Patent application title: Drywall Sander
James R. Momper (Cincinnati, OH, US)
James L. Hurt (Batavia, OH, US)
HMB PRODUCTS, LLC
IPC8 Class: AB24D1502FI
Class name: Abrading tool support for flexible-member tool
Publication date: 2014-09-11
Patent application number: 20140256237
A sanding tool including a blade and a handle, the blade having first and
second opposing faces. An attachment layer removably secures to the
sanding tool at the opposing faces, thereby to provide opposing abrasive
layers on opposing sides of the blade. The shape of the blade, with a
wider yet thinner top end, and a reduced thickness from a bottom side
thereof to a top edge thereof, reduces hand strain when sanding drywall,
and also helps to assure uniform sanding and avoidance of hand injury
when sanding corners, in a cost-effective manner.
1. A drywall sander comprising: a substantially rigid blade having a
first face and a second face, a top edge, and a bottom side; a
substantially elongated handle extending from the bottom side of the
blade; and an abrasive layer, wherein the abrasive layer covers a first
portion on the first face of the blade, extends over the top edge, and
covers a second portion on the second face of the blade.
2. The drywall sander of claim 1 further comprising: a substantially thin backing layer, wherein the backing layer is positioned between the blade and the abrasive layer on both the first face and the second face of the blade.
3. The drywall sander of claim 1, wherein the width of the blade decreases from the top edge to the bottom side.
4. The drywall sander of claim 1, wherein the abrasive layer is sandpaper.
5. The drywall sander of claim 2, wherein the backing layer further comprises a buffer layer of foam.
6. The drywall sander of claim 2, wherein the blade decreases in thickness from the bottom side to the top edge.
7. An attachment for a drywall sander comprising: an abrasive layer; a backing layer supporting the abrasive layer; a substantially central fold, wherein the fold establishes a first fold side and a second fold side; and an attachment associated with the backing layer, whereby the attachment may be positioned on a substantially flat and substantially rigid surface having a first face, a second face, and a top edge such that the first fold side is positioned over a first portion of the first face of the surface, the second fold side is positioned over a second portion of the second face of the surface, and the fold is positioned substantially over the top edge of the surface, and wherein the attachment is positioned such that the backing layer may be releasably attached to the first and second faces so as to substantially expose the abrasive layer in opposite directions.
8. The drywall sander attachment of claim 7, wherein the abrasive layer and the backing layer comprise sandpaper.
9. The drywall sander attachment of claim 7, wherein the backing layer comprises a layer of foam.
10. The drywall sander attachment of claim 9 wherein the blade decreases in thickness from the bottom side to the top edge.
11. The drywall sander attachment of claim 10 wherein, on each side thereof, the shape of the abrasive layer is specific to a designated region of the blade.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to a drywall sander, and more particularly to a hand-held manually-operated drywall sander that can be used advantageously for sanding dry wall and other surfaces.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Abrasive sheets, such as conventional sandpaper, are commonly used to hand sand or finish a work surface. In hand sanding, a user holds the sandpaper directly in his or her hand to move the sandpaper across the work surface. Sanding by hand can be an arduous task. To facilitate the hand sanding process it has been common to hold the sandpaper on a sanding block. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,168,672 discloses a sanding block with a handle and a base to which an abrasive paper sheet may be attached. This type of sanding block and other known sanding blocks suffer from one or more drawbacks.
 For example, tensioning the sandpaper is a desirable feature of sanding blocks, but it is often difficult to load the sandpaper and get it tight. If the sandpaper is not tight, it may wrinkle, and the wrinkles may snag on the work surface and cause the abrasive media to tear or the work surface to be damaged or sanded unevenly. Further, users may experience difficulty in installing sandpaper on a sanding block, as some sanding blocks require both ends of the abrasive sheet to be installed on the sanding block simultaneously. Sanding blocks also tend to be difficult and/or expensive to manufacture.
 With respect to sanding dry wall, sanding blocks reveal additional shortcomings. In particular, sanding blocks present difficulties when sanding corners and other areas where two or more panels of dry wall meet. In trying to reach tight spots with a sanding block, users may have to repeatedly reposition themselves and/or readjust their grip on the sanding block. Constant repositioning by the user and constant reconfiguring of the sanding tool can lead to decreased efficiency and uneven sanding. Further, sanding block users are subjected to contact between their fingers and the sidewalls, which may result in injury or cause a user to go to great pains to avoid such contact, which again may result in uneven sanding.
 Some sanding devices in the prior art have offered solutions to one or more of these concerns. For example, some devices have included a hand grip with a sanding tool. Other sanding tools have been created with elongated constructions such that corners are more easily reached. However, while these devices may address one or more of the above-described concerns, such devices fail to address all of these concerns.
 It is an object of this invention to simultaneously address all of the above-described concerns, namely to increase sanding efficiency, to minimize sanding injury and/or user fatigue, to more readily sand access corners, and to assure consistent and high quality sanding, and to do so at relatively low expense.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 Generally, the present invention achieves the above-stated objects with a drywall sander, i.e., a sanding tool, having a substantially rigid blade with a first face and a second face, a top edge, and a bottom side, and a substantially elongated handle extending from the bottom side. The sanding tool includes an abrasive layer which covers a first portion on the first face of the blade, extends over the top edge, and covers a second portion on the second face of the blade. The sanding tool may include a substantially thin backing layer that is positioned between the blade and the abrasive layer. The backing layer may include or actually may be a buffer layer. According to an aspect of the invention, the rigid blade has a non-uniform thickness, being thicker near the handle and thinner near the edge, so as to have a triangular shape when viewed from the side.
 According to one aspect of the invention, the abrasive layer removably attaches to the drywall sander on the first and second faces, and has a substantially central fold, and serves as part of a sanding attachment. In the most simple and straightforward understanding of the invention, the sanding attachment comprises sandpaper, with the backing layer being the paper backing of the sandpaper and the abrasive layer being the abrasive front surface of the sandpaper. Preferably, the sanding attachment attaches to the blade by any structural manner which permits ready attachment and detachment, such as being hoop and loop fasteners (i.e., Velcro fastener), secured to the first and second faces and to the backside of the backing layer, i.e., the back of the sandpaper.
 Thus, the sanding attachment is positioned over the rigid blade so as to extend over the top edge and to cover some or all of the first and second faces. Then the attachment is attached to the first and second surfaces with the abrasive layer exposed on opposite sides of the blade.
 Various exemplary embodiments of the present invention include a method for using the sanding tool described above.
 These and other features of the invention will be more readily understood in view of the following drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a drywall sander according to a first preferred embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the drywall sander shown in FIG. 1.
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the attachment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.
 FIG. 4 shows a plan view of another preferred embodiment of the drywall sander of this invention.
 FIG. 5 shows a side view of the drywall sander shown in FIG. 4.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 The following list identifies the associated elements of FIGS. 1-3. The present application incorporates by references, in its entirety, previously filed (and now expired) U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/357,279, filed Jun. 22, 2010. In that prior provisional, the invention generally refers to a sanding tool. To some extent, that description is carried over here, but this device is also referred to herein as a drywall scraper, or a drywall sander. Such terms are generally deemed equivalent in this context of this specification.
 10 sanding tool
 15 attachment
 20 blade
 21 first face
 23 top edge
 24 bottom side
 25 elongated handle
 30 abrasive layer
 35 backing layer
 40 central fold
 41 first fold side
 42 second fold side
 25 adhesive
 More specifically, FIG. 1 shows a drywall sander, or a sanding tool 10, according to a first preferred embodiment of the invention. The sanding tool 10 has a substantially rigid blade 20 with a first face 21, a second face, a top edge 23, and a bottom side 24. In the exemplary first preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the first face 21 of the blade 20 and the second face of the blade 20 are substantially identical. The sanding tool 10 also has a substantially elongated handle 25 extending from the bottom side 24 of the blade 20.
 The sanding tool 10 further includes an abrasive layer 30. The abrasive layer 30 covers a first portion on the first face of the blade 20, extends over the top edge 23, and covers a second portion on the second face of the blade 20. Thus, the abrasive layer 30 is exposed on opposing sides of the sanding tool 10. As shown in FIG. 1, the sanding tool 10 includes a substantially thin backing layer 35 which is positioned between the blade and the abrasive layer. In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention as shown in FIG. 1, the abrasive layer 30 covers a substantial portion, but not the entire backing layer 35. In one variation of the invention, the backing layer 35 may be a buffer layer of foam. In its simplest foam, the attachment 15 is an appropriately sized piece of sandpaper, with a paper backing layer 35 and an abrasive front surface 30, and structure for securing the paper backing 35 to the opposing faces of the blade 20.
 As shown in FIG. 1, the top edge 23 is wider than the bottom side 24. In an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the blade width decreases from the top edge 23 to the bottom side 24. Further, in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, and as shown in FIG. 1, the abrasive layer 30 and the backing layer 35 are cut to maintain substantially the same widths as portions of the blade 20 which they cover.
 As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, angles created by the top edge 23 of the blade 20 and sides of the blade 20, and mirrored by the abrasive layer 30 (and also the backing layer 35, if included), are acute angles. The acute angles, combined with a relative flatness of the sanding tool, allows for efficient sanding in corners. In particular, the acute angles of the sanding tool 10 allow for increased access into corners and other tight areas. Further, such exemplary embodiments allow a user to more easily avoid hand contact between the sanding tool 10 and nearby walls during sanding. This advantage is not lost when the second preferred embodiment is used, with the blade 120 of non-uniform thickness, which decreases from the bottom side 24 to the top edge 23.
 As noted above, in a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the abrasive layer 30 and the backing layer 35 are achieved via conventional sandpaper, as an attachment 15 to the tool. FIGS. 2 and 3 show more details of the attachment 15 for the sanding tool 10, with FIG. 2 showing an exploded perspective view of the attachment 15 as it circumscribes the hand tool 10 and particularly the blade 20, and FIG. 3 showing the attachment 15 by itself.
 According to one variation of the present invention, the backing layer may include, or may be a buffer layer of foam. In the embodiment which uses the buffer layer, the sanding tool allows a user to more easily control a force applied to an area to be sanded. In particular, by absorbing some of the force a user applies to the sanding tool 10, the buffer layer provides flexibility in a range of forces a user can apply to the sanding tool 10.
 The attachment 15 includes a substantially central fold 40 which establishes a first fold side 41 and a second fold side 42. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the abrasive layer 30 is applied to the backing layer 35 after the central fold 40 is established in the backing layer 35, so that the abrasive layer 30 will be less susceptible to cracking.
 The attachment 15 is positioned on the substantially flat and substantially rigid first face 21, second face, and a top edge 23 of the blade 20. More specifically, the first fold side 41 is positioned over a first portion of the first face 21, the second fold side 42 is positioned over a second portion of the second face, and the fold 40 is positioned substantially over the top edge 23. The attachment 15 is positioned such that the backing layer is releasably attached to the blade 20 by an attaching structure which may be selected from the following group: adhesives 45, hooks and fasteners, snaps, buckles, and hooks. As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, once the attachment 15 is mounted, the abrasive layer is substantially exposed on opposite sides of the blade 20 to which it is attached. The attachment 15 and its corresponding abrasive layers can thereafter be removed from the blade 20 and replaced with a new abrasive layer, at a user's preference. This will typically occur due to wear.
 The present invention also relates to a method for using a sanding tool, and also the method of preparing a sanding tool for use, in the manner described herein. More specifically, the method for using a sanding tool comprises the steps of applying the abrasive layer of the sanding tool to an area designated for sanding. Because the abrasive layer is exposed on opposing sides of the blade 20 of the sanding tool 10, the user may use either side of the device. With the ability to use either side, a user can avoid the need for constant repositioning while sanding, and thus can be more efficient. Similarly, the shape of the handle 25, 125 (i.e., preferably rounded, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5) and the shape of the blade 20, 120 help to reduce injury and user fatigue, while also providing access to corners, all of which help to assure consistent and high quality sanding. Moreover, the device 10, 110 is relatively inexpensive.
 FIGS. 4 and 5 show another preferred embodiment of the invention, which for the most part uses the same reference numbers as FIGS. 1-3, but with the number "1" appended at the first end, to indicate the numbers between 100 and 200. More specifically, the drywall sander 110 of FIGS. 4 and 5 includes a rounded handle 125 and an arcuately shaped blade 120 (when viewed in a first direction). The thickness of the blade 120 (when considered in a second direction, perpendicular to the first) increases from a top edge 123 to a bottom side 124. As shown in FIG. 5, the blade 120 appears triangular in side view. This variation in the thickness of the blade 120 facilitates sanding in certain circumstances, because the user has more leverage.
 FIG. 4 shows a darkened zone 126 which designates a portion of the surface to which an attaching structure 115 may be attached, such as by using a hook and loop attaching structure. With this arrangement, the removable attachment 115, in this case sandpaper, can be specifically shaped to cover specifically desired shapes of the opposing sides of the scraper 120.
 While this invention has been described in conjunction with the specific embodiments outlined above, it is evident that a number of alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the preferred embodiments of the invention as set forth above are intended to be illustrative, not limiting. Various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
Patent applications in class TOOL SUPPORT FOR FLEXIBLE-MEMBER TOOL
Patent applications in all subclasses TOOL SUPPORT FOR FLEXIBLE-MEMBER TOOL