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Publication numberUS20050199162 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/847,905
Publication dateSep 15, 2005
Filing dateMay 18, 2004
Priority dateFeb 4, 2002
Publication number10847905, 847905, US 2005/0199162 A1, US 2005/199162 A1, US 20050199162 A1, US 20050199162A1, US 2005199162 A1, US 2005199162A1, US-A1-20050199162, US-A1-2005199162, US2005/0199162A1, US2005/199162A1, US20050199162 A1, US20050199162A1, US2005199162 A1, US2005199162A1
InventorsRobert Hendricks, John Hendricks
Original AssigneeEz Outdoor Table Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Portable table
US 20050199162 A1
Abstract
Collapsible tables, including collapsible table tops, and collapsible table frames. The table top comprises multiple, relatively rigid, leaf elements which interlock with each other and/or articulate, and pull apart or fold for storage. Optional recesses in the edges of the table top releasably receive mounting structure on the table frame, or resilient mounting structure on edges of the table top is received in corresponding receivers on the table frame, thereby to releasably couple the table top and frame to each other. The frames include support arms underlying the table top. Loads from the table top typically pass through the support arms and thence to the frame. Improved structure supports the support arms from the frame body, passes loads to the frame body, as well as guiding and controlling movement of the support arms when the frame is being collapsed or expanded.
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Claims(55)
1. A table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements, at least first and second ones of which are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of said table top, said table top having a length, and a width, each said detachably connected leaf element having a length and respective first and second side edges extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top, and a width, and third and fourth opposing end edges extending along the length of the table top, each said detachably connected leaf element comprising a top surface and a bottom surface, said plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of said leaf elements adapted and configured to mount said table top to a compatible table frame, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising at least one of a connector tab or a connector receptacle slot disposed at an intermediate location on at least one of the first and second side edges, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising at least two of end tabs and/or receptacle end slots, disposed adjacent the opposing end edges thereof, the combination of said connector tabs in said connector receptacle slots and said end tabs in said end receptacle slots comprising tab-connector combinations which are effective to releasably join said detachably connected leaf elements together in forming the generally continuous upper surface of said table top, whereby a force imposed on one said detachably connected leaf element, including at a said end edge thereof, can be transferred to an adjacent one of said detachably connected leaf elements through one or more of the respective tab-connector combinations without traveling any substantial distance from the respective said end edge, along the respective side edge of the respective said leaf element.
2. A table top as in claim 1 wherein end ones of said leaf elements have a first said side edge bearing said tabs and slots and a second said side edge free from said tabs and slots, and wherein intermediate ones of said leaf elements, disposed inwardly of said end leaf elements in said table top as assembled, have first and second opposing side edges both bearing said tabs and slots.
3. A table top as in claim 2 wherein said end leaf elements and said intermediate leaf elements further comprise readily visually discernable differences, in addition to said tabs and slots, to distinguish said end leaf elements from said intermediate leaf elements, whereby said end leaf elements can readily be visually distinguished from said intermediate leaf elements, thereby to assist a user in selecting the serial order of said leaf elements in said table top during assembly of said table top.
4. A table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other, and joined to each other, to form a generally continuous upper surface of said table top, said table top having a length, and a width, each said leaf element having a length, and respective first and second side edges extending along the width of the table top, and a width, and respective third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top, said plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of said leaf elements adapted and configured to mount said table top to a compatible table frame, each said leaf element further comprising structure assisting in effecting the joinder of said leaf elements to each other in side by side relationship, end ones of said leaf elements and intermediate ones of said leaf elements being distinguished by surface texture differences molded into the respective ones of said leaf elements.
5. A table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other, and joined to each other, to form a generally continuous upper surface of said table top, said table top having a length, and a width, each said leaf element having a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending along the width of the table top, and a width, and respective third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top, said plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of said leaf elements for mounting said table top to a compatible table frame, each said leaf element further comprising structure assisting in effecting the joinder of said leaf elements to each other in side by side relationship, said end leaf elements and said intermediate leaf elements further comprising visually discernable differences, whereby said end leaf elements can readily be visually distinguished from said intermediate leaf elements, thereby to assist a user in selecting the serial order of said leaf elements in said table top during assembly of said table top.
6. A table top as in claim 5, including intermediate connector tabs and slots at intermediate locations of adjoining edges of said leaf elements and end tabs and slots at ends of said adjoining edges of said leaf elements, such that said tabs and slots, in combination, maintain a generally continuous upper surface of said table top, and wherein a force imposed on one said leaf element, including at a said end edge thereof, can be transferred to an adjacent one of said leaf elements through one or more of the respective tab-connector combinations without traveling any substantial distance from the respective said end edge along the respective side edge of the respective said leaf element.
7. A collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, said table frame comprising:
(a) a collapsible table frame body;
(b) first and second pairs of frame top joints mounted for pivotation with respect to a top of said collapsible table frame body; and
(c) first and second table top support arm assemblies, each said table top support arm assembly comprising a pair of table top support arms, first and second table top support arm holders, a support arm pillar for supporting the respective said table top support arm holders, and a connector connecting said top support arm holders to each other and to said support arm pillar, each said table top support arm on the respective said table top support arm assembly having an outward end extending away from said support arm pillar and an inward end proximate said support arm pillar, at least one of said support arms on each said top support arm assembly comprising a flared portion thereof as an integral part of the respective said support arm, proximate the inward end of the respective said support arm, wherein said inward ends of each pair of said table top support arms extend inwardly to slidably connect to said collapsible table frame through respective ones of said table top support arm holders whereby, when said table frame is set up, said flared portion of the respective said table top support arm serves as a stop to arrest sliding of the respective support arm through the respective said support arm holder.
8. A collapsible table frame as in claim 7 wherein, when the table frame is fully erected, the two support arms in each pair of said table top support arms are parallel to each other and the respective support arms in the pair, in combination, extend along generally parallel lines between respective ones of the frame joints, and wherein bottom ends of said two support arm pillars are mounted for pivotation with respect to said collapsible table frame body.
9. A collapsible table frame as in claim 7, further comprising a plug extending into a respective one of said support arms at or adjacent the flared portion.
10. A collapsible table frame as in claim 7 wherein, in order to erect said collapsible table frame, each said table top support arm rotates about a said frame top joint such that the inward end thereof moves upward and the support arm slides through a respective said table top support arm holder away from a respective said top joint, with said table top support arm holders in each table top support arm assembly rotating in opposite directions as the respective table top support arms slide outwardly and upwardly as said table frame is erected, sliding movement of said table top support arms being susceptible of being arrested by said flared portions of said top support arms as said table frame reaches a fully erected configuration.
11. A collapsible table frame as in claim 7, further comprising a flexible container having a container body having an upper edge and a lower extremity and at least one side extending generally between the upper edge and the lower extremity, and at least one connector attached to said collapsible container, said connector communicating with and being attached said collapsible table frame.
12. A collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, said table frame comprising:
(a) a collapsible table frame body;
(b) first and second pairs of frame top joints mounted for pivotation with respect to a top of said collapsible table frame body; and
(c) first and second table top support arm assemblies, each said table top support arm assembly comprising a pair of table top support arms, a support arm pillar for supporting the respective said table top support arm holders, and a pin connecting said top support arms to each other and to said support arm pillar, each said table top support arm on the respective said table top support arm assembly having an outward end extending away from said support arm pillar and an inward end proximate said support arm pillar, said support arm pillar comprising a slot having a top, and extending along a length thereof downwardly to a bottom of the slot, said pin extending through said pillar at said slot, said slot further comprising a hook at the top thereof, whereby when said table frame is set up, said pin rises in the slot to a position adjacent the hook so that said hook can be placed under said pin thus to provide support to said pin and thus to said support arms while said frame is in the set up configuration.
13. A method of assembling a table top to a collapsible table support frame, comprising:
(a) substantially erecting the collapsible table support frame, including extending opposing table top support arms of a table top support arm assembly;
(b) positioning the opposing table top support arms a minimal distance inward from a fully erected configuration;
(c) aligning a compatible table top, having mounting flanges extending downwardly from a bottom of the table top, with outer ends of the table top support arms; and
(d) extending the table top support arms into assembling engagement with the mounting flanges on the table top and thereby fully erecting the collapsible table support frame as the table top is being assembled to the table support frame.
14. A method as in claim 13, including apertures in the flanges, and including extending end portions of the support arms into and through the apertures such that the end portions extend outwardly from the apertures when the table is fully assembled.
15. A collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, said table frame comprising:
(a) a collapsible table frame body comprising first and second pairs of side legs and third and fourth pairs of front and rear legs, the legs in each said pair of legs being mounted for pivotation with respect to each other so as to cross while pivoting with respect to each other, each of said third and fourth pairs of legs being joined to each of said first and second pairs of legs;
(b) first, second, third, and fourth frame top joints comprising upwardly disposed portions of said collapsible table frame body, mounted for pivotation with respected to ones of said front, side, and rear legs; and
(c) first and second table top support arm assemblies, each said table top support arm assembly comprising a pair of table top support arms, each said table top support arm having an outward end disposed toward the respective said top joint, and an inward end, the inward ends of said table top support arms being pivotally connected to each other at a pivot joint, and including a locking elbow bracket extending from the pivot joint to a respective one of said side legs between the respective said top joint and the pivot locus of the respective pair of said side legs.
16. A collapsible table frame as in claim 15 wherein said locking elbow defines an acute angle of at least about 40 degrees with respect to one of said support arms in the respective support arm assembly when said table frame is fully erected and said locking elbow bracket is locked.
17. A collapsible table frame as in claim 15, further comprising a flexible container having a container body having an upper edge and a lower extremity and at least one side extending generally between the upper edge and the lower extremity, and at least one connector attached to said flexible container, said connector communicating with and being attached to said collapsible table frame.
18. A collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, said table frame comprising:
(a) a collapsible table frame body;
(b) first and second pairs of frame top joints mounted for pivotation with respect to a top of said collapsible table frame body; and
(c) first and second table top support arm assemblies, each said table top support arm assembly comprising a pair of table top support arms, first and second table top support arm holders, and a support arm pillar for supporting the respective said table top support arm holders, each said table top support arm having an outward end extending away from said support arm pillar and an inward end proximate said support arm pillar, and including first and second slots on opposing sides of each support arm, extending from a first slot end proximate said inward end of the respective said support arm, and extending toward said outward end, each said table top support arm assembly further comprising a pin connecting said support arm holders to each other and to said support arm pillar, and extending through the slots in said support arms, whereby when said table frame is set up, said slots are adjacent said pin at the first slot ends.
19. A collapsible table frame as in claim 18 wherein said inward ends of each pair of said table top support arms extend inwardly to slidably connect through respective ones of said table top support arm holders of said table top support arm assemblies, wherein when the table frame is fully erected, each pair of said table top support arms are parallel to each other and the respective support arms in the pair, in combination, extend in a generally straight line between respective ones of the frame joints, wherein bottom ends of said support arm pillars are mounted for pivotation with respect to said table frame body.
20. A collapsible table frame as in claim 18 wherein, in order to erect said collapsible table frame, each said table top support arm rotates about a said frame top joint such that the inward end thereof moves upward and the support arm slides through a respective said table top support arm holder away from a respective top joint, with said table top support arm holder in each table support assembly rotating in opposite directions as the respective table top support arms slide outwardly and upwardly as said table frame is erected, sliding movement of said table top support arms being susceptible of being arrested by the first ends of the slots in said table top support arms contacting the respective pins.
21. A collapsible table frame as in claim 18, further comprising a flexible container having a container body having an upper edge and a lower extremity and at least one side extending generally between the upper edge and the lower extremity, and at least one connector attached to said flexible container, said connector communicating with and being attached to said collapsible table frame.
22. A table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements, at least first and second ones of which are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of said table top, said table top having a length, and a width, each said detachably connected leaf element having a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top, and a width, and third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top, said plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of said leaf elements adapted to mount said table top to a compatible table frame, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising, as connecting elements, at least one of a connector protuberance or a connector receptacle, disposed at an intermediate location on at least one of the first and second side edges, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising at least two of said end protuberances and/or said end receptacles disposed at the respective said side edges, and adjacent the respective said end edges of the respective said detachably connected leaf element.
23. A table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements, at least first and a second ones of which are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of said table top, said table top having a length, and a width, each said detachably connected leaf element having a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top, and a leaf element width, the respective side edges having corresponding lengths thereof, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top, said plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure which is adapted and configured to mount said table top to a compatible table frame, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising, as connecting elements, at least one of a connector protuberance or a connector receptacle, disposed at an intermediate location on at least one of the first and second side edges, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising at least two of said end protuberances and/or said end receptacles disposed at the respective said side edges, adjacent the respective said end edge of the respective said detachably connected leaf element, each of said end protuberances and/or end receptacles being separated from the respective opposing end edges by a distance D1 along the respective side edge, each of said end protuberances and/or end receptacles being separated from a most proximate connector protuberance or connector receptacle by a distance D2 along the respective side edge, the magnitude of the distance D1 being substantially less than half the magnitude of the distance D2, at least a portion of the length of the respective said side edge, along the length of said leaf element, being devoid of support structure which is adapted to support an adjacent one of said leaf elements.
24. A table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements, at least first and second ones of which are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of said table top, said table top having a length, and a width, each said detachably connected leaf element having a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top, and a leaf element width, the respective side edges having corresponding lengths thereof, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising third and fourth opposing end edges extending along the length of the table top, said plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure adapted and configured to mount said table top to a compatible table frame, each said detachably connected leaf element further comprising at least two end protuberances and/or end receptacles, each of said end protuberances and/or end receptacles being separated from the respective opposing end edges thereof by a distance D1 along the respective side edge, and being separated from a projected location P1 of an adjacent connector protuberance or connector receptacle by a distance D3, the projected location P1 being defined by the intersection of an imaginary line Ln1 which extends between the respective end protuberance and/or end receptacle at a respective said side edge, and an imaginary line Ln2 which extends from an adjacent said connector protuberance or connector receptacle through such imaginary line Ln1 at a perpendicular angle, the magnitude of the distance D1 being substantially less than half the magnitude of the distance D3.
25. A table top as in claim 3, said visually discernable differences being color coding, effective to distinguish said end leaf elements from said intermediate leaf elements, thereby to assist a user in selecting the serial order of said leaf elements in said table top during assembly of said table top.
26. A table top as in claim 5, said visually discernable differences being color coding, effective to distinguish said end leaf elements from said intermediate leaf elements, thereby to assist a user in selecting the serial order of said leaf elements in said table top during assembly of said table top.
27. A table top as in claim 1 wherein ones of said plurality of leaf elements are hingedly connected to each other so as to facilitate articulation of the respective leaf elements with respect to each other.
28. A table top as in claim 5 wherein ones of said plurality of leaf elements are hingedly connected to each other so as to facilitate articulation of the respective leaf elements with respect to each other.
29. A table top as in claim 22 wherein ones of said plurality of leaf elements are hingedly connected to each other so as to facilitate articulation of the respective leaf elements with respect to each other.
30. A table top as in claim 23 wherein ones of said plurality of leaf elements are hingedly connected to each other so as to facilitate articulation of the respective leaf elements with respect to each other.
31. A table top as in claim 27 wherein said ones of said plurality of leaf elements are permanently hingedly connected to each other.
32. A table top as in claim 28 wherein said ones of said plurality of leaf elements are permanently hingedly connected to each other.
33. A table top as in claim 29 wherein said ones of said plurality of leaf elements are permanently hingedly connected to each other.
34. A table top as in claim 30 wherein said ones of said plurality of leaf elements are permanently hingedly connected to each other.
35. A table top, having a top and a bottom, a length and a width, and end edges extending along the width of said table top at opposing ends of the length, said table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements extending along the width of said table top, said plurality of leaf elements comprising first and second end ones of said leaf elements at opposing ends of the length of said table top, said end leaf elements comprising outer sides thereof extending along the end edges of said table top, recesses being defined in said end leaf elements proximate said outer sides, in one of the end edges of said table top, the top of said table top, and the bottom of said table top, said recesses being adapted and configured to receive mounting structure of a table frame, and thereby to mount said table top to such table frame, said recesses comprising inhibition structure adapted and configured to inhibit movement of such table frame mounting structure along the width of said table top when such mounting structure of such table frame is mounted to said table top.
36. A table top as in claim 35 wherein said inhibition structure comprises side walls of said recesses, extending along the length of said table top.
37. A collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, said table frame comprising a collapsible table frame body comprising first and second table top support arm assemblies, said first and second table top support arm assemblies having respective first and second lengths, and each having first and second opposing ends, and comprising, at or adjacent the first and second ends, upstanding mounting structure adapted and configured to engage respective opposing end edges of such compatible table top, thereby to prevent substantial movement of such compatible table top along the length of at least one of the respective said table top support arms.
38. A collapsible table frame as in claim 37 wherein the respective said mounting structure comprises a detent adapted and configured to secure said collapsible table frame to such compatible table top.
39. A collapsible table, comprising:
(a) a collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, said collapsible table frame comprising a plurality of frame elements, including first and second support arms, and upstanding mounting structure extending upwardly from ones of said frame elements; and
(b) a table top, having a top and a bottom, and a length and a width defining a perimeter of said table top, said table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements extending along the width of said table top, the perimeter of said table top being defined by edges of said table top, said upstanding mounting structure on said ones of said frame elements engaging respective ones of said edges of said table top, and thereby securely and releasably mounting said table top and said collapsible table frame to each other.
40. A collapsible table as in claim 39, said upstanding mounting structure comprising mounting tabs.
41. A collapsible table as in claim 40 wherein said mounting tabs extend upwardly from said support arms.
42. A collapsible table as in claim 40 wherein said mounting tabs extend upwardly from ends of said support arms.
43. A collapsible table as in claim 40 wherein said mounting tabs engage respective opposing end edges of said table top.
44. A collapsible table as in claim 42 wherein a said mounting tab comprises a detent which engages said table top, and which thereby secures said table top and said collapsible table frame to each other.
45. A collapsible table as in claim 39 wherein said edges of said table top are defined by respective edges of said leaf elements.
46. A collapsible table as in claim 40, further comprising recesses in at least one of said edges of said table top, the top of said table top, and the bottom of said table top, ones of said mounting tabs being received in ones of said recesses thereby to mount said table top and said collapsible table frame to each other.
47. A collapsible table as in claim 46 wherein said recesses comprise inhibition structure adapted and configured to inhibit movement of said table frame and said mounting tabs with respect to each other.
48. A collapsible table as in claim 47, a respective said recess comprising side walls thereof, extending transverse to the predominant direction of extension of the respective said edge of said table top adjacent the respective said recess.
49. A collapsible table as in claim 46, at least one of said recesses being disposed in an end edge of said table top.
50. A collapsible table as in claim 46, said recesses being disposed in end edges of said table top.
51. A collapsible table as in claim 50 wherein a said mounting tab comprises a detent which engages said table top at a said recess, and which thereby secures said table top and said collapsible table frame to each other.
52. A collapsible table as in claim 42 wherein a said mounting tab comprises a detent which engages said table top, and which thereby secures said table top and said collapsible table frame to each other.
53. A collapsible table as in claim 42, said table top comprising recesses extending inwardly along the length of said table top, from end edges of said table top, said mounting tabs comprising detents which releasably engage said table top in the respective said recesses.
54. A collapsible table as in claim 39, further comprising a flexible container having a container body having an upper edge and a lower extremity and at least one side extending generally between the upper edge and the lower extremity, and at least one connector attached to at least one of the upper edge, the lower extremity, and the at least one side, said connector communicating with and being removably attached to said frame.
55. A collapsible table as in claim 39, further comprising a flexible container having a container body having an upper edge and a lower extremity and at least one side extending generally between the upper edge and the lower extremity, and at least one connector attached to said flexible container, said connector communicating with and being removably attached to said mounting structure.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation-in-Part application, claiming priority under 35 U.S.C. 120 to U.S. application Ser. No. 10/067,129, filed Feb. 4, 2002, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to portable tables, and more particularly to portable tables having foldable table frames supporting a readily disassembled table top, wherein the table frame can be quickly and easily folded into a compact unit for storage and unfolded for use, and wherein the table top can be quickly assembled for mounting on the frame and quickly disassembled for storage with the frame.

Portable tables find use in a variety of situations, including camping and like applications where tables are often not provided as permanent fixtures of the camp site. Historically, early portable tables were one piece, tabletop and frame, commonly known as “card” tables. Typically, the table was made of a non-bending rigid material, usually metal, with legs which folded underneath and into the table. The problem with such conventional table was that the table was bulky, usually rather heavy, and difficult to transport. Also, because the table frame was limited to four vertical legs, either the whole unit was heavy and was of limited portability, or was light weight and not very sturdy. Also, with this type of conventional portable table, because the table top did not disconnect from the frame, e.g. the legs, a conventional portable table of the aforementioned type could not be folded up to be easily transportable in a typical consumer's vehicle.

As a result, the next generation of table development was to provide a table frame and table top of greater portability. One way in which this objective was pursued was by constructing a separate portable table top and a separate portable table frame. Available such portable table frames are collapsible, so that they are easily transported. Such conventional portable frames are made up of several parts, having to be disassembled for transport or storage, and having to be reassembled for use. Such portable table frames must be assembled for use out of several parts. Thus, the legs of the table, along with support arms for supporting the table top must be screwed or locked together when the table is set up, and then taken apart when the table frame is to be put away. Also, typically, the table top support arms each extend the full length of the needed support under the table top, accordingly limiting portability of the frame.

The current generation of known portable table frames can be opened and closed in a single easy motion, has a structure which provides strong support for a portable table top, folds into a compact configuration for easy storage, and avoids the risk of losing parts, or the risk of parts not fitting over time, as a result of having a one-piece structure. However, such one-piece structures are comprised of many parts. Representative of such table frames and table tops are U.S. Pat. No. 6,158,361 Zheng et al, issued Dec. 12, 2000, and U.S. Pat. No. 6,234,089 Zheng et al issued May 22, 2001, both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties, to the extent compatible with the teachings of the present invention, for their teachings of frame structure and table top structure. Each part, of course, comes with an attendant cost, and with an attendant risk of structural failure. Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide such portable table frames which are easily set up and closed while reducing the number of parts required in the frame structure, and while providing desired levels of strength in the frame.

As with frames for portable tables, table tops have also developed with time. Just as frame technology has advanced so as to provide a frame which is easily set up and taken down, so, too, has the table top been developed to fit respective frames. However, existing table tops are either too large and bulky to be practical to use, or too light and weak to bear weights of e.g. 100 pounds or more which can be desired in e.g. a camping use.

Thus, it would be desirable to provide table top structures, e.g. for use in combination with improved table frames, wherein the number of parts is limited, wherein the table top can readily be made more compact in at least one dimension and wherein the strength of the table top is such that a distributed load of at least 100 pounds can be tolerated without jeopardizing the integrity of the table.

SUMMARY

This invention provides improved tables, including table tops, and corresponding underlying collapsible table frames. The table top comprises multiple, relatively rigid leaf elements which interlock with each other and/or articulate with respect to each other to make the table top, and pull apart or fold against each other for storage. Optional recesses in the edges of the table top receive mounting structure on the table frame, or resilient mounting structure on edges of the table top is received in corresponding receivers on the table frame, thereby to releasably couple the table top and the underlying collapsible frame to each other.

The collapsible table frames include support arms underlying the table top. Loads and other forces from the table top typically pass through the support arms and thence to an underlying frame body. The invention comprehends improved structure for supporting the support arms from the underlying frame body, and improved structure for passing the loads and other forces to the frame body, as well as improved structure for guiding and controlling movement of the support arms when the frame is collapsed for storage or transport, or expanded in setting up the table.

In a first family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements, at least first and second ones of which are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of the table top. The table top has a length, and a width, each detachably connected leaf element having a length and respective first and second side edges extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top. Each leaf element also has a width, and third and fourth opposing end edges extending along the length of the table top. Each detachably connected leaf element comprises a top surface and a bottom surface. The plurality of leaf elements comprise, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of the leaf elements, the interface structure being adapted and configured to mount the table top to a compatible table frame. Each detachably connected leaf element further comprises at least one of a connector tab or a connector receptacle slot disposed at an intermediate location on at least one of the first and second side edges, and further comprises at least two end tabs and/or receptacle end slots, disposed adjacent the opposing end edges of the leaf element. The combination of the connector tabs in the connector receptacle slots and the end tabs in the end receptacle slots comprises tab-connector combinations which are effective to releasably join the leaf elements together in forming the generally continuous upper surface of the table top, whereby a force imposed on one leaf element, including at an end edge thereof, can be transferred to an adjacent one of the leaf elements through one or more of the respective tab-connector combinations without traveling any substantial distance from the respective end edge, along the respective side edge of the respective leaf element.

In some embodiments, end ones of the leaf elements have a first side edge bearing the tabs and slots and a second side edge free from the tabs and slots, and intermediate ones of the leaf elements, disposed inwardly of the end leaf elements in the table top as assembled, have first and second opposing side edges both bearing the tabs and slots.

In some embodiments, the end leaf elements and the intermediate leaf elements further comprise readily visually discernable differences, in addition to the tabs and slots, to distinguish the end leaf elements from the intermediate leaf elements, whereby the end leaf elements can readily be visually distinguished from the intermediate leaf elements, thereby to assist a user in selecting the serial order of the leaf elements in the table top during assembly of the table top.

In a second family of embodiments, a plurality of leaf elements are arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other, and joined to each other, to form a generally continuous upper surface of a table top, the table top having a length, and a width, each leaf element having a length, and respective first and second side edges extending along the width of the table top, and a width, and respective third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top, the plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of the leaf elements, adapted and configured to mount the table top to a compatible table frame, each leaf element further comprising structure assisting in effecting the joinder of the leaf elements to each other in side by side relationship, end ones of the leaf elements and intermediate ones of the leaf elements being distinguished by surface texture differences molded into the respective ones of the leaf elements.

In a third family of embodiments, a table top comprises a plurality of leaf elements arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other, and joined to each other, to form a generally continuous upper surface of the table top, the table top having a length, and a width, each leaf element having a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending along the width of the table top, and a width, and respective third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top, the plurality of leaf elements comprising, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of the leaf elements for mounting the table top to a compatible table frame, each leaf element further comprising structure assisting in effecting the joinder of said leaf elements to each other in side by side relationship, the end leaf elements and the intermediate leaf elements further comprising visually discernable differences, whereby the end leaf elements can readily be visually distinguished from the intermediate leaf elements, thereby to assist a user in selecting the serial order of the leaf elements in the table top during assembly of the table top.

In some embodiments, the visually discernable differences are color coding, effective to distinguish the end leaf elements from the intermediate leaf elements.

In some embodiments, intermediate connector tabs and slots are included at intermediate locations of adjoining edges of the leaf elements, and end tabs and slots are included at ends of the adjoining edges of the leaf elements, such that the tabs and slots, in combination, maintain a generally continuous upper surface of the table top, and wherein a force imposed on one the leaf element, including at an end edge, can be transferred to an adjacent one of the leaf elements through one or more of the respective tab-connector combinations without traveling any substantial distance from the respective end edge along the respective side edge of the respective leaf element.

In a fourth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon. The table frame comprises a collapsible table frame body; first and second pairs of frame top joints mounted for pivotation with respect to a top of the collapsible table frame body; and first and second table top support arm assemblies. Each table top support arm assembly comprises a pair of table top support arms, first and second table top support arm holders, a support arm pillar for supporting the respective table top support arm holders, and a connector connecting the top support arm holders to each other and to the support arm pillar. Each table top support arm on the respective table top support arm assembly has an outward end extending away from the support arm pillar and an inward end proximate the support arm pillar. At least one of the support arms on each top support arm assembly comprises a flared portion thereof as an integral part of the respective support arm, proximate the inward end of the respective support arm, wherein the inward ends of each pair of table top support arms extend inwardly to slidably connect to the collapsible table frame through respective ones of the table top support arm holders whereby, when the table frame is set up, the flared portion of the respective table top support arm serves as a stop to arrest sliding of the respective support arm through the respective support arm holder.

In some embodiments, when the table frame is fully erected, the two support arms in each pair of the table top support arms are parallel to each other and the respective support arms in the pair, in combination, extend along generally parallel lines between respective ones of the frame joints, and bottom ends of the two support arm pillars are mounted for pivotation with respect to the collapsible table frame body.

In some embodiments, the collapsible table frame further comprises a plug extending into a respective one of the support arms at or adjacent the flared portion.

In some embodiments, in order to erect the collapsible table frame, each table top support arm rotates about a frame top joint such that the inward end thereof moves upward and the support arm slides through a respective table top support arm holder away from a respective top joint, with the table top support arm holders in each table top support arm assembly rotating in opposite directions as the respective table top support arms slide outwardly and upwardly as the table frame is erected, sliding movement of the table top support arms being susceptible of being arrested by the flared portions of the top support arms as the table frame reaches a fully erected configuration.

In some embodiments, the table frame further comprises a flexible container having a container body having an upper edge and a lower extremity and at least one side extending generally between the upper edge and the lower extremity, and at least one connector attached to the collapsible container, the connector communicating with and being attached the collapsible table frame.

In a fifth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon. The table frame comprises a collapsible table frame body; first and second pairs of frame top joints mounted for pivotation with respect to a top of the collapsible table frame body; and first and second table top support arm assemblies. Each table top support arm assembly comprises a pair of table top support arms, a support arm pillar for supporting the respective support arm holders, and a pin connecting the table top support arms to each other and to the support arm pillar. Each table top support arm on the respective support arm assembly having an outward end extending away from the support arm pillar and an inward end proximate the support arm pillar. The support arm pillar comprises a slot having a top, and extending along a length thereof downwardly to a bottom of the slot The pin extends through the pillar at the slot. The slot further comprises a hook at the top thereof, whereby when the table frame is set up, the pin rises in the slot to a position adjacent the hook so that the hook can be placed under the pin thus to provide support to the pin and thus to the support arms while the frame is in the set up configuration.

In a sixth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a method of assembling a table top to a collapsible table support frame. The method comprises substantially erecting the collapsible table support frame, including extending opposing table top support arms of a table top support arm assembly; positioning the opposing table top support arms a minimal distance inward from a fully erected configuration; aligning a compatible table top, having mounting flanges extending downwardly from a bottom of the table top, with outer ends of the table top support arms; and extending the table top support arms into assembling engagement with the mounting flanges on the table top and thereby fully erecting the collapsible table support frame as the table top is being assembled to the table support frame.

In some embodiments, apertures are included in the flanges, and the method includes extending end portions of the support arms into and through the apertures such that the end portions extend outwardly from the apertures when the table is fully assembled.

In a seventh family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon. The table frame comprises a collapsible table frame body comprising first and second pairs of side legs and third and fourth pairs of front and rear legs, the legs in each pair of legs being mounted for pivotation with respect to each other so as to cross while pivoting with respect to each other, each of the third and fourth pairs of legs being joined to each of the first and second pairs of legs, first, second, third, and fourth frame top joints comprising upwardly disposed portions of the collapsible table frame body, mounted for pivotation with respected to ones of the front, side, and rear legs; and first and second table top support arm assemblies, each comprising a pair of table top support arms, each table top support arm having an outward end disposed toward the respective top joint, and an inward end, the inward ends of the table top support arms being pivotally connected to each other at a pivot joint, and including a locking elbow bracket extending from the pivot joint to a respective one of the side legs between the respective top joint and the pivot locus of the respective pair of side legs.

In some embodiments, the locking elbow defines an acute angle of at least about 40 degrees with respect to one of the support arms in the respective support arm assembly when the table frame is fully erected and the locking elbow bracket is locked.

In an eighth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon. The table frame comprises a collapsible table frame body; first and second pairs of frame top joints mounted for pivotation with respect to a top of the collapsible table frame body; and first and second table top support arm assemblies, each table top support arm assembly comprising a pair of table top support arms, first and second table top support arm holders, and a support arm pillar for supporting the respective table top support arm holders. Each table top support arm has an outward end extending away from the support arm pillar and an inward end proximate the support arm pillar, first and second slots extending along opposing sides of each support arm, extending from a first slot end proximate the inward end of the respective support arm, and extending toward the outward end, each table top support arm assembly further comprising a pin connecting the support arm holders to each other and to the support arm pillar, and extending through the slots in the support arms, whereby when the table frame is set up, the slots are adjacent the pin at the first slot ends.

In some embodiments, the inward ends of each pair of support arms extend inwardly to slidably connect through respective ones of the support arm holders of the support arm assemblies, wherein when the table frame is fully erected, the support arms in each pair of support arms are parallel to each other and the respective support arms in the pair, in combination, extend in a generally straight line between respective ones of the frame joints, wherein bottom ends of the support arm pillars are mounted for pivotation with respect to the table frame body.

In some embodiments, in order to erect the collapsible table frame, each table top support arm rotates about a frame top joint such that the inward end thereof moves upward and the support arm slides through a respective table top support arm holder away from a respective top joint, with table top support arm holder in each table support assembly rotating in opposite directions as the respective table top support arms slide outwardly and upwardly as said table frame is erected, sliding movement of the table top support arms being susceptible of being arrested by the first ends of the slots in the table top support arms contacting the respective pins.

In a ninth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements. At least first and second ones of the leaf elements are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of the table top. The table top has, and a width. Each detachably connected leaf element has a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top, and a width, and third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top. The plurality of leaf elements comprise, in combination, interface structure on respective ones of the leaf elements adapted to mount the table top to a compatible table frame. Each detachably connected leaf element further comprises, as connecting elements, at least one of a connector protuberance or a connector receptacle, disposed at an intermediate location on at least one of the first and second side edges. Each detachably connected leaf element further comprises at least two of the end protuberances and/or the end receptacles disposed at the respective side edges, and adjacent the respective end edges of the respective detachably connected leaf element.

In a tenth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements. At least first and a second ones of the leaf elements are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of the table top. The table top has a length, and a width. Each leaf element has a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top, and a leaf element width. The respective side edges have corresponding lengths thereof. Each leaf element further comprises third and fourth opposing end edges, extending along the length of the table top. The plurality of leaf elements comprise, in combination, interface structure which is adapted and configured to mount the table top to a compatible table frame. Each leaf element further comprises, as connecting elements, at least one of a connector protuberance or a connector receptacle, disposed at an intermediate location on at least one of the first and second side edges. Each leaf element still further comprises at least two of the end protuberances and/or the end receptacles disposed at the respective side edges, adjacent the respective end edge of the respective leaf element. Each of the end protuberances and/or end receptacles is separated from the respective opposing end edges by a distance D1 along the respective side edge. Each of the end protuberances and/or end receptacles is separated from a most proximate connector protuberance or connector receptacle by a distance D2 along the respective side edge. The magnitude of the distance D1 is substantially less than half the magnitude of the distance D2. At least a portion of the length of the respective side edge, along the length of the leaf element, is devoid of support structure which is adapted to support an adjacent one of the leaf elements.

In an eleventh family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements, at least first and second ones of which are detachably connected to each other and arranged in side by side relationship with respect to each other to form a generally continuous upper surface of the table top. The table top has a length and a width. Each leaf element has a length, and respective first and second side edges, extending generally along a straight line along the width of the table top, and a leaf element width. The respective side edges have corresponding lengths thereof. Each leaf element further comprises third and fourth opposing end edges extending along the length of the table top. The plurality of leaf elements comprise, in combination, interface structure adapted and configured to mount the table top to a compatible table frame. Each detachably connected leaf element further comprises at least two end protuberances and/or end receptacles. Each of the end protuberances and/or end receptacles is separated from the respective opposing end edges thereof by a distance D1 along the respective side edge, and is separated from a projected location P1 of an adjacent connector protuberance or connector receptacle by a distance D3. The projected location P1 is defined by the intersection of an imaginary line Ln1 which extends between the respective end protuberance and/or end receptacle at a respective side edge, and an imaginary line Ln2 which extends from an adjacent connector protuberance or connector receptacle through the imaginary line Ln1 at a perpendicular angle. The magnitude of the distance D1 is substantially less than half the magnitude of the distance D3.

In some embodiments, ones of the plurality of leaf elements are hingedly connected to each other so as to facilitate articulation of the respective leaf elements with respect to each other.

In some embodiments, ones of the plurality of leaf elements are permanently hingedly connected to each other.

In a twelfth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a table top, having a top and a bottom, a length and a width, and end edges extending along the width of the table top at opposing ends of the length, the table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements extending along the width of the table top, the plurality of leaf elements comprising first and second end ones of the leaf elements at opposing ends of the length of the table top, the end leaf elements comprising outer sides thereof extending along the end edges of the table top, recesses being defined in the end leaf elements proximate the outer sides, in one of the end edges of the table top, the top of the table top, and the bottom of the table top, the recesses being adapted and configured to receive mounting structure of a table frame, thereby to mount the table top to the table frame, the recesses comprising inhibition structure adapted and configured to inhibit movement of the table frame mounting structure along the width of the table top when the mounting structure of the table frame is mounted to the table top.

In some embodiments, the inhibition structure comprises side walls of the recesses, extending along the direction of the length of the table top.

In a thirteenth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, the table frame comprising a collapsible table frame body comprising first and second table top support arm assemblies, the first and second table top support arm assemblies having respective first and second lengths, and each having first and second opposing ends, and comprising, at or adjacent the first and second ends, upstanding mounting structure adapted and configured to engage respective opposing end edges of the compatible table top, thereby to prevent substantial movement of the compatible table top along the direction of the length of at least one of the respective the table top support arms.

In some embodiments, the respective mounting structure comprises a detent adapted and configured to secure the collapsible table frame to such compatible table top.

In a fourteenth family of embodiments, the invention comprehends a collapsible table. The collapsible table comprises a collapsible table frame adapted and configured to support a compatible table top thereon, the collapsible table frame comprising a plurality of frame elements, including first and second support arms, and upstanding mounting structure extending upwardly from ones of the frame elements; and a table top, having a top and a bottom, and a length and a width defining a perimeter of the table top, the table top comprising a plurality of leaf elements extending along the width of the table top, the perimeter of the table top being defined by edges of the table top. The upstanding mounting structure on the ones of the frame elements engage respective ones of the edges of the table top, and thereby securely and releasably mount the table top and the collapsible table frame to each other.

In some embodiments, the upstanding mounting structure comprises mounting tabs.

In some embodiments, the mounting tabs extend upwardly from the support arms, optionally upwardly from ends of the support arms.

In some embodiments, the mounting tabs engage respective opposing end edges of the table top, optionally engage slots which are disposed adjacent such end edges of the table top.

In some embodiments, a mounting tab comprises a detent which engages the table top, and which thereby secures the table top and the collapsible table frame to each other.

In some embodiments, the edges of said table top are defined by respective edges of the leaf elements.

In some embodiments, the table further comprises recesses in at least one of the edges of the table top, e.g. an end edge or a side edge, the top of the table top, and the bottom of the table top, and ones of the mounting tabs are received in ones of the recesses thereby to mount the table top and the collapsible table frame to each other.

The recesses can comprise inhibition structure adapted and configured to inhibit movement of the table frame and the mounted mounting tabs with respect to each other.

In some embodiments, a respective recess comprises side walls thereof, extending transverse to the predominant direction of extension of the respective edge of the table top adjacent the respective the recess.

In some embodiments, at least one of the recesses, optionally multiple ones or all of the recesses, are disposed in an end edge of the table top.

In some embodiments, a mounting tab comprises a detent which engages the table top at one of the recesses, and which thereby secures the table top and the collapsible table frame to each other.

In some embodiments, the table top comprises recesses extending inwardly along the length of the table top, from end edges of the table top, the mounting tabs comprising detents which releasably engage the table top in the respective said recesses.

In some embodiments, the table further comprises a flexible container having a container body having an upper edge and a lower extremity and at least one side extending generally between the upper edge and the lower extremity, and at least one connector attached to at least one of the upper edge, the lower extremity, and the at least one side of the flexible container, and communicating with and being removably attached to, the mounting structure or the frame.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a pictorial view of a table of the invention, including collapsible support frame and a table top assembled to the collapsible support frame.

FIG. 2 shows a pictorial view of the collapsible support frame of the table of FIG. 1, without showing the table top.

FIG. 3 shows a plan view of the collapsible support frame of FIG. 2, with the table top superimposed in dashed outline on the support frame.

FIG. 3 a shows a fragmentary pictorial view of a pair of table top support arms in respective support arm holders, supported by a support arm pillar, wherein the support frame is in a fully erected configuration.

FIG. 3 b shows a side elevation view of the collapsible support frame of FIG. 2 in a partially collapsed, partially erect configuration.

FIG. 4 shows a side elevation view of a second embodiment of the collapsible support frame.

FIG. 4 a shows a top fragmentary view of the table top support arms of the embodiment of FIG. 4, illustrating the pin extending through both support arms.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the table top, with part of the top surface cut away to show reinforcing structure of the table top, and with one leaf element displaced to show interaction of the tabs and slots in assembly of the leaf elements in assembling the table top.

FIG. 5 a is an end elevation view of the table top of FIG. 5, showing the flanges extending downwardly for engagement with the table top support arms of the support frame.

FIG. 5 b is a fragmentary top view of a portion of a second embodiment of the table top of the invention, illustrating the distance relationships between protuberances, receptacles, and leaf element edges.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of a third embodiment of the collapsible support frame, including an elbow brace on each side of the support frame, and extending from a pivot joint between the table top support arms to an underlying side leg of the support frame.

FIG. 6 a shows a side elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 6, fully collapsed.

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of a fourth embodiment of the collapsible table frame, including a modified pillar on each side of the frame.

FIG. 7 a shows a side elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 7, partially collapsed.

FIG. 7B shows a side elevation view of a third embodiment of a table top of the invention removably attached to the table frame.

FIG. 8 shows a side elevation exploded view of the table top of FIG. 7B.

FIG. 9 shows a pictorial view of an end leaf element of the table top of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 shows a pictorial view of an inner leaf element of the table top of FIG. 8.

FIG. 11A shows a cross sectional view of the end leaf element of FIG. 9 taken at 11A-11A of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11B shows a detailed cross sectional view of the end leaf element of FIG. 9 taken at dashed circle 11B in FIG. 11A.

FIG. 12A shows a cross sectional view of the inner leaf element of FIG. 10 and is taken at 12A-12A of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12B shows a detailed cross sectional view of the inner leaf element of FIG. 10 taken at dashed circle 12B in FIG. 12A.

FIG. 13 shows a pictorial view of one embodiment of a mounting structure connector of the invention.

FIG. 14 shows an enlarged pictorial view of a portion of an end leaf element of FIG. 9 and is taken at dashed circle 14 of FIG. 9.

The invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction or the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments or of being practiced or carried out in other various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the terminology and phraseology employed herein is for purpose of description and illustration and should not be regarded as limiting. Like reference numerals are used to indicate like components.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, 3, 3 a, and 3 b, a foldable table frame 10 of the invention comprises first and second table support arm assemblies 12, and four support arm assembly joints 14. Table frame 10 includes first and second pairs of side legs 18S and third and fourth pairs of front and rear legs 18F and 18R. Four leg connectors such as pins 20, or alternately rivets, connect the legs in each respective pair of legs to each other so as to enable a crossing and mutually supporting relationship between respective legs in each pair of legs. The frame 10 further includes four base pads 22. Lower ends of legs 18 are mounted for pivotation with respect to respective ones of the base pads.

Each table support arm assembly 12 includes first and second table top support arms 24, first and second table top support arm holders 26, and an upstanding support arm pillar 28. The support arm holders and pillar 28 are connected to each other by a pin 29, or alternately a rivet, at a central joint 31 adjacent the top end of the support arm pillar, connecting each of the support arm holders to a side of the top end of the support arm pillar, such that the support arm holders can pivot about pin 29 with respect to the support arm pillar. Support arm pillar 28 is mounted adjacent a lower end thereof to the respective pair of side legs 18S by the respective pin 20, for pivotation with respect to the legs.

Frame 10 includes two pairs of table top support arms 24. Each table top support arm 24 of each pair has an outward end 30 displaced from support pillar 28 and an inward end 32 adjacent support pillar 28. Each support arm 24 is pivotally connected to a respective joint 14 at an intermediate locus 34 between the inward and outward ends of the arm. Each support arm 24 is slidably received in one of support arm holders 26 adjacent the inward end of the support arm. The inward end of each support arm is flared as indicated at 36, such that the support arm holder is between the flared portion of the support arm and the outward end of the support arm. While the flared portion of the support arm need not be at the distal inward end of the support arm, such distal location is preferred for economy of use of materials. In general, that portion of the length of the support arm which bears force applied by an overlying table top resides between the flare and the outward end of the support arm.

Flared end 36 can extend the full circumference of the support arm 24, or any portion of such circumference which is effective to provide the abutment functions discussed hereinafter. Thus, the flare can be intermittent, or can consist of a single tab, or can consist of multiple tabs. In any event, the flared portion of a support arm is an integral part of the support arm itself, thus eliminating any need for any abutment element to be mounted to the end of the support arm for the purpose of abutting the support arm holder thus to limit movement of the support arms when the frame is set up. As desired, a plug 37 can be inserted into the open end of the support arm, e.g. in order to exclude dirt, insects, and other detritus from getting inside the support arm.

In the context of the above description, each support arm of a given pair of table top support arms is slidably received in a respective support arm holder. When the frame is fully erected, each support arm is disposed in parallel relationship with the other support arm of the respective pair of support arms, and each pair of support arms is disposed above a pair of frame side legs 18S. The outward end of each table top support arm 24 extends outwardly beyond the assembly top joints 14. At the outward end of each table top support arm is a table top connector 38. Connector 38, as illustrated in e.g. FIGS. 2 and 3, has a round cross-section stud 39 for insertion into a round opening in the table top. Stud 39 could as well have any e.g. non-round cross-section configuration which is compatible with insertion into a cooperating opening in the table top.

Support arm pillar 28 strengthens the table top support arms, transferring force on the support arms downward to the respective pin 20, and from pin 20 to the respective side legs 18S, and through the side legs 18S to base pads 22. Thus, when a table top is placed on and connected to the frame so as to transfer force from the table top to the table top support arms, pillar 28 is a primary avenue for transferring such force from the table top to the base pads.

As shown in e.g. FIG. 2, each pair of legs 18 is pivotally connected together by the respective pivot pin 20, at the mid-point of each leg, thus to form a structure wherein the legs in each pair of legs cross each other at essentially the mid-point of the respective legs. Accordingly, when the foldable table frame is in an open, erected configuration, the four pairs of table frame legs 18 extend at diagonals to the support arms, in crossing relationship with each other. As shown in e.g. FIG. 3, the four pairs of legs 18 form a square projection on an underlying surface. Each of legs 18 is connected at a top end thereof to a top joint 14, and at a bottom end thereof to a base pad 22. There are, therefore, four frame top joints 14 and four base pads 22, as shown in FIG. 2, with the top joints and base pads being located at respective corners of the square configuration formed by the four pairs of table frame legs 18 in the open erected configuration of the frame.

Each of the frame base pads 22 thus connects to a first or second table frame leg 18 of one pair of the legs, and connects to a second or first table frame leg 18, respectively, of an adjoining pair of the legs, such that each table frame leg 18 can pivot around the connection between the respective leg 18 and the respective base pad 22 to which such leg is connected, such pivoting being effected along the respective imaginary planes generally containing respective ones of the pairs of legs 18, as the foldable frame is opened and closed.

Each frame top joint 14 is connected to upper ends of the two legs of adjoining pairs of legs which do not connect to the frame base pad 22 directly below the respective frame top joint 14. For example, if a first table frame leg 18 connects at its lower end to a frame base pad 22, then the upper end of the second frame leg 18 of the same pair connects to the frame top joint 14 which is directly above the respective base pad.

FIG. 3 b shows the table frame in the process of being closed from the open and erect configuration. As the table frame is closed, the legs 18 in a given pair of legs pivot in a scissors-line manner with respect to each other about pins 20 which extend through, and thus connect, the respective pairs of legs. For each support arm assembly 12, the support arms 24 pivotally fold downward as the frame is being closed, collapsed to its reduced volume configuration. As the support arms fold downward, the respective support arm holders, in which the support arms are received, pivot about the respective pin 29 such that the ends of the support arm holders which face toward inward ends 32 of the support arms move downwardly in combination with the downward movement of the inward ends of the support arms, and the ends of the support arm holders which face outward ends 30 of the support arms move upwardly in combination with the upward movement of the outward ends of the support arms. Accordingly, the support arm holders at each support arm assembly rotate in opposite directions as the frame is being closed, collapsed. Similarly, the support arm holders at each support arm assembly rotate in opposite directions as the frame is being set up, erected, albeit directions which are the reverse of those extant when the frame is being closed, collapsed.

Further to the collapse, closure of frame 10, support arms 24 slide in the support arm holders, with the outward ends of the arms sliding toward the support arm holders, and conversely, with the inward ends of the arms sliding away from the support arm holders. FIG. 3 b illustrates the frame in a partially closed, collapsed configuration. FIG. 6 a, although a different embodiment, illustrates generically a frame of the invention in a fully closed, collapsed configuration. As illustrated in FIGS. 3 b and 6 a, as frame 10 is in the process of collapsing, the perimeter of the frame, as defined by the legs, shrinks and the height is extended, as legs 18 rotate in a scissors-line manner, narrowing the cross structure of each crossing pair of legs to a near parallel relationship.

Similarly, when the frame is being set up, erected, arms 24 slide in opposite directions to those described for closure of the frame. Thus, when the frame is being set up, the outward ends 30 of arms 24 slide away from the support arm holders and the inward ends 32 of arms 24 slide toward the support arm holders. As the support arms slide outwardly through the support arm holders, flared ends 36 of the support arms approach the facing ends of the respective support arm holders.

The lengths of the support arms, and the corresponding locations of the flared portions of the arms, are selected such that the surface of a flared end comes into abutting relationship with the facing end of the respective support arm holder at approximately the same time as the arms come into a parallel relationship with each other.

In general, and as described hereinafter, as the table top exerts force on the underlying frame, to the extent a force is applied from the table top downwardly on the frame, the application of such force urges the respective pairs of support arms into the above described parallel relationship with each other. Thus, the locations of the flares on the support arms is permissive of the support arms in a given pair coming into full parallel relationship with each other.

However, the flare locations on the arms can be such that the arms can come into full parallel relationship with each other without the flares reaching abutment with the support arm holders. In such situation, stopping sliding movement of the support arms in the support arm holders as the frame is set up is a function of the relationships of the support arms with respect to the legs and the support arm holders. Namely, as the support arms approach a relationship parallel with each other, downward set-up force applied to the frame is resisted by the changing configuration of the frame members such that expansion of the frame perimeter tends to stop when the support arms reach their parallel configuration.

Some additional further expansion of at least the upper frame perimeter can be achieved, in combination with further rotating of support arms 24 beyond their parallel relationship. However, such further expansion is not desired, and so is generally not practiced.

In such instance of the flares not reaching abutment when the support arms reach a parallel relationship, the function of the flared portion of a given support arm is to operate as a fail safe structure to prevent the arms from inadvertently continuing to move outwardly through the support arm holders by excessive distances, thus preventing inward ends of the support arms from passing completely through and out of the support arm holders. In this embodiment, the flared portions are not in abutment with the support arm holders, indeed they are spaced from the support arm holders, when the support arms are in parallel relationship as the frame is fully set up, erected.

The ends of the support arm holders facing the flared portions of the support arms rotate upwardly with the support arms. The perimeter of the frame, as defined by the four pairs of legs, expands.

FIGS. 1, 5, and 5 a illustrate table tops 40 useful in portable tables of the invention. The table top 40 as illustrated in assembled configuration in FIGS. 1, 5, and 5 a has a length “L1”, a width “W1”, a generally continuous upper surface 42, left and right side edges 44, and front and rear end edges 46. Table top 40 also has a bottom including a plurality of downwardly extending interconnected ribs 47, and two spaced flanges 49 on either end for releasably interconnecting the table top to the underlying frame 10.

As shown in FIG. 5, the table top is defined by four leaf elements 48A, 48B, 48C, and 48D. Each leaf element has a length “L2” extending along the width of the table top and a width “W2” extending along the length of the table top. Each leaf element has side edges 50 extending along the length “L2”, and end edges 51 extending along the width “W2”. End leaf elements 48A and 48D have generally unbroken side edges 50 at the respective end edges 46 of the table. The opposing side edge 50 of each of leaf elements 48A and 48D defines a connector tab 52 and a connector slot 54.

Edges of inner leaf elements 48B and 48C which face the edges of end leaf elements 48A and 48D have cooperating connector tabs 52 and connector slots 54 in alignment with respective slots and tabs on leaf elements 48A and 48D. Similarly, the edges of the inner leaf elements 48B and 48C which face each other include cooperating connector tabs and connector slots.

The tabs and slots on the respective leaf elements are in alignment with respective tabs and slots on adjacent leaf elements such that a tab on one leaf element can be inserted into a slot in an adjacent leaf element for joining the leaf elements together in assembling the table top. The cooperating connector tabs 52 and slots 54, which are intermediate the ends of the respective leaf elements, include cooperating male retainers 56 and female receptacles 58 which engage as the tabs are engaged in the slots, to temporarily retain the tabs in engagement with the slots. Retainers 56 and receptacles 58 are optional, though preferred. The retainers can be on either of the tabs or slots, with the receptacles on the other of the tabs or slots. In preferred embodiments, male retainers are disposed on bottom surfaces of the connector tabs and female receptacles are disposed at facing surfaces of the respective cooperating slots. A preferred receptacle is a through aperture which extends from the respective interior surface of the slot through the entire thickness of the material which forms the interior surface of the slot, and to the outside environment.

Connector tabs 52 and connector slots 54 are of sufficient length and width to effectively transfer anticipated forces, applied to the upper surface of the table top, at locations intermediate the ends of the table top, from a first leaf element to a second leaf element. Accordingly, e.g. load forces on the upper surface of the table top are effectively transferred and shared from a leaf element where the force is applied to or resident in an adjacent leaf element at locations intermediate the lengths of the leaf elements and at locations between the underlying support arms 26 which interact with and directly support the table top at the bottom surface of the table top. Thus, a force applied to or resident in leaf element 48B toward the middle of the length of the leaf element can be transferred to both of adjacent leaf elements 48A and 48C through the adjoining connector tabs 52 and slots 54. Similarly, residual portions of such force can potentially be transferred from leaf element 48C to leaf element 48D through the respective connecting tabs and slots. Such sharing of the load by the leaf elements is a critical feature of the table top in order to optimize the load bearing capacity of the table top.

An important feature of the invention is the ability of the table top to bear a high capacity load away from the support arms. In that regard, material selection is important. Since the leaf elements are to lock together at tabs 52 and slots 54, thermoplastics are a preferred class of material. Among the thermoplastics, a number of materials are known for their toughness and resistance to structural abuse. There can be mentioned, for example and without limitation, polyamides, certain of the high density polyethylenes, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) copolymers. Any thermoplastic material which meets the desired strength characteristics can be used. ABS is preferred for its cost/strength ratio, in combination with its desirable processing properties.

Returning to the structure of the table top, each leaf element includes a top sheet 51 forming the generally continuous top surface of the table top, and a network of the interconnected ribs 47 extending downwardly from the top sheet, and thus serving to reinforce the top loading strength of the top sheet. The ability of the table top to share portions of the load across leaf elements, by transferring such loads through tabs 52 and slots 54, further enhances the ability of the table top to bear substantial loads.

Still addressing the structure of the table top, and the cooperation of the leaf elements with each other, each leaf element includes an end tab 60 or end slot 61 on respective ones of the side edges 50 at or adjacent each of the end edges 53 of the respective leaf element. In the embodiments illustrated in e.g. FIG. 5, end tabs and end slots are not located at side edges 50 at the respective end edges of the table, whereby the side edges 50 at the respective end edges 46 of the table are typically free from all of tabs 52, slots 54, tabs 60, and slots 61.

Adjacent leaf elements include cooperating ones of the end tabs and end slots such that each pair of leaf elements includes a tab-slot combination at each respective end edge 51. By employing the end tab-slot combination at the ends of respective leaf element interfaces, the tab-slot combinations cause the ends of adjacent ones of the leaf elements to remain aligned with each other under all contemplated loads, thereby to maintain generally continuous the upper surface of the table top as the table top is assembled whereby the end tabs and slots provide an alignment function at the ends of the respective joined leaf elements. By so fixing the relative positions of the leaf elements, and thereby combining the leaf elements to each other at the end edges, the end tab-slot combinations provide an additional venue for sharing, and thus transferring, loads across leaf element interfaces at the end edges of the respective leaf elements, thus using leaf elements which do not directly receive the load, to bear and sustain a load applied to a given leaf element.

The respective leaf elements of table tops of the invention are typically molded as unitary structures including top sheet 51, ribs 53, and flanges 49. Thus, table tops of the invention draw strength from, among other factors and without limitation, material selection; reinforcing ribs 47; the interconnectivity of the top sheet 51, the ribs 53, and the flanges 49; and the interconnectivity and interlocking of the leaf elements with each other whereby a given leaf element shares loads with adjacent leaf elements.

Addressing specifically FIGS. 5 and 5 a, flanges 49 extend downwardly as part of the table top. Each flange includes an aperture 62. Flanges 49 extend downwardly below ribs 47 sufficient distances to interface with studs 39 of the frame when the frame is fully erected. Preferably, flanges 49 abut the top sheet of the table top and are molded as integral extensions of the top sheet and/or a respective rib 47.

Table top 40 has a thickness “T” including both the thickness of the table top sheet and the depth of ribs 47. Ribs 47 form an interconnected matrix which extends over substantially the entirety of the projected area of the bottom surface 63 of the top sheet. The interconnection of ribs 47 with each other at loci directly over support arms 24 precludes positioning aperture 62 so as to engage stud 39 above the bottom surfaces of the ribs. Accordingly, flanges 49 extend downwardly below the bottom edges of ribs 47 by an amount sufficient to provide for inserting a stud 39 into the respective aperture while the respective support arm is oriented generally parallel to the bottom edges of ribs 47. Accordingly, flanges 49 extend downwardly from the respective bottom edges of the ribs.

In order to provide positive engagement of stud 39 with aperture 62, it is desirable to have stud 39 extend a substantial distance into and through aperture 62, so as to control any tendency for the stud to inadvertently pull out of the aperture while the table is in use. Accordingly, flanges 49 are positioned inwardly from the end edges of the table top, and studs 39 are designed and configured so as to extend substantially through the apertures with a snug transverse fit, and thus substantially through the flanges, with substantial length of a stud extending outwardly from the respective aperture toward the distal end of the stud. Thus, the flange is preferably mounted on a rib which is displaced from the end edge of the table top such that the stud can extend completely through the flange, and can extend thence outwardly from the flange, without extending beyond the end edge of the table top.

Referring now to FIG. 5 b, the side edge 50 each of leaf element 48 can define an end tab 60 and a connector slot 54. The end tab 60 is separated from the end edge 53 by a distance D1. The connector slot 54 has a projected location P1. Projected location P1 is determined by the intersection of two imaginary lines. A first imaginary line Ln1 extends from the end tab 60, generally in the direction of the connector slot 54. A second imaginary line L2 extends from the connector slot 54, through imaginary line Ln1 at a perpendicular angle. The distance between projected location P1 and the end tab 60 is defined as D3. The magnitude of the distance D1 is substantially less than half the magnitude of D3.

FIGS. 4 and 4 a illustrate a second embodiment of frames 10 of the invention. As illustrated in FIGS. 4 and 4 a, support arms 24 are devoid of flared end portions 36. Rather, the support arms have elongate slots 64 in sides of the support arms. And whereas pins 29 do not extend through support arms 24 in the embodiments of, for example, FIGS. 1, 2, and 3, in the embodiments of FIGS. 4 and 4 a, pins 29 do extend through support arms 24 at slots 64. Thus, as illustrated in FIG. 4 a, pins 29 extend through pillar 22, through the full widths of support arm holders 26, and through the respective support arms 24 at slots 64.

When the table frame is set up as shown in FIG. 4, slot 64 extends around pin 29 and thence toward the outward end of the support arm a sufficient distance to permissively enable the support arm to slide through the support arm holder without resistance from pin 29 when the frame is collapsed. The slot extends toward the inward end of the support arm a sufficient distance to permissively enable the support arm to slide through the support arm holder without resistance from pin 29 to such point as the frame is fully erected with the support arms parallel to each other as shown in FIG. 4.

The inward end of slot 64 is positioned such that pin 29 abuts, or nearly abuts, the inward end of the slot when the frame is fully erected. Thus, in this embodiment, pin 29 operates to assist in stopping, or ensuring the stopping, of the sliding of the support arms at the desired location along the length of the support arms when the frame is erected. As with flared ends 36, the inward end of slot 64 can be positioned either so as to abut pin 29 when the frame is fully erect, or can be positioned so that pin 29 is proximate but not in abutment with the end of the slot when the frame is fully erect with the support arms in parallel configuration, whereupon the slot-pin combination provides a fail-safe feature to the frame set-up process which prevents support arms 24 from being overextended in the set-up process.

FIGS. 6 and 6 a illustrate yet another embodiment of the invention. In the embodiment of FIGS. 6 and 6 a, the support arms overlap in length at joint 31 only far enough to be joined by pin 29. An optional spacer (not shown) can be positioned between the support arms to facilitate rotation of the support arms with respect to each other. Support arm holders 26 are eliminated. The support arms do not slide with respect to each other. Rather the inward ends of the support arms are fixed in relation to each other, and jointly pivot with respect to pin 29.

An elbow brace 66 extends from each joint 31 downwardly to a respective underlying leg 18S. Each elbow brace 66 includes an upper arm 67U and a lower arm 67L, joined together by a pin 69 at an intermediate joint 72 of the brace. Upper and lower arms 67U and 67L have cooperating locking elements which become releasably engaged when the upper and lower arms come into a straight-line configuration as illustrated in FIG. 6. The locking elements can be manually disengaged by applying manual force at pivot joint 72 and thus urging the upper and lower arms out of their straight-line configuration, thus to collapse the brace to the configuration shown in FIG. 6 a while collapsing the remaining elements of the frame to the configuration shown in FIG. 6 a.

Pin 29, at each joint 31, extends through both support arms 24, the spacer if used, and a top end of the elbow brace. The bottom end of the elbow brace is mounted for pivotation about the respective underlying leg 18S by a pin 68 which extends through both the brace and the leg, at a bottom joint 70. Joint 70 can be positioned at any convenient location along the length of the respective leg 18S above pin 20. The purpose of brace 66 is to transfer, to the respective leg 18S, load forces applied to the support arms, especially load forces which reach the support arms at pin 29. Portions of such forces ultimately pass through pin 20 for transfer to the second leg in the respective pair of legs, whereby the forces extend to those portions of legs 18S, in the given pair of legs, which are below pin 20. Thus, the objective of elbow brace 66 is to transfer the force to leg 18S to facilitate transfer of the force to pin 20, and thence to the lower portions of both legs 18S of the pair. To that end, the elbow braces form acute angles “α” of at least about 40 degrees, preferably at least about 45 degrees, with respect to the support arms when the frame is in the fully erect configuration, with the support arms parallel to each other, and with the elbow braces in the locked configuration shown in FIG. 6. Preferred angles “α” for elbow braces 66 are about 50 degrees to about 70 degrees, with about 60 degrees being most preferred.

Set-up and take down of the frames of FIGS. 6 and 6 a are similar to the set-up and take down of the frames discussed earlier, with the following changes. As with all embodiments, from the collapsed configuration illustrated in FIG. 6 a, one can pull outwardly on the outward ends of the support arms, thereby expanding the perimeter of the frame toward the fully erected configuration shown in FIG. 6. Support arms 24 pivot about top joints 14 and central joints 31. The support arms of FIGS. 6 and 6 a do not slide with respect to any holder. The elbow braces pivot about their intermediate joints 72, from the folded configurations shown in FIG. 6 a toward the straight-line configurations shown in FIG. 6. As the frame approaches the fully erect configuration, the user manually pushes the elbow braces to the straight-line locked configuration shown in FIG. 6, whereupon the frame is fully set up.

FIGS. 7 and 7 a illustrate yet another embodiment of the invention. In the embodiment of FIGS. 7 and 7 a, the support arms of the frame overlap in length at joint 31 only far enough to be joined by pin 29, as in FIGS. 6 and 6 a. A modified pillar 28 is disposed between the support arms as in the embodiments of FIGS. 1, 2, and 3. Pillar 28, as shown, includes a slot 74. Referring to the frame as set up in FIG. 7, slot 74 has a length “L3” (FIG. 7 a) extending from pin 29 at joint 31 to a point sufficiently low on pillar 28 to enable pin 29 to slide inside the slot while the support arms are rotating about pin 29 as the frame is collapsed for closure.

Slot 74 has a width “W3”. Width “W3” is preferably generally constant along the length of the pillar from a top end to a bottom end. The top end of slot 74 includes a hook 76 illustrated in FIG. 7 a. Hook 76 extends transversely to the length of the slot and away from the long axis of the slot. A bottom surface of the hook extends downwardly as a downward ramp from the edge of the elongate portion of the slot, so gravity or downward force on the support arms urges pin 29 to stay in hook 76 until such time as the load or other force is retracted.

Optional spacers such as nylon washers (not shown) can be positioned between the support arms and the pillar to facilitate rotation of the support arms with respect to each other and with respect to the pillar. Support arm holders 26 are not used. The support arms do not slide with respect to each other. Rather the inward ends of the support arms are fixed in relation to each other, and jointly pivot with respect to pin 29 and with respect to each other. As the support arms pivot, the support arms and pin 29 slide along slot 74. For opening, erecting, and setting up the frame, pin 29 and support arms rise in the slot. When pin 29 reaches the top of slot 74, the user pushes transversely on the pillar so as to seat pin 29 in the hook of the slot. With the pin seated in hook 76, downwardly directed force imposed on the table top, and thus on the support arms and pin, is transferred through the pin to the pillar through the bottom of slot hook 76.

For closing and collapsing the frame, the user pushes pillar 28 transversely to the length of slot, moving the pillar such that the pin is forced out of the hook and into the main length run of the slot. The frame can then be collapsed, with pin 29 and support arms 24 moving downwardly in slot 74 as the frame is collapsed.

The embodiments of FIGS. 7 and 7 a provide advantages of the strength of the vertical pillar of FIG. 1 in combination with the simplicity and fewer parts, compared to joint 31 of the embodiments of FIGS. 6 and 6 a.

In view of materials selection and structural configuration being compatible with high loading capacity, table tops of the invention are typically capable of bearing distributed loads of at least about 100 pounds. Load capacities as high as 200 pounds or more are contemplated.

In any of the embodiments of the invention, the table top is optionally assembled to the underlying frame, by extending the respective studs 39 on support arms 24 through the apertures 62 on the respective flanges 49 of the table top. After the table top is thus assembled to the frame, final erection of the frame is then effected. In those embodiments where the support arms slide through the support arm holders, such final erection can be accomplished by placing the thus assembled table on an e.g. horizontal surface and applying a modest amount of force, e.g. 10-20 pounds, on the table top. In those embodiments where the support arms do not slide through support arm holders, final erection of the frame is effected by locking elbow braces in the straight-line configuration or e.g. by seating pin 29 in hook 76.

The table tops illustrated above are releasably affixed to the frames of the embodiments of FIGS. 4 and 6 in the same manner as such table tops are affixed to the frames of FIGS. 1, 2, and 3.

FIGS. 7B, 8, 9, 10, 11A, 11B, 12A, 12B, 13 and 14, illustrate yet another embodiment of the invention. Referring now to FIGS. 7B, 9, 13, and 14, connectors 38 and table top 40 are adapted and configured to communicate with each other at (or near) table top edges, e.g. side edges 44 and/or end edges 46. Thus, table top 40 can be removably attached, via connectors 38, to frame 10. The portable table can further comprise a storage device, e.g. flexible container 80.

Flexible container 80 comprises container body 81, at least one strap 88 extending about the upper edge of the container, and at least one connector, e.g. loop 90. Referring now to FIG. 7B, container body 81 has an upper edge 82, a lower extremity 84, and sides 86 extending therebetween. The sides 86 and lower extremity 84 of container body 81 generally define an enclosure, and upper edge 82 of container body 81 generally defines an opening at the top of the container for adding contents to the container or taking contents out of the container, whereby the overall structure of container body 81 comprises a pouch adapted and configured to be suspended from e.g. frame 10, optionally from table top 40.

Strap 88 is illustrated as being attached to the top edge of container body 81, for example as a reinforcement, or to assist in defining the top of the container, and preferably extends about a major portion of the container opening defined by container body upper edge 82. Strap 88 is attached to one or more of connector loops 90. A respective connector loop 90 can have first and second terminal ends, defining a length therebetween. The first and second terminal ends generally overlap each other, and at least one of the first and second terminals ends generally overlaps, and is attached to, strap 88.

In attaching the connector loop to the table frame or the table top, connector loop 90 is hung upon e.g. frame 10 and/or table top 40. Referring to FIG. 7B, connector loop 90 spans across respective pairs of frame legs 18, suspending flexible container 80 from frame 10. In some embodiments, connector 90 communicates with at least one of e.g. assembly top joint 14, individual ones of frame legs 18, connectors 38, pins 29, table top 40, and/or other components of the portable table, thereby suspending flexible container 80 from the portable table.

Flexible container 80, specifically container body 81, strap 88, and connector 90 are preferably made from flexible material, e.g. flexible fabric. Those skilled in the art are well aware of suitable flexible fabrics and/or webbings or netting for use in manufacturing container body 81, strap 88, and/or connector 90. Suitable flexible fabrics and/or webbings include but are not limited to natural fiber based fabrics and/or webbings comprising silk, wool, and others as well as synthetic fiber based fabrics and/or webbings comprising synthetic silk, synthetic wool, nylon fibers, polyester fibers, and others. Those skilled in the art are also aware of suitable methods of attaching ones of container body 81, strap 88, and connector 90 to each other including but not limited to sewing, adhering, tying, and others. Similarly, connector 90 is capable of a wide variety of structures in addition to and/or in place of the loop structure shown, and all such known connector structures are contemplated to be embodied in the invention.

Referring now to FIGS. 7B, 8, 9, 10, 11A, 11B, 12A, 12B, and 14, table top 40 comprises ones of leaf elements 48A, 48B, 48C, 48D hingedly attached to other. Collectively, leaf elements 48A, 48B, 48C, 48D have at least one recess 160 formed therein in a respective edge of the leaf element which is also located at an edge of the table top.

Hinge rail 100 comprises elongate pin 105 and at least one support flange 110, optionally multiple support flanges, and extends outwardly from the respective side edge 50 of, and preferably along a major portion of, each of leaf elements 48A and 48D (FIGS. 9, 11A, and 11B). Elongate pin 105 has a generally cylindrical projection which extends generally parallel to, and preferably along a major portion of, side edge 50. Referring now to FIG. 11B, support flange 110 has a proximal end and a distal end. The proximal end is attached to side edge 50 of the leaf element. Support flange 110 extends generally perpendicularly outwardly from the attachment at the side edge.

Elongate pin 105 is attached to support flange 110 proximate the distal end of flange 110. In some embodiments, a bore extends through support flange 110. Elongate pin 105 extends through, and generally perpendicular to, each of support flanges 110.

Hinge receptacles 120 (FIG. 10) comprise receptacle bodies 123 (FIG. 12B), slots 125 and protrusions 130, and extend upwardly along respective side edges 50 of leaf elements 48B and 48C toward the upper surface of the table top. Preferably, a plurality of hinge receptacles 120 cumulatively extend along a major portion of side edges 50 of leaf elements 48B and 48C. Receptacle body 123 is defined within an elongate, generally cylindrical structure which extends generally parallel to side edge 50. Slot 125 is a generally elongate cylindrical opening which extends into and along receptacle body 123 and defines a slot opening in receptacle body 123. Slot 125 defines a slot opening profile corresponding to an outer surface profile of elongate pin 105. Protrusion 130 projects inwardly from receptacle body 123, and extends at least partially across the slot opening of slot 125.

The corresponding profiles of the outer surface of elongate pin 105 and the slot opening profile of respective ones of hinge receptacles 120, enable portions of pin 105 to be pivotably housed in respective ones of hinge receptacles 120. When portions of pin 105 are pivotably housed in respective ones of hinge receptacles 120, protrusion 130 communicates with and extends across at least part of an outer surface of pin 105. The communicating relationship between pin 105 and protrusion 130 enables pin 105 to generally freely pivot within hinge receptacle 120, yet provides a mechanical interference to generally prevent pin 105 from inappropriately withdrawing from slot 125 and thus generally prevents pin 105 from disconnecting from hinge receptacle 120.

Elongate pin 105 and receptacle 120 can, as well, reverse roles whereby any hinged pair of leaf elements can embody either pin 105 or receptacle 120 on either of the leaf elements so long as the leaf element pair embodies both pin 105 and receptacle 120.

Referring now to FIGS. 7B, 9, 13, and 14, in some embodiments, table top connector 38 is adapted and configured to engage table top 40 at or near end edges 46, and comprises connector body 170, locking mechanism 180, and shoulder 185. Connector body 170 has a top, a bottom and a length. The top of connector body 170 is a generally planar surface, e.g. support surface 175, which extends along the length of connector body 170. Bore 172 extends at least partially into connector body 170, generally parallel to support surface 175. Bore 172 is adapted and configured to slidingly receive outward end 30 of a support arm 24.

A locking mechanism 180, extends upwardly from connector body 170, generally perpendicular to the length of connector body 170. Locking mechanism 180 includes flex tab 182, which is a generally rectangular projection having an inwardly facing surface an outwardly facing surface, a lower portion and an upper portion. The lower portion of flex tab 182 is proximal, and connected to, connector body 170 and the upper portion of flex tab 182 is remote from connector body 170.

Shoulder 185 is attached to the upper portion of flex tab 182. Shoulder 185 has a top portion, most distal from connector body 170. Shoulder ramp 187 extends downwardly and diagonally from the top portion of shoulder 185 toward connector body 170. As shoulder ramp 187 extends closer to connector body 170, it extends outwardly further from flex tab 182. The distal end of shoulder ramp 187, most proximate connector body 170 and most distal flex tab 182, is connected to flex tab 182 via detent 190.

Referring now to FIGS. 9 and 14, in some embodiments, end edges 46 of the table top comprise at least one recess 160 in the respective leaf element. Each of recesses 160 projects generally inwardly from respective ones of end edges 46 and has inhibition structure adapted and configured to inhibit movement of a table frame mounting structure, e.g. connector 38, along the width of the table top when the mounting structure, e.g. connector 38, of the table frame is mounted to table top 40.

Specifically, first and second inwardly projecting side walls 161, 162 of recess 160 serve as inhibition structure, and project inwardly from the general extremity of end edge 46 and have outer ends proximal end edge 46 and inner ends remote from end edge 46. Third wall 165 extends between the inner ends of first and second walls 161, 162, and extends parallel to the general extent of end wall 16. Each of first wall 161, second wall 162, and third wall 165 has an upper surface 167 which is generally coplanar with, or modestly elevated above, the upper surface of end edge 46. In general, in the embodiments illustrated, recess 160 is configured as a rectangular recess, open at the end edge and at the top.

Connector 38 and recess 160 are adapted and configured to communicate with each other, enabling table top 40 to be removably attached to table frame 10. To removably attach table top 40 to table frame 10, a user aligns recesses 160 over respective ones of connectors 38. The user applies pressure against table top 40 in a direction towards table frame 10, with pressure sufficiently great in magnitude to push third wall 165 of recess 160 downwardly beyond shoulder 185 and into engagement under detent 190.

Specifically, the user aligns connectors 38 and recesses 160 so that each third wall 165 of each recess 160 interfaces with respective ones of shoulder ramp 187. As the user applies downward force against table top 40, third wall 165 slides downwardly across shoulder ramp 187, correspondingly biasing the upper portion of flex tab 182 outwardly from connector body 170 and away from the end edge of the leaf element.

When the third wall 165 of recess 160 is pushed downwardly sufficiently far, e.g. beyond detent 190, the upper portion of flex tab 182 biases back, inwardly toward connector body 170. After the upper portion of flex tab 182 biases back, detent 190 overlies upper surface 167 of third wall 165 and the inwardly facing surface of flex tab 182 can interface with an outwardly facing surface of third wall 165, or other portion of end edge 46, thereby providing a mechanical interference between detent 190 and wall 165, and thereby generally preventing table top 40 from disengaging frame 10.

The connector body, especially at shoulder 185, and recess 160 can be structured any of a variety of ways. For example, shoulder 185 can engage the top of wall 165, or can engage a lower step in the top surface of the table top still in recess 160. Recess 160 can comprise a blind hole, open only to the end edge, with locking mechanism comprising a corresponding male stud or the like biased into the bore. What is important is the inward bias of the locking mechanism, engaging an underlying land which is effective to retain the table on the frame against an upwardly directed force.

To disengage and remove table top 40 from frame 10, the user presses outwardly against locking mechanism 180, e.g. against shoulder ramp 187, to bias the upper portion of flex tab 182 outwardly sufficiently far so that the entire detent 190 is positioned outwardly from the entire upper surface 167 of the third wall 165. The user then lifts upwardly on table top 40, passing recess 160 and end edge 46 upwardly beyond connector 38, enabling the user to remove table top 40 from frame 10.

In the alternative, the user can flex the table top at the hinges and thereby draw the end edges of the end leaf elements longitudinally of the length of the table top and away from the locking mechanisms, thus effectively releasing the table top from the underlying frame. Reversing such hinge action is generally effective to install, or reinstall, the table top on the frame with the locking mechanisms effectively, or generally effectively, in place and operable.

The leaf elements can be color coded to assist in assembly of the table top. As discussed above, end ones 48A and 48D of the leaf elements each have one side edge which bears the tabs 52 and 60, and the slots 54 and 61, or hinge elements 105, 120 and one side edge which is free from such tabs and slots and hinge elements. By contrast, intermediate leaf elements 48B and 48C have tabs and slots on one side edge and tabs and slots, or hinge elements, on the other side edge. In addition, the end leaf elements bear flanges 49 or recesses 160 while intermediate leaf elements bear no such flanges or recesses. Thus, the leaf elements must be properly selected, matched, and oriented for compatibility for placement next to each other when the table top is assembled. Namely, the end leaf elements do not assemble properly as intermediate leaf elements and intermediate leaf elements do not assemble properly as end leaf elements. So relative ordering of the leaf elements with respect to each other is critical to proper assembly of the table top.

As used herein, the recitation of “recesses” 160 includes a slot which extends upwardly in a leaf element immediately adjacent the edge of the leaf element. In such case, the slot is wide enough that mounting structure 180 of the underlying frame can extend upwardly through the slot, and flex sufficiently to engage the table top, as well as flexing sufficiently to enable the user to release the mounting structure from the table top when the table top is to be detached from the frame e.g. for storage.

A desirable feature of this invention is to color code the leaf elements such that the end leaf elements are readily visually distinguishable from those leaf elements which do not form an end edge of the table. By making such distinction by color, the user is immediately advised which leaf elements can successfully be placed edge to edge adjacent each other in assembling the table top. Thus, as illustrated in FIG. 1, the end ones 48A and 48D of the leaf elements can be a first lighter color and the intermediate leaf elements 48B and 48C can be a second darker color. In the alternative, the end leaf elements can be a darker color and the intermediate leaf elements can be a lighter color. Still further, the colors need not be distinguished by light and dark characteristics, but can be distinguished by any easily recognized wave length difference of light emissions from the surface of the respective leaf elements or pattern of coloring.

Within the context of color identity of the end and intermediate elements, it is preferred that both end leaf elements be the same first color or first pattern of coloring, and that the intermediate leaf elements be the same second color or second pattern of coloring. However, it is not strictly necessary that the end leaf elements both be the same first color, or that the intermediate leaf elements all be the same second color, so long as readily distinguishing color patterns exist on the end and intermediate leaf elements.

For durability of color, the color is preferably molded in as part of the molded polymer composition.

While respective leaf elements are preferably distinguished by color in the polymer resin from which the leaf elements are molded, the leaf elements can be surface decorated by e.g. coatings, decals, and the like without losing such preferred, color-based, distinctions, so long as a substantial portion of the respective distinguishing color or color pattern can be readily distinguished about, beside, or through the surface decorations, or so long as the surface decorations establish requisite decorative, visual differences.

As an alternative to color coding, the end and intermediate leaf elements can be distinguished by surface texture differences which are preferably molded into the top surfaces of the respective leaf elements. Further, the inner and outer leaf elements can be distinguished by distinguishing markings such as letters, numbers, or other indicia or graphics or other marks which are molded into the leaf elements to thereby distinguish the end and intermediate leaf elements from each other.

Those skilled in the art will now see that certain modifications can be made to the apparatus and methods herein disclosed with respect to the illustrated embodiments, without departing from the spirit of the instant invention. And while the invention has been described above with respect to the preferred embodiments, it will be understood that the invention is adapted to numerous rearrangements, modifications, and alterations, and all such arrangements, modifications, and alterations are intended to be within the scope of the appended claims.

To the extent the following claims use means plus function language, it is not meant to include there, or in the instant specification, anything not structurally equivalent to what is shown in the embodiments disclosed in the specification.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7540259 *Mar 13, 2006Jun 2, 2009The Coleman Company, Inc.Elevated sleeping bed for pets
DE102008003671A1 *Jan 9, 2008Jul 23, 2009Bernd LehmannLuggage rack for use in hotel room, has side parts and load-bearing support surface, where longitudinal parts connecting side parts are telescopically designed and comprising inner profile that is insertable into outer profile
DE102008003671B4 *Jan 9, 2008Mar 17, 2011Bernd LehmannGepäckablage
Classifications
U.S. Classification108/118
International ClassificationA47B3/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47B3/12, A47B3/002, A47B3/02, A47B13/088
European ClassificationA47B13/08S, A47B3/00F, A47B3/02, A47B3/12
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 29, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: EZ OUTDOOR TABLE LLC, WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HENDRICKS, ROBERT GEORGE;HENDRICKS, JOHN HENRY;REEL/FRAME:016508/0913
Effective date: 20040729