Title:
REPLACEABLE DRAWER FRONT COMPONENT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A replaceable drawer front is configured to be repeatedly removed and installed on a tool storage unit drawer face. Co-acting connection features on the drawer front and the drawer face releasably retain the drawer front on the drawer face.



Inventors:
Freeberg, Nicole E. (Roberts, WI, US)
Hammond, Lewis (Centerview, MO, US)
Holcomb, Gregory (Cedar Falls, IA, US)
Jackson, Daniel (Center Point, IA, US)
Mehmen, Bob (Shell Rock, IA, US)
Reid, James (Clinton, MO, US)
Warden, Mike (Cole Camp, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/947963
Publication Date:
06/05/2008
Filing Date:
11/30/2007
Assignee:
MASTER LOCK COMPANY LLC (Oak Creek, WI, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47B97/00; A47B88/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ING, MATTHEW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A tool storage unit comprising: a storage unit housing including five sides that form a tool storage cavity having a frontward facing opening defined by edges of four of the sides; at least one drawer slidingly installed within the tool storage cavity, the drawer including a body portion having a compartment therein and a front face configured to rest substantially flush with the frontward facing opening when the drawer is in a closed position; a removable drawer front connected to the front face and configured to enable repeated removal from and installation to the front face, the drawer front including at least one decorative surface that faces away from the tool storage cavity to present an exterior surface.

2. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the drawer front includes a grip portion configured to be engaged by a user to manipulate the drawer.

3. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the front face includes a set of first connection features and the drawer front includes a set of co-operating second connection features.

4. The tool storage unit of claim 3 wherein one of the first connection feature and the second connection feature comprises an opening and wherein the other of the first connection feature and the second connection feature comprises a protrusion configured to protrude through the opening and be retained within the opening.

5. The tool storage unit of claim 4 wherein the opening comprises a narrow portion and an adjacent wider portion and wherein the protrusion comprises a neck portion sized to provide a friction fit within the narrow portion and a head portion sized to pass through the wider portion and be constrained from removal through the narrow portion.

6. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the drawer front comprises a unitary component.

7. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the drawer front comprises a decorative skin connected to a top drawer front portion and to a bottom drawer front portion.

8. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the decorative surface comprises aluminum.

9. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the decorative surface comprises stainless steel.

10. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the decorative surface comprises a painted surface.

11. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein the decorative surface comprises a material that includes plastic.

12. The tool storage unit of claim 1 wherein a plurality of drawers include a removable drawer front and wherein the decorative surface of each drawer front depicts a portion of a single image.

13. A drawer front kit for use with a tool storage unit having a housing including five sides that form a tool storage cavity having a frontward facing opening defined by edges of four of the sides and at least one drawer slidingly installed within the tool storage cavity, wherein the drawer includes a body portion having a compartment therein and a front face configured to rest substantially flush with the frontward facing opening when the drawer is in a closed position, the front face including one or more drawer connection features, the kit comprising a drawer front having a decorative surface on a front side and a connection surface on an opposite facing rear side, the drawer front including one or more front connection features positioned on the connection surface in corresponding location to the drawer connection features and configured to co act with the drawer connection features to releasably retain the drawer front to the drawer front face.

14. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein the drawer front includes a grip portion configured to be engaged by a user to manipulate the drawer.

15. The drawer front kit of claim 13 further comprising fasteners configured to fasten the drawer connection features to the front connection features.

16. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein one of the drawer connection feature and the front connection feature comprises an opening and wherein the other of the first connection feature and the second connection feature comprises a protrusion configured to protrude through the opening and be retained within the opening.

17. The drawer front kit of claim 16 wherein the opening comprises a narrow portion and an adjacent wider portion and wherein the protrusion comprises a neck portion sized to provide a friction fit within the narrow portion and a head portion sized to pass through the wider portion and be constrained from removal through the narrow portion.

18. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein the drawer front comprises a unitary component.

19. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein the drawer front comprises a decorative skin connected to a top drawer front portion and a bottom drawer front portion.

20. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein the decorative surface comprises aluminum.

21. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein the decorative surface comprises stainless steel.

22. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein the decorative surface comprises a painted surface.

23. The drawer front kit of claim 13 wherein the decorative surface comprises a material that includes plastic.

24. The drawer front kit of claim 13 comprising a plurality of drawer fronts and wherein the decorative surface of each drawer front depicts a portion of a single image.

25. A method of replacing an installed drawer front component on a tool storage unit drawer, the method comprising: removing the drawer from the tool storage unit; disconnecting front fastening features on the installed drawer front component from co-acting drawer fastening features on the drawer; removing the drawer front component from the drawer; and installing front fastening features on a replacement drawer front component to the drawer fastening features on the drawer.

26. The method of claim 25 wherein the replacement drawer front component is the installed drawer front component.

27. The method of claim 25 wherein the step of disconnecting the front fastening features from the drawer fastening features is performed by sliding the drawer front component relative to a front face of the drawers such that head portions of tabs on a rear surface of the drawer front component are positioned within an opening in the drawer face from a narrow portion that constrains removal of the head from the opening to a wide portion of the opening that permits clearance of the head to allow the drawer front component to be removed from the drawer face.

28. The method of claim 25 wherein the step of installing the front fastening features to the drawer fastening features is performed by placing the drawer front component on a front face of the drawer and sliding the drawer front component relative to the front face of the drawers such that head portions of tabs on a rear surface of the drawer front component are moved from a position within a wide portion of an opening in the drawer face that permits clearance of the head to allow the drawer front component to be installed on the drawer face to a position within a narrow portion that constrains removal of the head from the opening.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This non-provisional application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/861,874, entitled “Drawer with Replaceable Skin,” filed on Nov. 30, 2006, and 60/861,880, entitled “Replaceable Drawer Front Component,” filed on Nov. 30, 2006 the entire disclosure of each is incorporated herein by reference, to the extent that it is not conflicting with the present disclosure.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a replaceable drawer front and to a replaceable drawer front for installation on a tool chest or tool cabinet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Storage containers such as dressers, bureaus, and file cabinets having drawers are in popular use. Several exemplary storage devices include tool chests, tool cabinets, and combination tool chest and cabinet units. Tool chests, tool cabinets, and combination tool chest and cabinet units are in widespread use in residential, commercial and industrial settings.

Tool chests and cabinets typically include a plurality of drawers of similar or various height. The drawers are constructed to form an assembled unit having slides on either side and a front panel. A common construction technique involves the complete assembly of the tool chest or tool cabinet frame by welding or other means. The drawers are manufactured as complete permanent assemblies. Subsequently, the drawers are installed and the entire unit is painted or otherwise finished to produce a uniform appearing exterior surface. This uniform surface includes the exposed front face of the drawers. As a result, the color of the front panel matches the rest of the tool chest or tool cabinet. Absent any repainting, the color or texture of the front face of the drawers can not be readily changed by the consumer.

SUMMARY

A replaceable drawer front is provided as part of a tool storage unit and as a drawer front kit and method of installing the drawer front on a tool storage unit drawer. The drawer front includes a decorative surface on a front side and a connection surface on an opposite facing rear side. The drawer front includes one or more front connection features positioned on the connection surface in corresponding location to drawer connection features on the drawer. The front connection features are configured to co-act with the drawer connection features to releasably retain the drawer front to the drawer front face.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following detailed description made with reference to the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a tool chest having a replaceable drawer front constructed in accordance with an embodiment of this invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of the tool chest of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a right side view of the tool chest of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of the tool chest of FIG. 1 showing a drawer having a replaceable drawer front constructed in accordance with an embodiment of this invention in an extended or open position;

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the drawer of FIG. 4; and

FIG. 6 is a rear view of a replaceable drawer front constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This Detailed Description of the Invention merely describes embodiments of the invention and is not intended to limit the scope of the specification, including any claims, in any way. Indeed, the invention as described by the specification and claims is broader than and unlimited by the preferred embodiments, and the terms used in the specification and claims have their full ordinary meaning.

The present invention will be described for use with a tool chest and a tool cabinet. It should be understood that this is for exemplary purposes only and the invention can be applied to a wide variety of applications.

The invention is directed to a replaceable drawer front assembly or integral unit that can be conveniently removed and replaced. The replacement can be done by a consumer in an after market environment. The remove and replace operation requires no special tooling or training. The process results in the front face of the drawer having a new or different ornamental appearance. One of more drawers fronts can be replaced to alter the entire ornamental appearance of a tool chest or a tool cabinet.

Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a tool chest 10. FIGS. 2 and 3 are top and right side views of the tool chest. The tool chest 10 includes a plurality of drawers 12, 14, 16, 18, 20. One or more of the drawers is constructed to include a replaceable drawer front 21 (FIG. 5), to be discussed in greater detail.

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary front perspective view of the tool chest 10 with one of the drawers 18 pulled away from the chest to a partially extended position. A replaceable drawer front 21 is mounted to the outermost portion of a drawer body portion 35. The drawer front 21 includes a grip portion 52 adapted to be gripped by a user to move the drawer along its slides. In the depicted embodiment, the grip portion 52 includes two cavities 45 for tool storage. Other embodiments may include alternative features as part of the grip portion 52. The drawer front 21 includes a bottom portion 54 and a skin portion 50 between the grip portion and the bottom portion. The skin portion 50 may be made of a flexible decorative material that is wrapped around the grip portion and bottom portion. Alternatively, the skin portion may be molded or formed material having an aesthetically pleasing appearance such as brushed aluminum, stainless steel, plastic or a composite plastic, or a material that includes a painted surface.

While the drawer front 21 is shown in FIGS. 4-6 as having three separate components, the grip portion 52, the skin portion 50, and the bottom portion 54, the drawer front may be constructed as a unitary component, such as, for example, molded plastic or formed or cast metal. The drawer fronts 21 on the drawers of the tool chest 10 may be configured to depict components of a single image when installed on the tool chest. For example, the drawer fronts may be configured to depict a sports logo or mascot, a flag, or a motto, when the drawer fronts are installed on the tool chest. When the drawer 42 is in a fully extended position, a user may depress release buttons (not shown) located in or near the slides on either side of the drawer to remove the drawer from the tool cabinet 30. It should be understood that other structures and techniques for drawer removal can be used in the practice of this invention.

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the drawer 18 with the drawer front 21 removed from the drawer body portion 35. The drawer body portion 35 includes a front panel 46 having a series of exemplary through-holes 48. The holes are used to mount the drawer front 21 to the body portion 35. Tabs 75 extending from the back of the drawer front 21 are configured to engage and be retained in the holes 48. It may be advantageous to provide a mounting configuration that allows the drawer front 21 to be removed and installed without requiring the use of tools. As shown in FIG. 6, the rear side of the drawer front 21 includes a pattern of tabs 75 protruding from the grip portion 52 and bottom portion 54. The tabs have a narrow neck portion 75a and a larger head portion 75b. The tabs can be of any practical number, pattern and size, but should be corresponding to the holes 48 on the front panel 46 of the drawer to which the replaceable drawer front will be mounted. The holes 48 include a smaller left portion 48a adjacent a larger right portion 48b. When viewing from the perspective of FIG. 5, the tabs 75 are in the left portion 48a of the hole 48 when the drawer front 21 is installed in a drawer. In other words, the neck portion 75a of the tab is in the smaller section 48a. To remove the drawer front 21, the user slides the drawer front 21 to the right so that the head 75a of the tab 75 becomes aligned and co-axial with the larger right portion 48a of the hole 48. In this position, the user can simply pull the drawer front directly off the drawer. To install a replacement drawer front, the process is reversed. Of course, other hole and tab sizes, configurations, and patterns can be used in the practice of this invention.

The drawer front can be removed from a drawer and replaced with a different drawer front. A user may chose to do this for a variety of reasons, such as for example, to change the color of the entire front of a tool cabinet or to replace a single drawer front having an aesthetically damaged appearance.

While several embodiments of the invention has been illustrated and described in considerable detail, the present invention is not to be considered limited to the precise constructions disclosed. Various adaptations, modifications and uses of the invention may occur to those skilled in the arts to which the invention relates. It is the intention to cover all such adaptations, modifications and uses falling within the scope or spirit of the specification filed herewith.





 
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