Title:
MULTIPLE TIER CABINET STORAGE UNIT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multi-tier cabinet storage installation includes lower and upper storage units which may be wire drawers. The lower and upper units are connected by posts having detachable connections allowing compact packaging in a disassembled condition. A spacer that may be inverted allows adjustment of the elevation of the upper unit to accommodate varying cabinet heights. A modified embodiment intended for use when obstructions are present in the cabinet has a reduced width upper unit for clearing the obstructions and is reversible while still providing a handle in the front regardless of which way the installation is made.



Inventors:
Klein, Richard B. (Overland Park, KS, US)
Etter, Mark A. (Independence, MI, US)
Ostmeyer, Matthew L. (Stilwell, KS, US)
Application Number:
12/053974
Publication Date:
09/24/2009
Filing Date:
03/24/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
312/348.3
International Classes:
A47B88/04; A47B95/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ING, MATTHEW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL LLP (KANSAS CITY, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A multi-tier cabinet storage installation, comprising: a lower unit constructed for sliding movement in and out of a cabinet and adapted to store objects; an upper unit adapted to store objects; and a plurality of posts each having a lower end provided with a first detachable connection to said lower unit and an upper end provided with a second detachable connection to said upper unit to mount said upper unit to said lower unit a spaced distance above the lower unit when said first and second detachable connections are effected.

2. A storage installation as set forth in claim 1, wherein said first and second detachable connections are threaded connections.

3. A storage installation as set forth in claim 1, including: a plurality of barrels on said lower unit; and threads on said lower end of each post for threaded engagement with said barrel to effect said first detachable connection.

4. A storage installation as set forth in claim 3, including a stop on each post engageable with said barrel to limit threading of said threads into said barrel.

5. A storage installation as set forth in claim 3, including at least one tool-receiving surface on each post to facilitate tightening of said threads into said barrel.

6. A storage installation as set forth in claim 5, including a plurality of sleeves on said upper unit in which said tool-receiving surface on each post is received when said second detachable connections are effected.

7. A storage installation as set forth in claim 6, including a plurality of detachable fasteners for securing said upper ends of said posts and said tool-receiving surfaces in said sleeves to effect said second detachable connection.

8. A storage installation as set forth in claim 7, including a stop on each post engageable with said sleeve to limit extension of said posts into said sleeves.

9. A storage installation as set forth in claim 1, wherein said lower and upper units comprise drawers constructed of spaced apart intersecting wires.

10. A multi-tier cabinet storage installation, comprising: a lower unit constructed to hold articles; a slide mechanism for mounting said lower unit to the cabinet for sliding movement in and out of the cabinet; an upper unit constructed to hold articles; and a plurality of posts constructed to connect said upper unit to said lower unit above said upper unit at a plurality of different elevations relative to said lower unit.

11. A storage installation as set forth in claim 10, wherein each post comprises: a main post element having a connection with one of said lower and upper units; and a spacer having a connection with said main post element and with the other of said lower and upper units wherein said spacer is constructed to assume a plurality of different positions relative to said main post element and said other of said lower and upper units to vary the elevation of said upper unit between said plurality of different elevations.

12. A storage installation as set forth in claim 10, wherein each post comprises: a main post element having a connection with one of said lower and upper units; and a spacer having opposite first and second ends, said spacer being applicable in a first position wherein said first end is detachably connected to said post and said second end is detachably connected to the other of said lower and upper units to maintain said upper unit at a first distance above said lower unit, and a second position wherein said second end is detachably connected to said post and said first end is detachably connected to said other of said lower and upper units to maintain said upper unit at a second distance above said lower unit greater than said first distance.

13. A storage installation as set forth in claim 12, including a collar on said spacer for engagement with said other of said lower and upper units in said first and second positions of said spacer in a manner to assure that said second distance is greater than said first distance.

14. A storage installation as set forth in claim 12, including: a sleeve on said other of said lower and upper units for receiving said first end of said spacer in said second position thereof and for receiving said second end of said spacer in said first position thereof; threads on said first end of said spacer for threaded attachment to said main post element in said first position of said spacer; threads on said second end of said spacer for threaded attachment to said main post element in said second position of said spacer; and a collar on said spacer for engagement with said sleeve in said first and second positions of said spacer, said collar being off-center on said spacer.

15. A storage installation as set forth in claim 14, including a detachable fastener for securing said first end of said spacer in said sleeve in said second position of said spacer, and for securing said second end of said spacer in said sleeve in said first position of said spacer.

16. A storage installation as set forth in claim 15, wherein said connection of said main post element with said one of said lower and upper units is a detachable connection.

17. A storage installation as set forth in claim 11, wherein said lower and upper units comprise drawers constructed of spaced apart intersecting wires.

18. A storage installation as set forth in claim 12, wherein said connection of said main post element with said one of said lower and upper units is a detachable connection.

19. A multi-tier cabinet storage installation, comprising: a lower unit constructed for sliding movement in and out of a cabinet and adapted to store objects, said lower unit having opposite ends and opposite sides and a width dimension between said sides; an upper unit having opposite ends and opposite sides and a width dimension between said sides less than the width dimension of said lower unit, said upper unit being connected to said lower unit with one side of said upper unit generally overlying one side of said lower unit; a handle on each end of said lower unit; and a handle on each end of said upper unit, wherein one of said handles on said lower and upper units is accessible from the front when said lower and upper units are installed in the cabinet with either of said ends in the front.

20. A storage installation as set forth in claim 19, wherein said upper unit is connected with said lower unit by detachable connections.

21. A storage installation as set forth in claim 19, including a plurality of posts each having a lower end provided with a first detachable connection to said lower unit and an upper end provided with a second detachable connection to said upper unit to mount said upper unit to said lower unit a spaced distance above the lower unit when said first and second detachable connections are effected.

22. A storage installation as set forth in claim 21, wherein said first and second detachable connections are threaded connections.

23. A storage installation as set forth in claim 19, including a plurality of posts constructed to connect said upper unit to said lower unit above said upper unit at a plurality of different elevations relative to said lower unit.

24. A storage installation as set forth in claim 23, wherein each post comprises: a main post element having a connection with one of said lower and upper units; and a spacer having a connection with said main post element and with the other of said lower and upper units wherein said spacer is constructed to assume a plurality of different positions relative to said main post element and said other of said lower and upper units to vary the elevation of said upper unit between said plurality of different elevations.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to cabinet storage and more particularly to a multi-tier storage unit that slides in and out of a cabinet.

Cabinets such as kitchen and bathroom base cabinets have been equipped with sliding or rollout storage devices of various types in order to enhance access to the items that are stored in the cabinet. To enlarge the effective storage area, two-tier sliding drawers, trays, shelves and other storage devices have been used such that both the lower and upper tiers can store items: However, the two-tier units that have been available in the past are less than satisfactory in a number of respects.

Typically, the double tier devices have an all-welded construction in which the upper and lower storage units are permanently welded together. Such a construction requires packaging that is large enough to accommodate the entire device in a fully assembled condition, and this results in considerable “dead space” in the package. A large package is highly undesirable because of the area occupied on the valuable shelf space in retail stores and also because of the undue space occupied during shipping and storage. Double tier units are also characterized by strength problems, wobbling and other instabilities, and high costs.

Existing devices that are all-welded have a single, fixed position for the upper storage unit. Because the available cabinet height varies substantially from cabinet to cabinet, fixed height units do not fit in some cabinets at all and fail to take full advantage of the height that is available in others. The lack of height adjustability requires units to be manufactured in a variety of different heights which increases the manufacturing costs and can be confusing and inconvenient to purchasers.

While double tier products have been available in configurations intended to fit around under-sink pipes and other obstructions, the practical results have not been wholly satisfactory. The upper unit in this type of drawer is usually about half as wide as the lower unit so that the upper unit can clear drain traps, water lines, garbage disposers and other obstructions that are commonly present in kitchen and bathroom base cabinets. Because the location of obstructions varies, the upper unit must sometimes be on the left side and at other times on the right side to accommodate the obstructions. Existing devices of this type require the purchaser to mount the upper unit on one side or the other, thus requiring the application of numerous fasteners which makes installation more difficult. Typically, the entire device cannot be turned in order to vary the side of the upper unit because a handle is provided on only the front, and the handle would be inaccessible and useless if the device were to be turned to where the handle is on the back.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is directed to a multi-tier cabinet storage unit which slides in and out of a cabinet and is constructed in a manner to eliminate or at least minimize the problems that have plagued prior art units.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, a double tier cabinet storage device includes detachable posts which connect the upper and lower units (which are preferably drawers but may be other storage devices such as trays, racks or shelves). As a result of the detachability of the posts, the product can be packaged in a disassembled condition with the two drawers (or other storage units) arranged flatly against one another or nested to minimize the height of the package. This allows a much more compact package to be used than is possible with permanently welded products. The benefit is significant because it minimizes the space that is occupied on retail shelves, during shipping and during storage in warehouses or other storage facilities, and it makes the package easier to handle.

Preferably, the posts have threaded connections with the upper and lower units. One of the storage units (such as the lower unit) can have internally threaded barrels into which the lower ends of the posts can be threaded. Wrench flats or other tool receiving surfaces on the upper ends of the posts may be provided to allow tight threading of the posts into the barrels. The other unit (for example, the upper unit) may have sleeves that receive the upper ends of the posts, thus concealing the tool receiving surfaces. Screws or other fasteners may be used to secure the posts in the sleeves.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the upper unit may be adjusted to multiple elevations so that cabinets which vary in the height can be accommodated. This height adjustability can be effected in various ways, including the provision of a spacer that may be applied to the post in one position to maintain the upper unit at one elevation, or inverted to maintain the upper unit at a different elevation. The spacer may be removed to provide a third discrete elevation of the upper unit.

Another aspect of the invention contemplates a reduced width upper unit for use when obstructions are present in the cabinet. Both the upper and lower units have handles on both the front and the back, so the entire device can be installed with the upper unit on the right or reversed such that the upper unit is on the left, while still providing handles that are accessible for pulling the storage device out or pushing it in.

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 drawings, which form a part of the specification and are to be read in conjunction therewith in which like reference numerals are used to indicate like or similar parts in the various views:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a multiple tier cabinet storage unit constructed according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the cabinet storage unit of FIG. 1 in a fully assembled condition;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view, partially exploded, of the cabinet storage unit shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, but with a spacer included to allow variation in the height of the upper tier of the storage unit;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary view of the detail identified by numeral 4 in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view similar to FIG. 3, but showing the spacer inverted from its position in FIG. 3;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary view of the detail identified by numeral 6 in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of a multiple tier cabinet storage unit constructed in accordance with a modified embodiment of the invention wherein an upper tier has a lesser width than a lower tier of the storage unit; and

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the storage unit shown in FIG. 7 in a fully assembled condition.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings in more detail and initially to FIGS. 1 and 2, numeral 10 generally designates a multi-tier cabinet storage unit constructed according to one embodiment of the present invention. The storage unit 10 includes as its principal components a lower drawer 12, an upper drawer 14 and a plurality of posts 16 which connect the upper drawer 14 with the lower drawer 12. The lower drawer 12 is preferably mounted on a glide mechanism, generally identified by reference numeral 18, in order to allow the storage unit 10 to slide into and out of a storage cabinet such as the cabinet 20 shown fragmentarily in FIG. 2. The glide mechanism 18 is preferably of the 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 Roll Out Drawers and Other Items”. That pending patent application is hereby incorporated by reference. While the illustrated embodiment includes drawers 12 and 14 as the upper and lower units, other types of storage units can be used, including trays, racks, shelves, etc.

As described more fully in pending application Ser. No. 11/549,485, the glide mechanism 20 includes a pair of parallel rails 22 which are rigidly connected by flat cross bars 24 near their front and back ends. Runners 26 fit in the respective tracks 22 and may be extended out of the tracks 22 and retracted into the tracks 22 to the fully retracted position shown in FIGS. 1-2. The cross bars 24 are provided with openings (not shown) that may receive conventional screws or other fasteners (also not shown) in order to secure the glide mechanism 18 in the cabinet 20. The runners 26 are equipped with brackets that provide horizontal mounting plates 28 (FIG. 1). The bottom of the lower drawer 12 is provided with mounting tabs 30 (FIG. 1) which may be secured to the plates 28 by special fasteners 32, with pads 34 preferably interposed between the plates 28 and tabs 30.

The lower drawer 12 preferably has a wire construction and a generally rectangular shape that provides a lightweight yet sturdy and convenient structure. A floor of the drawer 12 is formed by a plurality of lateral wires 36 welded or otherwise connected to longitudinal wires 38 which extend from front to back. The floor of drawer 12 may have a rim wire 40 from which four barrels 42 extend upwardly at or near the four corners of the drawer 12. An upper rim wire 44 extends around the periphery of the drawer 12 at its upper edge and is connected with the upper ends of the barrels 42. Wire 44 is bent downwardly in a curved fashion at the front of drawer 12 to provide a handle 46. An intermediate rim wire 48 extends along the sides, back and part of the front of the drawer at a location between the rim wires 40 and 44. Wire 44 is connected with each of the barrels 42 near their midpoints. The barrels 44 are hollow members which are open at their upper ends and internally threaded.

The upper drawer 14 has a wire construction which is identical in most respects to the lower drawer 12, with like numerals identifying the parts of the upper drawer 14 that correspond to the parts of the lower drawer 12. Sleeves 50 are provided at the four corners of the upper drawer 14 and generally correspond in construction and location with the barrels 42. The sleeves 50 are open at the bottom and need not be internally threaded.

The posts 16 may all be constructed in the same manner. Each post 16 may be a straight member having a lower flange 52 near but spaced above its lower end and another flange 54 near but spaced below its upper end. The lower end portion 56 of each post 16 is externally threaded to mate with the internal threads of the barrels 42. Wrench flats 58 or other tool receiving surfaces are provided on the upper end portion 59 of each post 16 above the upper flange 54. The upper end portion 59 of each post 16 is open and is internally threaded. A plurality of screws 60 or other detachable fasteners may be provided to secure the posts 16 to sleeves 50.

The storage unit 10 may be packaged in a disassembled condition with the drawers 12 and 14 detached from the posts 16 and the lower drawer 12 detached from the glide mechanism 18. This allows for a compact package with minimal dead space and has the great advantage of minimizing the package size so that the space occupied on retail shelves and during shipping and storage is minimized.

The storage unit 10 can be assembled by mounting the glide mechanism 18 in the cabinet 20 and then connecting the lower drawer 12 to the glide mechanism 18. The posts 16 can be installed by threading their lower ends 56 into the barrels 42, with the wrench flats 58 allowing the posts 16 to be fully tightened until the flanges 52 seat securely on top of the barrels 42. The upper drawer 14 can be installed by applying the sleeves 50 to the upper ends of the posts 16 until the lower ends of sleeves 50 seat on the flanges 54. The screws 60 can then be applied into the sleeves 50 and threaded into the upper ends of the posts 16 and fully tightened to complete the assembly. The wrench flats 58 are enclosed within the sleeves 50 when the unit is fully assembled so that the wrench flats do not detract from the aesthetic appeal of the unit. It is noted that the presence of the flanges 52 and 54 provides large surface areas on the posts 16 for contact with the barrels 42 and sleeves 50, thereby rigidifying the structure and resisting any tendency for wobbling.

FIGS. 3-6 illustrate a modification in which the lower drawer 12 and upper drawer 14 may have the same construction previously described. However, the unit shown in FIGS. 3-6 includes a two-piece post construction in which each of the posts includes a main post 116 and a spacer 117. Each post 116 may be similar to the posts 16 previously described and may be connected with the barrels 42 in the manner described for posts 16. However, posts 116 preferably do not include the upper flanges 54 or the wrench flats 58.

The spacer 117 is considerably shorter than post 116 and is a straight tubular member having an exterior collar 119 offset from the longitudinal center of the spacer 117. The spacer 117 thus has a relatively short end portion 121 on one side of the collar 119 and a longer portion 123 on the other side of the collar 119. Both portions 121 and 123 may be threaded both internally and externally.

The unit shown in FIGS. 3-6 allows for adjustability of the height of the upper unit 14 among three different elevations. The highest elevation results when the spacer is used in the orientation shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. Then, end 123 is the lower end of the spacer and is threaded into the upper end of post 116. The sleeves 50 are applied to the upper ends 121 of the spacers and seat on the collars 119. The screws 60 may be inserted into sleeves 50 and threaded into the ends 121 of the spacers to complete the assembly.

A lower elevation of the upper drawer 14 may be achieved by utilizing the spacer 117 in the orientation shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, wherein the spacer 117 is inverted from the position of FIGS. 3 and 4. In the orientation of the spacers shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, end 121 is the lower end of the spacer and is threaded into the top end of post 116. The sleeves 50 are applied to the ends 123 of the spacer until the lower ends of the sleeves seat on the collar 119. Screws 60 may be extended into the sleeves 50 and threaded into the ends 123 of the spacers to complete the assembly. Because of the off-center position of the collar 119, the upper drawer 14 is at a lower elevation and is spaced a lesser distance above the lower drawer 12 in the orientation of the sleeves shown in FIGS. 5 and 6.

The third elevation of the upper drawer 14 which is lower than the elevation in FIGS. 5 and 6 can be achieved by not using the spacer 117. Then, the sleeves 50 are applied to the upper ends of the posts 116 and secured by the screws 60. A suitable stop (not shown) may be used to prevent the upper drawer 14 from sliding downwardly on the posts 116.

In the foregoing manner, the arrangement shown in FIGS. 3-6 accommodates three different elevations of the upper drawer 14 relative to the lower drawer 12. Accordingly, cabinets of various heights can be accommodated, and the full cabinet height available can be utilized by adjusting the upper drawer 14 to the appropriate elevation for the particular cabinet in which the storage unit is installed.

FIGS. 7 and 8 depict an alternative embodiment of the invention which is intended for use when obstructions are present in the cabinet, typically including drain traps, water lines, garbage disposers and other obstructions that are commonly present in kitchen and bathroom cabinets located under a sink. Numeral 110 generally designates a cabinet storage unit with a glide mechanism 18 identical to the glide mechanism 18 previously described used to install the storage unit 110 in an under-sink base cabinet such as cabinet 120 (FIG. 8). The storage unit 110 includes a lower drawer 112 which may be mounted to the glide mechanism 18 and which is constructed in a manner generally similar to the drawer 12. However, drawer 112 has its rim wire 144 bent downwardly on both ends to provide handles 146 on both ends. Additionally, rather than mounting barrels at the four corners of the drawer, four barrels 142 are mounted to one of the sides of drawer 112. Preferably, the barrels 142 are mounted in pairs located near the opposite ends of the drawer 112. Posts 16 identical to the posts 16 previously described may be used in the storage unit 110. Alternatively, posts 116 and spacers 117 may be used.

The storage unit 110 has an upper drawer 114 which has a lesser width dimension side to side than the lower drawer 112. Preferably, the width of the upper drawer 114 is approximately one-half the width of the lower drawer 112, although its width can vary. The length dimension of the upper drawer 114 between its opposite ends may be equal to that of the lower drawer 112, or the upper drawer length may be shorter than the lower drawer length to allow nesting while packaged for compactness. The upper drawer 114 may have a wire construction similar to that of drawer 14 except that its width is only approximately half that of drawer 14. Additionally, instead of sleeves being located at the four corners of the drawer, sleeves 150 are mounted to one side of drawer 114. The sleeves 150 are located such that they may be aligned directly above the barrels 142. Sleeves 150 may be connected with the posts 16 (or with the posts 116 and spacers 117) in the same manner as with sleeves 50. Both ends of the upper rim wire 244 of drawer 114 are bent downwardly to provide curved handles 246 on both ends of drawer 114.

The reduced width of the upper drawer 114 allows the unit 110 to be used in an installation where obstructions must be cleared. Because the handles 146 and 246 are provided on both ends of the lower drawer 112 and on both ends of the upper drawer 114, the storage unit 110 can be installed with the upper drawer 114 either on the right side of the storage unit or on the left side of the storage unit to provide enough versatility that obstructions on the left or the right can be cleared while providing handles 146 and 246 on the front of the unit regardless of whether the installation has the upper drawer 114 on the right or the left.

The storage unit 110 shown in FIGS. 7 and 8 has all of the advantages discussed previously for storage unit 10, including compact packaging and adjustability of the height of the upper drawer 114 among three different elevations relative to the lower drawer 112.

While the preferred embodiments are disclosed as having two drawers, it is contemplated that three or more drawers may be constructed using the principles and techniques of the invention.

From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one 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.