US 3861325 A
A folding table is disclosed having a pair of top sections pivotally connected for movements between horizontal use positions and generally vertical storage positions. Each top section is provided with folding walls to form a study carrel. These include a pair of side walls pivotally connected to each end thereof for movements between storage positions against the top section and vertical use positions. A back wall member is pivotally mounted on each top section for movements from a vertical position to a horizontal table-top forming position overlying the folded side walls. The back wall member has a peripheral frame which acts as an outer stop means for the vertical side walls and also has an inner shelf which folds down to hold the side walls against the stop means.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
[ Jan. 21, 1975 1 1 CONVERTIBLE FOLDING TABLE-CARREL UNIT  Inventors: Richard C. Bue; Kermit H. Wilson,
both of Minneapolis, Mich.
 Assignee: Sico Incorporated, Minneapolis,
 Filed: Aug. 13, 1973  Appl. No.: 387,647
Related US. Application Data  Continuation of Ser. No. 267,064, June 28, 1973,
 US. Cl 108/13, 108/60, 108/99, 108/113, 312/258  Int. Cl A47b 85/00  Field of Search 108/33-36,
3,181,920 5/1965 Burr 108/61 X 3,276,401 10/1966 Wilson et al....... 108/113 3,550,540 12/1970 Albrecht et al.... 108/60 X 3,562,929 2/1971 Emore, Jr. 312/262 X 3,620,587 11/1971 Ahmann 312/223 Primary Examiner-Roy D. Frazier Assistant Examiner-William E. Lyddane Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Merchant, Gould, Smith & Edell  ABSTRACT A folding table is disclosed having a pair of top sections pivotally connected for movements between hor izontal use positions and generally vertical storage positions. Each top section is provided with folding walls to form a study carrel. These include a pair of side walls pivotally connected to each end thereof for movements between storage positions against the top section and vertical use positions. A back wall member is pivotally mounted on each top section for movements from a vertical position to a horizontal table-top forming position overlying the folded side walls. The back wall member has a peripheral frame which acts as an outer stop means for the vertical side walls and also has an inner shelf which folds down to hold the side walls against the stop means.
1 Claim, 8 Drawing Figures PATENTEU JAN? 1 5 SHEET 2 BF 2 CONVERTIBLE FOLDING TABLE-CARREL UNIT This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 267,064, filed June 28, 1973, now abandoned.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION l. Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to the field of convertible furniture and more particularly relates to a table-carrel unit convertible from a flat table having two hinged sections to a folded table for storage or divider wall usage, or a two-station carrel.
2. Description of the Prior Art Carrels are often used in schools today to provide privacy for students, especially in the use of audio-visual equipment. In some cases, carrels are built with permanently affixed partitions, but in other cases, the partitions are movable or foldable to permit the unit to also be used as a desk or table. Because of the high cost of furnishing modern schools, it is important that the furniture be capable of use for different purposes. While the prior art has recognized the need for this convertibility feature, the different approaches that have been taken to making the units convertible have not always been practical from a manufacturing standpoint or from the standpoint of durability over a period of long usage. Typically, the prior art units require complicated latching mechanisms or the like to retain the various moveable partitions in their carrel-forming positions. These latching or looking mechanisms make the units more difficult and expensive to manufacture, they tend to provide a distraction for students using the unit, and they tend to become inoperable after a period of usage. Because of their relative complexity, many prior art units have been unsuitable for use by unskilled students. Other structures have been unsafe for use in a classroom situation because of their heavy construction, and their insecure hinging and locking mechanisms.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The unit of the present invention can be converted from a two-station carrel to a flat table. The flat table can be folded for storage. In the storage position, the unit can be used as a mobile divider wall. In the preferred embodiment shown in the drawings, the folding table has two hinged sections, each of which can be used either as a single table or as a carrel. Each side of the unit functions independently of the other side.
In addition to its versatility, the unit is simple, reliable and safe to use. The unit is designed so that no complicated locking mechanisms are required to hold the unit in the carrel position. The wall partitions are interrelated so that they cooperate to hold each other in their carrel-forming positions. Because no mechanical lock is used to hold the partitions in their carrelforming positions, there is no likelihood that a malfunction will occur that will permit the partitions to collapse. Only by intentionally moving the shelf from its horizontal shelf position to its storage position can the unit be made to fold down to the table position. Because of the simplicity of its construction, even the most unskilled student can master the technique without difficulty. These and other features of the present invention will become evident in the following description of the preferred embodiment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a view in front elevation of a convertible study unit according to the present invention, in the configuration providing two side-by-side carrels;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along line 22 of FIG. 1, portions thereof being broken away;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view, on a smaller scale, of the convertible unit in the configuration providing a flat table;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view on the scale of FIG. 3. showing one of the table sections in the carrel configuration and the other table section in the flat table configuration;
FIG. 5 is a view in perspective of the convertible study unit folded to the storage position;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 4, portions thereof being broken away;
FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 2, showing the bottom of the unit, portions thereof being broken away; and
FIG. 8 is an enlarged vertical sectional view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 4, portions thereof being broken away.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals are used throughout the several views to indicate like elements of the invention, there is disclosed in FIG. 1 a convertible study unit having a table top 10 comprising two top sections 10a and 10b. Table top 10 is supported in a generally horizontal position by a frame 11 comprising two frame sections 11a and 11b secured to the bottom thereof. Frame sections 11a and 11b are connected together by a pair of hinges 12 and 13 that permit the frame sections and table top sections to be folded from the coplanar position shown in FIG. 1 to generally vertical, parallel storage positions shown in FIG. 5. Connected intermediate the ends of the frame sections 11a and 11b are pairs of leg members 14 and 15. Leg members 14 and 15 are pivotally connected to the frame sections at their upper ends. The bottom portion of each leg member is generally L- shaped, with the generally horizontally extending bottorn leg portion extending outwardly away from the center of the table. Crossbars l6 and 17 are secured to the outermost ends of the leg members 14 and 15 respectively. A pair of caster wheels are attached to the ends of each crossbar. This construction, and especially the L-shaped leg members, provide a stable support for the unit in the divider wall or storage position shown in FIG. 5. As shown in FIG. 1, each of the leg members 14 and 15 is made from two telescoping parts having matching holes so that the height of the table can be adjusted.
To hold the leg members 14 and 15 in a proper relationship, each is provided with a link member 18 and 19 respectively, which is pivotally connected from the leg member to a point on the opposite table top section. The linkage 18 and 19 is designed to retain the leg members 14 and 15 in generally vertical positions as the table is folded from the horizontal position of FIG. 3 to the vertical position of FIG. 5.
A generally U-shaped rod 20 is provided to lock the table in the horizontal position. One leg of the rod 20 extends through suitable openings formed in one side of each of the hinges 12 and 13. These aligned openings act as pivot points for the rod 20. The other leg of the U-shaped rod 20, which is shorter, can be pivoted downwardly between a pair of ears 13a and 13b on hinge 13, as best shown in FIG. 8, which tightly engage the rod 20 if the table is lifted at its center. In order to fold the table, the rod 20 is simply rotated about its longer leg to remove the short leg from between the ears 13a and 13b.
It will be here noted that each of the top sections a, 10b is provided with identical parts for forming their respective carrels and such parts will carry like identification in the following description. However, in the interest of brevity, only those parts associated with top 10a will be described in detail. Each of the table top sections is rectangular in shape, and can be considered to have an inner end edge adjacent the hinges 12 and 13, and an outer end edge opposite therefrom. The top sections also have front and back edges, with the front edges being shown in FIG. 1. A pair of side walls 22 and 23 are connected by hinges to the top surface of top section 10a directly adjacent the inner and outer edges thereof. As shown in FIG. 2, the side walls 22 and 23 have a bottom edge which is substantially equal in length to the width of its corresponding top section. The rear edge of the side walls is perpendicular to the bottom edge, but the front edge slopes rearwardly so that the top edge is somewhat shorter than the bottom edge. Because of the hinged connection, each side wall 22 and 23 is moveable between a storage position in which it is folded downwardly against the top section 10a, as best shown in FIGS. 6 and 8, and a vertical use position as shown in FIG. 1. In their use positions, the side walls 22 and 23 are generally parallel to each other.
A back wall member 24 is pivotally connected to the top section 10a for movements between an open position as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in which it is vertically disposed along the back edge of and extends partly below the horizontal top section 10a, and a closed position in which it overlies the folded side walls 22 and 23, as shown in FIGS. 4, 6 and 8, for example. Back wall member 24 has a peripheral frame 24a secured to the edges thereof so as to form a generally rectangular, box-like back wall member, which in the closed position has the frame extending downwardly around the edges of the side walls 22 and 23 and the top section 10a to hide such edges from view. The pivotal connection between the back wall member 24 and the top section 10a is provided by a pair of metal bracket members 25 attached to the opposite ends of the peripheral frame 24a and a pair of brackets 26 secured to the bottom surface of top section 10a adjacent the inner and outer end edges thereof. The corresponding pair of brackets 25 and 26 are connected together by a bolt or pin permitting the pivotal movements therebetween. In the open, vertical position of back wall member 24, as shown in FIG. 2, the rear portion of the peripheral frame 24a abuts the rear leg member to limit the pivotal movement of back wall member 24.
Another feature of the end portions of the peripheral frame 24a is that they act as stop means for the vertical side walls 22 and 23 to prevent outward swinging movements thereof. As shown in FIG. 2, the side walls have their back edges extending into the box-like back wall member so that they strike the inner surfaces of the peripheral frame 24a as they are swung upwardly to the open position. To prevent the side walls 22 and 23 fromcollapsing inwardly, a shelf 27 is pivotally connected by means of suitable pins at its opposite ends between the opposite end portions of the frame 240. The shelf 27 can thus be pivoted between a storage position shown in FIG. 6 in which it lies against or adjacent to an undersurface of the back wall member 24, and a shelf position as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 in which it extends horizontally outwardly from the open back wall member 24. In the horizontal shelf position shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the opposite ends of the shelf 27 engage the vertical side walls 22 and 23 to securely hold the side walls against the stop means defined by the peripheral frame 24a. The side walls 22 and 23 have shelf stop members 22a and 23a respectively, secured thereto. to support the shelf 27 in the horizontal shelfforming position. To hold the shelf in the storage position, it is provided with a spring-loaded latch 28 which cooperates with a corresponding latch strike 29 mounted on the inner surface of the top portion of the peripheral frame 24a, as best shown in FIG. 6.
To fold the carrel shown in FIG. 1 to the table position shown in FIG. 4, the shelf 27 is first folded upwardly to its storage position against the undersurface of back wall member 24. This permits the two side walls 22 and 23 to be folded downwardly against the top section 10a. Then, the back wall member 24 can be folded forwardly over the folded side walls to the position shown in FIG. 4. In this position, the upper surface of the back wall member acts as a usual or normal table surface.
As previously indicated, the carrel unit formed on top of top section 10b is constructed in identical fashion, so it need not be discussed in detail here. As shown in FIG. 4, the two carrel units can be independently operated so that use of one is not dependent upon use of the other. Both of the carrel units can be folded down as in FIG. 3 to form a large table. The large table of FIG. 3 can then be folded about the hinges l2 and 13 to the position shown in FIG. 5, so that the entire unit can be stored in a small space, or used as a divider wall. Typically, a number of these units would be placed side-by-side to form a long divider wall. These divider walls can be used in cafeterias or the like to divide a large area into semi-private spaces.
A barrier strip 30 is secured to the undersurface of the back wall member 24, between the back wall member and a rear edge of the top section 10a to effectively close the gap therebetween when the back wall member 24 is in its open position. When the back wall member 24 is folded downwardly, this barrier strip 30 engages the surface of the folded down side walls 22 and 23 to provide added support for the table top, as shown in FIG. 6.
The present invention thus provides a convertible table-carrel-divider wall unit which is relatively simple in construction, easy to manufacture and simple to operate. These and other features of the present invention are more fully defined in the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A convertible table-carrel unit comprising:
a. a top section having a back edge and opposite end edges;
b. base means for supporting said top section in a generally horizontal plane;
c. a pair of side walls having inner and outer surfaces,
said side walls being oppositely hinged to said top d. a back wall member pivotally connected to said top section for movement between an open, carrelforming position in which it is vertically disposed along said back edge of and extends partly below said top section, and-a closed, table-forming position in which it overlies the side walls in their inwardly and downwardly folded storage positions;
. a peripheral frame secured to the edges of said back wall member, which in the closed position of the back wall member extends downwardly to hide the edges of the side walls and top section, the opposite ends of said peripheral frame providing stop members having inner surfaces thereon and extending forwardly from said back wall member in the open position thereof, the distance between the inner surfaces of said stop members being the same as the distance between the outer surfaces of said side walls in the open positions thereof so that in the open position of said back wall member said stop members limit said upward and outward movement of said side walls;
f. shelf means hinged longitudinally to said back wall member for pivotal movement between a closed position parallel thereto and an open position extending horizontally forward from said back wall member in the open position thereof, between said side walls, the length of said shelf means being the same as the distance between the inner surfaces of said side walls in their open positions, whereby said side walls are gripped between said stop members and the ends of said shelf means in the open position of said back wall member, said side walls, and said shelf means;
g. and means carried by said side walls on the inner surfaces thereof for limiting the forward pivotal movement of said shelf means.
UNITED STATES PATENT @FFICE CERTIFICATE OF CGREQTION PATENT NO. 3, 51,325 DATED Jan, 2l 1975 lNVENTOR(5) I Richard C. Bue; Kermit H. Wilson It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are hereby corrected as shown below;
On the clever sheet item  should read as follows:
 Assignee: Sico Incorporated, Minneapolis, Minn.
Assignee of the Entire Interest of Richard C. Bue
Signed and sealed this 15th day of July 1975.
C. MARSHALL DANN RUTH C. MASON Commissioner 0f Patents Attesting Officer and Trademarks