Title:
Funnel-shaped holder with mount for attaching to surface
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A funnel-shaped holder for holding an implement. The holder includes a funnel structure having an upper end that flares open upwardly and is relatively wide for receiving an implement, a lower end that opens downwardly and is relatively narrow, and a rear wall with a substantially flat inside surface. A mounting formation on the holder is configured to engage a mounting surface and support at least a portion of the funnel structure away from the mounting surface. The mounting formation has a height which is less than about one-half of an overall height of the funnel structure, such that multiple holders can be readily stacked together in a nested arrangement for compact packaging.



Inventors:
Brooks, Jeffrey S. (St. Louis, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/053792
Publication Date:
11/10/2005
Filing Date:
02/08/2005
Assignee:
Jeffrey S. Brooks, Inc. (Creve Coeur, MO, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/08; A47F7/00; B25H3/00; B25H3/04; (IPC1-7): A47F5/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040182971Fiber optic connector bracketSeptember, 2004Sharma
20090151761CALF, ANKLE, FOOT, OR LEG REST FOR CANE AND CANE WITH DEVICE ATTACHEDJune, 2009Montanti
20050205749Fiber mesh reinforced elastomeric vibration isolation padsSeptember, 2005Campbell
20040129841Drop wire clampJuly, 2004George Jr.
20100084533Bracing Attachment Device for Concrete Column FormsApril, 2010Dunmire et al.
20080283706Personal Item HolderNovember, 2008Hanson et al.
20080296450Jersey Display DeviceDecember, 2008Lang
20060011798Conerence branding system and related methodJanuary, 2006Simmons
20090061761Satellite receiverMarch, 2009Yang et al.
20090189026CABLE SUPPORT MECHANISM AND METHOD OF USING SAMEJuly, 2009Bourgeois
20030210516Isolated mounting plate for optimizing disc drive seek and settle timesNovember, 2003Bernett et al.



Primary Examiner:
NOVOSAD, JENNIFER ELEANORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STINSON LLP (ST LOUIS, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A funnel-shaped holder for holding an implement and for attachment to a generally vertical mounting surface, said holder comprising: a funnel structure having an upper end that flares open upwardly and is relatively wide for receiving said implement, a lower end that is relatively narrow, a rear wall with an inside surface and an outside surface, and opposite converging side walls which define, in conjunction with said rear wall, a funnel-shaped recess for holding said implement in a stored position, said funnel structure further having an overall height from its upper end to its lower end; and a mounting formation configured to engage said vertical mounting surface and support at least a portion of the funnel structure away from said vertical mounting surface, the mounting formation having a top, a bottom, and a spacing between the top and bottom defining a height of the mounting formation; wherein the height of the mounting formation is less than about one-half of said overall height of the funnel structure.

2. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 1 wherein the mounting formation has a substantially flat back surface configured to engage said mounting surface.

3. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 2 wherein the mounting formation is integrally formed with the funnel structure.

4. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 2 wherein the mounting formation is positioned on an upper portion of the funnel structure.

5. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 4 wherein said top of the mounting formation is adjacent to said upper end of the funnel structure.

6. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 2 further comprising at least two fastener openings in said back surface of the mounting formation.

7. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 6 wherein each opening extends to a corresponding knock-out region on the rear wall of the funnel structure which is removable so that a fastener may extend through the rear wall for attaching the holder to the mounting surface.

8. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 2 further comprising a double-sided adhesive material for attaching the holder to the mounting surface, said material being positioned against said back surface of said mounting formation.

9. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 1 in combination with a second funnel-shaped holder, the holders stacked together in a nested arrangement.

10. The combination as set forth in claim 9 wherein the holders comprise upper and lower holders, and wherein at the nested arrangement said bottom of the mounting formation of the upper holder engages the upper end of the funnel structure of the lower holder.

11. A funnel-shaped holder for holding an implement and for attachment to a generally vertical mounting surface, said holder comprising: a funnel structure having an upper end that flares open upwardly and is relatively wide for receiving said implement, a lower end that is relatively narrow, a rear wall with an inside surface and a tapered outside surface tapering forward in a direction toward the lower end of the funnel, and opposite converging side walls which define, in conjunction with said rear wall, a funnel-shaped recess for holding said implement in a stored position, the recess having a central longitudinal axis, said funnel structure further having an overall height from its upper end to its lower end; and a mounting formation projecting rearward from the rear wall of the holder adjacent the upper end of the holder, said mounting formation having a top, a bottom, and a back surface defining a plane which is generally parallel to said central longitudinal axis of the holder for mounting the holder on said generally vertical mounting surface with said central longitudinal axis generally vertical, said bottom of the mounting formation being spaced above the lower end of the funnel structure more than one-half the overall height of the funnel structure whereby a plurality of said funnels may be stacked stably one inside the other in a nested arrangement.

12. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 11 wherein the bottom of the mounting formation is spaced above the lower end of the funnel structure at least two-thirds of the overall height of the funnel structure.

13. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 11 wherein the mounting formation is integrally formed with the funnel structure.

14. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 13 further comprising at least two fastener openings in said back surface of the mounting formation, each opening extending to a corresponding knock-out region on the rear wall of the funnel structure which is removable so that a fastener may extend through the rear wall for attaching the holder to the mounting surface.

15. A funnel-shaped holder as set forth in claim 13 further comprising a double-sided adhesive material for attaching the holder to the mounting surface, said material being positioned against said back surface of said mounting formation.

16. A plurality of funnel-shaped holders, each adapted for holding an implement and for attachment to a generally vertical mounting surface, each holder comprising: a funnel structure having an upper end that flares open upwardly and is relatively wide for receiving said implement, a lower end that is relatively narrow, a rear wall with an inside surface and a tapered outside surface tapering forward in a direction toward the lower end of the funnel, and opposite converging side walls which define, in conjunction with said rear wall, a funnel-shaped recess for holding said implement in a stored position, the recess having a central longitudinal axis, said funnel structure further having an overall height from its upper end to its lower end; and a mounting formation projecting rearward from the rear wall of the holder adjacent the upper end of the holder, said mounting formation having a top, a bottom, and a back surface defining a plane which is generally parallel to said central longitudinal axis of the holder for mounting the holder on said generally vertical mounting surface with said central longitudinal axis generally vertical, said bottom of the mounting formation being spaced above the lower end of the funnel structure more than one-half the overall height of the funnel structure whereby said plurality of said funnels may be nested one inside another to form a stable stack of funnels.

17. A plurality of funnel-shaped holders as set forth in claim 16 wherein the holders are dimensioned such that when they are stacked together, the bottom of the mounting formation of one holder in the stack contacts the upper end of the funnel structure of the holder immediately below it.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/569,087, filed May 7, 2004.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to devices for holding tools, utensils and other implements, and more particularly to a funnel holder for holding such items which mounts on a wall or other surface and which may be compactly packaged.

In particular, this invention is an improvement on the invention disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,305,557, entitled “Funnel System for Holding Implements”, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. Household tools and assorted yard and garden implements are often stored against a wall of a garage, closet, or work area where they may be conveniently kept and readily picked up. Unfortunately, the area near such a wall can become cluttered. It is desirable to have a system for holding an assortment of items having a variety of shapes and sizes in a compact arrangement along a wall or other surface where the items may be supported and easily removed. The system should be readily attachable to the wall.

Numerous systems have been developed for holding and organizing utensils, tools, instruments, etc. to reduce clutter and save space, including pegboards, holders, and organizers. While these devices are useful to varying degrees, there is still a need for an inexpensive system which is easy to use, easy to mount and which is designed so that it holds a variety of differently sized items at selectable positions in a sturdy fashion. Moreover, there is a need for a system which may be compactly packaged for storage, transport, and retail display.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Among the several objects and features of an exemplary embodiment of this invention may be noted the provision of an improved holder which can readily be mounted on a wall or surface; the provision of an embodiment of the holder which can be compactly stacked with a second, identical (or substantially similar) holder for space-efficient packaging; the provision of an embodiment of the holder which can be used to hold items of a variety of shapes and sizes in a stable position; the provision of an embodiment of the holder which is durable and sturdy; and the provision of an embodiment of the holder which is inexpensive to make, affordable for the consumer, pleasing to the eye, and easy to use.

In general, a funnel-shaped holder according to this invention is for holding an implement and for attachment to a generally vertical mounting surface. The holder comprises a funnel structure having an upper end that flares open upwardly and is relatively wide for receiving the implement, a lower end that is relatively narrow, a rear wall with an inside surface and an outside surface, and opposite converging side walls which define, in conjunction with the rear wall, a funnel-shaped recess for holding the implement in a stored position. The funnel structure further has an overall height from its upper end to its lower end. A mounting formation is configured to engage the vertical mounting surface and support at least a portion of the funnel structure away from the vertical mounting surface. The mounting formation has a top, a bottom, and a spacing between the top and bottom defining a height of the mounting formation. The height of the mounting formation is less than about one-half of the overall height of the funnel structure.

In another aspect, a funnel-shaped holder of this invention is for holding an implement and for attachment to a generally vertical mounting surface. The holder comprises a funnel structure having an upper end that flares open upwardly and is relatively wide for receiving the implement, a lower end that is relatively narrow, a rear wall with an inside surface and a tapered outside surface tapering forward in a direction toward the lower end of the funnel. Opposite converging side walls define, in conjunction with the rear wall, a funnel-shaped recess for holding the implement in a stored position. The recess has a central longitudinal axis. The funnel structure further has an overall height from its upper end to its lower end. A mounting formation projects rearward from the rear wall of the holder adjacent the upper end of the holder. The mounting formation has a top, a bottom, and a back surface defining a plane which is generally parallel to the central longitudinal axis of the holder for mounting the holder on a vertical surface with the central longitudinal axis generally vertical. The bottom of the mounting formation is spaced above the lower end of the funnel structure more than one-half the overall height of the funnel structure whereby a plurality of the funnels may be stacked stably one inside the other in a nested arrangement.

In yet another aspect, the invention comprises a plurality of funnel-shaped holders, each adapted for holding an implement and for attachment to a generally vertical mounting surface. Each holder comprises a funnel structure having an upper end that flares open upwardly and is relatively wide for receiving the implement, a lower end that is relatively narrow, a rear wall with an inside surface and a tapered outside surface tapering forward in a direction toward the lower end of the funnel. Opposite converging side walls define, in conjunction with the rear wall, a funnel-shaped recess for holding the implement in a stored position. The recess has a central longitudinal axis. The funnel structure further has an overall height from its upper end to its lower end. A mounting formation projects rearward from the rear wall of the holder adjacent the upper end of the holder. The mounting formation has a top, a bottom, and a back surface defining a plane which is generally parallel to the central longitudinal axis of the holder for mounting the holder on a vertical surface with the central longitudinal axis generally vertical. The bottom of the mounting formation is spaced above the lower end of the funnel structure more than one-half the overall height of the funnel structure whereby the plurality of funnels may be nested one inside another to form a stable stack of funnels.

Other objects and features of the present invention will be in part apparent and in part pointed out hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an elevation of a system having several funnel holders according to one embodiment of the present invention, each funnel holder being shown as holding an implement (in phantom);

FIG. 2 is a front elevation of a funnel holder;

FIG. 3 is a top plan of the funnel holder of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a rear elevation of the funnel holder;

FIG. 5 is a side elevation of the funnel holder;

FIG. 6 is a perspective of two of the funnel holders in a stacked arrangement;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation of the stacked funnel holders of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a side elevation of the funnel holder attached to a wall by screw fasteners; and

FIG. 9 is a side elevation of the funnel holder attached to a wall by a double-sided adhesive material.

Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the drawings, and first to FIG. 1, a system of the present invention for holding implements such as kitchen utensils, tools, instruments of various sorts, and other items, is indicated in its entirety by the reference numeral 15. The system comprises one or more funnel-shaped holders, each generally indicated at 20, which are adapted to be mounted on a generally vertical mounting surface W in selected positions depending on the size of implements or the personal preference of the user. In one embodiment, each holder 20 has a size smaller than a holder described in the aforementioned U.S. Pat. No. 6,305,557, and is more particularly suited for relatively small, hand-held implements such as tools, brushes, utensils, and the like. However, the size of the holder may vary without departing from the scope of this invention.

As illustrated in FIGS. 2-5, each holder 20 comprises a funnel structure 22 having a flaring relatively wide upwardly opening upper end 24 or mouth for receiving an implement, and a narrower downwardly opening lower end 26. The structure further has a rear wall 28 with an outside surface 30, a substantially flat vertical inside surface 32, and a pair of opposite converging side walls 34 which, in conjunction with the rear wall, define a funnel-shaped recess extending from the upper end 24 of the structure to its lower end 26. The recess has a central longitudinal axis indicated at L. Each side wall 34 has an upper curved portion 36 (FIG. 2), and a substantially straight, substantially vertical lower portion 38. (The specific configuration of the funnel may vary.) The outside surface 30 of the rear wall 28 is adapted to face toward the vertical mounting surface W, which may be a wall, panel, door, or other structure on which it is desirable to hold an implement. It is understood that the mounting surface W need not be perfectly vertical or even primarily vertical, and may slope at a substantial angle with respect to vertical.

In the illustrated exemplary embodiment, the holder 20 has a front wall 40 comprising a pair of lips 42 at the front of the side walls 34. The lips 42 are spaced forward of the rear wall 28 for preventing an implement in the holder from falling forward out of the recess. The two lips 42 define a substantially vertical slot or opening 44 (FIG. 3) in the front wall 40 through which a smaller-diameter part of the implement, such as a shaft of a handle, can be inserted through the opening into the funnel-shaped recess. The implement can then be moved down (lowered or dropped) so that a larger-diameter part of the implement, such as a head or body, is received in the upper end 24 of the funnel structure 22 in a position in which it bears on the converging side walls 34 and is held captive between the front wall 40 and rear wall 28 of the funnel structure. The implement is effectively locked in place, securely and removably held in a stored position. To unlock and remove the implement from the funnel holder, these steps are reversed. The implement is moved up and the smaller diameter part can be removed through the opening 44.

The slot or opening 44 defined by the lips 42 preferably has a width S (FIG. 3) in the range of about 0.5 to 1.0 in., and more desirably about 0.75 in., which is sufficient to accommodate most hand-held household or industrial implements. However, this width may vary. As shown in FIG. 3, the upper end 24 of the funnel structure has a depth A which is sized to hold the large-diameter part of certain implements. While this dimension A will vary depending on the intended use of the holder, a depth in the range of about 0.75 to 1.5 in. has been found to be suitable for many consumer applications.

Implements that are large and unable to fit within a funnel holder 20 may be supported on the top of a holder. Alternatively, these large implements can be bridged across two adjacent side-by-side holders 20, with the implement either resting on top of the holders or fitting in the upper ends of the funnel structures.

The shape of the funnel structure 22 may vary without departing from the scope of this invention. For example, another embodiment (not shown) of the funnel holder has side walls with upper portions that have a stair-like stepped configuration. In that embodiment, the implement is lowered until the larger-diameter part bears on a pair of steps having a spacing that approximately matches the width of the part. Further, while the inside surface 32 of the rear wall 28 is described above as being a substantially flat vertical surface, it will be understood that this description encompasses a design where the rear wall is tapered at a small angle (e.g., 20 degrees or less) relative to the central longitudinal axis L of the recess of the holder as shown in FIG. 5, for example. It will be noted in this regard that tapering of the funnel from top to bottom along the front wall 40, rear wall 28, and side walls 34 of the funnel may be desirable for molding or other reasons, it being understood that certain molding techniques require tapering of a product for removal from the mold.

The holder 20 illustrated in FIG. 4 is provided with means for mounting the funnel structure on the mounting surface W. In one embodiment, the mounting means comprises a mounting formation, indicated generally at 50, which is positioned on the outside surface 30 of the rear wall 28 for supporting at least a portion of the funnel structure 22 at a small distance away from the mounting surface W. The formation 50 is positioned on an upper portion of the funnel structure 22, adjacent the upper end 24. It includes a substantially flat back surface 52 which, in the illustrated embodiment, lies in a plane generally parallel to the central longitudinal axis L of the holder. As shown in FIG. 5, the formation 50 projects outwardly from the outside surface 30 a distance which increases generally linearly moving downward from the upper end of the funnel structure. As a result, when the back surface 52 of the formation is placed flat against (FIG. 8) or parallel to (FIG. 9) the mounting surface W on which the holder is to be mounted, the central longitudinal axis L of the holder automatically assumes a position generally parallel to the mounting surface W, which is typically a vertical surface. Also, the mounting formation 50 tends to prevent contact between the rear wall 28 of the holder and the surface W, as well as preventing contact between the implement and the surface W, which could cause damage. Further, the spacing of the holder from the surface W causes the implement to be held at a position spaced farther away from the surface W where it is easier for a user to grasp the implement for removal from the holder.

The mounting formation 50 has an upper end or top 54 and a lower end or bottom 56. In one embodiment, the top 54 is adjacent to or coincident with the upper end 24 of the funnel structure 22, and the bottom 56 has a smooth and straight edge. A vertical extent of the mounting formation 50, or height H1 (FIG. 4), is defined by a distance between its top 54 and its bottom 56. The vertical extent provides for longitudinal (up and down) stability of the funnel holder against the mounting surface W. An overall height H2 of the funnel structure 22 is defined by a distance between its upper end 24 and its lower end 26. In one embodiment, and for example only, the overall height H2 is about 2.5 in. The height H1 of the mounting formation is preferably within a range from about ⅓ to ½ of the height H2 of the funnel structure. That is, the bottom 56 of the mounting formation is spaced above the lower end 26 of the funnel structure by more than one-half of the overall height H2. In one embodiment, the bottom 56 is spaced above the lower end 26 by at least two-thirds of the overall height H2. The mounting formation 50 has a horizontal extent, or width W1, which provides for lateral (side-to-side) stability of the funnel holder against the mounting surface. The width tapers slightly moving downward from the upper end 24 of the funnel structure. In one embodiment, the width W1 is about ⅓ of a width W2 of the funnel structure, although this can vary.

Each holder 20, including the funnel structure 22 and mounting means 50, is preferably a one-piece injection molded part formed from a suitable plastic such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyurethane, or polystyrene. That integral construction promotes lower-cost manufacture since the funnel structure and mounting formation are simultaneously made in one piece, for example, in a single injection molding process. However, it is understood that the mounting formation may be formed separately from the funnel structure without departing from the scope of this invention. Further, the mounting formation can take various forms, such as for example parallel ribs, a grid structure, or separate bosses, so long as the structure defining the formation defines a plane generally parallel to the central longitudinal axis L of the holder.

A significant advantage of the funnel holder 20 is that it may be compactly stacked with a second, identical or substantially similar holder for space-efficient packaging in storage, transport, or retail display (e.g., at a store shelf). As illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7, a lower portion of a first holder 20 is received into an upper portion of the recess of a second holder 20. The bottom 56 of the mounting formation 50 on the first holder engages an edge at the upper end 24 (or the top 54) of the second holder. Effectively, the bottom 56 is a stop which limits penetration of the upper holder into the recess of the lower holder, as well as stabilizing the stacked arrangement by its edge-to-edge contact with the upper end 24. Because the height H1 is less than half of the overall height H2, more than half of the vertical extent of the upper funnel holder 20 is received in the recess of the lower funnel holder. That tends to stabilize the stacking and prevents relative motion between the holders 20 because the upper holder reaches into a narrower portion of the lower recess and is contained between the side walls 34. It also reduces volume of a stacked combination of two holders. Moreover, three, four, or more holders 20 can be nested together in a compact stack arrangement for packaging or transport, with the lower end 26 of each holder fitting into the upper end 24 of an adjacent holder.

Referring to FIG. 8, the invention provides for attaching the holder 20 to the mounting surface W. The mounting formation 50 has two depressions or openings 60 in the back surface 52. Each opening 60 extends to a relatively thinner portion of the rear wall 28 which comprises a knock-out region 62 (FIGS. 3 and 4) on the rear wall which is removable. One or more fasteners 64 (e.g., screws or nails) can be inserted through the openings 60 to secure the holder 20 in fixed position. Each fastener 64 extends through an opening 60 and rear wall 28 for attaching the holder to the mounting surface W. The mounting formation 50 provides material thickness which reinforces the strength of rear wall 28 in a region near the fasteners 64. Prior to inserting the fasteners 64, the knock-out regions 62 are removed by a sharp instrument which punctures the rear wall. In another embodiment (not shown), the holder is manufactured with pre-formed openings that extend entirely through the rear wall, and no knock-outs are necessary.

An alternate attachment means is illustrated in FIG. 9. A piece of double-sided adhesive material 66 is positioned between the back surface 52 of the mounting formation 50 and the mounting surface W. No other fasteners are necessary.

It will be understood that other types of means can be used to permanently or temporarily mount the holders 20 on the mounting surface W without departing from the scope of this invention. For example, a liquid adhesive or hook and loop fasteners (VELCRO) may be used. It is also contemplated that one or three (instead of two) openings 60 and corresponding fasteners 64 may be used for each holder.

Thus the holder 20 can hold items of a variety of shapes and sizes at a stable arrangement where they are easily removed. The holder is easily mounted on a wall, either singly or in combination with other holders The holders may be compactly stacked with other holders for space-efficient packaging.

In view of the above, it will be seen that the several objects of the invention are achieved and other advantageous results obtained.

When introducing elements of the present invention or the preferred embodiment(s) thereof, the articles “a”, “an”, “the” and “said” are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms “comprising”, “including” and “having” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements.

As various changes could be made in the above without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description and shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.