US 3644008 A
Modular cabinet assembly wherein the modules are vertically stacked and horizontally sequenced, being in wall sharing, interlocked relationship. The modules in each vertical stack share horizontal walls, each having a top wall that serves as the bottom wall of the next module above; while the modules in each horizontal sequence share vertical walls, each having an outer sidewall that serves as the inner sidewall for the next added module in the sequence.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
[ Feb. 22, 1972 United States Patent Overby  MODULAR CABINET CONSTRUCTION 3,287,075 11/1966 Batke et al.........................312/1ll X Inventor: Robe" R. y, "2101mm" 8, Los 3,368,856 2/1968 Tlsdallet al.,.........................312/1ll eles, Calif. 90004 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS May 11, 1970 1,363,227 4/1963 France..................................3l2/l08  Filed:
m c C M mm 4 .L n mm mA i, H mm iw mm 1 M N m. p A w .312/107, 312/1 l 1, 312/257 ...............A47b 87/02 [Sl] Int.Cl................
each horizontal sequence share vertical walls, each having an outer sidewall that serves as the inner sidewall for the next added module in the sequence.
T m HMO" mm e mmnmk h..|.u a EBLSH 9 4 sm mw 99999 11111 l/l/l 09 9 1 II 77474 370%7 78642 04 68 w J3 23 22 14 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures PATENTEDFEBZZ r972 SHEET 3 OF 3 I/v vE/vroe R 05527 R 0 vseas MODULAR CABINET CONSTRUCTION BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION While modular construction has heretofore been employed for such things as file cabinets, bookcases, merchandise containers, and the like, the individual modules employed in such prior art structures conventionally have two sidewalls, and most such prior modules also each include both a top wall and a bottom wall.
The provision of single or individual vertical stacks of a plurality of such conventional modules having two sidewalls generally provides a relatively stableand satisfactory cabinet structure of single module width. However, prior art modular cabinet arrangements employing such conventional modules in both vertically stacked and horizontally sequenced arrangements had several serious disadvantages making them generally unsatisfactory for most purposes One such disadvantage was that each vertical stack of su ch conventional modules was structurally independent of the other vertical stacks, and variations in the base upon which the stacks were resting tended to cause the stacks to become seriously misaligned, requiring that adjacent modules in the stacks be secured together by some added fastening means, as for example, by screws, bolts, straps, or the like. This caused assembly to become more difficult and complicated, and generally resulted in the presence of unsightly fastening means.
Another disadvantage of the use .of such conventional modules in cabinet assemblies of both vertically stacked and horizontally sequenced modules was that in the assembled relationship horizontally adjacent modules had two sidewalls therebetween, and in many such arrangements the vertically adjacent modules also had two walls therebetween, both a top wall and a bottom wall. This not only resulted in undesirable expense and weight, but seriously detracted from the appearance of the combination.
SUMMARY OF THEINVENTION In view of these and other problems in the art, it is an object of the present invention to provide a novel modular furniture assembly of both vertically stacked and horizontally sequenced modules, wherein the vertically adjacent modules in each stack share horizontal walls, eachmodule having a top wall that serves as the bottom wall of the next module above, and wherein the adjacent modules in each horizontal layer or sequence share vertical walls, with each module in the sequence having an outer sidewall that serves as the inner sidewall for the next added module in the sequence. In this manner a modular furniture assembly that includes any desired number of vertically stacked and horizontally sequenced modules has only a single wall between adjacent modules in both the vertical direction and the horizontal direction.
Another object of the invention is to provide a modular furniture structure of the character described wherein the vertical stack of modules located at one end of the structure is selfsupporting or independent, comprising modules that each include two sidewalls to provide the required stability, while each succeeding module in each horizontal layer thereof has only an outer sidewall but no inner sidewall and depends upon the outer sidewall of the previous module in the sequence, starting with the module in said self-supporting stack, for part of its structure and stability.
A tonguelike projection from the inner or free side edge of the top wall of each dependent module engages in a complementary recess in the top wall of the preceding module in the sequence, overlapping the upper edge of the outer sidewall of the preceding module, whereby the weight of each dependent module tends to secure it in interlocking relationship to the preceding module upon which it depends for part of its support. Thus, each dependent module in effect leans back against the preceding module in its horizontal sequence until the structurally independent, self-supporting first module in the sequence is reached.
The interlocking relationship of all of the modules in the assembly is completed by provision of horizontal locating means engageable between vertically adjacent modules in eachvertical stack of the sequence. This horizontal locating means is preferably in the form of a depending tongue projecting from the bottom of a rear wall of each module which engages in a complementary upwardly facing recess in the rear wall of the next module below in the stack.
Not only does the weight of the dependent modules thus tend to close the gaps between the modules and securely interlock them, but the added weight ofobjects contained in any or all of the dependent modules in the assembly will further assist the interlock. The net result is that the modules can be simply stacked and sequenced together without further keying, and in particular without requiring the use of separate fastening devices, such as screws, bolts, straps, clamps, or the like. which are not only aesthetically objectionable but which would undesirably complicate the manufacture and assembly of the modules.
Modular furniture made in accordance with the present invention may be employed for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to bookcases, record cabinets, file cabinets, buffets, tool storage racks, merchandise containers, and the like.
Further objects and advantages of this invention will appear during the course of the following part of this specification, wherein the details of construction and mode of operation of a presently preferred embodiment are described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is an exploded perspective view illustrating four modules in assembled relationship, comprising one each of the four different module structures employedin the presently preferred form of the present invention; with additional modules spaced from the assembled modules and positioned preparatory-to both vertical stacking and horizontal sequencing to build upon the assembled modules.
FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view, with a portion broken away, illustrating the four different module structures of FIG. 1 in spaced relationship.
FIG. 3 is a transverse vertical section taken on the line 3-3 in FIG. 1 with the illustrated modules in fully assembled relationship.
FIG. 4 is a vertical section taken on the line 44 in FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a fragmentary horizontal section taken on the line 55 in FIG. 3.
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary horizontal section taken on the line 6-6 in FIG. 3.
FIG. 7 is an enlarged, fragmentary horizontal section, partly in elevation, illustrating presently preferred bolt means for joining the individual panels of a module together.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring to the drawings, the embodiment of the invention illustrated therein has the self-supporting, independent stack of modules at the left-hand end of the modular assembly, with the dependent modules added on in sequence to the right thereof. However, it is to be understood that alternatively, with a simple reversal of parts, the self-supporting, independent vertical stack of modules may be disposed at the righthand end of the modular assembly, with the dependent modules built out sequentially to the left thereof.
The form of the invention that is illustrated in the drawings includes four different module structures which are best illustrated in detail in spaced array in FIG. 2. These include two types of independent or self-supporting modules adapted to form parts of the independent module stack, a left-hand bottom unit 10 which preferably has five walls, and is adapted to rest on the floor or other supporting base surface, and a lefthand upper unit 12 which preferably has four walls. Any number of the left-hand upper units 12 may be stacked in sequence above the bottom unit I0.
10 I 024 turn There are two different types of dependent module structures, one type being bottom dependent unit 14 preferably having four walls, and any number of which can be built out sequentially to the right of the left-hand bottom unit 10, the units 14 each being supported in part on the floor or other base structure and in part by the preceding unit immediately to its left. The other type of dependent module structure is upper dependent unit 16, which preferably has only three sides, and which is adapted to be stacked in any number above each of the bottom dependent units 14 and to extend in a horizontal sequence to the right from each of the left-hand upper units 12. The upper dependent module units 16 are each supported in part at its lower right-hand edge on a module immediately therebeneath, and in part proximate its upper left-hand edge upon the next preceding module in the same horizontal succession.
Referring now to the preferred details of construction of the left-hand bottom unit 10, only one of which is employed in the assembly, this unit includes a generally rectangular, horizontal bottom wall 18, a generally rectangular, horizontal top wall 20, generally rectangular leftand right-hand sidewalls 22 and 24, respectively, which extend between the said bottom and top walls, and a generally rectangular rear wall 26 which connects with the bottom wall, top wall, and both sidewalls, to provide a generally closed rear end of the module.
The sidewalls 22 and 24 of module each include a depending tongue 28, the tongues 28 having generally straight lower edges and serving as legs or feet causing the bottom wall 18 to be spaced upwardly from the floor or other supporting surface, and of particular importance causing the module 10 to be fully self-supporting and independent. Such support may be further assisted by a similar depending tongue 28 extending downwardly from the rear wall 26, and also serving as a leg or foot. A similar tongue 30 projects to the left from the left-hand edge of top wall 20, and may serve as a spacer to hold the module outwardly from a wall to the left thereof if the module 10 is disposed in a corner ofa room. A complementary recess 32 is disposed in the right-hand edge of top wall 20, and a similar recess 34 is disposed in the upper edge of the rear wall 26. A small rectangular aperture 36 is disposed through the right-hand sidewall 24 at the level of the bottom wall 18.
Referring now to the left-hand upper unit 12, as best shown in FIG. 2, this unit includes a generally horizontal top wall 38, a pair of parallel, generally vertical leftand right-hand sidewalls 40 and 42, respectively, and a rear wall 44. The side walls 40 and 42 of module 12 are preferably rectangular, with straight vertical and horizontal edges, while the rear wall 44 has a depending tongue 46 projecting downwardly therefrom and adapted to locate in the complementary upwardly facing recess 34 in the rear wall 26 ofthe bottom unit 10. Top wall 38 of upper unit 12 has a tongue 48 projecting from its left-hand edge similar in location and purpose to the corresponding tongue 30 on the top wall of the lower unit, and the top wall 38 of the upper unit also has a recess 50 formed in its right-hand edge which is similar in size and location to the corresponding recess 32 in the right-hand edge of the top wall 20 of the lower unit. The rear wall 44 of the upper unit 12 has an upwardly facing recess 52 in its upper edge that is similar in size and location to the corresponding recess 34 in the upper edge of the rear wall 26 ofthe bottom unit 10.
When the left-hand upper unit 12 is stacked on the lefthand bottom unit 10, the lower edges of sidewalls 40 and 42 of the upper unit rest upon the flat upwardly facing surface of the top wall 20 ofthe lower unit so that the upper unit 12 is independently self-supported upon the lower unit 10. The depending tongue 46 on the upper unit 12 locates in the upwardly facing recess 34 in the lower unit 10 to secure the upper unit 12 against either lateral or forward movement relative to the lower unit 10. Since the top wall 38 of upper unit 12 is substantially the same as top wall 20 of lower unit 10, it will be apparent that units 12 can be stacked not only upon a unit 10, but upon each other to any desired height.
Turning now to the dependent bottom unit 14, as best illustrated in FIG. 2, such unit includes a generally horizontal bottom wall 54, a generally horizontal top wall 56, a generally vertical right-hand sidewall 58 extending between the bottom and top walls 54 and 56, respectively, and a generally vertical rear wall 60 connected to the rear edges of the bottom and top walls 54 and 56, respectively, and the sidewall 58. Sidewall 58 has a depending tongue 62 similar to the tongues 28 on the unit 10, and the rear wall 60 also preferably has a similar depending tongue 62, the tongues 62 serving as legs or feet.
The top wall 56 of module 14 is similar in construction to the top walls 20 and 38 of the respective modules 10 and 12, having a tongue 64 projecting from its left hand edge, and a complementary recess 66 in its right-hand edge. The rear wall 60 of the module 14 is similar to the rear walls 26 and 44 of the respective modules 10 and 12, having an upwardly facing recess 68 in its upper edge. The bottom wall 54 of the module 14 is similar to the bottom wall 18 of the module 10, and has a generally rectangular projection 70 extending from its lefthand edge that is adapted to engage in the complementary aperture 36 in the right-hand wall 24 of the module 10. Finally, the sidewall 58 of the module 14 has a rectangular aperture 72 therein corresponding in size and position to the aperture 36 in the sidewall 24 of module 10.
The dependent bottom unit 14 is assembled with the independent bottom unit 10 by simply engaging the tongue 64 and projection 70 of unit 14 in the respective complementary recesses 52 and 36 of the unit 10. Further dependent units 14 can be assembled to the right of the first unit 14 in sequence by simply engaging the tongue 64 and projection 70 of each unit 14 in the respective complementary recesses 66 and 72 in the preceding unit 14. It will be apparent that each of the dependent units 14 will, because of its own weight and any weight which may be placed thereon, tend to tilt to the left and thereby tend to remain securely interlocked with the unit 10 and other units 14, since there is no leg or foot at the left-hand side of any of the units 14.
Referring now to one of the upper dependent units 16, as best shown in detail in FIG. 2, each of these units includes a generally horizontal top wall 74, and generally vertical side and rear walls 76 and 78, respectively. The rear wall 78 is similar to the rear walls 26, 44 and 60 of the other three types of units, and has a depending tongue 80 projecting downwardly from its lower edge. The top wall 74 is similar to the top walls 20, 38, and 56 of the other three types of units, having a tongue 82 projecting from its left-hand edge and having a complementary recess 84 in its right-hand edge. The rear wall 78, like the rear walls of the other types of units, has an upwardly facing recess 86 in its upper edge.
The single, right-hand sidewall 76 of the upper dependent unit 16 is similar to the sidewalls 40 and 42 of the independent upper unit 12, having generally straight vertical and horizontal edges, and the lower edge of this sidewall 76 is adapted to rest upon the flat upwardly facing surface of the top wall 56 of dependent bottom unit 14. The tongue 82 at the left-hand edge of top wall 74 engages in the complementary recess 50 in the independent upper unit 12, overlapping and resting upon the upper edge of the right-hand sidewall 42 of the independent upper unit 12. The depending tongue 80 on the rear wall 78 of unit 16 locates in the complementary upwardly facing recess 68 in the rear wall of the bottom unit 14.
In this manner one of the dependent upper units 16 may be quickly and simply assembled and interengaged with a dependent bottom unit 14 and an independent upper unit 12, with the top wall 56 of the bottom unit 14 serving as the bottom wall of the dependent unit 16, and with the right-hand sidewall 42 of the independent upper unit 12 serving as the left-hand wall of the unit 16. The weight of the unit 16, and any additional weight thereon from other units or from objects disposed thereon, will tend to tighten the interlocking relationship.
It will be apparent that any number of dependent upper units 16 may be stacked one upon the other, according to the number of independent upper units 16 that are stacked above the unit 10, each of the vertically stacked units 16 being interengaged in a respective vertically stacked unit 12 adjacent thereto. it will also be apparent that a succession of any number of the dependent upper units 16 may extend to the right of the independent upper unit 12 on any level, provided there is a vertically registering unit 14 or 16 therebelow.
The present invention not only provides a modular furniture construction wherein the modules can readily and easily be assembled and interfitted without the requirement of additional fastening means, and wherein the weight of the modules and any articles stored therein tends to improve the interlocking relationship between the modules, but additionally the modules of the present invention uniquely lend themselves to a simplified construction and assembly of the individual modules, as is best illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 7. Thus, in the preferred form of the invention the individual walls of each module are separately fabricated, preferably of wood, and then these panels are suitably predrilled and adapted for conventional furniture fasteners for quick and easy assembly of the separate panels into the modules.
Although any suitable type fasteners may be employed, a particularly satisfactory type is illustrated in FIG. 7, comprising a bushed Phillips head stove bolt 88 with countersunk head, and a mating insert pallet nut 90.
This type of construction for the individual modules permits them to be stored and shipped in disassembled form, with the individual panels thereof stacked flat against each other, and then assembled either by the retailer or the ultimate purchaser. This type of module construction has a further and very important advantage, in that only a few different wall panel configurations are required despite the fact that there are four separate types of modules, one of which has five wall anels (the module two of which have four wall panels (the modules 12 and 14), and the other of which has three wall panels (the module 16). Thus, for any rectangular configuration of the modules, the bottom walls 18 and 54 of the respective modules 10 and 14 may be of identical configuration, and thereby manufactured with the use of the same tooling. Other wall panels of identical configuration are the two sidewall panels 22 and 24 of module 10 and the sidewall panel 58 of module 14; the two sidewall panels 40 and 42 of module 12 and the sidewall panels 76 of module 16; the top wall panels of all four of the modules; and the rear wall panels of all four of the modules.
Furthermore, in the preferred configuration of the invention wherein the modules are substantially cubical in assembled relationship, the rear wall panels of all four of the modules may be identical in configuration to the top wall panels of the modules, in which case there are only four separate types of wall panels required for the invention. In a minimum assemblage of only the four modules illustrated in FIG. 2, half of the wall panels will all be the same, namely, the four top wall panels and the four rear wall panels. In an assemblage of more of the modules, wherein an increased number of the upper dependent modules 16 are employed, the majority of the wall panels will be ofthis type.
While the instant invention has been shown and described herein in what is conceived to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is recognized that departures may be made therefrom within the scope of the invention, which is therefore not to be limited to the details disclosed herein.
l. Modular furniture structure which comprises a first vertical stack ofa plurality of self-supporting independent modules each having a top wall and a pair of sidewalls, and a second vertical stack of modules disposed adjacent to one side of said first stack with each module of said second stack disposed alongside a respective module of said first stack at substantially the same level, at least one module of said second stack being in wall sharing, dependent relation to the adjacent module of said first stack, having a top wall and an outer sidewall, said top wall of the dependent module being engaged each but the uppermost module in each of said vertical stacks serves as the bottom wall of the module immediately thereabove.
3. Structure as defined in claim 1, wherein each module of said second stack is in said wall sharing, dependent relation to the respective adjacent module ofsaid first stack.
4. Structure as defined in claim 3, wherein a plurality of said second stacks extend in sequence from said first stack, each module of each but the first of said second stacks being in wall sharing, dependent relation with the respective module of the preceding second stack, each having an outer sidewall that serves as the inner sidewall for the next added module in the sequence.
5. Structure as defined in claim 1, wherein said engagement of the top wall of the dependent module with said adjacent module is effected by means of a tongue projecting from the free side edge of such top wall and a generally complementary recess in the adjacent side edge of the top wall of said adjacent module, said tongue being engaged in said recess so as to overlap the upper edge of the shared sidewall of said adjacent module.
6. Structure as defined in claim 1, wherein each of said modules has a rear wall connected to its top and sidewalls.
7. Structure as defined in claim 6, wherein said rear walls of at least the modules above the lowermost module in each stack each have a tongue projecting downwardly from its lower edge, and said rear walls of at least the modules below the uppermost module in each stack each have a complementary recess in its upper edge, such tongue of each but the lowermost module in each stack being engaged in such recess of the module immediately therebelow.
8. Apparatus as defined in claim 1, wherein the lowermost module of each stack also includes a bottom wall.
9. Structure as defined in claim 1 wherein each module of said second stack is in said wall sharing, dependent relation to the respective adjacent module of said first stack, and wherein the top walls of all of the modules are of substantially the same configuration, each having a tongue projecting from one side edge thereof and a complementary recess in the other side edge thereof, said tongue of the top wall of'each dependent module being engaged in said recess of the top wall of the respective adjacent independent module so as to overlap the upper edge of the shared sidewall of said adjacent module, and said recesses in the top walls of the dependent modules being adapted to receive the tongues of additional dependent modules extending in sequence therewith.
10. Structure as defined in claim 9, wherein each of the modules has a rear wall connected to its top and sidewalls, each of said rear walls having a tongue projecting downwardly from its lower edge and a complementary recess in its upper edge, such tongue of each but the lowermost module in each stack being engaged in such recess of the module immediately therebelow, the rear walls of all of the modules having substantially the same configuration as the top walls.
11. Structure as defined in claim 10, wherein the sidewalls of at least all but the lowermost module in each stack are of substantially the same configuration.
12. Structure as defined in claim 11, wherein said sidewalls of the lowermost modules in said stacks are all of substantially the same configuration.
13. Structure as defined in claim 12, wherein the lowermost module of each stack includes a bottom wall, said bottom walls being of substantially the same configuration.
14. Structure as defined in claim 13, wherein the walls of each module are formed as separate, generally flat panels, and fastening means for securing the wall panels of each module together in assembled relationship.