The invention is a shelf assembly with a hidden compartment accessed by a sequential multi-stage lock. The shelf assembly may be utilized for security of personal or business items. The shelf assembly may be constructed from a flexible material, such as a polymer, or from wood or metal for installation in a house, office, boat, or RV.
The shelf assembly includes a receptacle having first through fourth lateral sides and a floor defining a compartment. The assembly also includes a shelf for engaging and sliding along the second and third lateral sides of the receptacle between a closed position for covering/hiding the compartment and an open position exposing the compartment. The shelf may include channels engaging ledges on the receptacle to facilitate sliding of the shelf. The multi-stage lock includes a latch mechanism for selectively locking the shelf to the receptacle in the closed position and unlocking the shelf for shifting thereof into the open position. The multi-stage lock further includes an articulating support mechanism for selectively blocking actuation of the latch mechanism to maintain the closed position and unblocking actuation of the latch mechanism to permit sliding the shelf into the open position.
The articulating support mechanism may include one or more rods, each operatively connected to an individual moveable buttress, configured to shift along the fourth lateral side and to support the shelf in the closed position to block actuation of the latch mechanism. An embodiment may include first and second rods, each configured to support the shelf in the closed position (and block actuation of the latch mechanism), plus first and second rotatable cams connected to corresponding first and second rods. The articulating support mechanism may additionally include first and second links and a synchronizing seesaw element. Each link may be pivotably connected to the seesaw element and one respective rod to synchronously shift the two rods and selectively block and unblock actuation of the latch mechanism. The shelf assembly may include first and second rotatable buttresses operatively connected to respective first and second cams.
The latch mechanism may include a shelf-mounted catch and a fourth lateral side mounted flange, such that the catch may engage and clasp the flange. If the shelf is constructed from a flexible material, the shelf may deflect to release the catch from the flange when the shelf is depressed perpendicular to the shelf surface and actuation of the latch mechanism is unblocked by the articulating support mechanism. The latch mechanism may include a spring-loaded plunger configured to press the catch against the flange. Reliefs in receptacle second and third lateral sides may facilitate deflection of the catch around the flange for selective locking and unlocking of the shelf relative to the receptacle. The multi-stage lock may additionally include a spring-loaded and key-activated pawl mechanism for engaging a groove in the seesaw element and thereby selectively blocking and unblocking movement of the seesaw element and controlling actuation of the latch mechanism.