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Publication numberUS20050280339 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/190,552
Publication dateDec 22, 2005
Filing dateJul 27, 2005
Priority dateDec 30, 2002
Publication number11190552, 190552, US 2005/0280339 A1, US 2005/280339 A1, US 20050280339 A1, US 20050280339A1, US 2005280339 A1, US 2005280339A1, US-A1-20050280339, US-A1-2005280339, US2005/0280339A1, US2005/280339A1, US20050280339 A1, US20050280339A1, US2005280339 A1, US2005280339A1
InventorsTravis Perkins, Todd Starr, Kevin Koehl, Jon Anthony, Guy Garrison
Original AssigneePerkins Travis M, Starr Todd C, Koehl Kevin R, Anthony Jon M, Garrison Guy E
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Storage and work system
US 20050280339 A1
Abstract
A storage and work system including at least three modules having a top and a removable panel sized to overlie at least three modules and connect two of the modules in a removable panel assembly. The removable panel includes a work surface on the top surface of the panel and a mating surface on the bottom surface of the panel. The mating surface can include a first portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a first module, a second portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a second module and a third portion arranged to allow docking a third module under the removable panel without engaging the removable panel. The removable panel assembly can be movable and can be used as a workbench storage and work system with a modular workbench arranged to dock the removable panel assembly underneath the workbench top.
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Claims(19)
1. A storage and work system including:
at least three modules having a top; and
a removable panel sized to overlie at least three modules and connect two of the of modules comprising:
a work surface comprising the top surface of the panel;
a mating surface on the bottom surface of the panel including:
a first portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a first module;
a second portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a second module; and
a third portion arranged to allow docking a third module under the removable panel without engaging the removable panel.
2. The storage and work system according to claim 1, wherein the first portion and second portion are positioned to connect the first and second modules in spaced apart side by side position.
3. The storage and work system according to claim 2, wherein the third portion is positioned between the first portion and the second portion to allow docking a third movable module between the first and second modules.
4. The storage and work system according to claim 3, wherein the first and second modules are movable.
5. The storage and work system according to claim 1, wherein the first and second portions are arranged to engage the tops of the first and second modules in a removable panel assembly.
6. The storage and work system according to claim 5, wherein the tops of at least the first and second modules include a recess, and the first and second portions are arranged to be received in the recess in the first and second modules.
7. The storage and work system according to claim 6, wherein the first and second portions comprise a frame attached to the bottom surface arranged to be received in the recess in the first and second modules.
8. The storage and work system according to claim 6, wherein the tops of the plurality of modules comprises a perimetrical flange extending above and around at least a portion of a top wall defining the recess.
9. The storage and work system according to claim 5, wherein the first and second portions are arranged to surround at least a portion of the tops of the first and second modules.
10. The movable storage and work system according to claim 9, wherein the first and second portions comprise a frame attached to the bottom surface arranged to surround at least a portion of the tops of the first and second modules.
11. A workbench storage system for a modular workbench having an elongated workbench top supported on legs and defining an open space bounded by the floor, the legs and the workbench top for docking a plurality of mobile modules comprising:
a plurality of movable modules having a top and sized for docking underneath the workbench top for storage and access, for movement from underneath the workbench top for rearrangement of the modules, for access to the modules away from the workbench, for use as a mobile worksurface or for cleaning under the workbench; and
a removable panel sized to overlie at least three movable modules and connect two of the plurality of movable modules in a removable panel assembly comprising:
a work surface comprising the top surface of the panel;
a mating surface on the bottom surface of the panel including:
a first portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a first module;
a second portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a second module; and
a third portion arranged to allow docking a third module under the removable panel without engaging the removable panel.
12. The workbench storage system according to claim 11, wherein the third portion is positioned between the first portion and the second portion to allow docking a third module between the first and second modules.
13. The workbench storage system according to claim 12, wherein the tops of the plurality of movable modules include a recess, and the first and second portions are arranged to be received in the recess in the first and second movable modules.
14. The workbench storage system according to claim 13, wherein the top of the plurality of movable modules comprises a perimetrical flange extending above and around at least a portion of a top wall defining the recess.
15. The workbench storage system according to claim 11, wherein the plurality of movable modules include a top wall having a perimetrical flange extending above and around at least a portion of a top wall defining a recess and a removable wood top arranged to be received and retained in the recess, and wherein the removable panel is arranged to be received in the recess in place of the removable wood top.
16. A workbench system including a workbench and a movable work and storage system comprising:
a workbench having an elongated workbench top supported on legs and defining an open space bounded by the floor, the legs and the workbench top for docking at least three modules movably mounted on wheels; and
a removable panel sized to overlie the at least three modules having a work surface on the top surface of the panel and a mating surface on the bottom surface of the panel including at least a first portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a first module, a second portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a second module to connect the first and second modules in a removable panel assembly, and a third portion arranged to allow docking a third module under the removable panel between the first and second modules without engaging the removable panel;
wherein the removable panel assembly is sized for docking underneath the workbench top for storage and access, for movement of the movable work and storage system from underneath the workbench top for rearrangement of the modules, for access to the modules away from the workbench, for cleaning under the workbench or for use of the movable work and storage system as a mobile worksurface, and the third module is sized for docking underneath the removable panel whether removable panel assembly is positioned underneath the workbench top or away from the workbench.
17. The workbench system according to claim 16, wherein the at least three modules are selected from the group including, but not limited to, a drawer module having a plurality of pullout drawers, a storage cabinet module having at least one door to close said storage cabinet, a refrigerator module for providing refrigerated storage, and a combination cabinet module having at least one door and at least one drawer.
18. The workbench system according to claim 16, wherein the first and second portions are arranged to engage the tops of the first and second modules.
19. The workbench system according to claim 18, wherein the tops of the plurality of modules include a recess, and the first and second portions are arranged to be received in the recess in the first and second movable modules.
Description
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/334,078, filed on Dec. 30, 2002. This application is also related to co-pending U.S. patent application Docket No. US20050031 filed concurrently with this patent application.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

Generally, the invention relates to a storage and work system for organizing tools and supplies in workrooms, especially garages. More specifically, the invention relates to a removable top or panel to connect multiple storage cabinets in a storage and work system that can be movable.

2. Description of the Related Art

Stationary and mobile storage cabinets are known for use independently and with other storage cabinets and workbenches. Prior art desks and storage systems include multiple modules linked together.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to a storage and work system including at least three modules having a top and a removable panel sized to overlie at least three modules and connect two of the of modules. The removable panel includes a work surface on the top surface of the panel and a mating surface on the bottom surface of the panel. The mating surface includes a first portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a first module, a second portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a second module and a third portion arranged to allow docking a third module under the removable panel without engaging the removable panel.

The first portion and second portion are positioned to connect the first and second modules in spaced apart side by side position. The first and second modules can be movable.

The third portion is positioned between the first portion and the second portion to allow docking a third movable module between the first and second modules.

The first and second portions are arranged to engage the tops of the first and second modules in a removable panel assembly. The tops of the first and second modules can include a perimetrical flange extending above and around at least a portion of a top wall defining a recess and the first and second portions can be received in the recess in the first and second modules.

Alternately, the first and second portions can be arranged to surround at least a portion of the tops of the first and second modules. The first and second portions can have a frame attached to the bottom surface arranged to surround at least a portion of the tops of the first and second modules.

In another aspect the invention relates to a workbench storage system for a modular workbench having an elongated workbench top supported on legs and defining an open space bounded by the floor, the legs and the workbench top for docking a plurality of mobile modules. The workbench storage system can include a plurality of movable modules having a top and sized for docking underneath the workbench top for storage and access, for movement from underneath the workbench top for rearrangement of the modules, for access to the modules away from the workbench, for use as a mobile worksurface or for cleaning under the workbench. The workbench storage system can further include a removable panel sized to overlie at least three movable modules and connect two of the plurality of movable modules in a removable panel assembly. The removable panel can include a work surface on the top surface of the panel and a mating surface on the bottom surface of the panel. The mating surface can include a first portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a first module, a second portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a second module, and a third portion arranged to allow docking a third module under the removable panel without engaging the removable panel.

In another aspect the invention relates to a workbench system including a workbench and a movable work and storage system including a workbench having an elongated workbench top supported on legs and defining an open space bounded by the floor, the legs and the workbench top for docking at least three modules movably mounted on wheels. The workbench system further includes a removable panel sized to overlie the at least three modules having a work surface on the top surface of the panel and a mating surface on the bottom surface of the panel. The mating surface can include at least a first portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a first module, a second portion arranged to cooperate with the top of a second module to connect the first and second modules into a removable panel assembly, and a third portion arranged to allow docking a third module under the removable panel between the first and second modules without engaging the removable panel. The removable panel assembly is sized for docking underneath the workbench top for storage and access, for movement of the movable work and storage system from underneath the workbench top for rearrangement of the modules, for access to the modules away from the workbench, for cleaning under the workbench or for use of the movable work and storage system as a mobile worksurface. The third module is sized for docking underneath the removable panel whether removable panel assembly is positioned underneath the workbench top or away from the workbench.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of one embodiment of one embodiment of a storage and work system according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the storage and work system of FIG. 1 with one module moved from under the removable panel;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the storage and work system of FIG. 1 positioned underneath a modular workbench top;

FIG. 4 is a front view of a storage and work system according to the invention with the removable panel tipped upwardly to a vertical position to show the underside of one embodiment of the removable panel;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a storage and work system according to the invention with the removable panel tipped upwardly to a vertical position to show the underside of another embodiment of the removable panel;

FIG. 6 is a front view of another embodiment of a storage and work system according to the invention;

FIG. 7 is a front view of another embodiment of a storage and work system according to the invention;

FIG. 8 is an exploded rear perspective view of the modular workbench;

FIG. 9 is a schematic rear perspective view showing a power strip mounted on the modular workbench top;

FIG. 9A is a schematic front view of the power strip;

FIG. 9B is a schematic perspective view of a T-bracket for mounting a power strip to a modular workbench top;

FIG. 10 is a partial sectional view of a workbench leg showing the leveling mechanism;

FIG. 11 is a front perspective view of a drawer module that can be used with a removable panel according to the invention;

FIG. 12 is a front perspective view of a cabinet module that can be used with a removable panel according to the invention;

FIG. 13 is a front perspective view of a refrigerator module that can be used with a removable panel according to the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A storage and work system according to the invention can provide a work surface and storage space incorporating at least three modules. In a preferred embodiment the modules can be movable and can be combined with a removable panel to form a movable storage and work system. A movable storage and work system according to the invention can be used with and dock underneath a modular workbench as described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/334,078, “Arent et. al. '078”, or can be used alone or spaced from a workbench. Arent et. al. '078 is fully incorporated by reference in this application. A storage and work system according to the invention alone or in combination with a modular workbench can be used in conjunction with the slotwall panel storage system disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,811,043, “Perkins et. al., '043”.

In accordance with the present invention a removable panel 122 can be provided to overlie at least three modules to form a storage and work system 120. When used with movable modules the removable panel 122 can connect at least two movable modules for movement together. Turning to FIGS. 1 and 2 a storage and work system 120 can be seen. Storage and work system 120 can include a removable panel 122 and at least two movable modules 40 and 50. In this application removable panels will be referred to as a “panel” although they could also be referred to as a “top” or a “cover”. Storage and work system 120 can include a third movable module 60 (FIG. 1). Removable panel 122 can have a work surface 124. Removable panel 122 can be generally similar to the removable panel described in co-pending U.S. patent application Docket No. US20050031 filed concurrently with this application and fully incorporated herein by reference. As will be described in greater detail below removable panel 122 can be arranged to connect two modules in a removable panel assembly 123 that can be moved as a single unit. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 removable panel 122 is arranged to connect movable modules 40 and 50 and provide a docking space for a third movable module 60. Movable module 60 can be withdrawn from a docked position (FIG. 1) for use in another location or to provide an open space under panel 122 (FIG. 2) without disturbing or moving removable panel 122. Those skilled in the art will understand that any combination of movable modules 40, 50 and 60 can be used with any one, two or three of any of the movable modules combined as desired to form a storage and work system according to the invention. Likewise as will be described below modules having leveling legs can be used with a removable panel to provide a stationary storage and work system. Further, those skilled in the art will understand that movable modules other than the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 11-13 or modules having leveling legs illustrated in FIGS. 6-7 can be used in a storage and work system according to the invention.

The storage and work system 120 can be docked underneath the workbench top 30 of a modular workbench 10 as illustrated in FIG. 3. Movable modules such as movable modules 40, 50 and 60 and removable panel 122 can be sized to dock under workbench top 30. In the combination illustrated in FIG. 3 movable module 60 can be withdrawn from storage and work system 120 independently of the removable panel assembly 123 as illustrated in FIG. 2. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, removable panel assembly 123 can comprise removable panel 122 and two movable modules, in this case movable modules 40 and 50. In addition, one or more movable modules can be individually docked under workbench top 30 without removable panel 122 as described in Arent et. al. '078.

Turning to FIG. 4, a storage and work system 120 can be seen with removable panel 122 tipped to a vertical position to show the mating surface 126 of removable panel 122 resting on the top of movable cabinets 50. Removable panel 122 can have a mating surface 126 arranged to connect two movable modules in a removable panel assembly 123. Mating surface 126 can have a plurality of strips 128, 130, 132, 134, 136 and 138 arranged around the periphery of removable panel 122. Movable cabinets 50 can have perimetrical flange elements 53 extending above and around a portion of the top wall 54 of movable cabinet module 50. Perimetrical flange elements 53 can be similar to flange elements 43 of movable drawer module 40 that extend above a top surface 44 (see FIG. 11). Perimetrical flange elements 53 can define a recess that can receive the plurality of strips 128, 130, 132, or 134, 136 and 138. Strips 128, 130 and 132 can define a first portion 129 of the mating surface 126 arranged to be received in a recess defined by the perimetrical flange elements 53 of one movable module 50. Strips 134, 136 and 138 can define a second portion 131 of the mating surface 126 arranged to be received in a recess defined by the perimetrical flange elements 53 of another movable cabinet 50. The space on mating surface 126 between first portion 129 and second portion 131 can define a third portion 133 that does not include strips, and accordingly is not arranged to connect with a movable module positioned under third portion 133. Thus, removable panel 122 can overlie and connect two movable modules 50 in a removable panel assembly 123 and provide a docking space for a third movable module 50 between the two connected modules. Accordingly, one or more movable modules can be moved under portion 133 without contacting mating surface 126 when removable panel 122 is positioned to connect movable modules positioned under first portion 129 and second portion 131 in a removable panel assembly 123. As indicated above a movable module can be docked and withdrawn from under third portion 133 without moving removable panel 122. Those skilled in the art will understand that third portion 133 can be sized to accommodate more than on one movable module if desired. Those skilled in the art will also understand that additional strips can be provided on mating surface 126 extending from strips 128 and 132 and from strips 134 and 138. Movable modules 50 can include bumpers 59 as described in Arent et. al. '078. Bumpers 59 can maintain movable modules 50 spaced apart when they are positioned under a removable panel 120. If desired, removable panel 122 can be removed from a removable panel assembly 123 and the movable modules can be positioned independently as described in Arent et. al. '078 incorporated by reference.

Removable panel 122 can be formed of particle board and can have laminate work surface 124 on the top surface. Strips 128, 130, 132, 134, 136 and 138 can likewise be particle board and can be fastened to removable panel 122. When removable panel 122 is formed of particle board the strips can be glued and fastened with a plurality of screws 139 to form mating surface 126 including a first portion 129 and a second portion 131. Those skilled in the art will understand that removable panel 122 can be formed of other materials such as the laminated wood top described in Arent et. al. '078. The work surface 124 can be laminate material similar to laminate material used on residential and commercial work surfaces and countertops. The work surface 124 can also be other material such as sheet metal or other rugged and/or resilient sheet material as desired by consumers. Removable panel 122 can be offered with different materials on or forming the removable panel 122 (maple laminate, particle board, laminate or metal skin on particle board, molded plastic, etc.). Those skilled in the art will understand that a plurality of spaced apart blocks can be used instead of strips 128, 130, 132, 134, 136 and 138 to form the first and second portions 129, 131 of the mating surface 126. Those skilled in the art will also understand that blocks used in place of strips 128, 130, 132, 134, 136 and 138 can be rectilinear, circular, triangular or other shape as may be desired to provide a surface in interact with perimetrical flanges 43, 53 and 63 on modules 40, 50 and 60. Further, parallel strips running from side to side or from front to back can be used to form first and second portions 129 and 131 if desired in lieu of the strips described in connection with in FIG. 4. Alternately, in lieu of strips as described above to form the first and second portions 129, 131 of mating surface 126, any of the embodiments of arrangements to form the first portion and second portion disclosed in U.S. patent application Docket No. US20050031, filed concurrently with this application and incorporated fully by reference, can be used.

Turning to FIG. 5 a storage and work system 120′ can be seen with removable panel 122′ tipped to a vertical position to show the mating surface 126′ of removable panel 122′ resting on the top of movable cabinets 50. Removable panel 122′ can have a work surface (not shown) similar to removable panel 122 described above and a mating surface 126′. Mating surface 126′ can have a plurality of strips 128′, 130′ and 132′ attached to mating surface 126′ at the periphery of mating surface 126′. Modules 50 can have a top wall 54 that can have a perimetrical flange 53 around a portion of the top wall 54 similar to perimetrical flange 43 around top wall 44 of movable module 40 (FIG. 11). Alternately, modules 50 can have a substantially flat surface or a substantially flat frame around the perimeter of modules 50. In the embodiment of FIG. 5 the mating surface 126′ of the removable panel 122′ can comprise a recess having a first portion 129′ defined by strips 128′, 130′ and 132′ and a second portion 131′ defined by strips 134′, 136′ and 138′. The first portion 129′ and second portion 131 ′ can form a recess sized to receive the perimetrical flange or top wall of modules 50 to connect removable panel 122′ to the first and second modules. The space on mating surface 126′ between first portion 129′ and second portion 131′ can define a third portion 133′ that does not include strips. Thus, third portion 133′ is not arranged to connect with a movable module positioned under third portion 133′. Accordingly, a movable module can be moved under portion 133′ without contacting mating surface 126′ when removable panel 122′ is positioned to connect movable modules positioned under first portion 129′ and second portion 131′ in a removable panel assembly 123′. Similarly, a movable module can be withdrawn from under third portion 133′ without moving removable panel 122′. Thus, removable panel 122′ can overlie and connect two movable modules 50 in a removable panel assembly 123′ and provide a docking space for a third module between the two connected modules. As above, if desired removable panel 122′ can be removed from a removable panel assembly 123′ and the movable modules can be positioned independently as described in Arent et. al. '078 incorporated by reference

Removable panel 122′ can be formed of particle board and can have laminate work surface on the top surface similar to the embodiment described in connection with FIG. 4 as described above. Strips 128′, 130′, 132′, 134′, 136′ and 138′ can likewise be particle board and can be fastened to removable panel 122′. When removable panel 122′ is formed of particle board the strips can be glued and fastened with a plurality of screws 139 to form the mating surface including a first portion 129′ and a second portion 131′. Alternately, first portion 129′ and second portion 131 ′ of the removable panel 122 can be formed by removing material to form recesses on the mating surface 126′ arranged to receive modules 50 as described above. Removable panel 122′ can be offered with different materials on or forming the removable panel 122′ (maple laminate, particle board, laminate or metal skin on particle board, molded plastic, etc.). Those skilled in the art will understand that a plurality of spaced apart blocks can be used instead of strips 128′, 130′, 132′, 134′, 136′ and 138′ to form the first and second portions 129′, 131′ of the mating surface 126′. Those skilled in the art will also understand that blocks used in place of strips 128′, 130′, 132′, 134′, 136′ and 138′ can be rectilinear, circular, triangular or other shape as may be desired to provide a surface in interact with perimetrical flanges 43, 53 and 63 on modules 40, 50 and 60. Alternately, in lieu of strips as described above to form the first and second portions 129′, 131′ of mating surface 126′, any of the embodiments of arrangements to form the first portion and second portion disclosed in U.S. patent application Docket No. US20050031, filed concurrently with this application and incorporated fully by reference, can be used.

Referring to FIG. 6 and FIG. 7 a storage and work system 120′, 120″ having combination cabinet modules 140, 140′ having a plurality of leveling legs (modules 140) or wheels (modules 140′) can be seen. Modules 140, 140′ can be connected by removable panel 122 or 122′, described above, to form a storage and work system 120′, 120″. Those skilled in the art will understand that a storage and work system can have three or more movable modules 140′ and a removable panel 122 or 122′ instead of three modules 140 having leveling legs 142 if desired. Modules 140 can have four leveling legs and modules 140′ can have four wheels. As described in Arent et. al. '078, incorporated by reference above, the two front wheels can be fixed and the two rear wheels can be casters if desired. Modules 140 and 140′ can be similar combination cabinets that can be provided with leveling legs 142 or wheels 144 as options for the user to select as desired. Modules 140, 140′ can have one or more doors 148 for closing a lower portion of modules 140, 140′ and one or more drawers 150 slidably mounted in the top portion of modules 140, 140′. Those skilled in the art will also understand that modules illustrated in FIGS. 11-13 can be provided with leveling legs 142 instead of wheels and casters if desired.

Referring to FIG. 3 and FIG. 8, modular workbench 10 can include a leg assembly 11, a top 30 and a power strip 70 all as described in detail below. The storage and work system 120 can include three movable cabinet modules 40, 50 and 60 and a removable panel 122. A removable panel 122 can be sized to overlie and connect movable modules 40 and 50 and provide a docking space for movable module 60. Removable panel 122 can connect two movable modules 40 and 50 in a removable panel assembly 123 so that the two modules can be moved together from a docked position under modular workbench 10 (see FIG. 3) to a position away from the modular workbench 10 (see FIGS. 1 and 2). Removable panel 122 can provide a docking space for a third movable module 60. As described above, removable panel 122 can be arranged to provide a docking space for more than one movable module in the removable panel assembly 123. In the embodiment of FIGS. 1-5 the docking space for movable module 60 can be in the middle between movable modules 40 and 50. Removable panel 122 can have a work surface 124 on the top surface of removable panel 122. The storage and work system 120 can provide a large and stable work surface that is mobile. If desired, the storage and work system can be a user's workbench without having to purchase a separate workbench such a modular workbench 10. Alternately, as described above, a storage and work system 120′, 120″ can be stationary as illustrated in FIG. 6. The storage and work system 120 can allow the user to mix and match modules that can be used with a removable panel 122 based on their preference. As noted above, the movable modules 40, 50 and 60 can also be used alone or in combination with a modular workbench with removable panel 122 removed as described in Arent et. al. '078. Similarly, the removable panel 122 can be offered with different materials on or forming the removable panel 122 (maple laminate, particle board, laminate or metal skin on particle board, molded plastic, etc.). Thus consumers can create a storage and work system of their preference (both module type and panel material and work surface material). As noted above, the storage and work system 120 can be used alone as a movable or stationary work surface or can be docked under a modular workbench 10 for storage and access to the modules.

Referring again to FIGS. 3 and 8, a modular workbench system according to the invention is shown. Workbench 10 can include a leg assembly 11 at each end of the workbench and a top 30. Top 30 can be laminated hard wood or other sturdy, durable material as is well known in the art. In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, top 30 can be 1¾ inches thick laminated hard wood maple strips that run lengthwise in top 30 to provide a strong heavy-duty worksurface. The workbench 10 shown in FIGS. 3 and 8 can be 8 feet long, 38 inches high and 25 inches deep to provide ample worksurface and storage area for movable storage and work system 120. Those skilled in the art will understand that the length of the workbench can be longer or shorter as desired to provide space for docking more than the three modules as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 3 or for docking narrower movable modules. Likewise the height and width of the workbench can be adjusted as desired. The modules can include a drawer module 40, a storage cabinet module 50, a refrigerator module 60 and a combination cabinet module 140′. Refrigerator module 60 can be a low ambient temperature refrigerator as disclosed in co-pending patent application Ser. No. 10/744,556 incorporated by reference. Those skilled in the art will understand that other modules can be provided as desired. In addition, more than one of a particular module can be used with workbench 10 as desired by the user.

The modules can be provided with heavy duty casters, as described in detail below, to facilitate movement individually or as a movable storage and work system for docking underneath the workbench 10, to facilitate positioning away from the workbench for cleaning under the workbench or for use as a mobile worksurface. Alternately the modules can be provided with leveling legs as described in connection with the storage and work system embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7 above.

Referring to FIG. 8, the workbench 10 is shown with top 30 removed and spaced from the leg assemblies 11 and stringer 15. Each leg assembly 11 can include two legs 12, a bottom spacer 13 and a top plate 14. Leg assembly 11 can be fabricated of metal such as steel, and welded together. Each of the legs 12 and bottom spacer 13 can be square tubes that can be approximately 3 inches square. Top plate 14 can be wider than legs 12 to provide a mounting flange on each side of leg assembly 12. Each top plate 14 can have a plurality of elongated mounting holes 26 provided in two rows on either side of legs 12. As shown in FIG. 8, there can be 8 elongated mounting holes 26 in top plate 14, four being adjacent each leg 12. As those skilled in the art will understand, less than 8 elongated mounting holes 26 can be provided in top plate 14, and plate 14 could be substantially the same width as legs 12 with elongated holes 26 positioned between legs 12. Mounting holes 26 can be eliminated altogether and stringer 15 can be used to attach workbench top 30 to the leg and stringer assembly 28 as described below. If mounting holes 26 are eliminated from plates 14, some alternate fastener can be used in the vicinity of the front leg 12 of each leg assembly 11 to prevent top 30 from lifting off the leg assemblies during use as will be understood by those skilled in the art.

Leg assemblies 11 can be connected with stringer 15 that can be a metal plate extending from one rear leg to the opposite rear leg. Stringer 15 can include a vertical plate 16 that can be attached to legs 12 to form a leg and stringer assembly 28 including a pair of leg assemblies 11 and a stringer 15. Stringer 15 can also include a mounting flange 17 that can be formed on the top edge of stringer 15. In the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 8 vertical plate 16 can be 6 inches wide and mounting flange 17 can be 1 inch wide. Stringer 15 can be attached to leg assemblies 11 with a plurality of mounting bolts 18 and washers 18′ to the rear surface of rear legs 12 as is well known to those skilled in the art. While flat washers 18′ are shown, those skilled in the art will understand that lock washers could be used instead of, or in addition to flat washers 18′. Mounting bolts 18 can be threadably attached to legs 12 by weld nuts 24 attached to rear legs 12. Stringer 15 can have a plurality of vents 27 formed in vertical plate 16 to prevent build up of heat under workbench 10 as discussed in more detail below. Vent 27 can comprise a plurality of vertical slots 29 adjacent the upper edge of vertical plate 16. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 8, there can be 3 vents spaced across stringer 15 each having a plurality of slots 29. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 8 there can be 25 slots 29 in each vent 27 and the slots 29 can be 2 inches long and ¼ inch wide with alternate slots 29 offset by ½ inch. While stringer 15 is shown in this embodiment as a separate component from leg assemblies 11 to facilitate shipping, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the stringer 15 could be permanently attached to leg assemblies 11 as by welding. Stringer 15 can be fabricated of metal such as steel. Leg assemblies 11 and stringer 15 can be finished as desired such as by painting. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the dimensions of the stringer and vents can be adjusted as desired.

Referring to FIG. 8 and FIG. 10, each leg 12 can have a bottom wall 20 that can be welded into the bottom end of leg 12. Bottom wall 20 can have a threaded fastener such as a tee nut 21 welded in the center of bottom wall 20. A leveling foot 19 can be provided for each leg 12 that can include a threaded portion 22 fastened to foot 19 and adapted to be threaded into tee nut 21 in bottom wall 20. The top portion 22′ of threaded portion 22 can be provided without threads to prevent threaded portion 22 from backing all the way out of tee nut 21 such as when workbench 10 is being moved across the floor. Providing the top portion 22′ without threads can also facilitate assembly, in that one corner of the workbench can be lifted and a leveling foot 19 inserted into tee nut 21 without having to start the threads on threaded portion 22 upon insertion of threaded portion 22 into tee nut 21. Leveling foot 19 can have a pad 23 on the bottom surface to provide a non-slip surface on leveling foot 19. Pad 23 can be nylon or rubber or other material as will is well known to those skilled in the art. Those skilled in the art will understand that another form of leveling mechanism for some or all of the legs 12 could be provided as desired, or that a leveling mechanism could be omitted.

Elongated mounting holes 26 in top plate 14 and mounting holes 25 in mounting flange 17 can receive a plurality of fasteners 31 for attaching top 30 to the leg and stringer assembly 28. Fasteners 31 can be lag screws and pilot holes (not shown) can be pre-drilled in top 30 to facilitate locating and attaching top 30 to leg and stringer assembly 28. Mounting holes 26 are elongated in the plane of leg assembly 11 to allow for expansion and contraction of top 30 over the range of humidity conditions likely to be encountered in a non-climate controlled environment such as a basement, a garage or other outdoor work area. Thus, elongated mounting holes 26 are positioned to allow the width of the laminated hard wood maple top to expand and contract with changes in humidity. Mounting holes 25 in mounting flange 17 can be circular since laminated hard wood maple top 30 is unlikely to expand and contract along the direction of the laminated wood strips. In addition, use of round mounting holes 25 in mounting flange 17 can provide a sturdy workbench since the leg and stringer assembly can not shift under top 30 as the fasteners 31 can lock top 30 to the leg and stringer assembly 28. Those skilled in the art will understand that if top 30 is formed of strips of hard wood that run from front to back instead of side to side that mounting holes 26 could be round and mounting holes 25 elongated along the length of stringer 15 to allow for expansion and contraction in that direction.

Referring to FIG. 9, FIG. 9A and FIG. 9B, a schematic power strip 70 is shown mounted to a workbench top 30. A plurality of T-brackets 33 can be provided to lock power strip 70 in position on workbench 10. Each T-bracket 33 can be attached to the rear edge 32 of top 30 by fasteners such as conventional lag screws, not shown. T-bracket 33 can include a mounting portion 34 having a mounting hole 35 through which a mounting screw can be driven into rear edge 32 of top 30. Above mounting portion 34 there is an enlarged support portion 36 that can overlie rear panels 76 and 78 to hold power strip firmly on workbench top 30. Rear panels 76 and 78 can have slots 71 formed in the lower end of the rear panels to slide down over mounting portions 34 of T-brackets 33. Mounting portion 34 is thicker than support portion 36 by offset 37 which provides sufficient space for rear panels 76 and 78 of power strip sections 72 and 74 to be slid down between the rear edge 32 of workbench top 30 and support portions 36. The slots 71 in rear panels 76 and 78 can be dimensioned to snuggly fit over mounting portions 34 to hold the power strip 70 in place when installed on a workbench top 30. Those skilled in the art will recognize that power strip sections 72 and 74 could be mounted to workbench top 30 in other ways than as disclosed in FIG. 9-FIG. 9B.

Power strip 70 can be provided in two sections 72 and 74 that extend approximately the full width of top 30. While the embodiment of FIG. 9 and FIG. 9A shows has power strip 70 in two sections, those skilled in the art will recognize that the power strip could be provided in a single piece, and that power strip 70 could extend less than the full width of top 30. Power strip sections 72 and 74 can be joined by a connecting plate 73 attached to the rear panels 76 and 78 of power strip sections 72 and 74. A suitable electrical connector can be provided to electrically connect power strip sections 72 and 74 at the respective ends of power strip sections 72 and 74, not shown, and covered by connecting plate 73. A suitable power cord 75 can be provided at the rear panel 76 of section 72 to connect the power strip 70 to a power source, not shown. A suitable strain relief can be provided to mount power cord 75 to rear panel 76 as is well known to those skilled in the art. Power cord 75 can be provided in any desired length to readily connect power strip 70 to a power source. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 9, power cord 75 can be twenty feet long. A plurality of electrical outlets 84 can be provided on the front panels 80 and 82 of power strip sections 72 and 74. Electrical outlets 85 can be provided on rear panels 76 and 78 to provide a power source for a refrigerator module 60, a light fixture for workbench 10, not shown, or other electrically operated device that is not used on the workbench top 30. The electrical outlets 84, 85, can be commercially available panel outlets consisting of a terminal block and a cover that can be snapped into cutouts in the front and rear panels. In addition, a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet 86 can be provided on front panel 80 through which the other outlets 84 and 85 can be connected. GFCI outlet 86 can be provided with an on/off switch 87 and test and reset buttons as is well known in the art. After electrical outlets 84, 85 and GFCI outlet 86 are installed in the front and rear panels, the outlets can be connected by electrical wire to a power cord 75 as is well known to those skilled in the art. While a GFCI outlet is shown in the embodiment of FIG. 9 and FIG. 9A, GFCI outlet 87 could be replaced with an on/off switch, an overload protector or a surge protector or any combination thereof as is well known to those skilled in the art.

The power strip housing including front panels 80 and 82 and rear panels 76 and 78 can be can be formed of metal and painted as other metal parts of the modular workbench 10, although those skilled in the art will understand that a plastic housing could be used. After installation of the electrical outlets and connecting the electrical outlets and power cord, the power strip housing can be assembled using threaded fasteners as is well known to those skilled in the art.

Referring to FIG. 11, a movable drawer module 40 is shown. Drawer module 40 can have a plurality of drawers 41 each mounted on tracks for easy access as are well known to those skilled in the art. The face of each drawer 41 can have an ornamental treadplate pattern surface that is the subject of design patent D505,237. Drawers 41 can have other ornamental patterns on the face of the drawer, or can have a plane surface as will be understood by those skilled in the art. Drawer module 40 can have a cabinet 42 having a raised perimetrical top edge or flange 43 around top 44 that can form a work surface. Top edge or perimetrical flange 43 can also form a frame for an optional hardwood work surface (not shown) that can be sized to fit tightly inside raised top edge 43. Raised top edge or perimetrical flange 43 can also form a recess to receive a first portion 129 or second portion 131 of a removable top 122 to form a storage and work system. Raised top edge or perimetrical flange 43 can also be received in a recess formed by first portion 129′ or second portion 131′ of removable panel 122′ for form a storage and work system utilizing removable panel 122′. Drawer module 40 can have a pair of fixed casters 47 mounted at the front of module 40 that are aligned with the sides of cabinet 42 to facilitate rolling drawer module 40 under and out from underneath workbench 10. Drawer module 40 can also have a pair of swivel casters 48 mounted at the rear of drawer module 40 to facilitate movement of drawer module 40 to any desired location. Casters 47 and 48 are large heavy-duty casters to provide a sturdy, stable module that can be used as a portable worksurface or as a portion of a storage and work system 120. Casters 47 and 48 are also sized so that the height of drawer module 40 with casters installed is approximately the same height as the other modules (even though the cabinet height of other modules may differ) and so that drawer module 40 fits easily under workbench 10 alone or assembled with a removable panel 122 as part of a movable storage and work system. Drawer module 40 can have side handles 46 in the side walls of cabinet 42 to facilitate moving drawer module 40. Side handles 46 allow a user to grasp both sides of cabinet 42 to position drawer module 40 as desired on casters 47 and 48. Drawer module 40 can have a rear wall (not shown) connecting the side walls of cabinet 42. Drawer module 40 can also have a bumper 49 on the lower sidewalls of cabinet 42 that wraps around the front and rear corners of cabinet 42. Bumper 49 prevents adjoining modules from striking one another when being moved into and out of docking underneath workbench 10, or from striking other objects and damaging or scratching the cabinet walls. Bumper 49 can be fabricated of vinyl, other plastic material, or a mixture of plastic and rubber material, or other suitable bumper material as is well known to those skilled in the art. Bumper 49 can be attached to drawer module 40 using screws or other suitable fasteners. Fixed casters 47 can be locking casters as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 11 to facilitate use as a storage and work system, a mobile work surface or to maintain drawer module 40 in position under workbench 10.

Referring to FIG. 12, a movable storage cabinet module 50 is shown. Storage cabinet module 50 can have a pair of doors 51 hinged to the front edge of cabinet 52. Those skilled in the art will understand that storage cabinet module 50 can have a single door hinged to the front edge of cabinet 52 in lieu of a pair of doors 51 if desired. Doors 51 can have an ornamental treadplate pattern surface that is the subject of design patent D503,839. Door(s) 51 can have other ornamental patterns on the face of the door(s), or can have a plane surface on the face of the door(s) as will be understood by those skilled in the art. Storage cabinet module 50 can have a cabinet 52 having a raised top edge or perimetrical flange 53 around a top wall that forms a work surface. Raised top edge or perimetrical flange 53 can form a frame for an optional removable hardwood work surface (not shown) that can be sized to fit tightly inside raised top edge 53. Raised top edge or perimetrical flange 53 can also form a recess to receive a first portion 129 or second portion 131 of a removable top 122 to form a movable storage and work system. Raised top edge or perimetrical flange 53 can also be received in a recess formed by a first portion 129′ or a second portion 131′ on the mating surface of removable panel 122′. Storage cabinet module 50 can have a pair of fixed casters 57 mounted at the front of storage cabinet module 50 that are aligned with the sides of cabinet 52 to facilitate rolling storage cabinet module 50 under and out from underneath workbench 10. Storage cabinet module 50 can also have a pair of swivel casters 58 mounted at the rear of storage cabinet module 50 to facilitate movement of storage cabinet module 50 to any desired location. Casters 57 and 58 are large heavy-duty casters to provide a sturdy stable module that can be used as a portable worksurface. Casters 57 and 58 can be sized so that the height of storage cabinet module 50 with casters installed is approximately the same height as the other modules (even though the cabinet height of other modules may differ). Casters 57 and 58 can be sized so that module 50 fits easily under workbench 10 alone or assembled with a removable panel 122 as part of a storage and work system 120. Storage cabinet module 50 can have side handles 56 in the side walls of cabinet 52 to facilitate moving storage cabinet module 50. Side handles 56 allow a user to grasp both sides of cabinet 52 to position storage cabinet module 50 as desired on casters 57 and 58. Storage cabinet module 50 can have a rear wall (not shown) connecting the side walls of cabinet 52. Storage cabinet module 50 can also have a bumper 59 on the lower sidewalls of cabinet 52 that wraps around the front and rear corners of cabinet 52. Bumper 59 prevents adjoining modules from striking one another when being moved into and out of docking underneath workbench 10, or from striking other objects and damaging or scratching the cabinet walls. Bumper 59 can be fabricated of vinyl, other plastic material, or a mixture of plastic and rubber material, or other suitable bumper material as is well known to those skilled in the art. Bumper 59 can be mounted to module 50 using screws or other fasteners as desired. Fixed casters 57 can be locking casters as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 12 to facilitate use as part of a storage and work system, a mobile work surface or to maintain storage cabinet module 50 in position under workbench 10.

Referring to FIG. 13, a movable refrigerator module 60 is shown. As mentioned above, refrigerator module 60 can be a low ambient temperature refrigerator as disclosed in co-pending patent application Ser. No. 10/744,556 which is incorporated by reference. Refrigerator module 60 can have a cabinet 62 having a hinged door 61 mounted on the front of cabinet 62. Door 61 can have an ornamental treadplate pattern surface that is the subject matter of design patent D497,921. Door 61 can have other ornamental patterns on the face or of the door, or can have plane surface as will be understood by those skilled in the art. Refrigerator module 60 can have a top tray 63 and a bottom tray 64 that are attached to the top and bottom of cabinet 62. Top tray 63 can have a perimetrical flange or raised edge that can form a work surface 66 and a frame for an optional hardwood work surface (not shown) that can be sized to fit tightly inside top tray 63. Raised top edge or perimetrical flange of top tray 63 can also form a recess to receive a first portion 129 or second portion 131 of a removable top 122 to form a movable storage and work system. The raised top edge or perimetrical flange of top tray 63 can also be received in a recess formed by a first portion 129′ or a second portion 131′ of a mating surface of removable panel 122′. Top tray 63 can have a vent, not shown, in the rear edge of tray 63 to facilitate cooling of a condenser, not shown, mounted on the rear wall of cabinet 62 as disclosed in the above identified co-pending patent application no. 10/744,556 and incorporated by reference. Tray 63 can be sized to assure that the vent is not covered when a hardwood work surface 65 or a removable panel 122 is installed. Top tray 63 and bottom tray 64 can extend beyond the rear surface of cabinet 62 to protect the static condenser. Refrigerator module 60 can have a pair of fixed casters 67 mounted at the front of refrigerator module 60 that are aligned with the sides of cabinet 62 to facilitate rolling refrigerator module 60 under and out from underneath workbench 10. Refrigerator module 60 can also have a pair of swivel casters 68 mounted at the rear of refrigerator module 60 to facilitate movement of refrigerator module 60 to any desired location. Casters 67 and 68 are heavy-duty casters to provide a sturdy stable module that can be used as a portable worksurface. Casters 67 and 68 are also sized so that the height of refrigerator module 60 with casters installed is approximately the same height as the other modules (even though the cabinet height of other modules may differ). Casters 67 and 68 are also sized so that the height of refrigerator module 60 with casters installed fits easily under workbench 10 alone or assembled with a removable panel 122 as part of a movable storage and work system 120. Refrigerator module 60 can have a rear wall (not shown) connecting the side walls or cabinet 62. Module 60 can also have a bumper 69 on the lower sidewalls of cabinet 62. Bumper 69 prevents adjoining modules from striking one another when being moved into and out of docking underneath workbench 10, or from striking other objects and damaging or scratching the cabinet walls. Bumper 69 can be fabricated of vinyl, other plastic material, or a mixture of plastic and rubber material, or other suitable bumper material as is well known to those skilled in the art. Bumper 69 can be mounted to module 60 using screws or other fasteners as desired. Fixed casters 67 can be locking casters as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 12 to facilitate use as a mobile work surface or to maintain refrigerator module 60 in position under workbench 10.

Each of modules 40, 50 and 60 can be sized and provided with casters such that each of the modules fits easily under workbench 10. In the embodiment shown in co-pending patent application by Arent et. al. '078 there can be approximately 1 and ½ inches clearance between the top of the modules with an optional hardwood worksurface in place and the underneath side of top 30. Similarly, when two or more modules are assembled in a movable storage and work system with a removable top 122 there can be approximately ½″ to 1″ clearance between the work surface 124 and the underneath of top 30. While the modules disclosed in the embodiments of FIGS. 11-13 are approximately the same height when provided with casters as discussed above, those skilled in the art will recognize that the height of modules, with casters installed, could be substantially identical, or could be designed to differ in height as desired. The clearance space between the tops of modules 40, 50 and 60 coupled with vents 27 in stringer 15 provide adequate ventilation under workbench 10 when a refrigerator module 60 is in use and the condenser (not shown) is releasing heat under workbench 10. Those skilled in the art will recognize that vents 27 and/or the clearance space above modules 40, 50 and 60 can be changed as desired to provide more or less ventilation under workbench 10. Vents 27 can be located on stringer 15 to be centered with respect to each module, in embodiment of FIG. 3 and FIG. 8 three modules. Those skilled in the art will understand that if workbench 10 is modified to provide for docking of two or more that three modules the number of vents 27 in stringer 15 can be modified to correspond to the number of modules that can be docked under workbench 10.

While the invention has been specifically described in connection with certain specific embodiments thereof, it is to be understood that this is by way of illustration and not of limitation, and the scope of the appended claims should be construed as broadly as the prior art will permit.

Classifications
U.S. Classification312/249.9
International ClassificationB25H1/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47B2021/064, B25H1/02
European ClassificationB25H1/02
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 7, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: WHIRLPOOL CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:PERKINS, TRAVIS M.;KOEHL, KEVIN R.;GARRISON, GUY E.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:016739/0051;SIGNING DATES FROM 20050725 TO 20050830