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Publication numberUS20060103278 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/986,127
Publication dateMay 18, 2006
Filing dateNov 12, 2004
Priority dateNov 12, 2004
Publication number10986127, 986127, US 2006/0103278 A1, US 2006/103278 A1, US 20060103278 A1, US 20060103278A1, US 2006103278 A1, US 2006103278A1, US-A1-20060103278, US-A1-2006103278, US2006/0103278A1, US2006/103278A1, US20060103278 A1, US20060103278A1, US2006103278 A1, US2006103278A1
InventorsFrancois Bousquet
Original AssigneeFrancois Bousquet
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Latch mechanism for tool cabinet drawers
US 20060103278 A1
Abstract
A latch mechanism for tool cabinets, for releasably holding a tool cabinet drawer in a closed position within a tool cabinet housing, comprising a handle for fixed installation about a front panel of the tool cabinet drawer. A latch release bar is movably attached to either one of the drawer front panel and the handle such that the latch release bar is installed in the vicinity of the handle, the release bar being movable between a rest position and a released position. A first retaining member, attached to the tool cabinet housing, cooperates with a second retaining member operatively connected to the latch release bar, wherein when the latch release bar is moved in its rest position, the second retaining member is moved in a first position, for releasable connection to the first retaining member when the drawer is in its closed position, and wherein when the latch release bar is moved in its released position, the second retaining member is moved in a second position, for disconnecting the first retaining member from the second retaining member when the drawer is in its closed position.
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Claims(18)
1. A latch mechanism for tool cabinets, for releasably holding a tool cabinet drawer in a closed position within a tool cabinet housing, comprising:
a handle for fixed installation about a front panel of the tool cabinet drawer;
a latch release bar for movable attachment to either one of the drawer front panel and said handle such that said latch release bar is installed in the vicinity of said handle, said release bar being movable between a rest position and a released position;
a first retaining member for attachment to the tool cabinet housing;
a second retaining member operatively connected to said latch release bar, wherein when said latch release bar is moved to said rest position, said second retaining member is moved to a first position, for releasable connection to said first retaining member when the drawer is in its closed position, and wherein when said latch release bar is moved to said released position, said second retaining member is moved to a second position, for disconnecting said first retaining member from said second retaining member when the drawer is in its closed position.
2. A latch mechanism according to claim 1,
further comprising biasing means for biasing said latch release bar towards said rest position.
3. A latch mechanism according to claim 2,
wherein said biasing means comprise a weight integral to said latch release bar, said weight being of such magnitude as to allow said latch release bar to be continuously biased towards said rest position under the influence of gravity.
4. A latch mechanism according to claim 1,
wherein said first retaining member comprises a stationary female retaining member, and said second retaining member comprises a movable male retaining member engageable in said female retaining member when said latch release bar is in said rest position.
5. A latch mechanism according to claim 4,
wherein said female retaining member defines an aperture, and said male retaining member comprising a hook-shaped catch member having a retaining portion engageable in said aperture when said latch release bar is in said rest position.
6. A latch mechanism according to claim 2,
wherein said latch release bar and said handle are of elongated shape and are in parallel arrangement relative to each other.
7. A latch mechanism according to claim 6,
wherein said handle comprises a downwardly curved hand gripping lip, and said latch release bar is pivotally attached to said handle such that it is concealed underneath said gripping lip, wherein an operator's hand can pivot said latch release bar against the bias of said biasing means and away from said rest position.
8. A drawer for mounting in a tool cabinet housing and movable relative thereto between a closed position and an open position, comprising:
a main body defining an inner compartment, said main body provided with a front panel having an inner surface facing said inner compartment and an outer surface opposite said inner surface;
a handle fixedly installed about said drawer front panel outer surface;
a latch mechanism for releasably holding said drawer in said closed position within the tool cabinet housing, said latch mechanism comprising:
a latch release bar movably attached to either one of said front panel and said handle such that said latch release bar is installed in the vicinity of said handle, said latch release bar being movable between a rest position and a released position;
a first retaining member for attachment to the tool cabinet housing;
a second retaining member operatively connected to said latch release bar, wherein when said latch release bar is moved in said rest position, said second retaining member is moved in a first position, and is releasably connected to said first retaining member when said drawer is in said closed position, and wherein when said latch release bar is moved in said released position, said second retaining member is moved in a second position, and is disconnected from said first retaining member when said drawer is in said closed position.
9. The drawer according to claim 8,
wherein said second retaining means include a hook-shaped catch member.
10. The drawer according to claim 8,
further including drawer mounting carriage means for movement of said drawer relative to the tool cabinet housing, said first retaining member comprising an aperture defined in said drawer mounting carriage means.
11. The drawer according to claim 10,
wherein said drawer mounting carriage means include telescopic slides.
12. The drawer according to claim 8,
further comprising biasing means for biasing said latch release bar towards said rest position.
13. The drawer according to claim 12,
wherein said biasing means comprise a weight integral to said latch release bar, said weight being of such magnitude as to allow said latch release bar to be continuously biased towards said rest position under the influence of gravity.
14. The drawer according to claim 8,
wherein said latch release bar and said handle are of elongated shape and are in parallel arrangement relative to each other.
15. The drawer according to claim 14,
wherein said handle comprises a downwardly curved hand gripping lip, and said latch release bar is pivotally attached to said handle such that it is concealed underneath said gripping lip, wherein an operator's hand can pivot said latch release bar against the bias of said biasing means and away from said rest position.
16. In combination, a sliding drawer for mounting in a cabinet with a cabinet wall and front opening, said drawer to be supported by telescoping slides attached to the cabinet and to said drawer, said drawer including a front side wall with a top edge and lateral side walls, these telescoping slides for attachment to said lateral side walls of the drawer for support and movement of said drawer into and out of the cabinet, and a latch mechanism for releasably locking said drawer into the cabinet, said latch mechanism comprising:
a drawer handle, mounted on said front side wall of said drawer, said drawer handle including a plate pivotal on said top edge of the drawer between a drawer retention first position and a drawer release second position; said plate projecting outwardly of said drawer from said front side wall thereof and including a catch member attached to said handle adjacent one of said lateral side walls of the drawer, said catch member positioned to retain said handle from lateral, side to side sliding movement, said catch member including a catch tab projecting generally transverse to the direction of drawer slide movement;
a strike for mounting on the inside of the cabinet at the front opening thereof adjacent said drawer top edge when said drawer is closed into the cabinet, said strike positioned for coming in register with said catch member when said drawer is in its said first position, said strike having a female component complementary to said catch tab; and
passive system means continuously biasing said plate and said catch member about said front edge, for locking engagement of said catch member tab with said strike female component when said drawer is closed into the cabinet, and for disengagement therefrom when said plate is manually pivoted about the top edge to said drawer second position by moving the handle against the force of said passive system biasing means.
17. A latch mechanism as in claim 16,
wherein said passive system biasing means consists of a weight member, mounted integral to an edge portion of said plate opposite said drawer.
18. A latch mechanism as in claim 17,
further including a flange cover, integrally carried by said drawer front side wall top edge and projecting outwardly from said drawer and closely spacedly overhanging said handle, an access mouth defined between said flange cover and said drawer front side wall for manual access of said handle.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to latch mechanisms, and more particularly to a latch mechanism for holding drawers of a tool cabinet in a closed position.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Tool cabinets generally include a housing and a vertical row of drawers, each drawer being slidable in and out of the cabinet housing between closed and opened limit positions. Certain varieties of tool cabinets have a number of casters mounted to the bottom surface of their housing, and can roll over ground in order to be moved around easily in the workshop.

When a tool cabinet is being rolled around in the workshop, it can happen that the drawers open—i.e. extend outwardly—accidentally. This can be hazardous as drawers opening suddenly can hit and injure a workman, and can destabilize the cabinet. Indeed, the drawers generally contain heavy tools, and sudden opening of drawers, especially upper drawers of the cabinet, causes the weight of the heavy tools to shift horizontally away from the cabinet main frame, so as to act as a cantilever weight which can lead the cabinet to lose its balance and tip over.

It is therefore desirable to provide the drawers of ground-standing rollable tool cabinets with a releasable latch mechanism to hold them in a closed retracted position. Latch-provided drawers cannot be pulled out and opened unless the latch mechanism is released thus obviating spontaneous opening of the drawers under momentum-based gravitation-borne forces when the cabinet is rolled over ground.

Various types of latch mechanisms for tool cabinet drawers have been devised in the past, but are awkward to manipulate and include a high number of small cooperating parts, which lessens their reliability.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a latch mechanism for tool cabinets, for releasably holding a tool cabinet drawer in a closed position within a tool cabinet housing, comprising:

    • a handle for fixed installation about a front panel of the tool cabinet drawer;
    • a latch release bar for movable attachment to either one of the drawer front panel and said handle such that said latch release bar is installed in the vicinity of said handle, said release bar being movable between a rest position and a released position;
    • a first retaining member for attachment to the tool cabinet housing;
    • a second retaining member operatively connected to said latch release bar, wherein when said latch release bar is moved to said rest position, said second retaining member is moved to a first position, for releasable connection to said first retaining member when the drawer is in its closed position, and wherein when said latch release bar is moved to said released position, said second retaining member is moved to a second position, for disconnecting said first retaining member from said second retaining member when the drawer is in its closed position.

In one embodiment, the latch mechanism further comprises biasing means for biasing said latch release bar towards said rest position.

In one embodiment, said biasing means comprise a weight integral to said latch release bar, said weight being of such as magnitude to allow said latch release bar to be continuously biased towards said rest position under the influence of gravity.

In one embodiment, said first retaining member comprises a stationary female retaining member, and said second retaining member comprises a movable male retaining member engageable in said female retaining member when said latch release bar is in said rest position.

In one embodiment, said female retaining member defines an aperture, and said male retaining member comprising a hook-shaped catch member having a retaining portion engageable in said aperture when said latch release bar is in said rest position.

In one embodiment, said latch release bar and said handle are of elongated shape and are in parallel arrangement relative to each other.

In one embodiment, said handle comprises a downwardly curved hand gripping lip, and said latch release bar is pivotally attached to said handle such that it is concealed underneath said gripping lip, wherein an operator's hand can pivot said latch release bar against the bias of said biasing means and away from said rest position.

The present invention also relates to a drawer for mounting in a tool cabinet housing and movable relative thereto between a closed position and an open position, comprising:

    • a main body defining an inner compartment, said main body provided with a front panel having an inner surface facing said inner compartment and an outer surface opposite said inner surface;
    • a handle fixedly installed about said drawer front panel outer surface;
    • a latch mechanism for releasably holding said drawer in said closed position within the tool cabinet housing, said latch mechanism comprising:
      • a latch release bar movably attached to either one of said front panel and said handle such that said latch release bar is installed in the vicinity of said handle, said latch release bar being movable between a rest position and a released position;
      • a first retaining member for attachment to the tool cabinet housing;
      • a second retaining member operatively connected to said latch release bar, wherein when said latch release bar is moved in said rest position, said second retaining member is moved in a first position, and is releasably connected to said first retaining member when said drawer is in said closed position, and wherein when said latch release bar is moved in said released position, said second retaining member is moved in a second position, and is disconnected from said first retaining member when said drawer is in said closed position.

In one embodiment, said second retaining means include a hook-shaped catch member.

In one embodiment, the drawer further includes drawer mounting carriage means for movement of said drawer relative to the tool cabinet housing, said first retaining member comprising an aperture defined in said drawer mounting carriage means.

In one embodiment, said drawer mounting carriage means include telescopic slides.

In one embodiment, said drawer further comprises biasing means for biasing said latch release bar towards said rest position.

In one embodiment, said biasing means comprise a weight integral to said latch release bar, said weight being of such magnitude as to allow said latch release bar to be continuously biased towards said rest position under the influence of gravity.

In one embodiment, said latch release bar and said handle are of elongated shape and are in parallel arrangement relative to each other.

In one embodiment, said handle comprises a downwardly curved hand gripping lip, and said latch release bar is pivotally attached to said handle such that it is concealed underneath said gripping lip, wherein an operator's hand can pivot said latch release bar against the bias of said biasing means and away from said rest position.

The present invention also relates to a drawer for mounting in a tool cabinet housing, comprising:

    • a main body defining an inner compartment, said main body provided with a front panel having an inner surface facing said inner compartment and an outer surface opposite said inner surface;
    • drawer mounting carriage means for movably mounting said drawer to the tool cabinet housing and for allowing said drawer to be axially movable relative to the tool cabinet housing between an open and a closed position, said drawer mounting carriage means defining a retaining aperture;
    • an elongated handle fixedly installed about said drawer front panel outer surface;
    • an elongated latch release bar movably attached to either one of said front panel and said handle such that said latch release bar is installed in the vicinity of said handle parallel thereto, said latch release bar being movable between a rest position and a released position;
    • a catch member operatively connected to said latch release bar and comprising a retaining portion;
      wherein when said latch release bar is moved in said rest position, said catch member is moved in a first position, and said retaining portion thereof is releasably inserted in said drawer carriage mounting means aperture when said drawer is in said closed position for preventing said drawer to be moved towards said open position, and wherein when said latch release bar is moved in said released position, said catch member is moved in a second position, and said retaining portion thereof clears said retaining aperture for allowing said drawer to be moved towards said open position. In one embodiment, said drawer mounting means include telescopic slides.

In one embodiment, said drawer further comprises biasing means for biasing said latch release bar towards said rest position.

In one embodiment, said biasing means comprise a weight integral to said latch release bar, said weight being of such magnitude as to allow said latch release bar to be continuously biased towards said rest position under the influence of gravity.

In one embodiment, said handle comprises a downwardly curved hand gripping lip, and said latch release bar is pivotally attached to said handle such that it is concealed underneath said gripping lip, wherein an operator's hand can pivot said latch release bar against the bias of said biasing means and away from said rest position.

The present invention also relates, in combination, to a sliding drawer for mounting in a cabinet with a cabinet wall and front opening, said drawer to be supported by telescoping slides attached to the cabinet and to said drawer, said drawer including a front side wall with a top edge and lateral side walls, these telescoping slides for attachment to said lateral side walls of the drawer for support and movement of said drawer into and out of the cabinet, and a latch mechanism for releasably locking said drawer into the cabinet, said latch mechanism comprising:

    • a drawer handle, mounted on said front side wall of said drawer, said drawer handle including a plate pivotal on said top edge of the drawer between a drawer retention first position and a drawer release second position; said plate projecting outwardly of said drawer from said front side wall thereof and including a catch member attached to said handle adjacent one of said lateral side walls of the drawer, said catch member positioned to retain said handle from lateral, side to side sliding movement, said catch member including a catch tab projecting generally transverse to the direction of drawer slide movement;
    • a strike for mounting on the inside of the cabinet at the front opening thereof adjacent said drawer top edge when said drawer is closed into the cabinet, said strike positioned for coming in register with said catch member when said drawer is in its said first position, said strike having a female component complementary to said catch tab; and
    • passive system means continuously biasing said plate and said catch member about said front edge, for locking engagement of said catch member tab with said strike female component when said drawer is closed into the cabinet, and for disengagement therefrom when said plate is manually pivoted about the top edge to said drawer second position by moving the handle against the force of said passive system biasing means.

In one embodiment, said passive system biasing means consists of a weight member, mounted integral to an edge portion of said plate opposite said drawer.

In one embodiment, said latch mechanism further includes a flange cover, integrally carried by said drawer front side wall top edge and projecting outwardly from said drawer and closely spacedly overhanging said handle, an access mouth defined between said flange cover and said drawer front side wall for manual access of said handle.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the annexed drawings:

FIG. 1 shows a front perspective view of a ground-standing rollable tool cabinet carrying a number of extensible drawers;

FIG. 2 shows an exploded perspective view of one of the drawers of the cabinet of FIG. 1, this drawer being provided with a latch mechanism according to the present invention:

FIG. 3 shows an enlarged view of the area circumscribed by ellipse III-III in FIG. 2, and further showing the handle of the drawer being partly broken for clarity of the view;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged broken partial front perspective view of a portion of the cabinet of FIG. 1, showing the interplay between one drawer and the cabinet drawer support carriage;

FIG. 5 shows a sectional side view of the drawer and drawer support carriage of FIG. 4, suggesting the pivotal movement of the latch release bar by an operator's hand shown in phantom lines from its rest to its released position, and of the catch member from it raised to its lowered position; and

FIG. 6 shows a view similar to that of FIG. 5, illustrating the axial movement of the drawer towards its open position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a tool chest or cabinet 10, comprising a parallelepiped-shaped housing 12 in which a front opening 14 is made. Housing 12 also defines side walls 12 a, 12 b, on the inside surface of which are transversely mounted drawer mounting and carriage means, as will be described hereinafter. Furthermore, casters 15 are affixed transversely at each of the four corners of the undersurface of housing 12, and tool cabinet 12 is thereby rollable over ground.

A number of drawers 20 are movably mounted within housing 12. Drawers 20 can be slid horizontally in and out of cabinet housing 12 through opening 14. As illustrated in the exploded view of FIG. 2, each drawer 20 includes a generally rectangular bottom plate 22, a pair of opposite spaced side walls 24, 24 fixedly attached to opposite lateral edges of bottom plate 22, a rear wall 26 fixedly attached to the rear edge of bottom plate 22, and a front panel 28 secured to the front edge of bottom plate 22, all of which configure, in combination, an inner compartment 21 with an open top mouth. In one embodiment, a single plate of sheet metal is suitably bent into shape to integrally form bottom plate 22, side walls 24, 24 and rear wall 26.

In the embodiment shown in the figures, front panel 28 is made of a single sheet of metal suitably bent into shape. Front panel 28 has an elongated shape, and is lengthwisely affixed to the front edge of bottom plate 22. As best shown in FIG. 3, front panel 28 includes a main plate portion 29, and an upturned lower flange 30 depending downwardly from the bottom edge of plate portion 29 beyond bottom plate 22, and bent rearwardly (i.e. towards the rear wall 26 of the drawer 20) and upwardly so as to come in contact with the undersurface of bottom plate 22 (as shown in FIGS. 5-6). Front panel 28 also comprises an elongated handle 32 capping main plate portion 29, and extending lengthwisely between lateral edges 28 a, 28 b of front panel 28. Handle 32 integrally defines the following sections, as best shown in FIG. 3:

    • a bottom portion 32 a extending upwardly from the top edge of main plate portion 29 with a rearward slant;
    • a rear portion 32 b extending vertically upwardly from the rear edge of bottom portion 32 a;
    • a top portion 32 c extending horizontally from the top edge of rear portion 32 b, and frontwardly beyond the vertical plane of main plate portion 29;
    • a gripping lip 32 d extending frontwardly with a downward slant from the front edge of top portion 32 c, away from main plate portion 29.

Moreover, two support tabs 34 are provided on handle 32 in the vicinity of lateral edges 28 a, 28 b respectively of front panel 28. Each tab 34 consists in a partially cutout piece of handle rear portion 32 a bent frontwardly upwardly until its free end 34 a abuts against the undersurface of top portion 32 c, as can be seen in the side views of FIGS. 5-6.

Drawer 20 further comprises a latch mechanism 40 according to the present invention. Latch mechanism 40 comprises an elongated latch release bar 42 pivotally mounted to front panel 28 and extending lengthwisely between lateral edges 28 a, 28 b thereof, beneath handle 32 so as to be concealed under handle top portion 32 c and gripping lip 32 d. Latch release bar 42, in the present embodiment, is made of single sheet-like metal plate suitably bent into shape. Latch release bar 42 integrally comprises a main portion 42 a, from the rear edge of which upwardly extends, with a frontward slant, a stopper flange 42 b. Main portion 42 a and stopper flange 42 b intersect at a straight pivot ridge 45. A trigger tongue 42 c extends frontwardly from the front edge of main portion 42 a, with a downward slant. The free end portion 42 d of trigger tongue 42 c is folded over, in order to double its thickness and weight.

Two openings 43 are made through latch release bar main body 42 a. These openings 43 in latch release bar 42 are penetrated by corresponding and registering support tabs 34 of handle 32, and latch release bar 42 is thereby mounted to front panel 28. The pivot ridge 45 of latch release bar 42 bears against the trough of the wedge-shaped space 35 (FIGS. 5-6) formed in combination by support tabs 34 and handle rear portion 34 b.

Latch mechanism 40 is further provided with a pair of male retaining means, in the form of plate-like, hook-shaped catch members 50. Catch members 50 each define an elongated main body 50 a, and an attachment tab 50 b extending from one end of main body 50 a transversely thereto. Attachment portions 50 b are fixed to opposite ends of elongated latch release bar 42 on the main portion 42 a thereof. A generally triangular retaining portion 50 c is provided on the end of main body 50 a opposite attachment tabs 50 b, and defines a rounded tip 50 d and a slanted sliding edge 50 e.

The assembly of latch release bar 42 and catch members 50 is pivotable relative to front panel 28 about the pivot ridge 45 of latch release bar 42. At rest, the latch release bar 42 is in a rest position where stopper flange 42 b abuts against the rear surface 34 b of each support tab 34. In this rest position of latch release bar 42, catch member 50 is in a raised limit position. By applying upward pressure with his hand H on trigger tongue 42 c of latch release bar 42, an operator, as suggested in FIG. 5, can release latch bar 42 and catch members 50 can be pivoted in a clockwise direction with respect to the viewpoint of FIGS. 5-6 sequentially about pivot ridge 45. Pivoting of latch release bar 42 is only possible over a limited angular spread, as during its pivoting course towards its released position, latch release bar tongue 42 c eventually comes in abutting contact with the undersurface of handle 32, and is blocked from further pivoting. Such pivoting of latch release bar 42 induces the downward displacement of retaining portion 50 c towards a lowered limit position. Upon release of the upward pressure applied on latch release bar trigger tongue 42 c, the latch release bar 42 returns to its rest position and catch member 50 returns to its raised limit position. This is chiefly due to the fact that the free end portion 42 d of latch release bar trigger tongue 42 c forms a weight, since it is folded over and its weight is thereby doubled, allowing gravity to continuously bias the latch release bar 42/catch members 50 assembly in a counter-clockwise pivotal direction (with respect to the viewpoint of FIGS. 5-6). It is understood that alternate passive biasing means such as other weight-increasing means could be used to continuously bias latch release bar 42 towards a rest position and catch member 50 in a raised limit position.

Although the above-described pivotal mounting means of the latch release bar 42/catch member 50 assembly on front panel 28 have proven to be very reliable, the pivotal mount of this assembly about front panel 28 could be achieved in any other way known in the art. For example, latch release bar 42 could be alternately hinged to front panel 28.

Drawer 20 is movably mounted to cabinet housing 12 through the instrumentality of conventional telescopic carriage slides 60, each telescopic slide 60 comprising three slide segments 62, 64, 66. Outer slide segment 62, which is cross-sectionally U-shaped as illustrated in FIG. 4, is lengthwisely secured in a horizontal position to the inner surface of the side walls 12 a, 12 b of the cabinet housing 12, and the inner slide segment 66 is lengthwisely secured horizontally to the outer surface of side walls 24, 24 of drawer 20. Intermediate slide segment 64 is suitably rollably mounted to both inner and outer slide segments 62, 66. Outer slide segment 62 is stationary relative to housing 12, and intermediate slide segment 64, through its rollable interconnection with both inner and outer slide segments 62, 66, permits relative displacement of inner slide segment 66 relative to stationary outer slide segment 62, in order for drawer 20 to be axially slidable in and out of cabinet housing 12 through opening 14.

Latch mechanism 40 is further provided with female retaining means in the form of apertures 68 made in the upper front end portion of cross-sectionally U-shaped slide segment 62 for cooperation with the male retaining means, i.e. catch member 50. The relative alignment of drawer 20 into cabinet housing 12 is such that when drawer 20 is in its closed (retracted) position, catch member retaining portion 50 c registers vertically beneath aperture 68. When latch release bar 42 is at rest, catch member 50 is in its raised limit position and its retaining portion 50 c is interlocked in aperture 68.

In alternate embodiments, other female retaining means could be provided instead of apertures 68, such as strikes independent from the telescopic slides secured to the cabinet housing, for cooperation with the male retaining means of the latch mechanism.

Use of the present invention will now be described. When the drawer 20 is closed, i.e. is fully retracted within cabinet housing 12 as shown in FIG. 1, both catch member retaining portions 50 c of the latch mechanism 40 are interlocked in corresponding apertures 68 of telescopic slides 60. This interlocking engagement holds the drawer 20 in their closed position. Accordingly, when drawers 20 are closed and the latch release bar 42 is at rest, latch mechanism 40 ensures that drawers 20 remain closed, and the tool cabinet 10 can be rolled around the workshop without fearing that the drawers 20 open spontaneously under momentum-borne forces.

To open a drawer 20, the user, while resting his thumb over handle 32 as suggested in FIG. 5, uses his other fingers to apply upward pressure on latch release bar 42. This pivots the latch release bar 42/catch member 50 assembly in a clockwise direction (with respect to the viewpoint of FIG. 5-6) about pivot ridge 45, which causes catch member retaining portion 50 c to be lowered and egress out of aperture 68. When catch member retaining portion 50 c clears aperture 68, drawer 20 is no longer prevented from opening and the user can thus slidably pull the drawer out of housing 12 with his hand H to gain access to its inner compartment 21 where tools or other items may be stored.

To close the drawer 20, the user can apply an upward pressure on latch release bar 42 while pushing the drawer back towards its closed position. When the drawer is closed, the latch release bar 42 can be released, thereby reestablishing the interlocking engagement between catch member retaining portion 50 c and aperture 68. Alternately, drawer 20 can simply be pushed back in its closed position without pushing the latch release bar 42 in its released position. As the drawer approaches its closed position, the rounded edge 50 d and slanted sliding edge 50 e of catch member retaining portion 50 c strike and slide on the front edge of outer slide segment 62 and catch member 50 is slidably pushed downwardly until its retaining portion 50 c registers vertically underneath aperture 68. The latch release bar 42/catch member 50 assembly then automatically moves in a counter-clockwise direction (with respect to the viewpoint of FIGS. 5-6) under the influence of gravity as described hereinabove, catch member 50 returns to its raised limit position, and retaining portion 50 c penetrates into aperture 68 to return into interlocking engagement therewith.

The embodiments described in the foregoing description provide for a drawer mounted to a cabinet housing through the instrumentality of telescopic slides, with the female retaining member of latch mechanism 40 being an aperture 68 made into the outer segment of the telescopic slides. It is understood that in alternate embodiments of the present invention, any suitable means could be provided to allow drawers 20 to be axially moved in and out of the tool cabinet housing instead of telescopic slides. Moreover, any suitable retaining means other than the catch member 50/aperture 68 combination could be used as detent means to hold the drawer of the tool cabinet in its closed position, as long as actuation of a latch release bar causes release of the detent means to permit opening of the drawer.

The fact that a movable latch release bar located beneath a fixed handle must be actuated to release the latch mechanism of the present invention, is a maneuverability improvement over similar prior art latch-provided tool cabinets.

Some prior art tool cabinets have drawers having a front panel to which is mounted a handle, these drawers being held in a closed position by a latch mechanism. The front handle of each drawer is pivotable relative to the front panel, and is operatively linked to the latch mechanism. Accordingly, to open a drawer, a user must grip the handle, twist it in order to pivot it into a released position, thereby disengaging the latch mechanism, and can then pull the drawer by the same handle to slide it out of the tool cabinet into an open position. Such prior art latch mechanism are impractical and awkward to use, since no fixed and steady grip is provided on the drawer. When a user grips the twistable handle without wanting to disengage the latch mechanism but only to move the drawer between open and closed positions, the handle is likely to unsteadily jolt between its rest and released positions.

With the present invention, the user can maintain a firm and steady grip on a fixed handle while using his other fingers to actuate the movable latch release bar, which makes the latch mechanism less awkward to use and more user-friendly.

Moreover, the present invention has proven to be surprisingly resistant to wear. Indeed, as can be inferred from the foregoing description and observed in the drawings, the latch mechanism comprises a small number of cooperating parts, and is thus very reliable. In particular, the latch release bar is biased towards its rest position by passive biasing means, i.e. by the provision of weights thereon to allow it to be naturally gravity-biased towards its rest position, and obviates use of dynamic biasing means such as springs in order to return to its rest position. This imparts increased reliability to the latch mechanism of the present invention, since even wear of its components is unlikely to cause it to stop functioning. On the other hand, prior art spring-provided latch mechanisms are much more vulnerable to wear since springs are known to lose their resiliency with age. When the spring of a prior art latch mechanism of a given tool cabinet drawer loses its resiliency, the latch release bar can no longer automatically recoil to its rest position once it has been actuated in its released position, and the latch mechanism can no longer return to its locked condition to hold the drawer in a closed position, which defeats the purpose of the present invention.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification312/332.1
International ClassificationA47B88/00
Cooperative ClassificationB25H3/028, E05C3/14, E05B65/46
European ClassificationE05B65/46, B25H3/02B2E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 12, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: SPG INTERNATIONAL LTD., CANADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:BOUSQUET, FRANCOIS;REEL/FRAME:016007/0720
Effective date: 20041012