Title:
Hembar for a shade fabric and assembly method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hembar includes front and rear walls and top and bottom spline channels adjacent a top and a bottom of the hembar. Each spline channel receives a spline in an oblique orientation to a vertical line and is arranged to conceal the channel from any viewing location in front of the hembar. A shade fabric is received in the channels through longitudinal slots and the splines are received through an open end. A notch opposite the slot receives part of the shade fabric to facilitate spline insertion. A pocket for a weighting element is off-centered such that it is closer to the rear wall. The hembar is assembled using a support member having obliquely angled walls to support the hembar with one channel horizontally oriented. The front and rear walls of the hembar may be covered by the shade fabric in a full wrap option.



Inventors:
Kirby, David A. (Emmaus, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/890186
Publication Date:
02/14/2008
Filing Date:
08/03/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
160/368.1
International Classes:
A47H1/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
PUROL, DAVID M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hembar adapted for attachment to a shade fabric comprising: a front wall defining a substantially vertical front surface; a rear wall defining a substantially vertical rear surface, the front wall and the rear wall spaced from each other by a horizontal distance; and at least one spline channel defined between the front and rear walls, the spline channel oriented at an oblique angle with respect to a vertical line such that a width of the spline channel is greater than the horizontal distance between the front and rear walls.

2. The hembar of claim 1, wherein the at least one spline channel includes a top spline channel adjacent a top of the hembar and a bottom spline channel adjacent a bottom of the hembar.

3. The hembar of claim 2, wherein the oblique angle of each spline channel is approximately 45 degrees.

4. The hembar of claim 2, wherein each of the spline channels is oriented with respect to the front wall such that the spline channel is concealed from view from any location in front of the hembar.

5. The hembar of claim 1, wherein the spline channel defines a longitudinally-extending slot opening for receiving a shade fabric within the interior of the spline channel and at least one open end for receiving a spline within the interior of the spline channel.

6. The hembar of claim 5, wherein the spline channel defines a notch in a wall of the channel, the notch located opposite the slot opening for receiving part of a looped portion of a shade fabric placed into the interior of the spline channel to facilitate insertion of a spline into the looped portion of the shade fabric.

7. The hembar of claim 1, further comprising a longitudinally-extending retainer pocket between the front and rear walls adapted for receiving a weighting element.

8. The hembar of claim 7, wherein the retainer pocket is adapted to receive the weighting element in an off-centered manner with respect to the front wall and the rear wall.

9. The hembar of claim 8, wherein the retainer pocket is adapted to receive the weighting element such that the weighting element is located closer to the rear wall than to the front wall.

10. The hembar of claim 1, wherein the distance between the front wall and the rear wall is approximately 0.4 inch or less.

11. A hembar assembly for a shade fabric comprising: an elongated body having a front wall and an opposite rear wall respectively defining substantially vertical front and rear surfaces and spaced from each other by a horizontal distance, the elongated body defining top and bottom fabric-attachment channels respectively located between the front and rear walls adjacent a top and a bottom of the hembar, each fabric-attachment channel defining a width and adapted for receiving a looped portion of a shade fabric; and a pair of elongated splines each adapted for receipt by one of the fabric-attachment channels within the looped portion of the shade fabric such that the shade fabric is wedged within the channel by the spline to secure the shade fabric to the hembar, each fabric-attachment channel oriented obliquely with respect to a vertical line such that the width of the channel is greater that the horizontal distance between the front and rear walls.

12. The hembar assembly of claim 11, wherein each fabric-attachment channel is arranged with respect to the front wall of the hembar body such that the fabric-attachment channel is concealed from view when the hembar body is viewed from any location in front of the hembar.

13. The hembar assembly of claim 12, further comprising an elongated weighting element received within a weight-retainer pocket between the front and rear walls of the hembar body, the weighting element located closer to the rear wall of the body than to the front wall.

14. The hembar assembly of claim 11, wherein the distance between the front wall and the rear wall of the elongated body is approximately 0.4 inch or less.

15. A method of attaching a shade fabric to a hembar comprising the steps of: providing an elongated hembar body having a substantially vertical front wall, a substantially vertical rear wall opposite the front wall, and top and bottom spline channels respectively located between the front wall and the rear wall adjacent a top and a bottom of the hembar body, each of the spline channels adapted to receive an elongated spline such that the spline is oriented obliquely to the front and rear walls, the hembar body defining a longitudinally-extending slot opening for each channel communicating with the interior of the channel; providing a pair of elongated splines each adapted for receipt within one of the spline channels; providing a hembar support member including at least one obliquely oriented support surface for receiving either one of the front and rear walls of the hembar body and supporting the hembar body such that one of the spline channels is substantially horizontal; placing the hembar body on the hembar support member such that the bottom spline channel is substantially horizontal; directing a shade fabric into the interior of the bottom spline channel through the associated slot opening of the hembar body to define a looped portion of the shade fabric; inserting a spline into the bottom spline channel through an open end of the bottom spline channel within the looped portion of the shade fabric such that the spline wedgingly secures the shade fabric to the hembar body in the bottom spline channel; wrapping the shade fabric about the hembar body between the bottom spline channel and the top spline channel such that the front wall of the hembar body is covered by the shade fabric; placing the hembar body on the hembar support member such that the top spline channel is substantially horizontal; directing the shade fabric into the interior of the top spline channel through the associated slot opening of the hembar body to define a looped portion of the shade fabric; and inserting a spline into the top spline channel through an open end of the top spline channel within the looped portion of the shade fabric such that the spline wedgingly secures the shade fabric to the hembar body in the top spline channel.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the steps of directing a shade fabric into the interior of the bottom channel and directing the shade fabric into the interior of the top channel include the step of using a creasing tool.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the steps of inserting a spline into the bottom spline channel and inserting a spline into the top spline channel include the step of using a spline tool having a fabric-engaging portion including a tapered flange and a post adapted for receipt in an opening defined by each spline for applying a pulling force to the spline.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein the steps of directing a shade fabric into the interior of the bottom spline channel and directing the shade fabric into the interior of the top spline channel are respectively performed as part of two-step procedure with the steps of inserting a spline into the bottom spline channel and inserting a spline into the top spline channel, the steps of directing and inserting performed over a length of the hembar body during the two-step procedure and repeated to advance the spline from a first end of the hembar body to an opposite second end of the hembar body.

19. The method of claim 15, comprising the further step of wrapping the shade fabric about the hembar body between the top spline channel and the bottom spline channel such that the rear wall of the hembar body is covered by the shade fabric.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the step of wrapping the shade fabric to cover the rear wall occurs before the step of wrapping the shade fabric to cover the front wall, and wherein the method further comprising the steps of: removing the spline from the top spline channel through the open end of the spline channel; directing the shade fabric into the top spline channel through the associated slot opening of the hembar body such that two looped portions of the shade fabric are defined, the two looped portions arranged in a stacked fashion within the top spline channel; and re-inserting the spline into the top spline channel through the open end of the top spline channel within the two looped portions of the shade fabric such that the spline wedgingly secures the shade fabric to the hembar body in the top spline channel.

21. An elongated hembar adapted for attachment to a shade fabric for weighting a lower end of the shade fabric, the hembar comprising: a front wall; a rear wall opposite the front wall; a top spline channel defined between the front wall and the rear wall adjacent a top of the hembar; and a bottom spline channel defined between the front wall and the rear wall adjacent a bottom of the hembar, each of the spline channels defining an interior adapted to receive a spline such that the spline is oriented obliquely with respect to a vertical line.

22. The hembar of claim 21, wherein each of the spline channels is arranged with respect to the front wall such that the spline channel is concealed from view when the hembar is viewed from any location in front of the hembar.

23. The hembar of claim 21, wherein each of the spline channels defines a longitudinally-extending slot opening for receiving a shade fabric within the interior of the spline channel and at least one open end for receiving a spline within the interior of the spline channel, each of the spline channels further defining a notch in a wall of the channel, the notch located opposite the slot opening for receiving part of a looped portion of a shade fabric placed into the interior of the spline channel to facilitate insertion of a spline into the looped portion of the shade fabric.

24. The hembar of claim 21, further comprising a longitudinally-extending retainer pocket between the front wall and the rear wall adapted for receiving a weighting element in an off-centered manner with respect to the front wall and the rear wall.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority from commonly-assigned U.S. provisional application No. 60/836,517, filed Aug. 9, 2006, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to roller shades having flexible shade fabrics, and more particularly to a hembar adapted for attachment to a lower end of a shade fabric.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Roller shades include a flexible shade fabric supported by an elongated roller tube for winding and unwinding of the shade fabric. A hembar is attached to a lower end of the shade fabric to weight the lower end of the shade fabric. The weighting of the shade fabric by the hembar limits wrinkling of the shade fabric to facilitate smooth operation of the roller shade as the shade fabric is wound and unwound.

A variety of attachment means are used to secure shade fabrics to hembars including the use of adhesives and staples. It is also known to secure shade fabrics to hembars using elongated splines received in channels defined by the hembar. Referring to FIG. 1, there is shown a prior art hembar 2 including elongated splines 6 received in spline channels 4 of the hembar 2 to secure a flexible shade fabric 8 to the hembar 2. The spline 6 is received in the spline channel 4 within a looped portion of the shade fabric 8, which is also received in the spline channel 4. The spline 6 and the spline channel 4 are dimensioned such that the receipt of the spline 6 within the looped portion of the shade fabric 8 secures the shade fabric 8 to the hembar 2. The shade fabric 8 covers an interior-facing side of the hembar 2. As shown, an exterior-facing side of the hembar remains uncovered by the shade fabric 8. The hembar 2 shown in FIG. 1 is made from an extruded plastic material and includes end caps 9 received in opposite ends of the hembar 2.

Roller shades are often used with blackout side rails to eliminate light gaps along opposite sides of the shade fabric. The blackout side rails define vertical channels that receive side edge portions of the shade fabric. To minimize light leakage, the channels of the blackout side must be narrow in width, i.e., narrow in dimension perpendicular to the shade fabric, for example, approximately 0.5 inch in width. However, prior art hembars utilizing spline-attachment means, such as hembar 2, are not usable with blackout side rails because the hembars will not fit within the narrow channels of the blackout side rails. For example, the typical prior art hembar 2 has a width of approximately 0.6 inch in width.

What is needed is a hembar defining spline channels adapted for receipt of elongated splines that defines a narrow cross-section adapted for receipt of the hembar within blackout side rails.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to the present invention, a hembar includes a front wall defining a substantially vertical front surface, a rear wall defining a substantially vertical rear surface opposite the front wall, and at least one spline channel between the front and rear walls. The front and rear walls are spaced from each other by a horizontal distance and the spline channel is oriented at an oblique angle with respect to a vertical line such that a width of the spline channel is greater than the horizontal distance between the front and rear walls. The oblique orientation of the spline channel, instead of perpendicular to the vertical line, provides for reduction in the hembar dimensions without reduction of the spline dimensions to facilitate receipt of the hembar in blackout side rails having correspondingly narrow vertical channels. Preferably the hembar includes top and bottom spline channels. Each of the top and bottom spline channels is preferably oriented with respect to the front wall such that the channel is concealed from view when the hembar is viewed from any location in front of the hembar.

According to one embodiment, each of the spline channels defines a longitudinally-extending slot opening for receiving a looped portion of a shade fabric within the interior of the channel and an open end for receiving a spline. Each spline channel may also define a notch in a wall opposite the slot opening of the channel for receiving part of the looped portion of the shade fabric to facilitate insertion of the spline.

According to one embodiment, the hembar includes a longitudinally-extending retainer pocket between the front wall and the rear wall adapted to receive a weighting element. The retainer pocket is adapted to receive the weighting element in an off-centered manner such that the weighting element is located closer to the rear wall than to the front wall.

According to a method of attaching a shade fabric to a hembar body having obliquely oriented spline channels, a hembar support member is provided. The hembar support member includes at least one obliquely oriented support surface for receiving either a front wall or a rear wall of the hembar and supporting the hembar such that one of the spline channels is oriented horizontally. The method includes the steps of placing the hembar on the hembar support member such that the bottom spline channel is substantially horizontal, directing a shade fabric into the bottom spline channel to define a looped portion and inserting a spline into the bottom spline channel to secure the shade fabric to the hembar body in the bottom channel. The method includes the steps of wrapping the shade fabric between the channels to cover the front wall, placing the hembar body on the hembar support member such that the top spline channel is horizontal, directing shade fabric into the top spline channel to define a looped portion, and inserting a spline into the top spline channel to secure the shade fabric to the hembar body in the top spline channel.

According to one embodiment, the shade fabric is directed into the channels using a creasing tool and the splines are inserted into the channels using a spline tool having a fabric-engaging portion including a tapered flange and a post adapted for receipt in an opening defined by each spline for applying a pulling force to the spline.

The method may also include the step of wrapping the shade fabric between the spline channels to cover the rear wall of the hembar body so as to provide a full wrap of the hembar body. The wrapping the rear wall by the shade fabric may occur prior to the wrapping of the front wall. The method further comprises the removing the spline from the top spline channel, directing the shade fabric into the top spline channel such that two looped portions of the shade fabric are defined and arranged in a stacked fashion within the top spline channel, and re-inserting the spline into the top spline channel within the two looped portions of the shade fabric such that the shade fabric is secured to the hembar body in the top spline channel.

The steps of directing a shade fabric into one of the spline channels and inserting a spline into the spline channel may be performed in a two-step procedure that is performed over a length of the hembar body and repeated to advance the spline from a first end of the hembar body to an opposite second end of the hembar body.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, the drawings show a form of the invention that is presently preferred. However, it should be understood that this invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown in the drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prior art hembar attached to a shade fabric.

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a hembar according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3A is a perspective view comparing a hembar according to the present invention with a prior art hembar, the hembars secured to shade fabrics and shown from a front side of the hembars.

FIG. 3B is a perspective view of the hembars and shade fabrics of FIG. 3A shown from a rear side of the hembars.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a hembar according to the present invention secured to a shade fabric using a full wrap option.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the hembar and shade fabric of FIG. 4 during assembly, the hembar supported on a hembar support having obliquely-oriented support surfaces, shown with a creasing tool being used to direct a looped portion of the shade fabric into a bottom spline-receipt channels.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the hembar and shade fabric of FIG. 5 shown with a spline tool being directed into the looped portion of the shade fabric from an open end of the hembar body.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the hembar and shade fabric of FIG. 6 shown with a spline attached to the spline tool being pulled into the bottom spline-receipt channel within the looped portion of the shade fabric.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the hembar and shade fabric of FIG. 7 showing the creasing tool being used to direct a looped portion of the shade fabric into the top spline-receipt channel over a previously placed looped portion, the hembar supported on an opposite side of the hembar support from that of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the spline tool of FIGS. 6 and 7.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an alternative spline tool.

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the creasing tool of FIGS. 5 and 8.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to the drawings, where like numerals identify like elements, there is illustrated in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 2 a hembar 10 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 2 and described in greater detail below, the hembar 10 is configured to define a narrowed cross section allowing receipt of the hembar 10 within blackout side rails having correspondingly narrow vertical channels to facilitate limited light leakage.

The hembar 10 includes an elongated body 12 including a front wall 14, an opposite rear wall 16, a top 18 and a bottom 20. The front and rear walls 14, 16 respectively define front and rear surfaces that are substantially vertical when the hembar is oriented as shown in FIG. 2. As should be understood, the orientation of FIG. 2 represents the substantially vertical orientation for the hembar when it is attached to a lower end of a suspended shade fabric. The hembar body 12 is preferably made from an extruded material such as aluminum or plastic. The invention, however, is not limited to any particular material. The hembar 10 includes top and bottom channels 22, 24 extending along the length of the hembar body 12 and located between the front wall 14 and the rear wall 16 adjacent the top 18 and the bottom 20, respectively, of body 12. As described below, the channels 22, 24 are used to attach a shade fabric 28 (see FIG. 4) to the hembar and, therefore, may hereinafter be referred to as “fabric attachment channels”. As also described below, the desired attachment between the hembar and a shade fabric is provided by elongated splines 26 (FIG. 4) received in the channels 22, 24. As such, the channels 22, 24 may also hereinafter be referred to as “spline-receipt channels” or “spline channels”.

As shown in FIG. 2, the front and rear walls 14, 16 of hembar body 12 are spaced from each other by a horizontal distance, H. The spline channels 22, 24, defined between the front and rear walls 14, 16 and having a width, W (e.g., approximately 0.35 inch), are not horizontal like the spline channels 4 of prior art hembar 2. Instead, as shown in FIG. 2, the spline channels 22, 24 are oriented obliquely to a vertical line, V. As a result of the oblique orientation, the width W for the spline channels 22, 24 is greater than the horizontal distance, H, between the front and rear walls 14, 16. As described below, obliquely orienting the spline channels 22, 24 in this manner allows for a reduction in the overall width of the hembar body 12 (i.e., horizontal distance between the front and rear surfaces defined by walls 14, 16) without a corresponding reduction in dimensions for splines received in the spline channels 22, 24. This feature, therefore, desirably facilitates use of the hembar 10 in blackout side rails having correspondingly narrow vertical channels.

As shown in FIG. 4, the splines 26 are received in the channels 22, 24 within looped portions of the shade fabric 28. The respective widths of the spline 26 and the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 permit the splines 26 to be pulled into the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 within the looped portion of the shade fabric 28 through one of opposite open ends defined by hembar body 12. The relative widths, however, are preferably selected such that the receipt of the spline 26 wedgingly compresses the shade fabric 28 along opposite sides of the spline 26. Such wedging receipt of the spline 26 firmly secures the shade fabric 28 to the hembar 10 within the spline-receipt channels 22, 24.

Referring to FIG. 2, the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 are respectively located adjacent the top and bottom 18, 20 of the hembar body 12. This construction provides for alternative wrapping options including a half-wrap option and a full-wrap option. In the half-wrap option, shown in FIGS. 3A and 3B, looped portions of the shade fabric 28 are secured within each of the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 and an intermediately located portion of the shade fabric 28 extends between the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 along the front wall 14 of the hembar body 12. The rear wall 16 of the hembar body 12, however, remains uncovered by the shade fabric 28 in the half-wrap option. The full wrap option is shown in FIG. 4. As shown, both the front wall 14 and the rear wall 16 of the hembar body 12 are covered by the shade fabric 28 in the full-wrap option. The full wrap option is described in greater detail below. As should be understood, the front and rear walls 14, 16 of the hembar body 12 will respectively define interior-facing and exterior-facing sides of the hembar 10 when an associated shade is installed within a building, for example, to shade a window.

Referring to FIGS. 3A and 3B, the hembar 10 of the present invention can be compared to the prior art hembar 2 of FIG. 1. As shown, the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 of hembar 10 are dimensioned to receive splines 26 substantially similar (i.e., having approximately similar dimensions) as the splines 6 received in the spline-receipt channels 4 of hembar 2. In this manner, the splines 6 and 26 should function in similar fashion to provide similar attachment characteristics (i.e., similar wedging action) assuming other factors such as material properties are equivalent. However, the orientation of the similarly-sized splines 6 and 26 to their respective hembars 2, 10 is not similar. As shown, the change in the orientation of the spline 26 allows the front and rear walls 14, 16 of hembar 10 to be spaced more closely to each other than the front and rear walls of the prior art hembar 2 while still accommodating an appropriately sized channel between the walls 14, 16 receiving the similarly sized spline 26. This reduction in the distance between the front and rear walls 14, 16 reduces the overall thickness or profile of the hembar 10 as compared to that of hembar 2. For example, the width of the hembar 10 (i.e., the distance between the front and rear walls 14, 16 of hembar body 12) according to the present invention is approximately 0.4 inch or less. As should be understood, the reduction in the overall thickness of the hembar 10 provides for the desired receipt of the hembar 10 within blackout side rails having correspondingly narrow vertical channels (i.e., approximately 0.5 inch wide) that are too narrow to accommodate prior art hembar 2 (i.e., approximately 0.6 inch wide).

Referring to FIG. 2, the hembar 10 of the present invention is shown in cross section without splines 26 and an attached shade fabric 28 to facilitate illustration of the hembar. However, it should be understood that were hembar 10 to be suspended from a shade fabric 28 in the manner shown in FIG. 1 for prior art hembar 2 and shade fabric 8, the shade fabric 28 would exit from the top spline-receipt channel 22 along the vertical line represented in FIG. 2 as line V. For the prior art hembar 2 of FIG. 1, the comparable vertical line (i.e., exit line) is defined by the portion of shade fabric 8 shown above the hembar 2. As shown in FIG. 1, the spline channel 4 of prior art hembar 2 is oriented to receive spline 6 such that spline 6 is substantially horizontal. Thus, spline 6 in prior art hembar 2 is perpendicular to the vertical line of the hembar. In contrast, the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 of hembar 10 have been rotated from the horizontal orientation associated with the prior art hembar 2 into an oblique relationship to the vertical line V. As should be understood, therefore, splines 26 received in the channels 22, 24 to attach a shade fabric would also be oriented obliquely with respect to the vertical line V.

As discussed above, the oblique angling of the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 allows the splines 26 to be dimensioned substantially similar to the splines 6 of prior art hembar 2 (i.e., requiring no reduction in the width of the spline as would be the case if the spline remained perpendicular to the vertical line V). In this manner, the splines 26 used with hembar 10 will function to secure a shade fabric to the hembar 10 in a similar fashion as the splines 6 used with the prior art hembar 2 (i.e., there will be no reduction in the clamping action provided by the splines). Such a result would not be achieved if the dimensions of the hembar 2 simply reduced in an overall manner to fit within narrower channels of blackout side rails. In such a case, the dimensions of the spline-receipt channels would be reduced in proportion requiring a correspondingly reduction in the dimensions of the splines (e.g., the width of the splines).

In addition to providing for reduction in the overall thickness or profile of the hembar body 12 as described above, the hembar 10 of the present invention is also adapted to desirably conceal both of the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 from view when the hembar 10 is viewed from a location in front of the hembar. Referring again to FIG. 2, the top spline-receipt channel 22 is rotated approximately 45 degrees in a clockwise direction (from the point of view shown in FIG. 2) with respect to the substantially horizontal orientation of the upper spline channel 4 of prior art hembar 2. As a result, the front wall 14 extends upwardly beyond an upper end of the rear wall 16 in order to define the opposite side edges of the top channel 22. Arranged in this manner, the top channel 22 is concealed behind the upper extending portion of the front wall 14 when the hembar 10 is viewed from anywhere in front of the hembar. The bottom spline-receipt channel 24 is rotated approximately 45 degrees in a counter-clockwise direction with respect to the substantially horizontal spline channel 4 of hembar 2. In a similar fashion to the top of the hembar 10, the front wall 14 extends downwardly beyond a lower end of the rear wall 16 in order to define the opposite side edges of the bottom channel 24. Arranged in this manner, the bottom channel 24 is concealed behind the lower extending portion of the front wall 14 when the wall is viewed from anywhere in front of the hembar 10.

Still referring to FIG. 2, the hembar body 12 defines a retainer pocket 34 within an interior of the hembar body 12. As shown, the retainer pocket 34 is adapted to receive an elongated weighting element 36 for adding weight to the hembar 10. This desirably permits the body 12 of hembar 10 to be formed from a lighter material such as plastic while still providing the intended weighting function for the hembar 10 to limit wrinkles in the shade fabric 28. As shown, the retainer pocket 34 is adapted to receive the weighting element 36 in an off-centered manner between the front and rear walls 14, 16 of the hembar body 12 such that the weighting element 36 is located adjacent the rear wall 16 of the body 12. Arranged in this manner, the weighting element 36 will be substantially aligned with the vertical line V (i.e., the exit line of for a shade fabric 28). As a result of the alignment between the weighting element 36 and the vertical exit line of the shade fabric 28, the hembar 10 will tend to hang plumb even though the line of the shade fabric 28 (i.e., the vertical line, V) is not aligned with a centerline of the hembar 10.

The hembar 10 of the present invention also facilitates assembly between the hembar 10 and shade fabric 28 as follows. Still referring to FIG. 2, the hembar body 12 includes a reservoir notch 38 defined within each of the spline-receipt channels 22, 24. The reservoir notch 38 is located along an inner wall of each of the channels 22, 24 and substantially opposite to a longitudinal slot 40 that extends along the hembar body 12. The longitudinal slot 40 facilitates insertion of the shade fabric 28 into the associated channel 22, 24 in the form of a looped portion of the shade fabric 28. As described in greater detail below, the reservoir notch 38 receives an additional portion of the shade fabric 28 when the shade fabric 28 is driven into the channels 22, 24. The receipt of extra shade fabric (i.e., a slack portion) facilitates the subsequent pulling insertion of the spline 26 into the channel 22, 24 within the looped portion of the shade fabric 28.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-10, there is illustrated a method of assembling the hembar 10 so as to attach a shade fabric 28 to the hembar 10 in a full-wrap option. As shown in FIG. 4, the shade fabric 28 extends about the entire hembar body 12 in the full wrap option such that both the front wall 14 and the rear wall 16 of the hembar 10 are covered by the shade fabric 28.

Referring to FIG. 5, the hembar 10 is illustrated in a partially completed condition in which a spline 26 has been pulled into the top spline-receipt channel 22 within a looped portion of the shade fabric 28 to secure the shade fabric 28 to the top channel 22. The shade fabric 28 has also been placed over the rear wall 16 of the hembar body 12 in FIG. 5.

As shown in FIG. 5, the hembar body 12 is supported on a hembar support member 42 having a first pair of support surfaces 44, 45 extending along one side of the support member 42 and a second pair of support surfaces 46, 47 extending along an opposite side of the support member 42. The support surfaces 44, 46 are oriented at an oblique angle from a vertical line. The angle for each of the support surfaces 44, 46 provides for support of the hembar body 12 such that one of the spline-receipt channels 22, 24 is oriented substantially horizontal. In FIG. 5, the hembar body 12 is shown supported on support surface 44 such that bottom channel 24 is substantially horizontal. Support surface 45 defines a ledge contacting the top 18 of the hembar body 12 to keep the hembar body 12 in position on the hembar support member 42. As should be understood, if the hembar body 12 were moved to the opposite side of the hembar support member 42, then the bottom 20 of body 12 would contact the ledge defined by support surface 47 and the hembar body 12 would be supported at an oblique angle on support surface 46 such that top channel 22 is substantially horizontal.

The above-described horizontal orientation for the channels 22, 24 provided by the hembar support 42 facilitates the following assembly procedure for securing the shade fabric 28 to the hembar 10. It should be understood that the spline 26 shown in FIG. 5 in the top spline-receipt channel 22 would have been installed with the hembar body 12 positioned on the hembar support member 42 with the top channel 22 in a horizontal orientation (i.e., by supporting the hembar body 12 on support surfaces 46, 47). See FIG. 8, for example, in which the hembar body 12 is shown placed on the second pair of support surfaces 46, 47 for horizontal orientation of the top spline-receipt channel 22.

Referring again to FIG. 5, a creasing tool 48 is brought into contact with the shade fabric 28 and driven into the interior of the bottom spline-receipt channel 24 such a looped portion of the shade fabric 28 is directed into the bottom channel 24. The creasing tool 48 is shown separately in FIG. 11. As shown in FIG. 5, the location of the reservoir notch 38 directly opposite the slot opening 40 allows the creasing tool 48, and the looped portion of the shade fabric 28, to be driven all the way to the bottom of the reservoir notch 38.

Referring now to FIG. 6, a spline tool 50 (see also FIG. 9) is inserted into the looped portion of the shade fabric 28 within the bottom spline-receipt channel 24 through one of the open ends of the hembar body 12. The spline tool 50 includes a handle 52, preferably wooden, and a fabric-engaging portion 54 that is preferably metal. The fabric-engaging portion 54 includes a flange 56 extending along an edge of the tool 50. As shown in FIG. 9, the flange 56 is tapered along its length to facilitate insertion of the flange 56 into the channel 24 within the looped portion of the shade fabric 28 previously formed by the creasing tool 48. The spline tool 50 includes a post 58 extending from an upper surface of the flange 56 adjacent an end of the flange 56. The post 58 is adapted for receipt within a hole formed in the spline 26 such that a pulling force can be applied to the spline 26 by the spline tool 50.

Referring to FIG. 7, the spline tool 50 pulls the spline 26 into the bottom spline-receipt channel 24 through the open end of the hembar body 12 into the looped portion of the shade fabric 28. As described above, the spline 26 is coupled to the spline tool 50 by placing the post 58 of the tool 50 into a hole formed in the spline 26 (see FIG. 10 for example showing a spline 26 engaged to an alternative spline tool 60). Thus, as the fabric-engaging portion 54 of tool 50 is pulled into the bottom channel 24 through the open end of body 12, the coupled spline 26 is pulled into the channel 24 behind the tool 50.

According to one preferred assembly method, a two-step process can be repeated to advance the spline 26 along the hembar body 12 within the spline-receipt channel 24 as follows. Starting first at the end of the hembar 10 shown in FIG. 7, a length of the shade fabric 28 adjacent the end of hembar 10 is driven into the bottom spline-receipt channel 24 using the creasing tool 48 in the manner illustrated in FIG. 5. Next, the spline tool 50 is used in the manner shown in FIG. 7 to pull the spline 26 into the bottom channel 24 within the looped portion of shade fabric 28 formed in the first step of the two-step process. This two-step process (i.e., first driving shade fabric material into a portion of the channel using the creasing tool 48 and then pulling the spline 26 using the spline tool 50 to advance the spline 26 into the shade fabric loop) is then repeated to advance the spline 26 along the length of the hembar body 12. The use of the two-step advancement process facilitates adjustment of the shade fabric 28 as needed as the spline 26 is pulled into the bottom channel 24.

Upon completion of the two-step process to pull the spline 26 across the bottom channel 24, the shade fabric 28 is wrapped around half of the hembar body 12 covering the rear wall 16 of the hembar body as shown in FIG. 7 (i.e., the half-wrap option). To fully wrap the shade fabric 28 around the hembar body 12 (i.e., the full-wrap option), the hembar body is moved onto the second pair of support surfaces 46, 47, such that the top spline-receipt channel 22 is substantially horizontal as shown in FIG. 8. The hembar 10 and shade fabric 28 are shown in a final stage of the assembly method for the full wrap option in FIG. 8. The shade fabric 28 has been placed over the front wall 14 such that both the front wall 14 and the rear wall 16 of body 12 are covered by the shade fabric 28. The creasing tool 48 is shown being used to drive the shade fabric 28 into the top spline-receipt channel 22 to create a looped portion of the shade fabric 28. As should be understood, the spline 26 that was previously placed into the top spline-receipt channel 22 in an earlier stage of the assembly method (see FIG. 7) must be removed prior to this stage to provide for the formation of another looped portion of the shade fabric 28 within the top spline-receipt channel 22. As shown, the creasing tool 48 forms the new (second) looped fabric portion in the top channel 22 atop the previously placed looped portion of the shade fabric 28 (i.e., in stacked fashion).

Following the formation of the new (second) looped fabric portion within the top spline-receipt channel 22 as shown in FIG. 8, the spline tool 50 is then used in the above-described manner to pull a spline 26 into the top spline-receipt channel 22. As should be understood, the replacement of the spline 26 into the top channel 22 at this stage within both of the looped fabric portions (i.e., the first-placed portion (FIG. 5) and the second-placed portion (FIG. 8) functions to secure both of the looped fabric portions within the top spline-receipt channel 22.

Referring to FIG. 10, there is shown an alternative spline tool 60. In a similar fashion as spline tool 50, the spline tool 60 includes a fabric-engaging portion 62 having a tapered flange 66 facilitating insertion into the looped fabric portion and a post 64 extending from an upper surface of the flange 66 for receipt by a hole 68 formed in the spline 26. The fabric-engaging portion 62 of the spline tool 60 is preferably made from plastic instead of metal.

The foregoing describes the invention in terms of embodiments foreseen by the inventor for which an enabling description was available, notwithstanding that insubstantial modifications of the invention, not presently foreseen, may nonetheless represent equivalents thereto.