CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This non-provisional application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Nos. 60/861,874, entitled “Drawer with Replaceable Skin,” filed on Nov. 30, 2006, and 60/861,880, entitled “Replaceable Drawer Front Component,” filed on Nov. 30, 2006 the entire disclosure of each is incorporated herein by reference, to the extent that it is not conflicting with the present disclosure.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a drawer with a replaceable skin and to a drawer with a replaceable skin for installation on a tool chest or tool cabinet.
Storage containers such as dressers, bureaus, and file cabinets having drawers are in popular use. Several exemplary storage devices include tool chests, tool cabinets, and combination tool chest and cabinet units. Tool chests, tool cabinets, and combination tool chest and cabinet units are in widespread use in residential, commercial and industrial settings.
Tool chests and cabinets typically include a plurality of drawers of similar or various height. The drawers are constructed to form an assembled unit having slides on either side and a front panel. A common construction technique involves the complete assembly of the tool chest or tool cabinet frame by welding or other means. The drawers are manufactured as complete permanent assemblies. Subsequently, the drawers are installed and the entire unit is painted or otherwise finished to produce a uniform appearing exterior surface. This uniform surface includes the exposed front face of the drawers. As a result, the color of the front panel matches the rest of the tool chest or tool cabinet. Absent any repainting, the color or texture of the front face of the drawers can not be readily changed by the consumer.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
A replaceable skin is provided as part of a drawer front for a tool storage unit and for a drawer skin replacement kit and method of installing the drawer skin on a drawer front. The drawer skin includes connection features that facilitate its installation on the drawer front.
Further features and advantages of this invention will become apparent from the following detailed description made with reference to the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a tool chest having a replaceable drawer front constructed in accordance with an embodiment of this invention;
FIG. 2 is a top view of the tool chest of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is a right side view of the tool chest of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a portion of the tool chest of FIG. 1 showing a drawer having a replaceable drawer front constructed in accordance with an embodiment of this invention in an extended or open position;
FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the drawer of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 a is an exploded rear view of a replaceable drawer front constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 b is a rear view of the replaceable drawer front of FIG. 6 a;
FIG. 7 is a top view of a replaceable drawer front skin constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 8 is a rear view of a replaceable drawer front skin constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
This Detailed Description of the Invention merely describes embodiments of the invention and is not intended to limit the scope of the specification, including any claims, in any way. Indeed, the invention as described by the specification and any claims is broader than and unlimited by the preferred embodiments, and the terms used in the specification and claims have their full ordinary meaning.
The present invention will be described for use with a tool chest and a tool cabinet. It should be understood that this is for exemplary purposes only and the invention can be applied to a wide variety of applications.
The invention is directed to a drawer front having a replaceable skin. The drawer front is designed to be conveniently removed from a tool chest or tool cabinet. After removal, the exterior skin of the drawer front can be replaced by a consumer in an after-market environment. The remove-and-replace operation requires no special tooling or training. The process results in the front face of the drawer front having a new or different ornamental appearance. The skin of one or more drawer fascia assemblies can be replaced to alter the ornamental appearance of part or all of a tool chest or a tool cabinet.
Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a tool chest 10. FIGS. 2 and 3 are top and right side views of the tool chest. The tool chest 10 includes a plurality of drawers 12, 14, 16, 18, 20. One or more of the drawers is constructed to include a replaceable drawer front 21 (FIG. 5), to be discussed in greater detail.
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary front perspective view of the tool chest 10 with one of the drawers 18 pulled away from the chest to a partially extended position. A replaceable drawer front 21 is mounted to the outermost portion of a drawer body portion 35. The drawer front 21 includes a grip portion 52 adapted to be gripped by a user to move the drawer along its slides. In the depicted embodiment, the grip portion 52 includes two cavities 45 for tool storage. Other embodiments may include alternative features as part of the grip portion 52. The drawer front 21 includes a bottom portion 54 and a skin portion 50 between the grip portion and the bottom portion. The skin portion 50 is configured to be removed by a user and may be made of a flexible decorative material that is wrapped around the grip portion and bottom portion. Alternatively, the skin portion may be molded or formed material having an aesthetically pleasing appearance such as brushed aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, or a material that includes a painted surface.
The skins 50 that are installed in the drawer fronts 21 on the drawers of the tool chest 10 may be configured to cumulatively depict components of a single image when installed on the tool chest. For example, the drawer fronts may be configured to depict a sports logo or mascot, a flag, or a motto, when the drawer fronts are installed on the tool chest. When the drawer 42 is in a fully extended position, a user may depress release buttons (not shown) located in or near the slides on either side of the drawer to remove the drawer from the tool cabinet 30. It should be understood that other structures and techniques for drawer removal can be used in the practice of this invention.
FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the drawer 18 with the drawer front 21 removed from the drawer body portion 35. The drawer body portion 35 includes a front panel 46 having a series of exemplary through-holes 48. The holes are used to mount the drawer front 21 to the body portion 35. Tabs 75 extending from the back of the drawer front 21 are configured to engage and be retained in the holes 48. It may be advantageous to provide a mounting configuration that allows the drawer front 21 to be removed and installed without requiring the use of tools. As shown in FIGS. 6 a and 6 b, the rear side of the drawer front 21 includes a pattern of tabs 75 protruding from the grip portion 52 and bottom portion 54. The tabs have a narrow neck portion 75 a and a larger head portion 75 b. The tabs can be of any practical number, pattern and size, but should be corresponding to the holes 48 on the front panel 46 of the drawer to which the replaceable drawer front will be mounted. The holes 48 include a smaller left portion 48 a adjacent a larger right portion 48 b. When viewing from the perspective of FIG. 5, the tabs 75 are in the left portion 48 a of the hole 48 when the drawer front 21 is installed in a drawer. In other words, the neck portion 75 a of the tab is in the smaller section 48 a. To remove the drawer front 21, the user slides the drawer front 21 to the right so that the head 75 a of the tab 75 becomes aligned and co-axial with the larger right portion 48 a of the hole 48. In this position, the user can simply pull the drawer front directly off the drawer. To install a replacement drawer front, the process is reversed. Of course, other hole and tab sizes, configurations, and patterns can be used in the practice of this invention.
The skin 50 of the drawer front can be removed from a drawer front and replaced with a different skin 50. A user may chose to do this for a variety of reasons, such as for example, to change the color of the entire front of a tool cabinet or to replace a single skin on a drawer front having an aesthetically damaged appearance.
Referring now to FIGS. 6 a and 6 b, rear views of a drawer front 21 are shown. The view shown is from the rear of the assembly when in an installed position on a drawer face 46. As already discussed above, the drawer front assembly 21 includes a skin front piece 50, a grip portion 52 and a bottom portion 54. It should be understood by those with ordinary skill in the art that any number, size or shape of support pieces can be used in the practice of this invention. The skin 50 is wrapped around either end of the grip portion 52 and bottom portion 54 to form the drawer front 21. A strap support 63 is mounted to the grip portion 52 by screws 58 at a mounting hole 72 and to the bottom portion at a mounting hole 74 to provide rigidity to the drawer front 21. Four additional screws 57 are inserted through holes 51 in the skin 50 to mount to two threaded holes 59 in the top support and two threaded holes 59 in the bottom support. It should be understood by those with ordinary skill in the art that any number, size or type of hardware can be used in the practice of this invention.
An exemplary drawer front 21 is shown in FIG. 6 b in assembled form. The size and construction of the drawer front assembly may vary in the practice of the present invention, such as for example, by varying in height and including support straps of various lengths and multiple intermediate horizontal members. Further, the height of the skin 50 may extend beyond the support, such as for example, below the bottom of the bottom support.
Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 8, various views of the skin 50 are shown. The skin in an installed position defines a radius as shown in FIG. 7 due to the outer surface of the grip portion 52 and bottom portion 54 and due to the position of skin support pads 82, seen best in FIG. 6 a. However, the skin can be constructed of a relatively rigid material to create a desired shape for the exterior of the drawer front.
To remove and replace the skin from a drawer front, the drawer front is first removed from a drawer. A user may chose to remove and replace a skin for a variety of reasons, such as for example, to change the color of the entire front of a tool cabinet or to replace a single drawer having an aesthetically damaged appearance.
To replace the skin 50, a user must first remove the four screws 57 with a screwdriver or drill, and then repeat the assembly steps for the drawer front assembly with a new skin. To install the drawer front to the drawer, the tabs of the drawer front are inserted into the through-holes in the drawer and the drawer front is slid into the smaller section 48 b of the holes. In some embodiments, a lock or securing mechanisms can be used to retain the drawer front in place in an installed position.
While several embodiments of the invention has been illustrated and described in considerable detail, the present invention is not to be considered limited to the precise constructions disclosed. Various adaptations, modifications and uses of the invention may occur to those skilled in the arts to which the invention relates. It is the intention to cover all such adaptations, modifications and uses falling within the scope or spirit of the specification filed herewith.