongated locking member oriented along a direction parallel to an axis of the pivot member, an end of the locking member passing through the opening of the second elongated member; and a biasing member that is coupled to the elongated locking member and the pivot member.

17. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the notch and the opening are positioned so that when the first and second elongated members are parallel to each other, the notch is positioned beside the opening, and the biasing member biases the locking member to engage the notch so as to prevent the first elongated member from moving relative to the second elongated member.

18. The apparatus of claim 17, wherein to rotate the first elongated member relative to the second elongated member, an external force is required to expand the biasing member to disengage the locking member from the notch.

19. An apparatus comprising: a frame; a leg to support the frame, the frame and the leg configured to adjust between a folded configuration in which the leg is substantially parallel to the frame and an unfolded configuration in which the leg is substantially vertical to the frame; locking means, adjustable between a locked mode and an unlocked mode, for allowing the leg and the frame to change from the unfolded configuration to the folded configuration when the locking means is in the unlocked mode, and for preventing the leg and the frame from changing from the unfolded configuration to the folded configuration when the locking means is in the locked mode.

20. The apparatus of claim 16, further comprising means to provide cushion to a user when the user either sits or kneels on the frame.

21. The apparatus of claim 16, wherein the leg is coupled to the frame through a pivot pin.

22. The apparatus of claim 21, wherein the locking means comprises a spring and a movable member, the spring being positioned between the pivot pin and the movable member.

23. A method of folding a bench that includes a frame, a leg, a biasing member, and a slidable member, the frame pivotly coupled to the leg through a pivot pin, the biasing member configured to bias the slidable member to engage the frame and leg to prevent the leg from moving relative to the frame during usage of the bench, the method comprising: expanding the biasing member and simultaneously pulling the slidable member in a direction away from the pivot pin so that the slidable member does not engage the frame; and rotating the leg about the pivot pin relative to the frame to a position so that the leg is substantially parallel to the frame.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein the biasing member comprises a spring connected to the slidable member and the pivot pin.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/461,609, filed on Apr. 8, 2003, entitled “Kneeling Bench.”

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] This invention relates to a kneeling bench.

BACKGROUND

[0003] A kneeling bench allows a gardener to perform gardening work in either a kneeling position or a sitting position. Referring to FIG. 1, an example of a kneeling bench 10 includes a horizontal frame 12 that has two foam pads 14 and 16 connected to an upper and a lower side, respectively, of frame 12. Frame 12 is supported by two legs 18. When bench 10 is placed in a “seating position” as shown in FIG. 1, it functions as a sitting tool and allows the gardener to sit on pad 14. Referring to FIG. 2, when kneeling bench 10 is flipped up-side-down (as compared to the orientation in FIG. 1) and placed in a “kneeling position,” bench 10 functions as a kneeling tool that allows the gardener to kneel on pad 16 while planting seeds or weeding weeds.

[0004] Referring to FIG. 3, an example of a foldable kneeling bench 100 shown in a seating position includes a horizontal frame 102 for supporting a seat rest 117 and a knee rest 119. Horizontal frame 102 is supported by two legs. FIG. 3 shows a leg 104 at one end of kneeling bench 100. It is understood that the other end of frame 102 is supported by a second leg (not shown) and configured similarly. Leg 104 is connected to a Π-shaped connecting bridge 105 that includes a support member 114 and extension arms 115. Extension arms 115 are pivotly coupled to frame 102 through pivot pins 112. When kneeling bench 100 is in use, horizontal frame 102 is locked in a position substantially perpendicular to leg 104 by engaging a slidable bar 108 within notches 103 of horizontal frame 102. Coil springs 110 push slidable bar 108 towards pivot pins 112 so that the bar 108 remains engaged within notch 103. Coil springs 110 are supported by members 111 that are connected to slidable bar 108 and extend through holes 113 formed in support member 114.

[0005] Referring to FIG. 4, to collapse the kneeling bench 100, the user folds leg 104 by pushing slidable bar 108 away from the horizontal frame 102 and toward leg 104. This compresses the coil springs 110 and causes members 111 to slide through holes 113 and extend further beyond support member 114. The user rotates leg 104 about pivot pins 112 relative to the horizontal frame 102 in a direction shown by arrow 109 until leg 104 is substantially parallel to the horizontal frame 102.

SUMMARY

[0006] A kneeling bench having a locking mechanism that can be operated with a single hand, where the locking mechanism does not have elements protruding towards the user's hands, thus allowing the user to fold or unfold the kneeling bench more conveniently.

[0007] In one aspect, the invention features a bench adjustable between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration. The bench includes a frame, a leg, and a pivot member coupled between the frame and the leg. The leg and the frame are configured to pivot about the pivot member. The bench also includes a slidable member coupled to the frame and configured to prevent relative movement between the frame and the leg when the slidable member is in a locked position. The slidable member is configured to disengage the frame to allow relative movement between the leg and the frame when the slidable member is in an unlocked position. The bench also includes a biasing mechanism positioned between the slidable member and the pivot member. The biasing mechanism is coupled to the slidable bar and configured to maintain the slidable bar at the locked position when the bench is in the unfolded configuration.

[0008] Implementations of the invention may include one or more of the following features.

[0009] The biasing mechanism includes a spring.

[0010] The biasing mechanism has a first end coupled to the slidable member and a second end coupled to the pivot member.

[0011] The biasing mechanism is configured such that an external force is required to expand the biasing member in order to move the slidable member from the locked position to the unlocked position.

[0012] The frame includes a notch configured to engage the slidable member when the slidable member is at the locked position.

[0013] The leg includes a connecting bridge that is pivotly coupled to the frame.

[0014] The connecting bridge includes an opening for receiving a portion of the slidable member and to allow the slidable member to move between the locked and unlocked positions.

[0015] The bench also includes a seat rest coupled to a first side of the frame and a knee rest coupled to a second side of the frame.

[0016] The leg includes a connecting bridge that is pivotly coupled to the frame.

[0017] In another aspect, the invention features an apparatus that includes a frame, a leg, and a pivot member coupled between the frame and the leg. The leg and the frame are configured to pivot about the pivot member. The bench also includes a locking mechanism that includes a movable member and a biasing member. The biasing member is positioned between the movable member and the pivot member. The biasing member urges the movable member towards a locked position when there is no external force. The locking mechanism is configured so that when the movable member is in the locked position, it engages the frame and the leg to prevent movement of the leg relative to the frame. When the movable member is in an unlocked position, the movable member does not prevent movement of the leg relative to the frame.

[0018] Implementations of the invention may include one or more of the following features.

[0019] The biasing member has two ends, one end being connected to the movable member and the other end being connected to the pivot member.

[0020] The biasing member is expanded when the movable member is moved from the locked position to the unlocked position.

[0021] The leg includes a vertical member and a connecting bridge. The vertical member is substantially vertical during usage of the apparatus, and the connecting bridge is pivotly coupled to the frame through the pivot member.

[0022] The biasing member includes a spring.

[0023] The apparatus also includes a seat rest and a knee rest coupled to the frame.

[0024] In another aspect, the invention features an apparatus that includes a first elongated member having a notch at one end, and a second elongated member pivotly coupled to the first member through a pivot member spaced apart from the notch. The second elongated member has an opening. The apparatus also includes an elongated locking member oriented along a direction parallel to an axis of the pivot member. An end of the locking member passes through the opening of the second elongated member. The apparatus also includes a biasing member that is coupled to the elongated locking member and the pivot member.

[0025] Implementations of the invention may include one or more of the following features.

[0026] The notch and the opening are positioned so that when the first and second elongated members are parallel to each other, the notch is positioned beside the opening.

[0027] The biasing member biases the locking member to engage the notch so as to prevent the first elongated member from moving relative to the second elongated member.

[0028] To rotate the first elongated member relative to the second elongated member, an external force is required to expand the biasing member to disengage the locking member from the notch.

[0029] In another aspect, the invention features an apparatus that includes a frame and a leg to support the frame. The frame and the leg are configured to adjust between a folded configuration in which the leg is substantially parallel to the frame and an unfolded configuration in which the leg is substantially vertical to the frame. The apparatus also includes locking means that adjustable between a locked mode and an unlocked mode. When the locking means is in the unlocked mode, the leg and the frame can be changed from the unfolded configuration to the folded configuration. When the locking means is in the locked mode, the locking means prevents the leg and the frame from changing from the unfolded configuration to the folded configuration.

[0030] Implementations of the invention may include one or more of the following features.

[0031] The apparatus also includes means to provide cushion to a user when the user either sits or kneels on the frame.

[0032] The leg is coupled to the frame through a pivot pin.

[0033] The locking means includes a spring and a movable member. The spring is positioned between the pivot pin and the movable member.

[0034] In another aspect, the invention features a method of folding a bench that includes a frame, a leg, a biasing member, and a slidable member. The frame is pivotly coupled to the leg through a pivot pin. The biasing member is configured to bias the slidable member to engage the frame and leg to prevent the leg from moving relative to the frame during usage of the bench. The method includes expanding the biasing member and simultaneously pulling the slidable member in a direction away from the pivot pin so that the slidable member does not engage the frame, and rotating the leg about the pivot pin relative to the frame to a position so that the leg is substantially parallel to the frame.

[0035] Implementations of the invention may include one or more of the following features.

[0036] The biasing member includes a spring connected to the slidable member and the pivot pin.

[0037] Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0038] FIG. 1 shows an example of a kneeling bench in a seating orientation.

[0039] FIG. 2 shows the kneeling bench of FIG. 1 in a kneeling orientation.

[0040] FIGS. 3 and 4 show an example of a foldable kneeling bench.

[0041] FIG. 5 shows an example of a kneeling bench in an unfolded configuration.

[0042] FIG. 6 shows a locking mechanism of the kneeling bench of FIG. 5.

[0043] FIG. 7 shows the relative positions of a horizontal frame, a leg, a slidable bar, coil springs, and pivot pins 208 when kneeling bench 200 is in the folded configuration.

[0044] FIG. 8 shows the kneeling bench of FIG. 5 in the folded configuration.

[0045] FIG. 9 shows the locking mechanism when the kneeling bench is in a folded configuration.

[0046] FIG. 10 shows the kneeling bench in the folded configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0047] Referring to FIG. 5, a kneeling bench 200 includes a horizontal frame 212, a seat rest 214, a knee rest 216, and a pair of legs 204. Each leg 204 is pivotly connected at opposite ends of frame 212 to a corresponding Π-shaped connecting bridge 224 about an axis 252 (see FIG. 6). Each Π-shaped connecting bridge 224 includes a pair of extending arms 222 attached to a cross member 218.

[0048] When bench 200 is unfolded and placed in a seating orientation (as shown in FIG. 5), seat rest 214 rises about two feet above ground and serves as a cushion for the user to sit on. When kneeling bench 200 is turned up-side-down (similar to the orientation shown in FIG. 2), knee rest 216 rises a few inches above ground and serves as a cushion for the user to kneel on.

[0049] A locking mechanism 201 allows kneeling bench 200 to be converted between the unfolded configuration and a folded configuration (as shown in FIG. 10). As described in more detail below, locking mechanism 201 is configured to allow a user to fold or unfold each leg with a single hand while minimizing the risk of pinching the hand between movable parts of the kneeling bench.

[0050] Horizontal frame 212 includes two parallel elongated members 213 that are connected to two sides of a rectangular wooden board 215 using screws 217. Seat rest 214 and knee rest 216 are glued to upper and lower surfaces of board 215, respectively. Seat rest 214 and knee rest 216 are, for example, made of foam and provide cushion to the user during use of bench 200.

[0051] In one implementation, elongated members 213, legs 204, and Π-shaped connecting bridges 224 are made of steel.

[0052] Referring to FIG. 6, locking mechanism 201 includes a slidable bar 206 that is biased towards pivot pins 208 by a pair of coil springs 210, which together serve as a biasing mechanism. One end of each coil spring 210 is attached to a groove on slidable bar 206, while the other end of coil spring 210 is attached to a groove on pin 208. The grooves secure the ends of coil spring 210 at predetermined positions on slidable bar 206 and pin 208. Extension arms 222 of Π-shaped connecting bridge 224 include elongated openings 221 that receive the ends of slidable bar 220. Elongated openings 221 are configured to allow slidable bar 206 to move in a direction shown by arrow 244 between a locked position 240 (FIG. 7) and an unlocked position 242 (FIG. 8), and to prevent slidable bar 206 from moving in a direction shown by arrow 245 (which is perpendicular to the direction represented by arrow 244).

[0053] The length of slidable bar 206 is slightly longer than the distance between openings 221 on the Π-shaped connecting bridge 224. Locking clips 246 are attached near both ends of slidable bar 206 to prevent the slidable bar from moving in an axial direction shown by an arrow 248. The locking clips 246 are attached to grooves formed at the portions 250 of slidable bar 206 that extend beyond openings 221. Each elongated member 213 has notches 220 formed at its two ends, which engage slidable bar to lock the relative positions of frame 220 and legs 204.

[0054] When bench 200 is in the unfolded configuration, coil springs 210 bias slidable bar 206 towards notches 220 of elongated members 213, causing slidable bar 206 to be firmly engaged within notches 220. In order to rotate leg 104 about pivot pin 208 relative to frame 212, a user rotates extension arms 222 about pins 208 relative to elongated members 213. When slidable bar 206 is firmly engaged within notches 220, slidable bar 206 locks extension arms 222 to elongated members 213, preventing relative movement between leg 204 and frame 212. Biasing slidable bar 206 towards notches 220 locks leg 204 in a position such that leg 204 is substantially perpendicular to frame 212. In this way, kneeling bench 200 is locked in the unfolded configuration.

[0055] Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, when slidable bar 206 is in the locked position 240, the distance between the cross member 218 and the center axis of slidable bar 206 is about 2 inches. This allows an average user to hold both cross member 218 and slidable bar 206 with a single hand. To fold kneeling bench 200, a user grabs cross member 218 and slidable bar 206, and draws the slidable bar 206 towards the cross member 218, causing slidable bar 206 to disengage from notches 220.

[0056] To move slidable bar 206 from the locked position 240 to the unlocked position 242, the user grasps both slidable bar 206 and cross member 218 and squeezes the slidable bar in a direction shown by arrow 257 to counteract the bias forces exerted by springs 210, thereby extending coil springs 210. After slidable bar moves to the unlocked position 242, the downward movement of slidable bar 206 is no longer restricted by the elongated member 213. This allows leg 204 to rotate in a counterclockwise direction represented by arrow 247 (FIG. 6) about pivot pins 208 relative to frame 212, allowing kneeling bench 200 to be collapsed into the folded configuration, upon which it can be conveniently carried or stored.

[0057] Locking mechanism 201 advantageously allows the user to grasp cross member 218 and slidable bar 206 with one hand near the center portions 223 of cross member 218 and slidable bar 206, and pull slidable bar 206 towards cross member 218 by simply closing his fingers. Because there is no moving parts near the center portions 223 of slidable bar 206 and cross member 218, the likelihood of the user's hand being pinched by mechanical moving parts is virtually eliminated.

[0058] Referring to FIG. 9, the end of elongated member 213 is shaped so that an upper portion 249 above the notch 220 is slightly longer than a lower portion 251 below the notch 220. The size and shape of elongated opening 221 is selected so that when slidable bar 206 moves to the unlocked position 242, slidable bar 206 contacts the upper portion 249 but does not contact the lower portion 251. In this way, when slidable bar 206 moves to the unlocked position 242, leg 204 can rotate in the counterclockwise direction represented by arrow 247, but cannot rotate in a clockwise direction. In this way, leg 204 will fold inwardly to reduce the size of kneeling bench 204.

[0059] To unfold the kneeling bench 200 (i.e., to change from the folded configuration shown in FIG. 10 to the unfolded configuration shown in FIG. 5), the user rotates leg 204 about pivot pins 208 in a direction represented by arrow 255 until leg 204 becomes perpendicular to horizontal frame 212. The lower edge 253 of lower portion 251 is curved so that as leg 204 is rotated in the direction shown by arrow 255, the slidable bar 206 comes into contact with lower portion 251 and moves smoothly along the lower edge 253. The coil springs 210 expand slightly as slidable bar 206 moves along the lower edge 253. When leg 204 is substantially perpendicular to frame 212, slidable bar 206 moves past lower edge 253 and is pulled towards notches 220 by the restoring forces of coil springs 210. This locks the leg 204 at a position substantially perpendicular to the horizontal frame 212, thereby locking the kneeling bench 200 in the unfolded configuration.

[0060] Although some examples have been discussed above, other implementation and applications are also within the scope of the following claims. For example, different types of springs can be used. Biasing mechanism other than springs can also be used to bias slidable bar 206 towards pivot pin 208 so that bar 206 is engaged within notches 220. Seat rest 214 and knee rest 216 may use different types of materials. In FIG. 4, opening 221 may be formed in horizontal frame 212, notch 220 may be formed in support bar 222, and pivot pin 208 may be positioned between cross member 218 and the slidable bar 206. Coil springs 210 are not required to be connected to the pivot pins 208. For example, the springs 210 can be connected to anchor points that are connected to elongated members 213. Accordingly, other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims.