US 3612639 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Cole C. Williams  Inventor 2408 Allanjay Place, Glendale, Calif. 91208  Appl.No. 785,916  Filed Dec.23, 1968  Patented Oct. 12,1971
 DRAWER 7 Claims, 10 Drawing Figs.
 U.S.Cl 312/330, 312/257R  lnt.Cl A471) 88/00,
A47b43/00  FieldofScarch 312/330, 297, 273, 294, 214, 257, 330; 264/339, 295; 220/4,65
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,069,668 2/1937 Flint 312/330UX 2,644,602 7/1953 Ross..,.... 220/4 3,222,437 12/1965 Schilling 312/330UX 3,282,635 11/1966 l-limelreich... 312/214 3,312,516 4/1967 Krahn 312/330 OTHER REFERENCES Modern Plastics, April 1966, Page 99 Relied on, Copy available in Class 312,330 Sheet Material Digest.
Primary Examiner-Jordan Franklin Assistant ExaminerGeorge H. Krizmanich AttorneyLarry N. Barger ABSTRACT: A drawer formed of a thermoplastic panel with a vertical wall having flexible vertical hinge portions integral with an inner surface of the wall, which panel forms a back and two sides of a drawer which are held in a rectangular shape by a rigid rectangular bottom. The sides have resilient lock means joining the sides to a wooden front panel of the drawer. The drawer can be shipped flat, assembled, used, and then disassembled for again shipping the drawer components flat. Finally, the drawer can be reassembled and used again. Since the drawer does not require glue to hold it together, the thermoplastic panel can be of a sturdy material, such as polypropylene, that provides a surface of high lubn'city for sliding in a cabinet, but which material is not readily gluable.
PATENTEUum 12 l97l SHEET 1 [1F 2 INVENTOR. C015 mum/MS ATTOB/VEV PATENTEUUBT 12 I971 SHEET 2 [IF 2 INVENTOR. GME PV/u/AMS flrrok/vay DRAWER This invention relates to an improved drawer for kitchen cabinets, furniture, etc. The drawer of this invention is exseveral wooden boards to a particular length and width to provide a front, back, two sides and a bottom of adrawer. A groove was sawed along a bottom edge of the front, back and two sides for the bottom to fit. Depending on the quality of the drawer, the sides, back and front were sawed at a 45 angle, sawed at a 90 angle or were sawed into a dovetail joint. Then the drawer was glued and clamped until the glue was dry. This whole process was time consuming and expensive, but was thought necessary because there were so many different sizes of drawerssome wide, some narrow, some long and some short. There has been very little standardization in drawer dimensions, with each furniture manufacturer or kitchen cabinet builder adopting his own particular size of drawer.
To reduce some of the time consumingand expensive steps in assembling a drawer, it has been proposed to form the drawer sides and back from a piece of hollow extruded polyvinyl chloride plank of a generally rectangular cross section, but which already had a groove along its bottom edge for the drawer bottom. This extruded polyvinyl chloride plank was cut at a 45 angle to form joints at rear comers of the side and back. However, these joints still had to be matched so there was no large vertical crack up the inside surface of the rear corners of the drawer. Tohold these rear corner joints together, L-shaped inserts were glued into the hollow portions of the polyvinyl chloride plank and the drawer clamped until the glue dried. Although this proposal eliminated the need for sawing a slot for the bottom of the drawer, the entire drawer was assembled, glued, clamped and set aside to dry in much the same manner previous all-wooden drawers were made.
It has also been proposed to form the drawer sides and back by extruding a thermoplastic plank and then heating the plank at localized areas to a temperature below the panels melting point. The plank was then formed around a jig and allowed to cool so the bent comers would take a permanent set. This process had several disadvantages. For one thing, many cabinet shops did not have the specialized heating equipment to form the drawer. Even if they did have such equipment, great care had to be taken so the panel would not completely melt. Also, if the heat was .not properly localized the panel would bend in the wrong place or the sides and back might warp out of shape.
In my invention, l have provided a drawer that has integral thermoplastic rear and side panels that need no gluing or intricate joint matching to insure that the two rear corners of the drawer do not have vertical cracks along'the inside surface of the drawer. No special heating equipment is needed for my invention as my drawer can be easily assembled at room temperature with conventional tools of a carpenter. My drawer has a thermoplastic panel which has a pair of flexible spacedapart hinge portions integral with an inside surface of the panel. These flexible hinge portions, which are adjacent more rigid sections of the drawer sides and back, are folded to form the rear corners of the drawer. Since my drawer does not require any glue or adhesive, it opens up the whole drawer construction field to thermoplastics which are extremely tough and have a high lubricity for sliding in a cabinet housing. Use of these thermoplastics, such as polypropylene, was hindered because these thermoplastics were not readily gluable either to themselves or to other materials.
The drawer of this invention also has a unique advantage in that the front, bottom, and the panel forming the integral back and two sides can be shipped in a flat condition to a construction site. Then the drawer can be assembled and used for a period of time. Finally, the drawer can be disassembled and unfolded along its flexible hinge portions and shipped to a different location and again assembled. This great saving in shipping space provides an advantage over previous wooden and plastic drawers that were permanently glued together.
Perhaps this unique drawer with its flexible hinge portions can be better understood with reference to the following drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the vertical thermoplastic panel which forms the back and two sides of the drawer;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the rectangular bottom of the drawer;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the assembled drawer;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary top plan view of the drawer showing a first embodiment of the resilient attachment means joining the drawer sides and front panel; I
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary top plan view of the drawer showing a second embodiment of a resilient attachment means between the drawer side and drawer front panel;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary perspective view showing closely spaced vertical grooves in an outer surface of the vertical thermoplastic panel to aid in folding the panel about the flexible hinge portions;
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary perspective view similar to FIG. 6, but showing closely spaced vertical grooves in an inside surface of the vertical thermoplastic panel to aid in folding the panel about the flexible hinge portion;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary perspective view showing a difl'erent profile of the thermoplastic panel;
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary perspective view showing a hollow tubular profile of the thermoplastic panel; and
FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a prior art drawer being assembled with glue and cumbersome cabinet clamps.
Turning now to a more detailed description of these drawings, FIG. 1 shows a vertical thermoplastic panel I which has a vertical wall 2 with an inner surface 3 and an outer surface 4 and a longitudinal axis extending therealong. The thermoplastic panel 1 has a longitudinal groove 5 adjacent the lower edge of the vertical wall. This longitudinal groove 5 formed by a top strip 6, a vertical connecting strip 7 and a bottom strip 8, has a horizontal supporting surface 9 on the bottom strip for supporting the weight of a drawer bottom 10 and any contents that might be in the drawer.
Along the top of the vertical thermoplastic panel is ahorizontally extending flange 11, giving rigidity to the thermoplastic panel 1. As shown in FIG. 1, the vertical thermoplastic panel I has a pair of vertical flexible hinge portions 12 and 13 that are integral with the inner surface of the vertical wall and spaced apart along the longitudinal axis of the panel 1. Preferably, the panel I is of polypropylene to provide sturdy flexible hinge portions that can stand the rigors of a drawer being slammed open and closed and objects being thrown into the drawer. Also, the flange 11 at the top of the panel has a pair of notches l4 and 15 which are aligned with the flexible hinge portions. Thus, the thermoplasticvertical panel 1 has two vertical flexible hinge portions that are adjacent more rigid sections of the panel cause by the portions of flange 11 bordering the notches l4 and 15 in the flange.
The drawer is assembled by folding the the thermoplastic panel of FIG. 1 into a generally U-shape to form the back 16, and two sides 17 and 18 of the drawer. Preferably, the vertical flexible hinge portions I2 and '13 are folded to temporarily form an acute angle of substantially less than so that when the flexible hinge portions relax, they will assume approximately a 90 angle. After the initial acute angle folding of thetherrnoplastic panel, the rigid rectangular bottom 10 is in-.
serted into the groove 5 which faces toward an inner surface of the vertical wall so as to receive the bottom. This rigid rectangular bottom keeps each flexible hinge portion confined to approximately a 90 bend preventing the drawer from laterally shifting out of shape because of its flexible rear corners. With the bottom 10 and panel 1 assembled, a front panel 19 is then secured to the sides to complete the rectangular drawer. To further rigidify the drawer, staples 70 and 71 are imbedded in both the generally C-shaped bottom supporting structure and the bottom 10, as shown in FIG. 3. 1
FIGS. 4 and 5 show two embodiments of a joint between the front panel and the sides of the drawer. As explained above,
the sides and back of the drawer are thermoplastic. The front is preferably of wood to give a wood grain look to the drawer front. FIG. 4 shows a resilient structure on a front end section of one side of the drawer, and this resilient structure locks the drawer side to the front panel.
Here in FIG. 4, the vertical wall 2 has an integral flap 20 that is joined to the front end section of the side by an integral vertical flexible hinge portion 21. This flap is folded in a direction transverse to the longitudinal axis of the side, and the flap is tucked into a vertical saw kerf 22 in the front panel. A mechanical fastening means, such as a staple 23, secures the flap to the drawer front. If desired, the staple could be imbedded through wall 2 of the panel and into the drawer front parallel to the drawer fronts axis, and this would also hold the flap 20 in saw kerf 22. This flap is transverse to the pushing and pulling forces which close and open the drawer, and therefore provides a secure lock between the drawer side and drawer front.
In FIG. 5, there is shown a second embodiment of a resilient lock means on a front end section of the drawer side. Here, the front end section of the drawer side has an undercut pocket 24 surrounded by resilient thermoplastic material in the form of a pull flange 25 and a lock flange 26. This pocket mates with a nonresilient head 27 of a wooden drawer front. Head 27 is bounded by vertical saw kerfs 28 and 29 to receive the pull and lock flanges. In assembling the drawer front to the drawer sides, the head 27 is wedged into a mouth of the pocket which temporarily distorts the pull and lock flanges until these flanges snap into the saw kerfs. The pull flange 25, being transverse to the longitudinal axis of the side, receives the push-pull forces when closing and opening the drawer. The lock flange keeps the pull flange from moving out of the saw kerf.
As mentioned above, the drawer is very useful in that it can be shipped flat. Unlike previous drawers, my drawer can be shipped flat, folded into a drawer and assembled, used for a period of time, then knocked down, shipped flat again, and finally reassembled. This feature is due to the integral flexible hinge portions and also to the resilient locking means holding the sides to the front panel. By removing the staple 23 and pushing outwardly on the side of the FIG. 4 embodiment, or by prying on pull flange 25 in an outwardly direction of the FIG. embodiment, the drawer sides can be disassembled from the drawers front panel. Also, since there need be no glue or adhesive in the rear comers of the drawer, the thermoplastic panel can be straightened out and shipped flat without breaking apart an adhesive joint.
The thermoplastic panel shown in FIG. 1, with its integral vertical flexible hinge portions 12 and 13, provides a very important advantage in drawer manufacture. The thermoplastic panel can be either extruded or injection molded to form lengths such as 6 or 8 feet long. These lengths can be made into drawers of a multitude of lengths and widths merely by making the flexible vertical hinge portions and aligned notches at desired locations along the panel. After measuring the drawer size needed, the top flange 11 and strips 6, 7 and 8 are notched as shown in FIGS. 1 and 6. This gives a flexible vertical hinge portion at the notch because this is the least rigid part of the panel because of the notch. Preferably, there is also a vertical groove 31 formed in the outer surface of the wall or a vertical groove 32 in the inner surface of the wall aligned with the notch in flange 11. This is to provide a slight weakening of the vertical wall so that it folds sharply along a vertical flexible hinges portion. Either of these grooves can be made by a tool as the notches are cut. Also, as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 when the thermoplastic panel is injection molded, the vertical wall can have a series of closely spaced vertical grooves 33 or 34 either on its outside surface or on its inside surface. It is desirable to have the vertical grooves on the outside of the wall so the inside of the drawer can be kept smooth for easy cleaning. The notches in the flange and the bottom holding groove structure are aligned with a particular groove 31 so that the drawer will fold sharply at the vertical groove.
Referring now to FIG. 8, a different profile of the thermoplastic panel 40 is shown. The panel here has a vertical wall 41 and an external top flange 42 and also an external bottom flange 43. These flanges and an I'I-shaped bottom supporting structure 44 give additional rigidity to the panel. Even though in this version a portion of thin flange 46 must be cut away to form the comer, the vertical wall has a flexible vertical hinge portion 47 integral with the inner wall surface of the drawer, and this flexible hinge portion 47 provides a strong joint between the side and back.
In FIG. 9, the thermoplastic panel 50 has a hollow tubular profile with a longitudinal passage therethrough. This provides a smooth surface to both the inner and outer surfaces of the sides and back and still has the groove structure 51 for the drawer bottom. Here again the inner wall surface of the vertical wall 52 has an integral flexible hinge portion requiring no special joint matching at a rear corner of the drawer.
The way drawers have been assembled in the past, whether the sides and back were of wood or thermoplastic, is illustrated in FIG. 10. This drawer could have many different comer joints, a butt joint, a 45 joint or a dovetail joint, to name a few. In the illustration, a 45 joint has been chosen as typical. As shown, the sides 53 and 54 and back 55 were assembled with special braces 56 and 57 in special grooves. After glue was applied to the joint, the various clamps 58, 59 and 60 were attached to hold the drawer in proper shape until the glue set. Great care had to be taken to insure that the joint was properly mated and did not have a vertical crack as shown by 61. Also, it was necessary to wipe off excess glue 62 before it dried. My invention eliminates this tedious and laborious gluing and clamping procedure used in prior art drawers.
With my invention, I have provided a drawer including a long thermoplastic vertical panel that can be cut to form any one of various sizes of drawers. These panels can be cut either by the extruding or injection molding shop and then shipped to the location where the drawer is to be erected; or alternatively, the panels can be cut to the proper size at the construction location where the home or furniture is being built. The panels can be cut with a circular saw or a bandsaw, which nearly all cabinet shops already have. If the drawer is to be assembled by a homeowner who does not have powersaws, a simple hacksaw or a strong pair of shears can be used.
In the foregoing specification, l have used specific examples to describe my invention. However, it is understood that persons skilled in the art can make certain modifications to these examples without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
1. A drawer comprising: a thermoplastic panel with an outer surface,-an inner surface, an upper edge, a lower edge, and
, portion adjacent each flexible hinge portion so the panel can flex at the hinge portions; said thermoplastic panel being in a folded condition about the flexible hinge portions forming a rigid drawer back and two rigid drawer sides integrally joined at rear corners of the drawer, with the drawer sides extending forwardly from the back and having front end sections of the sides; a rigid rectangular bottom fitted to the bottom supporting structure keeping each flexible hinge portion confined to approximately a bend, and preventing the drawer from laterally shifting out of shape because of its flexible rear corners; a resilient lock means integral with the front end sections of each side; and a front panel mechanically attached to said sides by side resilient lock means to form a rectangular drawer with the sides having approximately parallel longitudinal axes.
2 A drawer as set forth in claim 1, wherein the resilient lock means is an integral thermoplastic flap flexibly hinged at a front end section of each side, each flap being folded in a direction transverse to the longitudinal axis of its side.
3. A drawer as set forth in claim 1, wherein each resilient lock means includes a resilient thermoplastic structure defining an undercut pocket, and the front panel has head sections engaged with the resilient thermoplastic structure and having temporarily expanded said undercut pockets when the resilient structures snapped over said head sections to mechanically lock the sides to the front panel.
4. A drawer as set forth in claim 3, wherein each resilient lock means has a pull flange approximately perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the side and a lock flange approximately parallel to the longitudinal axis of the side, said pull and lock flanges defining an undercut pocket therebetween and a mouth leading to said pocket, said front panel being nonresilient with each head wedging into said pocket through the mouth between the pull and lock flanges, said front panel having mating grooves on opposite sides of each head to receive the pull and lock flanges.
5. A drawer comprising: a thermoplastic panel with a longitudinal axis therealong and a bottom supporting structure adjacent its lower edge; a pair of vertical, flexible hinge portions integral with the panel and longitudinally spaced along the thermoplastic panel, with the panel being rigid immediately adjacent the flexible hinge portions; which bottom supporting structure has an interrupted portion adjacent each flexible hinge portion so the panel can flex at the hinge portions; said thennoplastic panel being in a folded condition about the flexible hinge portions forming a rigid drawer back and two rigid drawer sides integrally joined at rear comers of the drawer, with the drawer sides extending forwardly from the back and having front end sections of the sides; a rigid rectangular bottom fitted to the bottom supporting structure keeping each flexible hinge portion confine'd to approximately a 90 bend, and preventing the drawer from laterally shifting out of shape because of its flexible rear corners; a resilient lock means integral with the front end sections of each side; and a front panel mechanically attached to said sides by said resilient lock means to form a rectangular drawer with sides having approximately longitudinal axes.
6. A method of assembling, disassembling, and reassembling a drawer from a thermoplastic panel having an outer surface,
an inner surface, a bottom support structure adjacent its lower edge and opening toward the inner surface, and a pair of vertical flexible hinge portions integral with the inner surface of the wall, with the thermoplastic panel being rigid immediately adjacent the flexible hinge portions, said method including the steps of: bending the thermoplastic panel at the flexible hinge portions until the panel forms approximately angles at each flexible hinge portion to form the back and two sides of a drawer; attaching a'rectangular bottom and a front panel to the bent thermoplastic panel to form a drawer adapted for temporary use; thereafter removing the front panel and bottom; unbending the flexible hinge portions to approximately to form a flat panel of the sides and back; and then reassembling the drawer by bending the flexible hinge portions to approximately 90 bends to form the back and two sides of the drawer, said flexible hinge portions being capable of repeated such assembly and disassembly steps without breaking the flexible hinge portions integral with the inner surface of the thermoplastic panel.
7. A method of assembling, disassembling and reassembling a drawer from a thermoplastic panel having an outer surface, an inner surface, a bottom support structure adjacent its lower edge and opening toward the inner surface, and a pair of vertical flexible hinge portions integral with the panel, with the thermoplastic panel being rigid immediately adjacent the flexible hinge portions, said method including the steps of: bending the thermoplastic panel at the flexible hinge portions until the panel forms approximately 90 angles at each flexible hinge portion to form the back and two sides of a drawer; attaching a rectangular bottom and a front panel to the bent thermoplastic panel to form a drawer adapted for temporary use; thereafter removing the front panel and bottom; unbending the flexible hinge portions to approximately 180 to form a flat panel of the sides and back; and then reassembling the drawer by bending the flexible hinge portions to approximately 90 bends to form the back and two sides of the drawer, said flexible hinge portions being capable of repeated such assembly and disassembly steps without breaking the flexible hinge portions integral with the panel.