Title:
STORAGE RACK FOR POT AND PAN LIDS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rack for holding kitchen items including pot and pan lids, trays, cutting boards and cake pans may be mounted on a glide mechanism to slide in and out of a cabinet. The rack includes a wire construction base and bent wire partitions defining fore-to-aft pockets in which lids may be stored with bottom arcs of the lids placed on cross wires of the base to prevent the lids from rolling when the rack is moved in or out of the cabinet. Handles and knobs on the lids fit in spaces provided by U-shaped loops of the partitions. The partitions and base are initially detached from each other, and from the glide mechanism, for compact packaging. The partitions have legs provided with flanges to seat flatly on plates of the base, with special nuts securing the partition legs and providing large surfaces against the undersides of the plates for secure and stable connection of the partitions.



Inventors:
Klein, Richard B. (Overland Park, KS, US)
Etter, Mark A. (Independence, MO, US)
Ostmeyer, Matt (Carlsbad, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/766438
Publication Date:
12/25/2008
Filing Date:
06/21/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BARNETT, DEVIN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hovey Williams LLP (Overland Park, KS, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A rack adapted to hold kitchen items including lids having curved edges and projecting handles, said rack comprising: a base having a plurality of cross members arranged in pairs spaced apart to receive an arc of the edge of a lid between each pair of cross members; and a plurality of generally upright partitions connected with said base to extend generally front to back substantially perpendicular to said cross members and spaced apart to present pockets between each adjacent pair of partitions for accommodating lids applied to said cross members.

2. A rack as set forth in claim 1, wherein each of the said partitions presents a space for accepting extension of the handle of a lid therethrough when the lid is applied to a pair of said cross members.

3. A rack as set forth in claim 1, wherein each of said partitions compromises a wire element arranged to provide a plurality of generally U-shaped loops located to accept extension of the handle of a lid therethrough when the lid is applied to a pair of said cross members.

4. A rack as set forth in claim 3, wherein each of said partitions has front and back legs connected with said base and a bottom wire extending between said front and back legs.

5. A rack as set forth in claim 4, wherein each of said loops is connected to said bottom wire.

6. A rack as set forth in claim 5, wherein each of said loops has a curved lower end connected to said bottom wire.

7. A rack as set forth in claim 3, wherein each of said wire elements provides a plurality of generally inverted U-shaped loops each having a curved upper end.

8. A rack as set forth in claim 7, wherein said loops have upper ends located at a plurality of different heights.

9. A rack as set forth in claim 1, wherein said partitions have detachable connections with said base.

10. A rack as set forth in claim 1, wherein: each of said partitions has front and back legs; and each of said front and back legs is connected with said base by a detachable fastener.

11. A rack as set forth in claim 10, including a flange on each of said front and back legs arranged to seat flatly against a selected portion of said base.

12. A rack as set forth in claim 11, wherein said flanges have threaded connections with said front and back legs.

13. A rack as set forth in claim 11, wherein said base provides a substantially flat surface against which said flanges seat.

14. A rack as set forth in claim 13, wherein each of said detachable fasteners comprises: an internally threaded body for threaded application to said front and back legs, said bodies having substantially flat upper edges for seating flatly against undersides of said flat surface; and a tool receiving recess in a lower end of each body.

15. A rack as set forth in claim 14, including an exterior surface on each of said fasteners providing an enhanced grip to facilitate turning of the fastener by hand.

16. A rack as set forth in claim 13, wherein said substantially flat surface is provided by a generally horizontal plate on said base.

17. A rack as set forth in claim 16, wherein said base includes a plurality of lateral wires to which edges of said plate are secured.

18. A rack as set forth in claim 13, wherein each of said detachable fasteners comprises: an internally threaded body for threaded application to said front and back legs, each of said bodies having an exterior surface and opposite ends presenting substantially flat edge surfaces for seating against said flat surface of said base; and a tool receiving surface on each end of each of said bodies.

19. A rack as set forth in claim 18, including an enhanced grip surface occupying substantially the entirety of said exterior surface of each of said bodies.

20. A rack as set forth in claim 1, wherein: said base has a periphery formed by wire elements; and said cross members comprise wire members connected with said wire elements on opposite sides of said periphery.

21. A rack as set forth in claim 1, including a glide mechanism having a track for installation in a cabinet and a glide on which said base is mounted, said glide being connected with said track for extension and retraction out of and into the cabinet.

22. A rack adapted to hold kitchen items including lids having curved edges and projecting handles, said rack comprising: a base constructed of interconnected wires including opposite side wires and a plurality of cross wires extending transversely between said side wires and arranged in pairs wherein the cross wires in each pair are spaced apart to receive an arc of the edge of a lid place thereon; and a plurality of generally upright partitions each constructed of a wire element having front and back legs attached to said base to secure said partitions to extend generally front to back substantially perpendicular to said cross wires with spaces between adjacent partitions providing pockets for accepting lids placed on said cross wires, each of said wire elements including a plurality of generally inverted U-shaped loops alternating with generally U-shaped loops with said loops located to accept the handles of lids placed on said cross wires.

23. A rack as set forth in claim 22, including a glide mechanism having a track for installation in a cabinet and a glide on which said base is mounted, said glide being connected with said track for sliding extension and retraction out of and into the cabinet.

24. A slide out rack for installation in a cabinet to hold kitchen items including lids having curved edges and projecting handles, said rack comprising: a glide mechanism having a track for installation in the cabinet and a runner connected with said track for extension and retraction relative thereto; a base adapted for connection to said runner to extend and retract therewith, said base having opposite sides and a plurality of cross members extending transversely between said sides and arranged in pairs spaced apart to receive an arc of the edge of a lid between said pairs of cross members; and a plurality of partitions arranged to be connected with said base to extend generally front to back substantially perpendicular to said cross members and spaced apart to present pockets between adjacent partitions for receiving lids applied to said cross members.

25. A rack as set forth in claim 24, wherein each of said partitions presents a plurality of spaces therein for accepting the handles of lids applied to said cross members.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates in general to the storage of pot and pan lids and other relatively thin kitchen items such as cutting boards, trays, and cake pans. More particularly, the invention is directed to a storage rack which holds kitchen items of this type in a convenient and space efficient manner.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Storage systems of various types have been proposed for storing a wide variety of kitchen items in cabinets and other storage areas. Relatively thin items such as pot and pan lids and trays, cutting boards and cake pans have proven to be difficult to store in a manner that conserves available space and yet maintains the items conveniently accessible when needed. Typically, racks and organizers for these types of kitchen items store the items either in a stack or in a position such that their primary planes are oriented crosswise to the direction of access. With a crosswise arrangement, access to lids in the back part of the rack requires reaching over a number of lids in the front part of the rack, and this can be difficult and often frustrating, especially if larger items are in the front part of the rack. With pullout-type racks that store in a cabinet, efforts to organize the lids in a more convenient orientation with the lids extending front-to-back have been unsuccessful, primarily because the lids tend to roll back and forth on their curved edges as the rack is extended out of and retracted into the cabinet. Simply stacking the lids on one another is unsatisfactory because the entire stack must often be handled in order to locate the particular lid that is needed.

Minimizing the size of the package is of paramount importance in order to minimize the retail shelf space that is occupied as well as the packaging, storage and shipping costs.

Achieving a compact package while providing a rack having adequate structural strength has not been achieved. The weak structures that have been proposed cause rattling, wobbling, inadequate retention of the lids, and even breakage of the rack in some cases. Another problem has been to accommodate the handles or knobs that project from most kitchen lids in a satisfactory manner without taking up undue space in a cabinet or other area where the lids are stored.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the drawbacks associated with the pot and pan lid racks that have been proposed in the past, it is evident that a need exists for a rack which can be packaged compactly and which stores lids in a stable and space-efficient manner while maintaining the lids readily accessible. It is the primary goal of the present invention to meet these needs.

More specifically, it is an object of the invention to provide a storage rack which accommodates kitchen items such as pot and pan lids, trays, cake pans and cutting boards in a front-to-back orientation to maximize accessibility. This is accomplished by providing a rack that has a base with spaced apart cross elements to receive arcs on the curved edges of the lids, along with partitions providing pockets extending front-to-back to hold the lids and trays upright between adjacent pairs of the partitions.

The base may conveniently have a wire construction which reduces the material costs and weight while providing adequate strength. The partitions may take the form of bent wires having various shapes, including alternating U-shaped loops and inverted U-shaped loops. The loops provide spaces for accepting the handles or knobs of lids while counteracting any tendency for the handles to catch on the rack structure. The preferred wire construction of the partitions is cost effective and results in a light weight.

The base and partitions are preferably detachable so they can be packaged in a compact configuration in order to minimize the retail shelf space that is occupied as well as the packaging, shipping and storage costs. A glide mechanism is preferably provided to allow installation in a cabinet such that the rack can slide in and out of the cabinet. If the glide mechanism is provided, it may be packaged compactly with the other components, and the entire unit can be easily assembled and installed by ordinary consumers.

The connection of the partitions to the base is preferably made by providing legs on the front and back of each partition, extending the legs through mounting plates on the base, and securing the legs to the plates with nuts which may be specially constructed for easy installation. The legs may be provided with flanges that seat flatly on the mounting plates, and the nuts preferably have large upper edge surfaces that seat flatly against the undersides of the plates. This arrangement mounts the partitions in a strong and stable manner and avoids an out-of-vertical condition of the partitions, as well as preventing wobbling or other instability of the partitions or any other portion of the structure. Preferably, the partitions are equipped with front-to-back bottom wires for enhanced rigidity and to assist in holding the lids and trays vertical by preventing them from slipping under the loops of the partitions. The bottoms of the loops may be welded or otherwise secured to the bottom wires to strengthen the partition structure. The mounting plates on the base may be specially constructed to enhance the stiffness and rigidity of the entire rack structure.

Other and further objects of the invention, together with the features of novelty appurtenant thereto, will appear in the course of the following description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING

In the accompanying drawing which forms a part of the specification and is to be read in conjunction therewith:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a storage rack for pot and pan lids and other kitchen items constructed according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the rack structure shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the rack structure shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view on an enlarged scale of the base for the rack structure shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary perspective view on an enlarged scale of the detail identified by the numeral 5 in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view on an enlarged scale of one embodiment of a nut that may be used to secure the partitions to the base of the rack structure shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is an elevational view of another embodiment of a nut that may be used to secure the partitions to the base of the rack structure; and

FIG. 8 is a sectional view taken generally along line 8-8 of FIG. 7 in the direction of the arrows.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings in more detail and initially to FIGS. 1 and 2, numeral 10 generally designates a storage rack constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The rack 10 is intended to receive and store kitchen items including the lids of pots and pans, cutting boards, trays, cake pans and other relatively thin items.

The rack 10 includes as its principal components a base which is generally identified by numeral 12 and a plurality of partitions which are generally identified by numeral 14. The rack is preferably mounted on a glide mechanism, generally identified by numeral 16 in order to allow the rack to be slid into and out of a storage cabinet (not shown) or other storage area. The glide mechanism 16 is preferably of the same type disclosed in pending patent application Ser. No. 11/549,485 filed on Oct. 13, 2006, by Richard B. Klein and Mark A. Etter and entitled “Glide Mechanism for Rollout Drawers and Other Items.” That pending application is hereby incorporated by reference.

As described more fully in pending application Ser. No. 11/549,485, the glide mechanism 16 includes a pair of rails 18 which are rigidly connected by flat cross bars 20 near their front and back ends. Runners 22 fit in the respective tracks 18 and may be extended out of the tracks 18 and retracted into the tracks 18 to the fully retracted position shown in FIGS. 1-3.

The cross bars 20 are provided with openings 24 that may receive conventional screws (not shown) which secure the glide mechanism 16 to a cabinet such as the cabinet shelf 26 depicted in FIG. 3. The runners 22 are equipped with brackets which provide horizontal mounting plates 28 (FIG. 2) to which the base 12 may be mounted.

Referring additionally to FIG. 4, the base 12 may have a wire construction providing a lightweight yet sturdy structure. The base 12 preferably has a generally rectangular periphery which may be provided by a single bent wire presenting opposite side wires 30 and a back wire 32 which connects the side wires 30 at their back ends. The front portion of the peripheral wire may be bent upwardly to provide a handle 34 that facilitates gripping of the rack 10.

A plurality of smaller cross wires 36a-c extend between the opposite side wires 30.

Wires 36a-c are spaced apart and parallel to one another and may be arranged in pairs or in another arrangement. As shown in FIG. 3, wires 36a provide a front pair of the cross wires, and wires 36b provide a center pair of the cross wires. Wire 36c is paired with a larger wire 38 which extends between the side wires 30 on the rear portion of the rack 12. Another wire 40 extends between wires 30 at locations spaced a short distance rearwardly from wire 38.

As best shown in FIG. 4, the wires 38 and 40 provide for the mounting of a pair of flat tabs 42 which may be welded or otherwise suitably secured to wires 38 and 40 at locations spaced slightly inwardly from the opposite side wires 30. The tabs 42 are preferably welded to the lower surfaces of wires 38 and 40. Each tab 42 is provided with an elongated opening 44.

Near the front portion of the base 12, a pair of relatively large wires 46 and 48 extend parallel to one another between the side wires 30. A pair of flat tabs 50 are secured to the wires 46 and 48, preferably by welding to the lower surfaces of the wires 46 and 48. The tabs 50 are spaced apart near the opposite sides of the rack 12 and are each provided with an elongated opening 52. Special fasteners 53 (FIG. 2) are used to connect tabs 50 to mounting plates 28 to connect the base 12 to the glide mechanism 16 in a manner disclosed in pending application Ser. No. 11/549,485 and with the advantages set forth therein.

Another cross wire 54 is secured to extend between the opposite side wires 30 at a location spaced slightly forwardly from the back wire 32. A flat mounting plate 56 is secured between wires 32 and 54, preferably by welding and also preferably with the plane of the plate 56 located approximately midway of the depth of each of the wires 32 and 54. This type of connection provides a strong mounting for the plate 56 in an I-beam configuration with the wires 32 and 54 providing the flanges of the I-beam and the plate 56 forming the web of the I-beam. Plate 56 may be provided with openings 58 (four openings in this embodiment) which are preferably spaced equidistantly apart.

Near the front of the base 12, a cross wire 60 extends between the side wires 30 at a location spaced slightly forwardly from wire 48. A flat mounting plate 62 is secured to extend between wires 48 and 60, preferably by welding plate 62 to mid-depth locations on the wires 48 and 60 to provide an I-beam structure. Plate 62 may be provided with a plurality of equally spaced openings 64 (four openings in the illustrated embodiment).

Each of the dividers or partitions 14 may be constructed identically, although they can have varying constructions. With particular reference to FIGS. 1-3, each partition 14 is preferably constructed of a wire element 66 having a front leg 68 and a rear leg 70 each terminating in a free end. The wire elements 66 may be bent in a curved fashion to provide a plurality of inverted U-shaped loops 72 which alternate with U-shaped loops 74. The upper ends of the loops 72 are preferably curved to avoid presenting sharp corners or other abrupt surfaces.

The height of the different loops 72 may be varied as desired, and preferably the rearward loops 72 extend higher than the more forward loops 72, although other combinations may be beneficial. Shapes other than U shapes may be employed.

The U-shaped loops 74 may be generally centered between the pairs of wires 36a, 36b and 36c and 38. The lower ends of the loops 74 are curved and extend downwardly to a stabilizing wire 76. Wire 76 may be a straight wire that is welded or otherwise secured to extend between the legs 68 and 70. The bottom portions of the loops 74 may be welded to the stabilizing wire 76 to enhance the rigidity and stability of the partition 14 and minimize springiness near its center.

As shown particularly in FIG. 2, the lower ends 78 of the legs 68 and 70 are threaded and are each provided with an internally threaded annular flange 80. Each flange 80 has a flat surface for seating on top of the mounting plates 56 and 62. The flanges 80 may be mounted in ways other than as described. However, threading of flanges 80 is preferred because welding a flange onto either leg 68 or 70 provides an unsightly weld bead if welded from the top and provides an irregular weld bead that would interfere with flat seating of the flanges 80 on plates 56 and 62 if the weld is applied from the bottom.

The partitions 14 may be secured to base 12 by special nuts 82. As best shown in FIG. 2, an internally threaded passage 84 extends into the top end of the barrel shaped shank 86 of each nut 82. The externally threaded lower end portion 78 of each leg 68 and 70 mates with the internal threads in the passage 84 of nut 82. The upper edge of shank 86 provides a flat annular surface 88 which seats flatly against the underside of plate 56 or 62 when nut 82 is fully tightened.

With particular reference to FIG. 6, the lower end of the shank 86 has a knurled or splined surface 90 which facilitates application of the nut 82 by hand. Additionally, the lower surface of nut 82 is provided with a tool receiving recess 92 which extends within the splined portion 90. The recess 92 has a configuration to receive a suitable tool (not shown) that may be used to fully tighten the nut 82. For example, the recess 92 may have a hexagonal configuration to receive a conventional Allen wrench or other wrench configuration.

It is contemplated that the rack 10 will be packaged with the base 12, partitions 14 and glide mechanism 16 detached so that the parts can be laid against one another to provide a package that is considerably thinner than if the rack is packaged in assembled form. This is a highly important feature of the invention because retail shelf space is highly valuable, and providing a package that occupies as little space as possible is of considerable importance in this respect. Additionally, a compact package minimizes the costs of packaging, storing and shipping products.

The rack 10 can be easily assembled after the parts have been removed from the package. In a case where the glide mechanism 16 is provided and the rack is to be installed in a cabinet, the glide mechanism 16 is installed at the proper position in the cabinet, such as by inserting screws (not shown) through the openings 24 and threading the screws into the cabinet shelf 26. The base 12 may be mounted to the glide mechanism 16 by extending the fasteners 53 through the openings 52 in tabs 50 and threading the fasteners into the threaded openings in the mounting plates 28. Preferably before the base 12 has been mounted to the glide mechanism 16, the partitions 14 may be attached to the base 12 by extending the legs 68 and 70 through the respective front and back openings 64 and 58 in plates 62 and 56, and then tightening the nuts 82 onto the threaded ends 78 from beneath the plates 62 and 56. The knurled or splined surfaces 90 facilitate initial application of nuts 82 to threaded ends 78 by hand and allow the nuts 82 to be finger-tightened to the extent possible. Then, a suitable tool (not shown) may be applied to the recesses 92 and used to fully tighten the nuts 82.

It is noted that once nuts 82 are fully tightened, the flanges 80 are drawn flatly against the upper surfaces of plates 56 and 62 to provide a stable position for each of the partitions 14. Similarly, the top surfaces 88 of nuts 82 provide large surfaces that seat flatly against the undersides of plates 56 and 62 such that plates 56 and 62 are sandwiched between the relatively large surfaces provided by the flanges 80 and surfaces 88. The result is that partitions 14 are securely connected with the base 12 in a manner to assure that the partitions 14 occupy vertical planes and do not wobble or otherwise exhibit instability. Connection of the lower portions of the loops 74 to the rigid stabilizing wire 76 assists in maintaining the partitions 14 in position and resists any tendency for the partitions to exhibit springiness in their center portions or elsewhere. The strength of the mounting arrangement for the partition is enhanced by the I-beam connection of the plates 56 and 62 to the cross wires of rack 12.

In use, the rack 10 may be slid inwardly and outwardly in the cabinet to provide convenient access to the pockets 93 (FIG. 2) provided between the adjacent partitions 14. Pot and pan lids such as the lid 94 depicted in FIG. 3 may be stored in the pockets 93. The lids may be placed such that an arc of the round edge 96 of the lid rests on the pairs of wires such as the wires 36b on which lid 94 rests in FIG. 3. The handle 98 of lid 94 is received in the open space provided within the loop 74. In this respect, it is noted that the lower portion of loop 74 extends downwardly to the area of the stabilizing wire 76 and is thus low enough that the handle 98 does not contact the loop 74, assuring that the lid 94 will seat properly on wires 36b as intended.

Additional lids (not shown) may be stored in the same pocket 93 as lid 94 and in the pockets 93 presented between the other pairs of partitions 14. In the rack 10 shown, three rows of lids can be arranged in the three pockets 93, although the rack can be constructed with a different number of rows. Also, two or more lids can be stored on each pair of wires 36a, 36b or 36c and 38 in any one of the pockets 93. It is contemplated that two lids will normally be stored in each row of each pocket 93, with the handles of the two lids extending in opposite direction to extend within the loops 74 of the two partitions on the opposite sides of the pocket. However, a different number of lids may be accommodated depending primarily upon their size and configuration.

Preferably, the loops 72 toward the front of the rack extend to a lesser height than the loops 72 toward the back of the rack. This provides support for larger lids and other larger items near the back of the rack where they do not obstruct access to the smaller lids or other items that may be stored toward the front of the rack. However, the loops 72 may have other heights and may assume configurations other than what is shown in the drawings.

The manner in which the wires 36a-c and 38 capture the bottom arc portion of curved lids that are applied to the wires assures that the lids will not roll back and forth as the rack 10 slides in and out of a cabinet. The vertical partitions 14 maintain the lids with their planes vertical and extending front to rear where their accessibility is maximized. In the case of lids with large flanges on their rims or in the case of cake pans and other items, the presence of the stabilizing wire 76 at the bottom portions of the loops 74 prevents the rims from slipping beneath the loops and possibly catching on them to present problems when attempts are made to remove the lids from the rack. Wire 76 also helps to maintain the lids and trays in a vertical posture.

In addition to pot and pan lids, the rack 10 can readily store other items such as relatively flat trays and cutting boards and cake pans having a relatively shallow depth. Such items are maintained in a compact space when held in the rack 10, and they cannot roll out due to the manner in which they are contained. Different handle and knob sizes are readily accommodated due to the construction of the rack.

While it is convenient to mount the rack on a glide mechanism so that it can slide into and out of a cabinet or other storage area, the rack is equally applicable as a self-standing unit without a glide mechanism. A self-standing rack constructed in the manner of the rack 10 can be located on a countertop, cabinet shelf or elsewhere and still provide the advantages previously set forth.

FIGS. 7 and 8 depict a nut 182 which may be used in place of the nut 82 shown in FIG. 6. Each nut 182 has a passage 184 (FIG. 8) which extends centrally through a barrel shaped shank or body 186 of each nut. Each passage 184 has internal threads 184a located in the center portion thereof. The opposite ends of the body 186 provide substantially flat annular surfaces 188 which may seat flatly against the underside of plates 56 or 62 when nut 182 is fully tightened.

The entire exterior surface of body 186 is preferably provided with knurls or splines 190 which allow enhanced gripping to facilitate application and firm tightening of nut 182 by hand. Tool receiving recesses 192 which may be hexagonal to receive a tool such as an Allen wrench are formed in the opposite ends of the nut body 184. Nuts 182 are applied and function in substantially the same manner described previously for nuts 82 except nuts 182 are bi-directional.

From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is well adapted to attain all ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with the other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure.

It will be understood that certain features and subcombinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.

Since many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative, and not in a limiting sense.