Title:
Convertible folding table
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A convertible folding table having a dry erasable upper table surface. The table has two complementary tabletop portions hinged together so as to form a carrying case when closed, and a table when opened. Attached to the underside of the tabletop portions are leg assemblies that may be stowed adjacent the underside of the tabletop portions when the table is in a closed position and extended for use perpendicular to the common plane of the tabletop portions when the table is in an open position for use. Also attached to the underside of the tabletop portions are storage assemblies.



Inventors:
Khan, Tiffany R. (Northfield, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/375124
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
03/14/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROHRHOFF, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Stephen E. Arnett (Seattle, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A convertible folding table comprising: a pair of complementary semi-octagonal tabletop portions each having a dry erasable upper surface and being pivotably connected to each other and adapted to form an octagon when in a first open position with the respective upper surfaces in a common plane, and to form a carrying case when in a second closed position with the respective upper surfaces in spaced apart substantially parallel planes; a plurality of storage devices connected to an underside of at least one of the tabletop portions; and at least one leg assembly connected to each tabletop portion.

2. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, wherein at lease one storage device is removably connected to an underside of at least one of the tabletop portions.

3. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, wherein each leg assembly is pivotably connected to one of the tabletop portions.

4. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, wherein each leg assembly is adjustable in length.

5. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, wherein each leg assembly is adapted to be stowed substantially adjacent an underside of at least one of the tabletop portions.

6. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 5, wherein each leg assembly has at least two portions that slidably engage each other and that may be temporarily fixed with respect to each other.

7. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 5, wherein each leg assembly is adapted to be adjusted to at least two different length positions.

8. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, wherein the dry erasable surface is formed over a steel sheet which allows magnets to be magnetically adhered to the dry erasable surface.

9. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, further comprising at least one latching mechanism adapted to hold the tabletop portions adjacent each other when in the closed position.

10. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a foldable gaming board that overlies the upper surfaces of the tabletop portions when in the open position.

11. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, wherein each tabletop portion further comprises a side wall extending perpendicular to the upper surface.

12. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 1, further comprising a pliable carrying case in which to stow or transport the convertible folding table.

13. A convertible folding table comprising: a pair of complementary tabletop portions each having an upper surface and a side wall extending perpendicular to the upper surface; the pair of complementary tabletop portions being pivotably connected together and adapted to be folded to an open position wherein the upper surface of each of the two tabletop portions are located in a common plane, and being adapted to be folded to a closed position wherein the respective upper surfaces of the tabletop portions are located in separate but substantially parallel planes and form together with the respective side walls a carrying case; each tabletop portion having a dry erasable top surface; each tabletop having an underside and leg assemblies adapted to be stowed substantially adjacent the underside when in the closed position; at least one storage device removably attached to the underside of at least one of the complementary tabletop portions; and the leg assemblies also being adapted to be extending downward from the tabletop portions when in the open position.

14. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 13, wherein each leg assembly is pivotably connected to one of the tabletop portions.

15. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 13, wherein each leg assembly is adjustable in length.

16. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 13, wherein a steel sheet underlies the dry erasable surface to allow magnets to be magnetically adhered to the dry erasable surface.

17. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 13, wherein each leg has at least two portions that slidably engage each other and that may be temporarily fixed with respect to each other.

18. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 13, further comprising at least one latching mechanism adapted to hold the tabletop portions adjacent each other when in the closed position.

19. A convertible folding table comprising: a pair of complementary tabletop portions each having a dry erasable upper surface and having a lower surface parallel to the upper surface; the pair of tabletop portions being pivotably connected together and having a first closed position forming a rigid carrying case and a second open position in which the respective upper surfaces are substantially coplanar; a plurality of length adjustable legs adapted to be extended substantially perpendicular to the lower surface for use when the tabletop portions are in the open position and adapted to be stowed substantially adjacent and parallel to the lower surface when the tabletop portions are in the closed position.

20. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 19, wherein the dry erasable upper surface overlies a layer which allows magnets to be magnetically adhered to the dry erasable surface.

21. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 19, wherein at lease one storage device is connected to the lower surface of at least one of the tabletop portions.

22. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 19, wherein each length adjustable leg is pivotably connected to one of the tabletop portions.

23. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 19, wherein each length adjustable leg has at least two portions that slidably engage each other and that may be temporarily fixed with respect to each other.

24. A convertible folding table in accordance with claim 19, further comprising a pliable carrying case in which to stow or transport the convertible folding table.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field Of The Invention

The present invention generally relates to a multi-use folding table. More particularly, the invention relates to a convertible folding table that includes storage containers and is able to be used for a variety of activities for both children and adults.

2. Discussion Of The Prior Art

Conventional folding tables are widely used in a variety of applications. A homeowner may have a folding table on hand in the event guests visit to supplement eating space, or to provide table space to play card or board games. Or, a sports fan may bring a small folding table to a sporting event for the serving of food and beverages at a tailgating event. Schools may have a number of folding tables on hand for many purposes, such as for temporary use in a cafeteria. Also common in the prior art are a variety of special purpose children's play tables. These tables are typically sized specially for children and may have integrated play features, such as writing surfaces.

It is desirable to produce a table with special utility for use as a children's play table. It is further desirable that such a table be able to be adapted for use by adults. It is still further desirable that such a table be foldable to be easily transported. Also, it is desirable that such a table include containers for storing items.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The purpose and advantages of the invention will be set forth and apparent from the description and drawings that follow, as well as will be learned by practice of the invention.

In a first aspect of the invention, the present invention is generally embodied in a convertible folding table having a pair of complementary semi-octagonal tabletop portions each having a dry erasable upper surface and being pivotably connected to each other and adapted to form an octagon when in a first open position with the respective upper surfaces in a common plane, and to form a carrying case when in a second closed position with the respective upper surfaces in spaced apart substantially parallel planes. The convertible folding table further has a plurality of storage devices connected to an underside of at least one of the tabletop portions, and at least one leg assembly connected to each tabletop portion.

In a second aspect, the invention provides a convertible folding table having a pair of complementary tabletop portions each having an upper surface and a side wall extending perpendicular to the upper surface, the pair of complementary tabletop portions being pivotably connected together and adapted to be folded to an open position wherein the upper surface of each of the two tabletop portions are located in a common plane, and being adapted to be folded to a closed position wherein the respective upper surfaces of a tabletop portions are located in separate but substantially parallel planes and form together with the respective side walls a carrying case. The convertible foldable table further has at least one latching mechanism adapted to hold the tabletop portions adjacent each other when in the closed position, with each tabletop portion having a dry erasable top surface, and an underside and leg assemblies adapted to be stowed substantially adjacent the underside when in the closed position. The convertible folding table further has at least one storage device removably attached to the underside of at least one of the complementary tabletop portions, and the leg assemblies also are adapted to be extending downward from the tabletop portions when in the open position.

In a third aspect of the invention, a convertible folding table is provided having a pair of complementary tabletop portions each having a dry erasable upper surface and having a lower surface parallel to the upper surface, with the pair of tabletop portions being pivotably connected together and having a first closed position forming a rigid carrying case and a second open position in which the respective upper surfaces are substantially coplanar. The convertible folding table further has a plurality of length adjustable legs adapted to be extended substantially perpendicular to the lower surface for use when the tabletop portions are in the open position and adapted to be stowed substantially adjacent and parallel to the lower surface when the tabletop portions are in the closed position.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and provided for purposes of explanation only, and are not restrictive of the invention, as claimed. Further features and objects of the present invention will become more fully apparent in the following description of the preferred embodiments and from the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In describing the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawing figures wherein like parts have like reference numerals, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a convertible folding table in accordance with the invention and in an open and upright position with the legs extended for use.

FIG. 2 is perspective view of the first embodiment, in a partially open position, showing the hinge mechanism that joins the complementary tabletop portions.

FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of a tabletop portion of the first embodiment.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the first embodiment, in a partially open position, showing the underside of respective complementary tabletop portions.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the first embodiment, in a closed position.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a carrying case for the table such as that of the first embodiment.

FIG. 7 is a side view of the first embodiment, with a removable foldable game board atop the table.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a convertible folding table in accordance with the invention and in an open and upright position with the legs extended for use.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the second embodiment, in a closed position, showing the bottom of the table where the respective complementary tabletop portions are connected by hinges.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the second embodiment, in a partially open position, showing the underside of the respective complementary tabletop portions with a storage container removed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring generally to FIGS. 1-10, it will be appreciated that a convertible folding table of the present invention may be embodied within numerous configurations. In FIGS. 1-7, an example of a first preferred embodiment of a convertible folding table 10 includes first and second complementary tabletop portions 12, each forming substantially one half of a complete octagonal tabletop, as best seen in FIG. 1. Each tabletop portion 12 has a generally planar upper surface 14, and downward projecting peripheral outer side wall portions 16, an inner side wall portion 18.

Peripheral outer side wall portions 16 and inner side wall portion 18 are relatively perpendicular to tabletop upper surface 14, and therefore, extend substantially vertically downward when table 10 is in an open position for use as a table. Side wall portions 16 and 18 may be made of relatively rigid materials such as plywood, fiberboard, plastic, sheet steel or of other suitable materials. The respective inner side wall portions 18 are hinged together by an elongated piano-type hinge 20, so as to form a carrying case when folded to a closed position, as best seen in FIGS. 2, 4 and 5.

Referring to FIG. 3, a cross sectional cut-away view of an example of one possible construction of one of the tabletop portions 12 is shown with an upper tabletop surface 14, downward projecting inner side wall portion 18, a tabletop first layer 22, a second layer 24 and a top layer 26. Tabletop first layer 22 may be constructed of any suitable relatively rigid material, such as plywood, fiberboard, plastic or the like. Affixed atop tabletop first layer 22, such as by adhesive bonding or other suitable means of attachment, is second layer 24, made of a relatively thin metal material to which magnets may be magnetically adhered, such as sheet steel or other suitable materials. Further affixed atop second layer 24, again by adhesive bonding or other suitable means of attachment, is third layer 26, which is a dry erasable or “whiteboard” layer made of plastic or vinyl film or the like. It will be understood that the tabletop portion could be made without the second layer, in which case the dry erasable top surface would not be able to have magnets magnetically adhere to its upper surface. It also will be understood that the peripheral side wall portions and layers may be of any color or colors, as desired.

As a result of the construction of each tabletop portion 12, the upper tabletop surface 14 may be written or drawn upon with writing instruments, such as dry erase markers. In this way, tabletop surface 14 may be used for a myriad of written expressions, including for instance, playful drawing by children, playing games that include writing, such as hang man or tic-tac-toe, as well as providing ample room to keep score when playing games. Similarly, one could draw decorations, write messages, or write names for respective place settings. As a further example, one could provide a plan for where to set particular dishes that are to be placed on the table, such as during a party. The upper surface also could be used for planning purposes in the form of a daily note board or for use in meetings that would benefit by having an area on which participants could write, such as during brainstorming sessions.

In addition to accepting easily erasable writing, due to the particular construction with the //second layer 24 being a material such as sheet steel, upper surface 14, which is the upper side of third layer 26, will be equipped to allow magnets to be magnetically adhered to it. In this manner, one could use preformed magnetic overlays, or toys commonly used by children, such as magnetic lettering sets. Also, when used for events outdoors, such as at a picnic or tailgating party, magnets could be used to hold down loose items, such as napkins, while place setting note cards could be replaced by simply writing the guests' names on the table in the various seating positions. In addition, the dry erase and magnetic features could be used together, such as with games that use magnetic game pieces.

Referring to FIGS. 1, 4 and 7, table 10 preferably has pivotable and adjustable length leg assemblies 30. For example, leg assemblies 30 are shown as having upper and lower telescopic portions 32 and 34, respectively. It will be appreciated that in a telescopic leg assembly 30, each leg portion may be a hollow tubular member, either the upper or the lower portion may be the respective outer portion, and the inner portion may be of solid construction. In this manner, many different relatively rigid materials may be used to form the leg portions, including metals or alloys, plastics and even wood or the like. To be telescopic, the leg portions ordinarily will be of complementary shapes, such as both circular or square, and the inside dimension of the outer portion will be slightly larger than the outside dimension of the inner portion, so as to permit the portions to slide with respect to each other. Telescopic leg assemblies 30 preferably should be capable of achieving a table height, when fully extended, of roughly 28 inches high. It will be appreciated that this dimension could be otherwise and could be adapted to the particular use envisioned for a given table. In addition, it is preferable that telescopic leg assemblies 30 have at least two length adjustment positions to allow convertible folding table 10 to be adapted for use by individuals of various heights, whether small children, adolescents or adults.

Each upper leg portion 32 is pivotably connected to a tabletop portion 12, such as by a pivoting engagement and foldable bracing structures 36. In the first preferred embodiment, the length of each leg 30 may be adjusted by pushing in on a push pin 38 in lower leg portion 34 and then sliding lower leg portion 34 within upper leg portion 32 until push pin 38 is aligned with the desired adjustment hole 40 in upper leg portion 32. In this way, each leg may be pivoted and locked into a position relatively perpendicular to the upper surface 14 of a tabletop portion 12, and adjusted in length prior to setting table 10 upright for use. It will be appreciated that a variety of different leg structures could be used, as well as adjustment means and structures to permit the legs to fold to a position adjacent the underside of a tabletop portion 12. Alternatively, the legs could include multiple sections that are stackable to achieve different lengths, or that may plug into respective sockets in the underside of a tabletop portion 12 for use (not shown), while being stowed adjacent the underside of the tabletop portion 12 when table 10 is folded to a closed position.

Referring to FIG. 4, attached to the underside of tabletop portions 12 may be one or more storage devices. For instance, a rigid storage container 42, such as a resealable plastic container of the Tupperware® type may be fixedly or removably connected to tabletop portion 12. Those of skill in the art will appreciate that to the underside of tabletop portion 12 such storage containers 42 may be affixed, such as by adhesive bonding or the like, or may be removably connected in a number of different ways, such as with snap-fit connectors, or hook and loop fasteners of the Velcro® type. In addition, the storage devices may include other means such as stretchable mesh 44, preferably made of nylon, or mesh bags, as well as stretchable cords 46 that can be affixed or hooked to the underside of tabletop portion 12 at one or both ends. Resilient cords 46 or stretchable mesh 44 could be used to hold items such as a folded table cloth 48, or to hold a bag or other container adjacent the underside of a tabletop 12 for storage. Similarly, one or more storage containers 42 can be used to store all sorts of items, such as dry erase writing instruments, food, toys, games, playing cards, poker chips, paper goods, eating utensils and the like.

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, attached to respective opposing outer side wall portions 16 of tabletop portions 12 are cooperative portions of a latching mechanism, such as post 50 and hook 52. One of skill in the art will appreciate that a wide variety of latching mechanisms may be used. Also, one or more latching mechanisms may be used so that, when convertible folding table 10 is in its folded state, as shown in FIG. 5, the folded table will not inadvertently open, thereby protecting any stored contents and avoiding potential injury.

Attached proximate the center of respective opposing outer side wall portions 16 of tabletop portion 12 are handles 54 for ease of carrying folded table 10. It will be appreciated that one or more handles 54 may be used and each handle may be of a simple flexible strap or cord construction affixed to an outer side wall portion 16, may be of a rigid material, and preferably is retractable or pivotable, so as to be able to be moved out of the way when table 10 is in an open position for use. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-7, handles 54 are made of a simple cord material, with each end of the cord passing through a hole in an outer side wall portion 16 and being tied into a knot to prevent the cord from being completely removed. In this manner, such handles easily could be repaired or replaced, if damaged.

In FIG. 6, a pliable carrying case 60 is provided for transporting table 10. Carrying case 60 may be of a weather proof material such as vinyl or the like, in which case it also may be padded inside to reduce the likelihood of damage when transporting table 10. Alternatively, carrying case 60 may be made of cloth, mesh or other suitable construction, which may be relatively light weight, but less impervious to weather or other damaging affects. Also, it is preferable that carrying case 60 have closure elements, such as zipper 62, snaps or other suitable means. Carrying case 60 may have one or more small handles to carry in a single hand (not shown) or may have a shoulder strap 64 for more convenient carrying over a shoulder. Carrying strap 64 may have an adjustable strap 66, with a length adjustment buckle 68 or the like, and may include a pad 70, to enhance comfort when carrying table 10 in case 60. It will be appreciated that a carrying strap such as strap 64 also could be adapted for use directly with tabletop portions 12 if desired.

Turning to FIG. 7, it will be appreciated that convertible folding table 10 is ideally suited for use with a commercially available table top gaming board 80. For instance, there are commonly available portable folding gaming boards 80 which are intended to set atop a table to create a temporary gaming table. Such a gaming board 80 may be constructed of a pressed fiber board covered in felt, or of other suitable materials, and is typically formed in an octagonal shape, such as to simulate a standard poker table for playing card games. As an example, a gaming board 80 may have a common dimension across its upper surface of 48 inches. If such a gaming board is set atop a common square card table measuring 36 inches across its upper surface, while the table may generally support the gaming board, the outer periphery of the gaming board will not be directly supported. Unfortunately, if an individual is sitting at such a table bearing such an overlying gaming board, and the individual leans on the gaming board with a hand or elbow in the largely unsupported region, the gaming board is likely to become significantly disrupted, and may be flipped, such as in a lever manner, relative to the edge of the underlying square table. In contrast to this, the preferred embodiment in FIGS. 1-7 provides a folding octagonal shape which would be complementary to such table top gaming boards 80, and preferably of a size, such as having a 47 inch dimension across the upper surface, so that table 10 will provide underlying relatively rigid support proximate the edges of gaming board 80. In this manner, it will be appreciated that convertible folding tables 10 may be configured in various shapes and sizes, some of which may be better suited for use with complementary devices.

A second embodiment of a convertible folding table is shown in FIGS. 8-10. In this embodiment, convertible folding table 110 is of a rectangular shape, and includes complementary tabletop portions 112 which each form substantially one half of a complete rectangular tabletop. It will be appreciated that such a tabletop may be of various dimensions, ranging from oblong to square, or alternatively may be of various shapes, such as of a different polygon, oval or circular, and are preferably constructed of similar materials and in a similar manner, such as was detailed in FIG. 3, or depending on the desired features, possibly without the metal second layer, resulting in the upper surface 114 being dry erasable but not magnetic.

Thus, each tabletop portion 112, has a generally planar upper surface 114, and downward projecting peripheral walls including an outer side wall portion 116, an inner side wall portion 118, and opposing end walls 119. As with the first embodiment, peripheral side walls 116, 118 and end walls 119 are relatively perpendicular to the upper surface 114, and therefore, extend substantially vertically downward from tabletop upper surface 114 when table 110 is in an open position for use as a table. Side walls 116, 118 and end walls 119 also may be made of similar materials to those mentioned with respect to table 110. The respective inner side walls 118 are hinged together by a pair of hinges 120, so as to form a carrying case when folded to a closed position. It will be appreciated that two or more hinges, a piano-type hinge or alternative flexible material hinges may be utilized.

Referring to FIGS. 8 and 10, table 110 preferably has pivotable and adjustable length leg assemblies 130. For example, each table portion 112 has a leg assembly 130 which has a pair of upper leg portions 132 and a U-shaped lower telescopic portion 134, respectively. It will be appreciated that in a telescopic leg assembly 130, each upper leg portion 132 typically is a hollow tubular member, with the U-shaped lower portion 134 also being tubular or of solid construction. As with the first embodiment, many different adjustable length leg structures could be used, and many different relatively rigid materials may be used to form the leg portions, including metals or alloys, plastics and even wood or the like, and to be telescopic, the leg portions ordinarily will be of complementary geometric shapes. Leg assemblies 130 preferably should be capable of achieving two or more table height positions to accommodate different uses and/or users of different heights. It will be appreciated that the leg assemblies for either embodiment may be configured to have a single height, or may be configured in alternative ways to provide height adjustment. For instance, the legs may fold along their length, or have stackable sections or other known suitable means.

In this example, each upper leg portion 132 is pivotably connected to a tabletop portion 112, such as by a pivoting engagement and foldable bracing structures 136. In this embodiment, the length of each leg assembly 130 may be adjusted by removal of pins 138, from through holes in upper leg portions 132 and lower leg portions 134. Pins 138 may include a detent mechanism or other feature to enhance the ability to stay in position when inserted into adjustment holes 140, and pins 138 may optionally include a tether (not shown) to attach pins 138 to respective upper leg portions 132 when not inserted. In this way, each leg may be pivoted and locked into a position relatively perpendicular to the upper surface 114 of a tabletop portion 112, and adjusted in length prior to setting table 110 upright for use. When table 110 is to be collapsed, leg assemblies 130 may be adjusted to a shortened leg position, and then moved to a stowed position adjacent the underside of the tabletop portion 12, as shown in FIG. 10.

Referring further to FIG. 10, attached to the underside of tabletop portions 112 are a plurality of storage devices. For instance, a relatively rigid plastic storage container 142 having a resealable lid is connected to a tabletop portion 112. Similarly, another container 143 is lying upside down next to table 110, revealing complementary hook and loop fasteners 144, 145, for connecting container 143 to the underside of tabletop portion 112. Those of skill in the art will appreciate that alternative storage devices may be used, such as were shown with the first preferred embodiment, and as further shown in FIG. 10 with a resealable plastic bag 146 and an accordion file folder 148 that are adhered to the underside of the other tabletop portion 12. As noted previously, such storage devices may be used to hold many different items, and by be removably connected or more permanently affixed, by any of a variety of connecting or fastening means. However, it is preferable that the storage devices be removable, so that they may be used on top of the table or for cleaning purposes.

Referring to FIGS. 8 and 10, attached to respective opposing outer side wall portions 116 of tabletop portions 112 are cooperative portions of a latching mechanism, such as post 150 and latch 152. One of skill in the art will appreciate that a wide variety of latching mechanisms may be used. Also, one or more latching mechanisms may be used so that, when convertible folding table 110 is in its folded state, as shown in FIG. 9, the folded table will not inadvertently open.

Attached proximate the center of one of the outer side wall portions 116 of tabletop portion 112 is a pivotable handle assembly 154 for ease of carrying folded table 110. It will be appreciated that one or more such handle assemblies 154 may be used, and each handle assembly may be of a variety of materials and constructions. In this example, handle assembly 154 is pivotable, so as to be able to hang downward and not create an obstruction when table 110 is in an open position for use. As with the first embodiment, it will be appreciated that a carrying strap (not shown) may be applied directly to table 110, and a complementary carrying case (not shown) also may be used to protect table 110 when transporting or storing the table.

Finally, it should be understood that while preferred embodiments have been described herein, any variety of fastening means and suitable materials of construction and dimensions may be used to satisfy the particular needs and requirements of the end user. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the design and construction of a convertible folding table without departing from the scope or spirit of the present invention.