Title:
TOURNE CUTTING METHOD AND DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cutting device holds an article to be cut stationary while a blade is traversed along a curved guide to peel or slice away material from the article. The article may be rotated using an indexing mechanism to realign the article with respect to the blade. The cutting device is especially configured to cut complex shapes, such as a seven-sided tourné. Portions of the cutting device may be separated for storage or travel, and a storage container may be provided to protect the device as well as to keep the separated pieces together.



Inventors:
Odom, Donald (Newark, DE, US)
Application Number:
12/132968
Publication Date:
10/02/2008
Filing Date:
06/04/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
83/13
International Classes:
B26B29/06; B26D1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHOI, STEPHEN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
POLSINELLI PC (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A method of cutting an article using a cutting device, comprising: removably fixing the article to a base portion of the device; removably fixing the article to a cutting portion of the device, the cutting portion comprising a blade guide; moving a blade along the blade guide from a start position to slice through a portion of the article with a first pass of the blade along the blade guide; returning said blade to said start position; rotating the article relative to the cutting portion; and moving the blade along the blade guide from the start position to slice through a second portion of the article with a second pass of the blade along the blade guide.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein rotating the article comprises disengaging an engagement mechanism that fixes the position of the article relative to the cutting portion.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein fixing the article to a base portion comprises inserting a first pin into the article, the first pin connected to the base portion, and wherein fixing the article to a cutting portion comprises inserting a second pin into the article, the second pin connected to the cutting portion.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the base portion is handheld.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the blade guide is curved.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the base portion comprises a needle-shaped holder and an indexing mechanism.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the cutting portion further comprises a support arm attached to the blade guide, with a needle-shaped holder contacting the support arm.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the steps of moving the blade along the blade guide to slice through the article and rotating the article relative to the cutting portion after slicing through the article are repeated to form a shape with seven curved sides.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein the article has approximately flat surfaces where the article is fixed to the cutting portion and base portion.

10. A tourné formed according to the method of claim 8.

11. A cutting device for cutting an article, comprising: a base portion comprising (a) a first holder to which the article is removably attached and (b) an indexing mechanism; and a cutting portion connectable to the base portion, said cutting portion comprising (a) a curved blade guide having a top portion and a bottom portion, (b) a support arm attached to the blade guide, and (c) a needle-shaped second holder contacting the support arm and to which the article is removably attached; wherein the first and second holders hold the article stationary relative to the base portion when cutting said article with a blade that travels along the curved blade guide from the top portion to the bottom portion, and wherein the indexing mechanism permits rotation of the article relative to the cutting portion before executing a cut with the blade.

12. The cutting device of claim 11, wherein the indexing mechanism comprises a circular dial with engagement portions and a spring-loaded pin or indexing pin for engaging the engagement portions.

13. The cutting device of claim 11, wherein the blade guide has a tapered cross-section which has a minimum width at the point contacting the blade.

14. The cutting device of claim 11, wherein the base portion comprises an upper mounting plate and a lower control plate, with the upper mounting plate and the lower control plate connected so as to at least partially enclose the indexing mechanism.

15. The cutting device of claim 11, wherein the second holder is rotatable about its lengthwise axis and relative to the cutting portion.

16. The cutting device of claim 11, wherein the first holder is insertable into the article to prevent relative movement between the article and the indexing mechanism.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation from U.S. Ser. No. 11/842,202, filed Aug. 21, 2007, now pending, which in turn is a divisional application from U.S. Ser. No. 11/161,110, filed Jul. 22, 2005, now U.S. Pat. No. 7,278,346.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the art of slicing, and more particularly to the art of cutting food items into desired shapes.

2. Description of the Related Art

Slicing shapes in vegetables is generally well known in the culinary art. In particular, the tourné shape is highly regarded for its uniqueness. As shown in FIG. 6, the tourné 10 is roughly flat on two opposing ends 12 and has, extending between those opposing ends 12, seven sides 14 of approximately the same size and at approximately equal angles to each other. The seven sides 14 are tapered at the ends of the vegetable or root, so that the tourné is widest at its midsection and narrowest at the two ends 12.

The tourné shape is unique because it has an uneven number of curved or arced sides. Such shape is desired for food items, such as vegetables and roots, particularly potatoes. However, the unusual shape is difficult to accurately produce by manual cutting. Thus, recreating the tourné shape typically requires a great deal of effort, time, and skill. It would be very desirable to form the tourné shape quickly and efficiently using a device that is simple, portable, and easy to clean.

U.S. Design Pat. No. 397,921 to Joergensen shows a manual potato peeler with a handle and blade. Such peelers and blades are well known in the art, but require great skill to create complex designs.

Peeling apparatuses that hold an article during peeling are generally well known in the culinary art. For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,006,621; 2,130,980; 2,521,987; 4,738,195; 4,765,234; 5,950,528; 5,957,045 and 6,408,520 teach various peeling, slicing and coring machines. However, these devices are incapable of shaping an article into a tourné, i.e., a three-dimensional shape with seven arced sides.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,582,096 to Marton illustrates a more complex vegetable peeling and shaping machine. A potato is held in a chute or tube as blades are fed into and out of slots through the tube or chute to cut portions of the potato away. Similarly, Japanese publication JP 06141991 A illustrates a vegetable cutter, comparable to Marton, that utilizes cutting edges that travel through guides 3 to form curved surfaces. These devices permit the creation of complex shapes, such as the symmetrical “Chateau” shape. However, these devices are complex, relatively expensive, difficult to clean, and relatively difficult to move about or use in a typically crowded kitchen.

Commercial and home chefs still seek a device for forming complex cut shapes, such as a tourné, that is simple, portable, handheld, and easy to clean.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In a first aspect of the invention, a cutting device is provided that holds an article stationary while a blade is traversed along a curved track or blade guide to peel or slice away material from the article. The article may be rotated using an indexing mechanism to re-align the article with respect to the blade and form a shaped article, such as a seven sided tourné. The article to be cut may be a root or vegetable, such as a potato. Additionally, portions of the cutting device may be separated for storage or travel, and may have a container to protect the device as well as to keep the separated pieces together.

In a second aspect of the invention, a cutting method includes the steps of fixing an article to be cut to a base portion of a cutting device and to a cutting portion of the cutting device, where the cutting portion includes a blade guide or track. After fixing the article, a blade is moved along the blade guide from a start position to slice through a portion of the article with a first pass of the blade along the blade guide. The article is indexed to a new cutting position, such as by rotating, and the blade is returned to its start position within the blade guide in preparation for a second cutting pass along the blade guide. Preferably, indexing the article is by disengaging an engagement mechanism that fixes the position of the article relative to the cutting portion and rotating the article to a new position. Preferably, the engagement mechanism has seven indexed positions to permit cutting portions from the article to form a seven-sided tourné. The base portion may be handheld when carrying out the cutting method.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Novel features and advantages of the present invention in addition to those mentioned above will become apparent to persons of ordinary skill in the art from a reading of the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein similar reference characters refer to similar parts and in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a side elevational view of an apparatus used to slice an article, such as a potato, into a tourné shape;

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the apparatus of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional plan view taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of a finished tourné shaped cut article, such as a potato;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the apparatus of FIG. 1 with its guide and base nested together in a container shown in cross-section; and

FIG. 8 is an end elevational view of the apparatus with the nested guide and base in a container of FIG. 7, wherein the container lid is shown in open position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIGS. 1-5 illustrate a tourné cutting device according to one embodiment of the present invention that comprises a cutting portion 16 and a base portion 18. As shown in FIG. 1, the cutting portion 16 and base portion 18 of the tourné cutting device engage an article 20, such as a potato, root, vegetable or other item, which is desired to be sliced into a tourné shape.

As shown in FIG. 2, the cutting portion 16 of the tourné cutting device has a blade guide 22 that is designed to accept any slicing means 24, such as a blade, wire or knife. Slicing means 24 is shown as a knife in FIGS. 1-5 to illustrate operation of the device, but is not meant to limit the invention. Guide 22 is shaped so as to guide knife 24 along a path that will cut the tourné profile into one side of the article 20. Support arm 21 supports guide 22 and may include a holder 30 for holding article 20 relative to the cutting portion 16. Any part of the cutting portion 16 may comprise metal, plastic, wood or other suitable material.

Article 20 can be fixed relative to cutting portion 16 and base portion 18, as shown in FIG. 1. For example, article 20 can be fixed to the base portion 18 by a first holder 26, such as a needle or double needle (double needle shown in FIG. 1), which may be inserted prior to joining the cutting portion 16 with base portion 18. Holder 26 may be inserted into article 20 by pressing the article 20 onto the holder 26. Cutting portion 16 may then be connected to base portion 18 by any conventional connecting means, such as friction pins 27, in which the connecting means may comprise metal, plastic, wood or other suitable material.

A second holder 30, which may be a needle or double needle (a single needle is shown in FIGS. 1 and 2), may then be inserted by pressing the head 28 of holder 30 toward article 20. Second holder 30 holds article 20 relative to the cutting portion 16. Although the FIGS. 1 and 2 illustrate needle shaped holders, any holding utensils may be used, such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,659,522 to Byth. Furthermore, article 20 may be initially fixed to cutting portion 16 by inserting holder 30 into article 20 and then fixing the article to holder 26 at the same time that cutting portion 16 is joined with base portion 18.

The blade guide 22 may be aligned relative to article 20 for cutting a first side of a tourné shape 10 simply by virtue of the fact that article 20 is fixed relative to the joined cutting portion 16 and base portion 18. Preferably, blade guide 22 permits blade 24 to travel along the guide without binding or other interruption to slice a side of article 20 into a predetermined shape, such as an arc in the case of the tourné shape. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 5, the cross-section of each side of guide 22 may contact blade 24 only at point 23 to reduce friction of blade 24 along the path of travel and to reduce scratching, dulling or other damage to blade 24.

As shown in FIGS. 1, 3, and 5, an indexing mechanism allows the repositioning of article 20 for creating multiple arced slices. As particularly shown in FIG. 3, indexing mechanism may comprise indexing plate 32, which may have a multiplicity of indexing positions 33, such as slots or holes, for receiving indexing pin 34. In the case of a tourné cutting device, indexing plate 32 may have, for example, seven engagement positions 33 to permit the formation of seven slices. Indexing pin 34 can be disengaged by pulling it outward from the indexing plate 32 into a disengaged position, such as shown in phantom by reference numeral 34A in FIG. 1. Indexing pin 34 may be maintained in an engaged position by spring 36 and spring stop 35, which is attached to indexing pin 34. Thus, pulling indexing pin 34 moves spring stop away from the indexing plate and compresses spring 36. Energy stored in the spring returns pin 34 to its original engaged position.

As shown in FIG. 4, knob 52 may be provided on the outside of lower control plate 40. Knob 52 is connected to indexing plate 32 so that rotating knob 52 also rotates indexing plate 32. If this rotation is commenced while pin 34 is disengaged, the pin will press and slide against the side of indexing plate 32 until an indexing position 33 is aligned with the indexing pin 34. Thus, by disengaging pin 34 and rotating knob 52 a user may rotate article 20 to position each of seven sides for slicing to form the tourné shape 10 as shown in FIG. 6. The side of indexing plate 32 may be curved inwardly or ratcheted, to encourage the pin 34 into engagement position 33. The indexing mechanism may comprise metal, plastic, wood or other suitable material.

To prevent debris, fingers, or other foreign objects from entering the indexing mechanism, an upper mounting plate 38 and lower control plate 40 may be joined to at least partially enclose the indexing mechanism. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-5, upper mounting plate 38 and lower control plate 40 may be connected in any conventional manner including using friction pins or by screwing the upper mounting plate 38 and lower control plate 40 together with screws 42 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. Screws 42 may be connected to or integral with foot portion 44. Alternatively, the screws could be inserted through a surface, such as a tabletop (not shown) to fix the device permanently or semi-permanently to a particular workspace. Lower control plate 40 may also be connected to a removable retainer plate 46 by, for example, screws 48 to allow access to and cleaning of the indexing mechanism.

Article 20 may be elevated from the upper mounting plate 38 by platform 50 to reduce friction while advancing article 20 through the rotating and slicing process. Upper mounting plate 38, lower control plate 40, screws 42, feet 44, and any portion of base 18 may comprise metal, plastic, wood or other suitable material.

The cutting device may be handheld, and its component parts may be separated for cleaning, transportation, or storage. As shown in FIG. 7, the cutting portion 16 may be separated from base portion 18. The cutting portion 16 may further be stacked on top of base portion 18. Preferably, the cutting portion 16 and base portion 18 can be nested so that the arced portion of blade guide 22 may extend as high as or higher than holders 26, thus serving to shield holders 26, which may be sharp.

This stacked arrangement may also be inserted into a container 60 that may have a lid 64 with a flap 62 or other fastening or securing means (see FIG. 8). The lid 64 may be attached to container 60 by hinge 66. Container 60 may be plastic, metal, paper, wood, or other like material. The container may comprise any conventional arrangement, the illustrated container in FIGS. 7 and 8 being only one example. As shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, the nested cutting portion 16 and base 18 may be held relatively stationary within container 60 by contacting the sides of container 60 with guides 22, pins 27, upper mounting plate 38, lower control plate 40, feet 44 or any combination thereof. Base 18 additionally may be held stationary by virtue of the nested relationship with cutting portion 16.

The foregoing description of the invention illustrates and describes the present invention. Additionally, the disclosure shows and describes only the preferred embodiments of the invention, but it is to be understood that the invention is capable of use in various other combinations, modifications, and environments and is capable of changes or modifications within the scope of the inventive concept as expressed herein, commensurate with the above teachings, and/or the skill or knowledge in the art of article shaping, particularly the shaping and cutting of items.

The embodiments described hereinabove are further intended to explain the best modes known of practicing the invention and to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention in such, or other, embodiments and with the various modifications required by the particular applications or uses of the invention. Accordingly, the description is not intended to limit the invention to the form disclosed herein. Also, it is intended that the appended claims be construed to include alternative embodiments.