||Gallo, Joseph S.;
A stem cleaner for cutting away thorns, excess foliage and the like from stems having a flexible handle with two free ends to which are attached at least one cutting blade capable of being pressed against a stem. The cutting blade is shaped so as to prevent damage to the outer stem bark: the stem-contact surface is wide along the stem length direction; oblique-angle transitions are provided between that surface and surfaces sloping away from the stem-contact surface; and a sharpened cutting edge for cutting away the thorns and foliage is spaced outwardly from the stem-contact surface to prevent its contact with the stem bark.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to stem cleaners for removing thorns and excess foilage from flower stems.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In general, the invention features a stem cleaner having a flexible handle with two free ends to which are attached at least one cutting blade capable of being pressed against a stem. The cutting blade is shaped so as to prevent damage to the outer stem bark: the stem-contact surface is wide along the stem length direction; the transitions provided between that surface and surfaces sloping away from the stem-contact surface are adapted to prevent such damage (e.g., by providing an oblique angle between the surfaces); and a sharpened cutting edge for cutting away the thorns and foliage is spaced outwardly from the stem-contact surface to prevent its contact with the stem bark.
In preferred embodiments, there are two cutting blades, one at each free end; the blades have trapezoidal cross sections; the flexible handle comprises two members attached to each other at one end; each of the cutting blades has two edges generally parallel to the longitudinal axis of the stem cleaner; the sharpened edges are formed at the acute-angle intersections of inclined surfaces; one of the edges is made into a knife, for cutting stems, by forming a more acute angle at the surface intersections; the handle is plastic to which is affixed separately formed metal cutting blades; the stem-wise width of the cutting blade is greater than 0.2 inches; the transitions between the stem-contact surface and adjoining surfaces is an oblique angle (preferably greater than 100.degree.).
The stem cleaner can be positioned around the flower stem and moved up and down to remove thorns and unwanted foliage without stripping of the surface bark from the stem, because the stem-contacting surfaces of the blades are wide enough to prevent such stripping, because transitions between the stem-contacting surface and the remaining surfaces of the blade include no sharp corners, and because the sharpened cutting surfaces that cut off the thorns and unwanted foliage are spaced from the inner face of the cutting blade so the cutting surface never comes in contact with the stem surface.
Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the description of the preferred embodiment, thereof, and from the claims.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
We turn now to the structure and operation of the preferred embodiment, first briefly describing the drawings thereof.
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the stem cleaner.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the cutting blades of the stem cleaner.
FIG. 3 is a sectional view taken along 3--3 of FIG. 2.
Referring to the drawings, stem cleaner 10 has flexible handle 11 with free ends 12, 14 joined at bas 16 (all one molded plastic piece).
Metal cutting blades 18,20 are each attached to one of the free ends. The cutting blades have smooth, stem-contacting surfaces 26, 28, surfaces 22, 36 sloping away from the stem-contacting surfaces, and outer surfaces 30, 32. The acute-angle intersections of outer surfaces 30, 32 and sloping surfaces 22, 36 form cutting edges 34.
The stem cleaner is positioned around flower stem 38, the handles are pressed together so that the inner faces of the cutting blades contact the stem, and the cleaner is then slid along the length of the stem such that the sharpened cutting edges 34 remove thorns 40 and excess foliage without coming in contact with the surface of the stem.
The stem-wise width A of stem-contact surfaces 26, 28 is about 0.75 inches, which is sufficiently large to prevent an excessive squeezing of the blades from putting so much pressure on the stem as to damage it or strip away its bark. Also, the oblique angle B (about 135.degree. and preferably greater than 100.degree.) between the stem-contact surface and sloping surfaces 22 works to prevent bark from being stripped away or other damage to the stem.
The sharpened cutting edge created by more gradually sloping surface 36 can be used as a knife to cut stems.
Other embodiments are within the following claims. E.g., the cleaner is still effective in removing thorns and excess foliage, without damaging the outer bark of the stem, if the stem-contact width A is as little as 0.2 inch and if a different-shaped transition is provided between the stem-contacting surfaces 26, 28 and the sloping-way surfaces 22 (e.g., instead of two flat surfaces 26, 22 joined at oblique angle B, a single curved surface could be provided).