Public Patent

Adjustable guide rail for hand tools

Abstract

A method and apparatus are provided for constructing and operating an adjustable guide rail for hand tools, by attaching an elongated blade to a guide with a locking ratcheting apparatus. The locking ratcheting apparatus is thumb-operable. The elongated blade includes a first series of teeth. The guide includes the moveable thumb-operable latch. The latch has a second series of teeth which are selectively moveable into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade for selectively preventing and allowing sliding movement of the elongated blade with respect to the guide. The teeth allow incremental adjustment of the guide rail apparatus.

Claims

1. An adjustable guide rail for hand tools, comprising, an elongated blade which is operatively attached to guide by a locking ratcheting apparatus.

2. The adjustable guide rail of claim 1, wherein the locking ratcheting apparatus is thumb-operable.

3. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 1, wherein the elongated blade includes a first series of teeth, and the guide includes a movable thumb-operable latch having a second series of teeth which are selectively movable by the thumb-operable latch into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade, for selectively preventing and allowing sliding movement of the elongated blade with respect to the guide.

4. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 3, wherein the thumb-operable latch is spring loaded by a spring to urge the second series of teeth on the thumb-operable latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the blade.

5. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 4, wherein the thumb-operable latch is biased by the spring to urge the second series of teeth on the latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade when the thumb-operable latch is in a normally non-actuated position whereat thumb-pressure is not being exerted on the latch.

6. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 5, wherein: the locking ratcheting apparatus includes a slider and a cover operatively attached to the elongated blade and guide respectively; the slider being fixedly attached to the elongated blade and defining the first series of teeth; the guide and cover, in combination, defining a slot for sliding receipt therein of the slider; the cover including a portion thereof forming the movable thumb-operable latch.

7. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 6, wherein the portion of the cover forming the movable thumb-operable latch also forms the spring.

8. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 6, wherein the guide includes a guide surface thereof.

9. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 7, wherein the guide surface of the guide is oriented perpendicularly to the slot.

10. An adjustable guide rail for hand tools, comprising, an elongated blade which is operatively attached to guide by a thumb-operable locking ratcheting apparatus; the thumb-operable locking ratcheting apparatus including a slider and a cover operatively attached to the elongated blade and guide respectively; the slider being fixedly attached to the elongated blade and defining a first series of teeth; the guide and cover, in combination, defining a slot for sliding receipt therein of the slider; the cover including a portion thereof forming a movable thumb-operable latch having a second series of teeth which are selectively movable by the thumb-operable latch into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade, for selectively preventing and allowing sliding movement of the elongated blade with respect to the guide.

11. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 10, wherein the thumb-operable latch is spring loaded by a spring to urge the second series of teeth on the thumb-operable latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the blade.

12. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 11, wherein the thumb-operable latch is biased by the spring to urge the second series of teeth on the latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the slider when the thumb-operable latch is in a normally non-actuated position whereat thumb-pressure is not being exerted on the latch.

13. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 12, wherein the portion of the cover forming the movable thumb-operable latch also forms the spring.

14. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 11, wherein the guide includes a guide surface thereof.

15. The adjustable guide rail apparatus of claim 14, wherein the guide surface of the guide is oriented perpendicularly to the slot.

16. A method for operating an adjustable guide rail for hand tools, the method comprising, operatively connecting an elongated blade to a guide of the adjustable guide rail with a locking ratcheting apparatus.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the locking ratcheting apparatus is thumb-operable, and the method includes adjusting the relative position of the elongated blade while applying thumb-pressure to the thumb-operable locking apparatus.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the elongated blade includes a first series of teeth, and the guide includes a movable thumb-operable latch having a second series of teeth which are selectively movable by the thumb-operable latch into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade, for selectively preventing and allowing sliding movement of the elongated blade with respect to the guide, and the method includes selectively moving the second series of teeth into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth.

19. The method of claim 17, further comprising spring biasing the thumb-operable latch to urge the second series of teeth on the thumb-operable latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the blade.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising, spring biasing the second series of teeth on the latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade when the thumb-operable latch is in a normally non-actuated position whereat thumb-pressure is not being exerted on the latch.

Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS

[0001] This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/562,648 filed Apr. 15, 2004, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to hand tools, and more particularly to an adjustable guide rail for hand tools.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The operation of many hand tools, such as circular saws, jig saws, or routers, and the like, is facilitated for some tasks through the attachment of an adjustable guide rail to the housing of the and tool, for guiding the hand tool in a path that is parallel to an edge of a work piece. In general, such adjustable guide rails for hand tools include an elongated blade which is inserted into a slot in the housing of hand tool and locked in place. A guide portion of the adjustable guide rail, having a slot therein for receipt of the elongated blade, is then moved along the elongated blade to place an edge guide portion of the guide in proper position to abut the edge of a work piece to be cut or worked by the hand tool.

[0004] In general, the guide portion of prior adjustable guide rails for hand tools is locked to the elongated blade of the adjustable guide rail by a screw, which must be loosened in order to move the guide along the elongated blade. In order to lock the screw securely enough in place to prevent movement of the guide along the elongated blade, during operation of the hand tool, it is often necessary to tighten the screw with a screwdriver, an allen wrench, or other appropriate tool. The necessity for using such tools to make adjustments to the guide rail is undesirable. Adjustment arrangements utilized in prior adjustable guide rails also typically do not provide a means for readily incrementally adjusting the position of the guide along the elongated blade.

[0005] What is needed, therefore, is an improved apparatus and method for providing guidance of a hand tool with respect to the edge of a work piece.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The invention provides an improved method and apparatus for constructing and operating an adjustable guide rail for hand tools, by attaching an elongated blade to a guide with a locking ratcheting apparatus. The locking ratcheting apparatus may be thumb-operable.

[0007] In one form of the invention, an adjustable guide rail apparatus includes an elongated blade having a first series of teeth, and a guide including a moveable thumb-operable latch having a second series of teeth which are selectively moveable by the thumb-operable latch into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade, for selectively preventing and allowing sliding movement of the elongated blade with respect to the guide. The teeth allow for incremental adjustment of the position of the guide along the elongated blade.

[0008] A thumb-operable latch, in an adjustable guide rail apparatus according to the invention, may include a spring for urging the second series of teeth on the thumb-operable latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the blade. The latch may be biased by the spring to urge the second series of teeth on the latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade, when the thumb-operable latch is in a normally non-actuated position whereat thumb-pressure is not being exerted on the latch.

[0009] A locking ratcheting apparatus, according to the invention, may include a slider and a cover operatively attached to the elongated blade and guide respectively of an adjustable guide rail apparatus according to the invention. The slider may be fixedly attached to the elongated blade and define the first series of teeth. The guide and cover, in combination, may define a slot for sliding receipt therein of the slider. The cover may include a portion thereof forming the moveable thumb-operable latch. The portion of the cover forming the moveable thumb-operable latch may also form the spring. The guide may include a guide surface thereof. The guide surface of the guide may be oriented perpendicularly to the slot.

[0010] The invention may also take the form of a method for operating an adjustable guide rail for hand tools, with the method including operatively connecting an elongated blade to a guide of the adjustable guide rail with a locking ratcheting apparatus. Where the locking ratcheting apparatus is thumb-operable, a method, according to the invention, may include adjusting the relative position of the guide on the elongated blade while applying thumb-pressure to the thumb-operable locking apparatus. Where the elongated blade includes a first series of teeth, and the guide includes a moveable thumb-operable latch having a second series of teeth which are selectively moveable by the thumb-operable latch into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade, the method may include selectively moving the second series of teeth into and out of engagement with the first series of teeth, for selectively preventing and allowing sliding movement of the elongated blade with respect to the guide.

[0011] A method, according to the invention, may further comprise spring biasing the thumb-operable latch to urge the second series of teeth on the thumb-operable latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the blade. A method, according to the invention, may further include spring biasing the second series of teeth on the latch into engagement with the first series of teeth on the elongated blade when the thumb-operable latch is in a normally non-actuated position whereat thumb-pressure is not being exerted on the latch.

[0012] Other aspects, objectives and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

[0014] FIGS. 1 and 2 are perspective top and bottom views, respectively, of an exemplary embodiment of an adjustable guide rail for circular saws and jigsaws, according to the invention.

[0015] FIGS. 3 and 4, respectively, are orthographic top and bottom views of the adjustable guide rail for circular saws and jigsaws of FIGS. 1 and 2.

[0016] FIGS. 5 and 6 are partial orthographic views of the exemplary embodiment of the guide rail shown in FIGS. 1-4, illustrating the manner in which a thumb actuated latch, according to the invention, is actuated for making adjustments in the position of the guide rail.

[0017] FIG. 7 is a left side view of the adjustable guide rail of the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 3.

[0018] FIG. 8 is a right side view of the exemplary embodiment of the adjustable guide rail shown in FIG. 3.

[0019] FIG. 9 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of the exemplary embodiment of the adjustable guide rail shown in FIG. 3, taken along line 9-9 as shown in FIG. 5.

[0020] FIG. 10 is a top view of the exemplary embodiment of the adjustable guide rail shown in FIG. 4.

[0021] FIG. 11 is a bottom view of the exemplary embodiment of the adjustable guide rail shown in FIG. 4.

[0022] FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of the exemplary embodiment of the adjustable guide rail shown in FIGS. 1-11.

[0023] While the invention will be described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, there is no intent to limit it to those embodiments. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0024] FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective representation of the components which are assembled to form the exemplary embodiment of an adjustable guide rail 10 for circular saws and jigsaws, shown in assembled form in FIGS. 1-11. The adjustable guide rail 10 includes an elongated blade 12, which is attached to a guide 14 by a locking ratcheting latch apparatus 16. The blade 12 and guide 14 include scribed graduations to facilitate adjustment of a guide rail 10. In general, the blade 12 and guide 14 of the guide rail 10 function in a typical manner for guide rails of this type. The blade 12 is inserted into a slot in the housing of a circular or jigsaw, and locked in place. The guide 14 is then moved along the blade to place an edge guide portion 17 of the guide in proper position to abut the edge of a work piece to be cut by the saw.

[0025] In the exemplary embodiment of the adjustable guide rail 10, according to the invention, the blade 12 is attached to a slider 18 of the locking ratcheting latch apparatus 16 and slidingly inserted into a slot 19 in the guide 14. A cover 20 of the locking and ratcheting latch assembly 16 secures the slider 18 in the slot 19 of the guide 14.

[0026] A portion of the cover 20 is configured to form a moveable thumb latch 22 having a series of teeth 24 on one face thereof, for selective engagement with a mating series of teeth 26 on the slider 18. As shown in FIG. 5, the thumb latch 22 is configured in such a manner that the teeth 24 on the thumb latch are spring loaded into engagement with the teeth 26 on the slider 18 when the thumb latch is in a normally non-depressed position. As shown in FIG. 6, when the thumb latch 22 is depressed, the teeth 24 on the thumb latch disengage from the teeth on the slider 26, thereby allowing the position of the guide 14 relative to the blade 12 and slider 18 to be adjusted.

[0027] All references, including publications, patent applications, and patents, cited herein are hereby incorporated by reference to the same extent as if each reference were individually and specifically indicated to be incorporated by reference and were set forth in its entirety herein.

[0028] The use of the terms "a" and "an" and "the" and similar referents in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) is to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. The terms "comprising," "having," "including," and "containing" are to be construed as open-ended terms (i.e., meaning "including, but not limited to,") unless otherwise noted. Recitation of ranges of values herein are merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range, unless otherwise indicated herein, and each separate value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as") provided herein, is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention unless otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element as essential to the practice of the invention.

[0029] Preferred embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Variations of those preferred embodiments may become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. For example, those having skill in the art will recognize that, although the exemplary embodiments described above relate to an adjustable guide for use with circular saws or jig saws, an adjustable guide according to the invention may also be used with other types of hand tools as well, such as a router.

[0030] The inventors expect skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.

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