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Publication numberUS20050241551 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/112,810
Publication dateNov 3, 2005
Filing dateApr 22, 2005
Priority dateApr 22, 2004
Publication number11112810, 112810, US 2005/0241551 A1, US 2005/241551 A1, US 20050241551 A1, US 20050241551A1, US 2005241551 A1, US 2005241551A1, US-A1-20050241551, US-A1-2005241551, US2005/0241551A1, US2005/241551A1, US20050241551 A1, US20050241551A1, US2005241551 A1, US2005241551A1
InventorsMartin Neunzert, Doug Fuller, Ray Adams
Original AssigneeMartin Neunzert, Doug Fuller, Ray Adams
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Locking mechanism for a fold-in-half table
US 20050241551 A1
Abstract
A table may include a table top that is capable of being folded-in-half. The table may also include legs that are movable between an extended position and a collapsed position. Advantageously, the folding table top and the collapsible legs may allow the table to be easily transported and stored. The table may also include a locking mechanism that may secure the table top in the unfolded position. The locking mechanism may include a locking member that is movable between a locked position and an unlocked position.
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Claims(20)
1. A table comprising:
a table top including a first portion and a second portion that are capable of being moved between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration;
a frame connected to the table top, the frame comprising:
a first side rail connected to the first portion of the table top; and
a second side rail connected to the second portion of the table top;
a first bolt receiving section at least partially defined by the first side rail of the frame;
a second bolt receiving section at least partially defined by the second side rail of the frame;
a locking bolt that is movable between a locked position and an unlocked position, the locked position including a portion of the locking bolt being disposed within the first bolt receiving section and the second bolt receiving section to secure the table top in a fixed position, the unlocked position including the locking bolt disposed outside the second bolt receiving section to allow the table top to be freely moved between the folded and unfolded positions, the locking bolt comprising:
an elongated body; and
a handle extending from the elongated body, the handle being sized and configured to be grasp by a user to facilitate movement of the locking bolt between the locked position and the unlocked position, at least a portion of the handle being integrally formed with the elongated body; and
one or more legs that are movable relative to the table top between an extended position and a collapsed position.
2. The table as in claim 1, wherein the handle includes a first portion with a first alignment member and a second portion with a second alignment member, the first and second alignment members being sized and configured to allow the first portion and the second portion of the handle to be interconnected.
3. The table as in claim 2, wherein the first alignment member includes an inwardly extending portion and the second alignment portion includes an outwardly extending portion that is sized and configured to engage the inwardly extending portion.
4. The table as in claim 3, wherein the inwardly extending portion has a generally V-shaped configuration and the outwardly extending portion has a generally V-shaped configuration.
5. The table as in claim 2, wherein the first portion further includes a third alignment member and the second portion further includes a fourth alignment member, the third and fourth alignment members being sized and configured to secure the first portion and the second portion of the handle in a generally fixed position.
6. The table as in claim 2, wherein the first alignment member includes an outwardly extending portion and the second alignment portion includes an inwardly extending portion adapted to engage the outwardly extending portion.
7. The table as in claim 1, further comprising an elongated opening in the first side rail that is sized and configured to allow at least a portion of the handle to extend through the opening.
8. A table comprising:
a table top including a first section and a second section that are capable of being moved between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration;
a frame connected to the table top; and
a locking bolt that is capable of being moved between a first position in which the table top is secured in a fixed configuration and a second position in which the table top may be freely moved between the folded and unfolded positions, the locking bolt comprising:
a body;
a handle;
a first outwardly extending arm; and
a second outwardly extending arm, the first and second outwardly extending arms being deformable to secure the locking bolt in the first position.
9. The table as in claim 8, wherein the first arm of the locking bolt is sized and configured to engage at least a portion of the table frame when the bolt is in the first position; and the second arm of the locking bolt is sized and configured to engage at least a portion of the table frame when the bolt is in the first position.
10. The table as in claim 8, wherein the first arm is sized and configured to engage at least a portion of the table frame with a snap fit, a friction fit, or an interference fit when the bolt is in the first position; and the second arm is sized and configured to engage at least a portion of the table frame with a snap fit, a friction fit, or an interference fit when the bolt is in the first position.
11. The table as in claim 8, wherein the first arm is sized and configured to engage a first socket at least partially defined by a portion of table frame when the bolt is in the first position; and the second arm is sized and configured to engage the first socket when the bolt is in the first position.
12. The table as in claim 8, wherein the first arm includes a first catch that is sized and configured to engage a socket at least partially defined by a portion of table frame when the bolt is in the first position; and wherein the second arm includes a second catch that is sized and configured to engage the socket when the bolt is in the first position.
13. The table as in claim 8, wherein the body of the bolt includes a first end, a second end, and a tapered portion that is at least partially disposed between the first end and the second end.
14. The table as in claim 8, wherein the bolt is constructed from injected molded plastic.
15. A table comprising:
a table top including a first section and a second section that are capable of being moved between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration;
a frame connected to the table top;
a slot disposed in the frame, the slot including a first locking portion;
a locking member that is capable of being moved between a first position in which the table top is secured in a fixed configuration and a second position in which the table top may be freely moved between the folded and unfolded configurations, the locking member comprising:
a body; and
a handle that is at least partially disposed within the slot in the frame, the handle being movable among a plurality of locations within the slot, the handle being sized and configured to be received and retained within the first locking portion of the slot when the locking member is in the first position; and
one or more legs that are movable relative to the table top between an extended position and a collapsed position.
16. The table as in claim 15, wherein the first locking portion is sized and configured to engage the handle with a snap, a friction or an interference fit.
17. The table as in claim 15, wherein the slot further includes a second locking portion that is sized and configured to receive and retain the handle in a generally fixed position when the locking member is in the second position.
18. A table comprising:
a table top including a first section and a second section that are capable of being moved between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration;
a table frame connected to the table top;
a first locking member receiving portion;
a second locking member receiving portion; and
a locking member that is capable of being moved between a first position in which the table top is secured in a fixed configuration and a second position in which the table top may be freely moved between the folded and unfolded configurations, the locking member comprising:
a body including a first end and a second end, the first end being sized and configured to be received into the first locking member receiving portion, the second end being sized and configured to be received into the second locking member receiving portion; and
a handle; and
one or more legs that are movable relative to the table top between an extended position and a collapsed position;
wherein the locking member is disposed within the first locking member receiving portion and the second locking member receiving portion when the locking member is in the first position; and
wherein the locking member is disposed outside the second locking member receiving portion when the locking member is in the second position to allow the table top to be freely moved between the folded and unfolded positions
19. The table as in claim 18, wherein the first end of the body of the locking member has a tapered portion that is sized and configured to be received into the first locking member receiving portion and the second end of the body of the locking member has a tapered portion that is sized and configured to be received into a second locking member receiving portion.
20. A table comprising:
a table top including a first section and a second section that are capable of being moved between a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration;
a table frame connected to the table top; and
a bolt movable between a first position in which the table top is secured in a fixed configuration and a second position in which the table top may be freely moved between the folded and unfolded configurations, the locking bolt comprising:
a first portion including a first alignment member; and
a second portion including a second alignment member, the first and second alignment members being sized and configured to secure the first handle portion and the second handle portion in a generally fixed relative position.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/564,393, which was filed on Apr. 22, 2004, and entitled FOLD-IN-HALF TABLE. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. utility patent application Ser. No. 10/843,037, which was filed on May 10, 2004, and entitled PORTABLE FOLDING TABLE WITH LOCKING HINGE. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. design patent application Ser. No. 29/221,015, which was filed Jan. 10, 2005, and entitled PORTION OF A LOCKING MECHANISM FOR A FOLD-IN-HALF TABLE. This application is also a continuation-in-part of U.S. design patent application Ser. No. 29/221,014, which was filed Jan. 10, 2005, and entitled BOLT FOR SECURING PORTIONS OF A TABLE FRAME. Each of these applications is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to furniture and, in particular, to tables.

2. Description of Related Art

Many different types of tables are well known and used for a variety of different purposes. For example, conventional tables may include legs that are pivotally attached to a table top and the legs may be movable between a use position in which the legs extend outwardly from the table top and a storage position in which the legs are folded against the table top. Conventional tables with relatively large table tops and folding legs are often referred to as “banquet tables” and these tables are frequently used in assembly halls, banquet halls, convention centers, hotels, schools, churches and other locations where large groups of people meet. Because these conventional tables are generally easy to move and relatively portable, these types of tables can often be positioned in an assortment of different configurations and used in a variety of settings. When the tables are no longer needed, the table legs can be moved into the storage position and the tables may be moved or stored.

Conventional banquet tables with collapsible legs may allow the table to be more conveniently stored. The table top for many conventional banquet tables with collapsible legs, however, retains its size and shape. For example, many known banquet tables have a length between six to ten feet and a width between three to four feet. As a result, the storage of many conventional banquet tables, even with the legs in the collapsed position, may require a large storage area. This large storage area for each table may be problematic for large facilities such as hotels, schools and churches because a considerable number of these table may have to be stored. Thus, a big area may be required to store the tables. In addition, smaller facilities such as restaurants, offices and homes may use one or more conventional banquet tables. These smaller facilities may use the tables less frequently, such as during special occasions. Conventional banquet tables, even when the legs are folded, are often too bulky and obstructive to be conveniently used and stored at such smaller facilities. As a result, it is often necessary for both larger and smaller facilities to rent and/or borrow one or more banquet tables when needed. Disadvantageously, this process of renting and/or borrowing banquet tables can be inconvenient, time consuming and costly.

In addition, conventional banquet tables are often very difficult to move or transport from one location to another. For example, because of the length of many conventional banquet tables, the tables are often difficult to move by a single person. In addition, the extended length of the banquet tables may preclude the tables from being transported in the trunk or back seat of a typical passenger car. Accordingly, the banquet tables may have to be transported by a truck or trailer, which may be difficult to obtain, expensive and require a significant amount of time.

It is also known to construct tables that are capable of being folded-in-half. In particular, conventional fold-in-half tables typically include a table top with two sections that are pivotally connected by a hinge. The two sections of the table top may be moved between an unfolded position or use position in which the sections of the table top are generally aligned in the same plane and a folded position in which the two sections are positioned generally adjacent to each other for storage.

Disadvantageously, many known tables with foldable table tops are unstable and unable to support a significant amount of weight. For example, the connection of the two table top sections of many known fold-in-half tables may be relatively weak, which may allow, for example, a portion of the table top to sag. In order to construct a stronger table top, it is known to make foldable table tops out of stronger and thicker materials. Undesirably, this may increase the weight of the table top, which may make the table more difficult to carry and move.

Many conventional tables with foldable table tops also include hinges that connect the two portions of the table top and the hinges are often connected to the table top by a plurality of screws that are bored into the table top. Disadvantageously, the structural integrity of the table top may be decreased by the holes created by the plurality of screws, and this may allow the table to collapse and fail. In addition, because the screws are typically individually attached to the table top, this may significantly increase the amount of the time required to construct the table. Further, this may increase the manufacturing time and costs to make the table.

Additionally, known tables with foldable table tops are often difficult to transport and store because it may be hard to maintain the table top in the closed position, especially for a single person. In particular, the table tops of many known foldable tables can unintentionally swing between the folded and unfolded position while the tables are being moved, positioned and/or stacked. That is, while the table is being moved, the table top may inadvertently move from the folded to the unfolded position. If this occurs, the table may be undesirably dropped, and this may damage the table and/or injure the person carrying the table.

Further, when conventional fold-in-half tables are in the folded or storage position, it may be difficult to lift and move the table because it may be hard to grasp the table. In particular, the tables may be difficult to carry because there no convenient handholds or portions of the table to grab. In addition to many conventional fold-in-half tables being difficult to grasp and move in the folded position, this problem may be exasperated by the table top unintentionally unfolding while the table is being moved.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A need therefore exists for a table that reduces or eliminates the above-described and other disadvantages and problems.

One aspect is a table that may include a table top and one or more legs or support pedestals that may be used to support the table top in a use or support position. The legs or support pedestals are preferably movable between an extended or use position and a collapsed or storage position relative to the table top. Advantageously, when the legs or support pedestals are in the use position, the table may be used to support a wide variety of objects and the table may be used for a variety of different purposes.

Another aspect is a table that may include a table top that is capable of being moved between a folded position and an unfolded position. Preferably, the table top includes two sections and the two sections are generally aligned in the same plane when the table top is in the unfolded position and the two sections are generally positioned adjacent to each other when the table top is in the folded position. The table may also include legs that are movable between a use position and a collapsed position. Advantageously, if the table includes both a foldable table top and foldable table legs that can be selectively moved between use and collapsed positions, then the table may be stored in a relatively compact area. This may allow, for example, a single person to easily move and transport the table. In addition, this may allow the table to be positioned in a relatively small area, such as the backseat or trunk of an automobile. Further, this may allow one or more tables to be shipped and/or stored in relatively small areas.

Yet another aspect is a table that may include a table top constructed from plastic and the plastic table top is preferably constructed using a blow-molding process. Advantageously, this may allow a lightweight table top to be easily constructed and it may allow the table top to be formed into various desired configurations, shapes, sizes and designs. This may also allow a table top to be constructed that is generally weather resistant and temperature insensitive, which may allow the table to be used in a wide variety of locations and environments. In addition, this may allow a table top that is durable, long-lasting and corrosion resistant to be constructed. Further, because a table top constructed from blow-molded plastic may be relatively strong, the table may be used to support a relatively large amount of weight. Significantly, a table top constructed from blow-molded plastic may also form a structural member of the table, but the table top may be supported by other structures, such as a frame.

Advantageously, a table top constructed from blow-molded plastic may be relatively strong because it includes opposing walls or surfaces that are separated by a distance. The opposing walls may help create a high-strength, rigid table top. In addition, because the interior portion of the table top may be generally hollow, that may create a lightweight table top. Thus, the blow-molded table top may be both lightweight and strong.

Still another aspect is a table that may include a table top that includes two sections. For example, the table top may include a first table top section and a second table top section, and each section may include an inner edge or portion. Desirably, the inner edges or portions of the first and second table top sections engage or contact when the table top is in the extended or use position, and the inner edges or portions are spaced apart from each other in the folded position. Advantageously, the inner edges or portions may be sized and configured to engage and/or overlap to allow, for example, a secure connection of the first and second sections when the table top is in the extended or use position. For instance, the inner edges or portions of the table top sections may include one or more projections and/or recesses that are sized and configured to contact or engage when the table top is in the extended or use position. In particular, the inner edges or portions may include tongue and groove portions which matingly engage when the table top is in the extended or use position. That is, the inner edge or portion of the first table top section may have one or more tongue and/or groove portions that are aligned with corresponding tongue and/or groove portions in the inner edge or portion of the second table top section. The table top sections are preferably configured so that the tongue and groove portions interlock when the table top is in the extended or use position. Advantageously, this may increase the strength and rigidity of the table top, which may allow the table top to be constructed of a lighter and/or thinner material without sacrificing strength or integrity.

A further aspect is a table that may include two sections that are movable between a folded and unfolded position, and the table may include a handle. Advantageously, this handle may allow the table to be more easily transported or moved. For example, the handle can be mounted to a portion of the table top such that the handle may project between the edges of the table top sections when the table top is in the folded position. In this configuration, a single individual may easily gasp the projecting handle to carry the table. The table may also include a handle retention assembly that may be used to secure the handle in a desired position. In particular, the handle retention assembly may advantageously secure the handle in a generally fixed position. For instance, the handle retention assembly may secure the handle in a generally fixed position that is out of the way and not obstructive when the table top is in the unfolded position.

Another aspect is that the table may be easily assembled and/or disassembled. For example, the table may not include any heavy or complex mechanisms to attach the table legs to the table top and/or to connect the first and second sections of the table top. In particular, the table may include a frame that quickly and easily attaches the legs to the table top. For instance, the frame may include two elongated side rails and the side rails may be connected to one or more frame mounting portions. Advantageously, the frame mounting portions may be integrally formed in the table top and the frame can be attached to the table top by a snap, friction or interference fit. Significantly, this may allow the frame to be attached to the table top without mechanical fasteners such as screws or bolts, but mechanical fasteners may be used if desired. Because mechanical fasteners are not required to attach the frame to the table top, fewer parts may be required to assemble the table and holes do not have to be formed in the table top. This may also allow the table to be quickly and easily manufactured and assembled. Further, fewer workers may be required to assemble the table and the relatively straight forward design and attachment of the frame to the table top may allow the table to be shipped either assembled or unassembled, which may allow retailers or consumers to assemble the table if desired.

Still another aspect is a table that may include a table top with sections that are interconnected. For example, a frame may be attached to the sections of the table top and the frame may be sized and configured to allow the table top to be moved between the folded and unfolded positions. In particular, the frame may include side rails that are connected to the sections of the table top and one or more hinge assemblies may be connected to the side rails. The hinge assemblies may enable the table top to move between the folded and unfolded positions. Preferably, the hinge assemblies are mounted directly to the frame and the hinge assemblies are not connected to the table top. Because mechanical fasteners are not required to attach the hinge assemblies to the table top, fewer parts may be required to assemble the table and holes do not have to be formed in the table top, which may allow the table to be quickly and easily manufactured and assembled. Because the hinge assemblies do not have to be separately mounted directly to the table top by screws or other fasteners, this may allow retailers or consumers to assemble the table if desired.

Still yet another aspect is a table that may include a table top with sections that are interconnected by one or more hinge assemblies to allow the table top to be moved between folded and unfolded positions. The table preferably includes a mechanism, such as a bolt, that is slidable or movable relative to the table top between a first position and a second position. For example, when the table top is in the unfolded position, the bolt may be sized and configured to lock a hinge assembly and/or a portion of the frame in a generally fixed position to secure the table top in the unfolded position. The bolt may also be moved to unlock the hinge assembly and/or the frame to allow the table top to be moved into the folded position. Advantageously, the bolt may secure the table top in the unfolded position and prevent the table from unintentionally folding.

A further aspect is a table that may include one or more legs that are movable between an extended position and a collapsed position relative to the table top. The legs may be connected to a cross member and the cross member may be connected to the frame.

A still further aspect is a table that may include a retainer which may be connected to a first portion of the table top. Advantageously, the retainer may be sized and configured to secure the table top in a closed or folded position. For example, the retainer may include a first end that is connected to a first portion of the table top, such as a cross member or a portion of the frame. The second end of the retainer may be sized and configured to be attached to a second portion of the table top when the table top is in the closed or folded position. In particular, the second end of the retainer may be connected to a cross member or a portion of the frame. Preferably, the second end of the retainer is selectively connected to the second portion of the table top to allow the table top to be folded and unfolded. Significantly, the retainer may help retain the table top in the folded position so that the table top does not unintentionally unfold when the folded table is being carried, transported and/or stored. The retainer may also be sized and configured to automatically engage the second portion of the table top, which may simplify the engagement process. In addition, the retainer may be selectively connected to the first portion of the table top, which may simply the manufacturing process and allow the retainer to be quickly and easily attached.

Yet still another aspect is a table that may include a brace that is connected to one or more of the legs. In particular, the brace may include a first end that is connected to the table top and a second end that is connected to the leg. The brace is preferably sized and configured to support the leg in an extended position relative to the table top. The brace, which may be any suitable type of brace such as a slotted brace, may be biased to secure the leg in the extended position. For example, the brace may include a pin that is disposed within a slot and the brace may include a biasing member, such as a spacer or washer. The biasing member may be constructed from a deformable and resilient material, such as rubber, which may be used to bias the brace into a desired position. For example, the brace may be biased to lock the brace in a generally fixed position, which may secure the leg in the extended position.

These and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The appended drawings contain figures of preferred embodiments to further illustrate and clarify the above and other aspects, advantages and features of the invention. It will be appreciated that the drawings depict only preferred embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limits its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an upper perspective view of a table in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, illustrating the legs in an extended position;

FIG. 2 is a lower perspective view of table shown in FIG. 1, illustrating the legs in an extended position;

FIG. 3 is another perspective view of the table shown in FIG. 1, illustrating the table top in a partially folded position and the legs in a collapsed or folded position;

FIG. 4 is still another perspective view of the table shown in FIG. 1, illustrating the table top is a fully folded position and the legs in the collapsed or folded position;

FIG. 5A is a side view of a portion of the table shown in FIG. 1, illustrating an exemplary portion of the table frame, hinge assembly and locking mechanism in a locked position;

FIG. 5B is another side view of the portion of the table shown in FIG. 5A, illustrating the portion of the table frame, hinge assembly and locking mechanism in an unlocked and partially folded position;

FIG. 5C is a perspective view of the portion of the table shown in FIG. 5A, illustrating the table frame, hinge assembly and locking member disposed proximate a lip of the table top;

FIG. 5D is a perspective view of a portion of the table frame shown in FIG. 5A;

FIG. 6 is an exploded view of an exemplary embodiment of a locking mechanism, illustrating a bolt, a handle and a mechanical fastener;

FIG. 7 is a top view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a bottom view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 9 is a side view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 10 is a front view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 11 is a front view of a handle shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 12 is a side view of the handle shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 13 is a top view of the handle shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 14 is a bottom view of the handle shown in FIG. 6;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of another exemplary embodiment of a locking mechanism;

FIG. 16 is a top view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a side view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 15; and

FIG. 18 is a front view of the locking mechanism shown in FIG. 15.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is generally directed towards a table that includes a table top that are capable of being folded in half The principles of the present invention, however, are not limited to a table with a table top that is capable of being folded in half. It will be understood that, in light of the present disclosure, the tables and various portions of the tables disclosed herein can be successfully used in connection with other types of furniture and structures.

Additionally, to assist in the description of the tables, words such as top, bottom, front, rear, right and left are used to describe the accompanying figures. It will be appreciated, however, that the tables can be located in a variety of desired positions and the tables can have various suitable shapes, sizes and configurations. A detailed description of exemplary embodiments of the table now follows.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, an exemplary embodiment of a table 10 includes a table top 12 with an upper surface 14, a lower surface 16, a first end 18, a second end 20, a front side 22 and a rear side 24. The upper surface 14 of the table top 12 is preferably generally planar to create a relatively smooth and flat working surface, but the upper surface could also be textured and have other suitable shapes and configurations depending, for example, upon the intended use of the table 10. The table top 12 may also include an outer edge 26 that is disposed about a perimeter or periphery of the table top. All or a portion of the outer edge 26 of the table top 12 may be beveled, sloped, rounded and the like according to, for example, the intended design and/or aesthetics of the table 10.

The table top 12 may also include a generally downwardly extending lip 28 that is disposed near or at the outer edge 26 of the table top. The lip 28 preferably extends downwardly beyond the lower surface 16 of the table top 12 and the lip may be aligned with and/or form a part of the outer edge 26 of the table top. It will be appreciated that all or a portion of the lip 28 may also be spaced inwardly from the outer edge 26 of the table top 12. As discussed below, the lip 28 may be integrally formed with the table top 12 as part of a unitary, one-piece structure. The lip 28, however, does not have to be integrally formed as part of the table top 12 and the table 10 does not require the lip 28.

As shown in the accompanying figures, the table top 12 preferably has a generally rectangular configuration with rounded corners and slightly rounded edges 26. Desirably, the table top 12 has a relatively large size and it may be configured for use as a banquet, conference or utility table. In particular, the table top 12 may have a length of about five feet (about 1.5 meters) and a width of about two and one-half feet (about 0.75 meters). One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the table top 12 can be larger or smaller according, for example, to the intended use of the table 10. Additionally, the table top 12 may have other suitable shapes and configurations such as square, circular, oval and the like depending, for example, upon the intended use of the table 10. In addition, the corners and edges 26 of the table top 12 do not have to be rounded and, in contrast, the corners and edges could have any desirable configuration. Further, the table top 12 could be sized and configured for use with other types of tables such as card tables, personal-sized tables, and the like.

The table top 12 is preferably constructed from a lightweight material and, more preferably, the table top is constructed from plastic, such as high density polyethylene. The plastic table top 12 is desirably formed by a blow-molding process because, for example, it may allow a strong, lightweight, rigid and sturdy table top to be quickly and easily manufactured. Advantageously, the blow-molded plastic table top 12 may be lightweight because it may include a hollow interior portion that is formed during the blow-molding process. It will be appreciated, however, that the table top 12 does not have to be formed with a hollow interior portion and the hollow interior portion can be filled, for example, with a material such as foam after the table top is formed.

The table top 12 is preferably constructed from blow-molded plastic because blow-molded plastic table tops are relatively durable, weather resistant, temperature insensitive, corrosion resistant, rust resistant and blow-molded plastic generally does not deteriorate over time. One of ordinary skill in the art, however, will appreciate that the table top 12 does not have to be constructed from blow-molded plastic and other suitable materials can be used to construct the table top such as other types of plastics, polymers and synthetic materials. In addition, the table top 12 may be constructed from other materials with desirable characteristics such as wood, metal, fiberglass, ceramics, graphite and the like. Further, other types of processes may be used to construct the table top 12 such as injection molding, rotary molding and the like.

The upper surface 14 of the table top 12 is preferably generally spaced apart from the lower surface 16 by a given distance and these two spaced apart surfaces may help create a rigid and strong table top. Preferably, the upper surface 14 and the lower surface 16 of the table top 12 are separated by a generally constant distance so that the surfaces are generally aligned in parallel planes. The upper surface 14 and the lower surface 16, however, do not have to be spaced apart by a generally constant distance and, in fact, the upper and lower surfaces could be separated by any desired distance.

The table top 12 may also include one or more structures or features that may be sized and configured, for example, to increase the strength and rigidity of the table top. In particular, the table top 12 may include one or more depressions 30, which are also known as tack-offs or kiss-offs, that are sized and configured to increase the strength and rigidity of the table top. Advantageously, the depressions 30 and/or other reinforcement structures may be integrally formed as part of a unitary one-piece table top 12, such as during the blow-molding or other molding processes, but the depressions and other structures can also be formed independently and/or attached separately of the table top.

As shown in FIG. 2, the depressions 30 are preferably located in the lower surface 16 of table top 12 and the depressions are preferably sized and configured to increase the strength and structural integrity of the table top 12. The depressions 30 preferably extend towards the upper surface 14 of the table top 12 and the ends of the depressions 30 may contact or engage the inner portion of the upper surface of the table top. On the other hand, the ends of the depressions 30 may be spaced part from the inner portion of the upper surface 14 of the table top 12.

The depressions 30 preferably cover substantially the entire lower surface 16 of the table top 12, but it will be appreciated that the depressions may cover only a portion of the table top. Additionally, while the depressions 30 are shown and described as being located in the lower surface 16 of the table top 12, it will be appreciated that the depressions could be formed in any desired portion of the table top. For example, it will be appreciated that one or more depressions 30 may be formed in the upper surface 14 of the table top 12 and one or more depressions may be formed in the lower surface 16 of the table top 12, and these opposing depressions may be generally aligned. At least a portion of these opposing depressions 30 may contact or engage each other, but the opposing depressions do not have to touch or engage.

The depressions 30 are preferably also arranged into a predetermined pattern or array in order to increase the strength and structural integrity of the table top 12. In particular, the depressions 30 are preferably spaced closely together in a predetermined pattern such that the distance between the depressions is minimized. For example, minimizing the distance between the depressions 30 formed in the lower surface 16 of the table top 12 may diminish the unsupported areas of the upper surface 14 of the table top, which may increase the smoothness of the upper surface of the table top. In addition, minimizing the distance between the depressions 30 may increase the structural integrity and strength of the table top 12. Thus, the depressions 30 may be desirably closely spaced on the lower surface 16 of the table top 12 such that the depressions are separated by a minimum distance in order to create a table top with greater strength, improved structural integrity and an upper surface 14 with increased smoothness.

In addition, the depressions 30 are preferably arranged in a predetermined pattern with a generally constant and uniform spacing so that the table top 12 has generally uniform characteristics. In particular, the depressions 30 are preferably arranged into a generally uniform pattern across at least a majority of the lower surface of the table top 12 so that the strength, structural integrity and/or other characteristics of the table top are generally uniform throughout the table top. Thus, the table top 12 has fewer, if any, weak or unsupported portions which may decrease the strength and structural integrity of the table top. Thus, the depressions 30 may be used to create a table top 12 with generally uniform characteristics. It will be appreciated that the depressions 30 may also have a non-uniform spacing depending, for example, upon various features that are formed in the table top 12 or upon the intended use of the table 10. It may be desirable, however, for these various features that are formed in the table top 12 to be sized and configured such that they do not significantly disturb or disrupt the generally uniform pattern of depressions 30.

Advantageously, the increased structural integrity and strength of the table top 12 may allow the outer wall thickness of the table top to be decreased, which may allow the table top to be constructed with less material. For example, if the table top 12 is constructed from blow-molded plastic and the outer wall thickness is reduced, then less plastic may be used to construct the table top. Because less plastic may be used to construct the table top 12, that may allow the cost of the table 10 to be decreased. In addition, the table top 12 may cool more quickly during the manufacturing process because of the decreased outer wall thickness. This may allow the table top 12 to be removed from the manufacturing mold more quickly and it may allow the table top to be removed at a higher temperature because the thinner outer wall may dissipate heat more rapidly. Significantly, because the cycle time required to construct the table top 12 may be decreased, the manufacturing efficiency may be increased.

Additional details regarding the size, shape and configuration of one or more depressions that may suitable for use in connection with the table top 12 are disclosed in Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/409,000, which was to <<filed Apr. 8, 2003, entitled HIGH-STRENGTH, LIGHTWEIGHT BLOW-MOLDED PLASTIC STRUCTURES, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety. While the table top 12 preferably includes one or more depressions, it will be appreciated that the table top does not require any depressions or other reinforcing structures.

As discussed above and as shown in FIG. 2, the lip 28 is preferably disposed about the outer periphery of the table top 12 and it is generally aligned with the outer edge 26. The lip 28 may include an inner portion, and outer portion and a lower surface. Preferably, the outer portion of the lip 28 is generally aligned with the outer edge 26, but the lip could also be spaced inwardly from the outer edge of the table top. The lip 28 may also include a hollow interior and the lip may be integrally formed during the blow-molding process as part of table top 12. It will be appreciated, however, that the lip 28 does not have to be formed as a unitary component of the table top 12 and the table top does not require the lip.

The lower surface of the lip 28 is preferably sized and configured to facilitate stacking of the table 10. For example, the lower surface of the lip 28 may have a generally smooth, planar configuration to facilitate stacking of the table 10. In addition, the inner portion of the lip 28 may include a number of serrations, notches, ribs, struts and the like that are sized and configured to increase the strength, rigidity and/or flexibility of the lip 28. In particular, the inner portion of the lip 28 may include a number of notches, indentations, grooves or other inwardly extending portions to form at least a portion of an uneven or saw-tooth type surface. The inner portion of the lip 28 may also include a number of bumps, humps, protrusions or other outwardly extending portions to form at least a portion of an uneven or saw-tooth type surface. The inner portion of the lip 28 may also contain a combination of inwardly and outwardly portions to form at least a portion of the uneven or saw-tooth type surface. Other suitable configurations of the lip 28 and other portion of the table 12 are disclosed in Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/409,273, which was filed Apr. 8, 2003, entitled EDGE AND CORNER FOR A TABLE TOP; and Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/051,933, which was filed on Feb. 4, 2005, entitled EDGE AND CORNER FOR A STRUCTURE CONSTRUCTED FROM BLOW-MOLDED PLASTIC; each of which are incorporated by references in their entirety.

It will also be understood that other features of the table top 12 may also be integrally formed with table top 12 as part of a unitary, one-piece structure. For example, various mounting portions, receiving portions and the like may be integrally formed as part of the table top 12. Because these features may be integrally formed as part of the table top 12, that may expedite the manufacturing process. These features, however, do not have to be integrally formed in the table top 12 and they could be attached to the table top by any suitable methods or devices.

As seen in FIG. 3, the table top 12 may include one or more table top sections 32, such as a first table top section 32 a and a second table top section 32 b. The table top sections 32 a, 32 b may include outer edges 34 a, 34 b; inner edges 36 a, 36 b; and opposing side edges 38 a, 38 b and 40 a, 40 b respectively. It will be appreciated that the table top 12 can include any suitable number of sections 32 and the table top 12 may also be constructed as a single, one-piece structure. Advantageously, the first table top section 32 a and the second table top section 32 b may be moved between a folded position as shown in FIG. 4 and an unfolded position as shown in FIG. 1. When the table top 12 is in the folded position, the table 10 may be more easily transported and/or stored.

The inner edges 36 a, 36 b of the table top sections 32 a, 32 b preferably contact, abut and/or are positioned adjacent to each other when the table top 12 is in the folded position. Significantly, the inner edges 36 a, 36 b of the table top sections 32 a, 32 b may be sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the table top 12. In particular, the inner edges 36 a, 36 b of the table top sections 32 a, 32 b may include one or more portions that overlap, interlock and/or engage to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the table top 12. In greater detail, the inner edges 36 a, 36 b may include corresponding inwardly and outwardly extending portions that are sized and configured to contact, interlock and/or engage with the table top 12 is in the folded position. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, the inner edges 36 a, 36 b may each include an upper portion and a lower portion. The upper portions of the inner edges 36 a, 36 b may include generally planar surface that are sized and configured to abut and/or be positioned adjacent to each other when the table top 12 is in the unfolded position. The lower portions of the inner edges 36 a, 36 b may include one or more receiving portions, such as grooves or recesses, and one or more outwardly extending portions, such as extensions or flanges. The outwardly extending portions are preferably sized and configured to be at least partially received in the receiving portions when the table is in the unfolded position.

When the table 10 is being moved from the folded position to the unfolded position, the outwardly extending portions may be disposed in the receiving portions to, for example, interlock the table top sections 32 a, 32 b. This interlocking of the table top sections 32 a, 32 b may increase the strength and/or rigidity of the portion of the table top 12 along the inner edges 36 a, 36 b. Advantageously, this may help create a table top 12 with a smoother upper surface 14 and it may help prevent unwanted bending of the table top along the inner edges 36 a, 36 b. It will be appreciated that the outwardly extending portions and the receiving portions can have a variety of different sizes, shapes and configurations. It will also be appreciated that the table top 12 does not require outwardly extending portions and/or the receiving portions.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the table 10 may include a frame 42 and the frame may be sized and configured to increase the strength and/or rigidity of the table top 12, but the frame is not required. As discussed below, the frame 42 may also be used to attach the legs to the table top 12. As shown in the accompanying figures, the frame 42 may be connected to the lower surface 16 of the table top 12 and the frame may include two side rails 44 a, 44 b that are disposed proximate the outer edges of the table top. The side rails 44 a, 44 b preferably extend along all or at least a substantial portion of the length of the table top 12, but the side rails could have any suitable length and configuration. For example, while the side rails 44 a, 44 b are preferably disposed proximate the lip 28, the side rails may be disposed in any suitable location. It will be appreciated that while the frame 42 preferably includes side rails 44 a, 44 b, the frame could have other suitable configurations and arrangements, and the table 10 does not require a frame.

The frame 42 is desirably constructed from metal, which may easily be formed into the desired configuration by known operations, such as stamping and bending, and the metal may be coated or painted as desired. The frame 42 may be connected to the table top 12 be one or more fasteners, such as bolts or screws. The frame 42 may also be attached to the table top 12 without mechanical fasteners, such as disclosed in Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/409,259, which was filed on Apr. 8, 2003, entitled FRAME THAT CAN BE ATTACHED TO A TABLE TOP WITHOUT MECHANICAL FASTENERS, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

As best seen in FIG. 2, the side rails 44 a, 44 b of the frame 42 are preferably connected to the first and second table top sections 32 a, 32 b of the table top 12. For example, the side rails 44 a, 44 a may include first portions 46 a, 46 b that are connected to the first table top section 32 a, and second portions 48 a, 48 b that are connected to the second table top section 32 b.

The first and second table top sections 32 a, 32 b are preferably pivotally connected to allow the table top 12 to be moved between the folded and unfolded positions. For example, one or more hinge assemblies may be used to pivotally connect the first and second table top sections 32 a, 342 b. In particular, as shown in the accompanying drawings, a first hinge assembly 50 a may be connected to the first side rail 44 a and a second hinge assembly 50 b may be connected to the second side rail 44 b. The hinge assemblies 50 a, 50 b may include a first portion that is connected to the first portions 46 a, 46 b of the side rails 44 a, 44 b and a second portion that is connected to the second portions 48 a, 48 b of the side rails. The hinge assemblies 50 a, 50 b may include a hinge member, such as a pin, bolt, rod or the like, that allows the hinge assemblies to pivot about an axis. The hinge assemblies 50 a, 50 b are preferably connected to the side rails 44 a, 44 b by welding, adhesives, mechanical fasteners and the like. It will be appreciated that the hinge assemblies 50 a, 50 b can also be at least partially integrally formed as part of the frame 42. In addition, it will be appreciated that the hinge assemblies 50 a, 50 b can be connected to any suitable portions of the table 10 and the hinge assemblies can have any suitable arrangement and configuration that allows the first and second table top sections 32 a, 32 to be selectively moved between the folded and unfolded positions.

The table 10 may include a handle 52 that may be sized and configured to facilitate lifting and moving the table. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, the handle 52 may be mounted to a portion of the table top 12 and the handle may project between the edges of the table top sections 32 a, 32 b when the table top is in the folded position (as shown in FIG. 4). In this configuration, a single individual can easily gasp the projecting handle 52 to carry the table 10. The table 10 may also include a handle retention assembly 54 that may advantageously secure the handle 52 in a generally fixed position. Desirably, the handle retention assembly 54 secures the handle 52 in an out of the way location, such as to the lower surface 16 of the table top, when the table 10 is in the unfolded position. Other suitable configurations of the handle 52 and/or the handle retention assembly 54 are disclosed in Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, filed concurrently herewith, entitled HANDLE FOR A PORTABLE TABLE (Attorney Docket No. 15499.593), which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

The table 10 may also include a locking mechanism that is sized and configured to lock the table in a desired position. For example, the locking mechanism may be used to secure the table top 12 in the unfolded position. In particular, as shown in FIG. 2, the locking mechanism may include a bolt 56 that is slidable or otherwise movable relative to the table top 12. The bolt 56, when the table top 12 is in the unfolded position, may be designed to selectively lock the hinge assembly 50 and/or the table frame 42 in a generally fixed position. Accordingly, the locking mechanism may lock the table top 12 in a secure and stable position, and the table 10 can be easily moved without the risk of the table 12 unintentionally folding. In greater detail, as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5C, the bolt 56 may secure the side rail portions 46 a, 48 a in a generally fixed position. On the other hand, as shown in FIG. 5B, the bolt 56 may be moved to allow the side rail portions 46 a, 48 a to be freely moved. Other suitable embodiments for the bolt 56 and/or the hinge assembly 50 are discussed in further detail below.

As discussed above, the table 10 may include one or more legs 58 and the legs are preferably movable between an extended or use position and a collapsed or storage position relative to the table top 12. Preferably, the legs 58 are positioned adjacent or proximate the lower surface 16 of the table top 12 in the collapsed or storage position to facilitate stacking, storage and/or shipping of the table. In addition, the legs 58 are preferably positioned adjacent or proximate the lower surface 16 of the table top 12 to allow the table top 10 to be positioned in a folded position such that the first table top section 32 a is positioned adjacent or proximate the second table top section 32 b.

For example, as shown in FIG. 2, the table 10 may include four legs 58 a, 58 b, 58 c, 58 d and one or more of the legs may be interconnected. The legs 58 a, 58 b, 58 c, 58 d are preferably sized and configured to support the table top 12 above a surface such as a floor, and the legs may be adjustable in length. It will be appreciated, however, that the legs 58 could be independently connected to the table 10 and the legs do not have to be adjustable in length. It will also be appreciated that the legs 58 a, 58 b, 58 c, 58 d may be connected to the table top 12 in any suitable manner. For example, the legs 58 a, 58 b, 58 c, 58 d may be connected to connecting rods 62 and the connecting rods may be connected to the frame 42. In particular, the ends of the connecting rods 62 may be disposed within openings in the side rails 44 of the frame 42 to allow the legs 58 a, 58 b, 58 c, 58 d to be attached to the table top 12.

The connecting rods 62 and the legs 58 are desirably constructed from hollow metal tubes because the metal tubes are relatively lightweight and strong. The hollow metal tubes forming the connecting rods 62 and legs 58 may have a generally oval configuration to provide increased strength. Advantageously, the oval configuration may also be used to create a thinner profile for the legs 58, which may create a thinner profile for the table 10 when the legs 58 are in the collapsed position.

It will be appreciated that the legs 58 may be constructed from other materials with the suitable characteristics and the legs 58 may have other shapes and configurations depending, for example, upon the intended use of the table 10. For example, the legs 58 may include only a single elongated support member or multiple elongated support members, and the legs 58 may be constructed as a single component or multiple components that are connected together. It will further be appreciated that the legs 58 need not be in pivotal engagement with frame 42 or the table top 12 to be collapsible. For example, the legs 58 may be detachably connected to the table top 12 such that when it is desired to collapse the table 10 for storage, the legs 58 are detached from the table top 12. Other suitable arrangements and configurations for attaching the legs 58 to the table 10 are disclosed in Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/408,917, filed Apr. 8, 2003, entitled PIVOTAL CONNECTION OF A TABLE LEG TO A FRAME, which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, one or more braces 60 may be used in connection with the legs 58. For example, a brace 60 a, 60 b, 60 c, 60 d may be attached to the legs 58 a, 58 b, 58 c, 58 d, respectively, and the braces may be used to secure the legs in the extended position. The braces 60 may be a slotted brace in which a pin is disposed within an elongated slot. The braces 60 may also include a biasing member, such as a spacer or washer, which is preferably constructed from a deformable and resilient material, such as rubber, which may be used to bias the brace into a desired position. For example, the biasing member may be used to bias the brace 60 into a locked position, which may be used to lock the leg 58 in the extended position. Other suitable types of braces and mechanisms that may be used in connection with the table 10 are disclosed in Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, filed concurrently herewith, entitled BRACE ASSEMBLY FOR A TABLE (Attorney Docket No. 15499.611), which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

As shown in FIG. 2, the table 10 may include a retainer 64 that may be sized and configured to secure the table in the folded position. For example, as shown in the accompanying figures, the retainer 64 may be connected to a first portion of the table 10, such as the first table top section 32 a. In particular, the retainer 64 may be connected to a portion of the frame 42, such as the connecting rod 62 b. The retainer 64 is preferably sized and configured to be connected to a second portion of the table 10, such as the second table top section 32 b, when the table is in the folded position. In greater detail, the retainer 64 is preferably sized and configured to be connected to a portion of the frame 42, such as the connecting rod 62 a, when the table top 12 is in the folded position.

Advantageously, the retainer 64 may retain the table 10 in the folded position so that the table does not unintentionally unfold when the folded table is being carried, transported and/or stored. In addition, the retainer 64 may be sized and configured to automatically engage the other portion of the table top 12 to simplify the engagement process. The retainer 64 may also be quickly and easily connected to the connecting rods 62 a and/or 62 b, which may simplify the manufacturing process and allow the retainer to be used in a wide variety of situations and environments. Additionally, the retainer 64 may be connected to suitable portions of the table top 12 to secure the retainer in a fixed position. Significantly, because the retainer 64 may be connected to the table top 12 and/or the connecting rods 62 a, 62 b by a snap, friction or interference fit, the retainer may be easy to use and mechanical fasteners may not be required. It will be appreciated, however, that the retainer 64 may be connected to the table 10 by mechanical fasteners, adhesives, and the like, and the retainer can be attached to any suitable portions of the table.

Desirably, one portion of the retainer 64 is securely connected to a first portion of the table top 12, such as the connecting rod 62 b, so that the retainer is permanently connected or not easily removed from that portion of the table top. The other portion of the retainer 64 is preferably selectively connected to another portion of the table top 12, such as the connecting rod 62 a, so that the retainer may be quickly and easily attached and detached. This may allow the retainer 64 to quickly and easily secure the table top 12 in the folded position, and allow the table top to be quickly and easily moved into the unfolded position. It will be appreciated that either or both portions of the retainer 64 may be selectively or permanently connected to suitable portions of the table top 12 depending, for example, upon the design and/or intended use of the table 10. Other suitable embodiments for the retainer 64 are disclosed in Assignee's pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______, filed concurrently herewith, entitled RETAINER FOR SECURING A TABLE IN A FOLDED POSITION (Attorney Docket No. 15499.589), which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

As mentioned above, the table 10 may include a locking mechanism, such as a bolt 56, which is movable between a locked position and an unlocked position. In particular, when the table top 12 is in the unfolded position, the bolt 56 may be designed to selectively lock, in a generally fixed position, the hinge assembly 50 and/or the first and second table top sections 32 a, 32 b. As shown in the accompanying figures, the bolt 56 may be slide from a first position shown in FIG. 5A, in which the rail portions 46 a, 48 a are in a generally fixed position, to a second position shown in FIG. 5B, which the rail portions may be freely moved.

As shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B, the rail portions 46 a, 48 a may be pivotally by one or more hinge assemblies 50. The hinge assemblies 50 may include a first bracket 66 a and a second bracket 66 b in which the bracket 66 a may be connected to or formed integrally with the rail portion 46 a and the bracket 66 b may be connected to or formed integrally with the rail portion 48 a. The brackets 66 a, 66 b may respectively include one or more wall portions or flanges 68 a, 68 b and the flanges may include an aperture that is sized and configured to receive a pivot pin 70 to facilitate the pivotal attachment of the brackets 66 a, 66 b. The pivot pin 70 may consist of a rivet with flared ends to retain the rivet in a desired position. It will be appreciated that the pivot pin 70 may also be other suitable structures such as a bolt, rod, fastener and the like. It will also be appreciated that the pivot pin 70 and the brackets 66 may have a variety of suitable shapes and/or configurations.

As shown in FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 5C, the bolt-56 may be at least partially disposed within bolt receiving sections. For example, when in an unlocked position as shown in FIG. 5B, all or at least a portion of the bolt 56 is preferably disposed within a first section that is entirely or at least partially defined by the rail portion 48 a. When in a locked position as shown in FIGS. 5A and 5C, at least a portion of the bolt 56 is preferably disposed within the first section and at least a portion of the bolt 56 is preferably disposed entirely or at least partially within a second section defined by the rail portion 46 a.

The bolt 56 may be at least partially disposed within bolt receiving sections that are at least partially defined by a portion of the table frame 42 and at least partially defined by at least a portion of the table top 12. For example, a first section may be at least partially defined by the rail portion 46 a and at least partially defined by the table top section 32 a, and a second section may be at least partially defined by the rail portion 48 a and at least partially defined by the table top section 32 b. In a further example, the rail portions 46 a, 48 a may have a generally U-shaped cross section, and the rail portions may be connected to the table top 12 using a snap fit, a friction fit, an interference fit, mechanical fasteners, adhesives, and/or any suitable combination thereof. When the generally U-shaped rail portions are connected to the table top 12, this may advantageously form sections within which portions of the bolt 56 may be disposed in locked and unlocked positions. It will be appreciated that the rail portions 46 a, 48 a may have other suitable shapes and configurations. Advantageously, constructing the bolt receiving sections that are at least partially defined by a portion of the table top 12 and/or portion of the table frame 42 may help to simplify manufacturing, which may save time and costs. This may also allow bolts 56 with various sizes, shapes and configurations to be used. It will be appreciated, however, that the bolt receiving sections may be formed by any suitable portions of the table 10.

As shown in FIGS. 5A to 5D, the bolt 56 may include an elongated body 72 with a first end 74, a second end 76 and a handle 78 that is preferably disposed proximate the second end 76. The handle 78 may be sized and configured to extend through and slide along a slot 80 formed in the rail portion 48 a. Accordingly, a user may grip the handle 78 to slide or otherwise move the bolt 56 among a variety of positions, including a locked position and an unlocked position.

As best seen in FIG. 5D, the slot 80 includes a first end 82, a second end 84 and a pair of opposing sides 86, 88 that extend between the first and second end of the slot. The slot 80 preferably includes locking apertures 90 a, 90 b and the locking apertures may be respectively disposed proximate the opposing ends 82, 84 of the slot. As shown in FIGS. 5C and 5D, the locking apertures 90 a, 90 b may be preferably sized and configured to releasably receive at least a portion of the bolt 56, such as the handle 78. The locking apertures 90 a, 90 b may also be sized and configured to secure the bolt 56 in a fixed position, such as by using a snap fit, a friction fit, an interference fit or the like. In greater detail, the locking apertures 90 a, 90 b have a generally circular shape including curvilinear recessed portions 94 a, 94 b. The recessed portions 94 a, 94 b may include, without limitation, recesses, apertures, grooves, indentations, and the like. The recessed portions 94 a, 94 b are preferably offset from the elongated sides 86, 88 of the slot. Advantageously, the bolt 56 may be biased to be received and retained within the locking apertures 90 a, 90 b.

Accordingly, the locking apertures 90 a, 90 b may be used to help secure the bolt 56 in a variety of positions, including an extended, locked position and a retracted, unlocked position. For example, to selectively lock the table top 12 in the unfolded position, a user may move the bolt 56 to the extended position in which the locking aperture 90 a engages the handle 78. To selectively unlock the table top 12 from the unfolded position, the user may move the bolt 56 to a retracted position in which the locking aperture 90 b engages the handle 78.

It will be appreciated that the slot 80 need not include the locking apertures 90 a, 90 b; and that the slot 80, the apertures 90, the aperture 92, and the recessed portions 94 may have a variety of suitable shapes and configurations, depending, for example, upon the particular shape and configuration of the bolt 56. It will also be appreciated that the bolt 56 may have a variety of suitable shapes and configurations. In addition, although the bolt 56 and slot 80 are illustrated with reference to the hinge assembly 50 a, a bolt could also be provided to couple with a slot formed in one of the rail portions 46 b, 48 b to selectively lock and/or unlock the hinge assembly 50 b. Thus, a bolt and/or slot may be provided with some or all of the hinge assemblies 50 of the table 10, if desired.

The bolt 56 is preferably constructed of a strong, rigid material such as metal. In particular, the bolt 56 may be constructed from steel, aluminum or other metals with suitable characteristics. The bolt 56, however, could also be constructed from other materials with appropriate characteristics such as plastics, composites and the like. The bolt 56 may also have a unitary, one-piece construction or the bolt may be constructed from a plurality of interconnected components.

An exemplary embodiment of a bolt that may be used with the locking member is shown in FIG. 6. The bolt 96 includes a body 98 with a first end 100 and a second end 102. The body 98 of the bolt 96 may also include a head 104, a handle 108, a neck 110 and a locking portion 112. For example, to selectively lock the table top 12, all or at least a portion of the locking portion 112 of the bolt 96 may be received into one or more bolt receiving sections, as described above.

The handle 108 may include two portions that are interconnected. For example, the handle 108 may include a first portion 106 and a second portion 108 and these portions may include one or more alignment members. In particular, the alignment member 114 of the first portion 106 may be sized and configured engage the alignment member 116 of the second portion 108. For instance, the alignment member 114 of the first portion 106 may consist of an outwardly extending, portion having a generally angled, V-shaped configuration and the alignment member 116 of the second portion 108 may consist of an inwardly extending portion having a generally angled, V-shaped configuration. Advantageously, the alignment members may be used to hold the handle portions 106, 108 in a generally fixed position, which may facilitate the attachment of the handle portions. A mechanical fastener, such as a screw 118, may be used to connection the handle portions 106, 108 by inserting it through the openings 120, 122. It will be appreciated that the handle portions 106, 108 could have other suitable arrangements and configurations, and the alignment members are not required. It will also be appreciated that a handle need not be formed into separate portions and the handle may be integrally formed as part of the bolt 96. However, the separate portions or the handle may facilitate the assembly of the table 10—especially where the handle might be awkward and time consuming to install.

As shown in FIGS. 6-10, the locking portion 112 of the bolt 96 may include one or more elongated channels that extend along all or at least a portion of the length of the locking portion. For example, the locking portion 112 may include an angled, generally V-shaped channel 124 on a first side and an angled, generally V-shaped channel 126 on a second side. Advantageously, the channels may be sized and configured to align the bolt 96 in a desired position and to help facilitate installation of the bolt. Further, the channels 124, 126 may help the bolt 96 to be manufactured more quickly. It will be appreciated that the channels 124, 126 may have other suitable shapes and configurations, and that the locking portion 112 may not require any such channels.

As shown in FIGS. 6-10, the locking portion 112 of the bolt 96 may also include one or more tapered portions 128, 130, which are preferably disposed proximate the ends of the locking portion. The tapered portion 128 may advantageously be used to guide the bolt 96 into an extended, locked position. The tapered portions 130 may advantageously be used to guide the bolt 96 into a retracted, unlocked position and/or to facilitate installation of the bolt during assembly of the table 10.

Another exemplary embodiment of a bolt that may be used with the locking member is shown in FIG. 15. The bolt 132 includes a body 134 with a first end 136 and a second end 138. The body 134 may include a head 140, which may form a portion of a handle 142, a neck 144 and a locking portion 146. For example, to selectively lock the table top 12 in the unfolded position, all or at least a portion of the locking portion 146 of the bolt 132 may be received into one or more locking sections, as described above.

As shown in FIGS. 15 and 16, the handle 142 may include an aperture 148 and the aperture may be sized and configured to receive a fastener, such as a screw. This may be used to connect another part to the handle 142, such as an extension or grip. As discussed above, the handle 142 may be integrally formed as part of the bolt 132 or it may be a separate component that is attached to the bolt.

As shown in FIGS. 15-18, the locking portion 146 may include elongated arms 150 a, 150 b. The arms 150 a, 150 b are preferably constructed of a deformable, resilient material, such as plastic, but other suitable materials may also be used. The arms 150 a, 150 b respectively include catches 152 a, 152 b, and the arms are preferably spaced apart by a notch 154. The notch 154 preferably has an elongated, tapered shape that tapers toward a rounded end portion 156. The notch 154 may be sized and configured to increase the flexibility, rigidity, and/or strength of the arms 150 a, 150 b.

The arms 150 a, 150 b of the bolt 132 may advantageously be used to secure the bolt 132 in a variety of positions, including an extended, locked position and a retracted, unlocked position. For example, to selectively lock the table top 12 in the unfolded position, the user may move the bolt 132 to the extended position in which the arms 150 a, 150 b engages at least a portion of a bolt receiving sections. As mentioned above, such bolt receiving sections may, for example, be at least partially defined by at least a portion of the table top 12 and/or at least partially defined by a portion of the table frame 42. To selectively unlock the table top 12 from the unfolded position, the user may move the bolt 132 to a retracted position in which the arms 150 a, 150 b no longer engage at least a portion of a bolt receiving section. Preferably, as the arms 150 a, 150 b of the bolt 132 are received into the bolt receiving section, the walls of the socket may deform the arms to allow the catches 152 a, 152 b of the arms to resiliently engage the bolt receiving section. The bolt receiving sections may also include one or more catch receiving portions that are sized and configured to receive and retain the catches 152 a, 152 b in a fixed position. Advantageously, as the arms 150 a, 150 b of the bolt 132 are removed from the socket, the arms may resilient return to their initial configuration.

As shown in FIGS. 15-18, the bolt 132 may include a guide portion 158, which is preferably sized and configured to correctly position the bolt within the bolt receiving sections. For example, the guide portion 158 may space the end portion 136 of the bolt 132 away from the walls of the section, such as a wall of a rail portion or the lower surface of the table top 12. Accordingly, as best seen in FIG. 18, the guide portion 158 may provide a contact surface. As shown in the accompanying figures, the guide portion 158 may have a generally circular, curvilinear configuration, which may provide less friction and may assist in correctly positioning the bolt 132. It will be appreciated, however, the guide portion 158 may have other suitable shapes and configurations.

As shown in FIGS. 15-17, the locking portion 146 of the body 134 of the bolt 132 may include a tapered portion 160, which may be spaced apart from the end portions 136, 138. The tapered portion 160 is preferably defined by a pair of opposing generally curvilinear, concave surfaces 162 a, 162 b; but the tapered portion 160 and the surfaces 162 may have other suitable shapes and configurations. Advantageously, the tapered portion 160 may be sized and configured to increase the flexibility, rigidity, and/or strength of the bolt 132. It will be appreciated that the tapered portion 160 may have other suitable shapes, sizes and configurations, and that the tapered portion is not required.

Although this invention has been described in terms of certain preferred embodiments, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is intended to be defined only by the claims which follow.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7640870May 10, 2004Jan 5, 2010Lifetime Products, Inc.Portable folding table with locking hinge
US7735431Apr 22, 2005Jun 15, 2010Lifetime Products, Inc.Handle for a portable table
US7905185Feb 8, 2007Mar 15, 2011Lifetime Products, Inc.Table top with integral alignment members
US8091490Feb 19, 2008Jan 10, 2012Lifetime Products, Inc.Handle for a portable table
US8261676 *Apr 25, 2008Sep 11, 2012Lifetime Products, Inc.Table
US20080264307 *Apr 25, 2008Oct 30, 2008Vannimwegen EdTable
US20130125761 *Jan 15, 2013May 23, 2013SmartCup Inc.Disposable Beverage Press
Classifications
U.S. Classification108/132
International ClassificationA47B3/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B3/00, A47B3/0912, B29K2995/0082, A47B13/08, A47B3/087, B29K2995/0089, A63B63/083, F16B12/24, A47B13/003, B29L2031/448, B29C49/0031, B29K2995/0077
European ClassificationA47B3/087, F16B12/24, A47B13/00C, A63B63/08B, A47B3/091B2, A47B13/08, A47B3/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 18, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: LIFETIME PRODUCTS, INC., UTAH
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:NEUNZERT, MARTIN;FULLER, DOUG;ADAMS, RAY;REEL/FRAME:016542/0832;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050607 TO 20050708