Title:
Connector fitting for railing components
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fitting for assembling a hollow railing to a generally cylindrical support structure includes a first end and a second end. The first end has a generally circular face forming a concavity that conforms to the curvature of the generally cylindrical support structure. The second end forms a socket adapted to receive an end of the railing to connect the railing with the support structure.



Inventors:
Terrels, Christopher J. (Ocean View, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/105027
Publication Date:
10/13/2005
Filing Date:
04/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04F11/18; E04H17/14; (IPC1-7): E04H17/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FERGUSON, MICHAEL P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RATNERPRESTIA (King of Prussia, PA, US)
Claims:
1. A fitting for connecting a railing to a generally cylindrical support element, said fitting comprising a one-piece cylindrical body having a saddle end and a socket end, said saddle end having a generally circular face forming a concavity that conforms to the curvature of the cylindrical support element, and said socket end forming a hollow section surrounded by an inner wall, said one-piece body further comprising a stud member projecting out of the hollow section in the socket end to form a circumferential socket between said stud and the inner wall of the hollow section, said socket being adapted to receive an end of the railing over the stud to assemble the railing to the support element.

2. The fitting of claim 1 comprising an anchoring element and an elongated bore that extends along the longitudinal axis of the fitting, said anchoring element extending through said elongated bore.

3. The fitting of claim 1, wherein the one-piece cylindrical body comprises a fastener and a port extending through the one-piece body generally perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of the fitting, said fastener extending through said port and into said socket.

4. The fitting of claim 1, wherein the saddle end comprises a chamfered edge adjacent to said generally circular face, said chamfered edge configured to mate flush with an adjacent fitting on the support element.

5. The fitting of claim 1 comprising a pair of flanges extending on opposite sides of the concavity.

6. The fitting of claim 5, wherein the flanges are tapered inwardly toward the longitudinal axis of the fitting.

7. A fitting for assembling a hollow railing to a generally cylindrical support structure, said fitting comprising a first end and a second end, said first end having a generally circular face forming a concavity that conforms to the curvature of the generally cylindrical support structure for mounting the fitting flush against said support structure, said second end forming a socket adapted to receive an end of the railing to connect the railing with the support structure.

8. The fitting of claim 7 comprising an anchoring element and an elongated bore that extends along the longitudinal axis of the fitting, said anchoring element extending through said elongated bore.

9. The fitting of claim 7 comprising a cylindrical stud member projecting out of said second end, said stud member configured for insertion into the interior of said hollow railing to connect the railing to the fitting.

10. The fitting of claim 7 wherein the fitting consists of a one-piece body.

11. The fitting of claim 7 wherein the fitting is formed of polyvinylchloride or polyethylene.

12. The fitting of claim 7 comprising a first component and a second component connected with said first component by a pivot joint, said generally circular face extending from the first component and said socket extending within the second component, said first component being configured for attachment to the cylindrical support element, and said second component being configured for attachment to said railing to join said railing to said support structure, said pivot joint being adjustable to change the orientation of the railing relative to the support structure.

13. A railing system comprising a generally cylindrical fitting having a first end and a second end, said first end comprising a generally circular face forming a cylindrical concavity, and said second end forming a cylindrical socket, said cylindrical concavity having a longitudinal axis generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the fitting, and said socket having a longitudinal axis generally parallel to the longitudinal axis of the fitting.

14. The railing system of claim 13 comprising a cylindrical support structure having a rounded convex curvature partially extending within the concavity of the fitting in a flush engagement.

15. The railing system of claim 14 wherein the cylindrical support structure comprises a cylindrical column or a cylindrical post.

16. The railing system of claim 13 comprising a hollow railing member having an open end, said socket telescopically receiving the open end of said railing member.

17. The railing system of claim 16 wherein the end of said railing is secured in said socket without fasteners or adhesives.

18. The railing system of claim 16 comprising a generally cylindrical stud member projecting from the interior of the socket, said stud member extending within the open end of the railing.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 119, this application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/561,743 filed Apr. 13, 2004, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to railing and fencing assemblies, and specifically to a railing system having a connector fitting for connecting a tubular rail to a post or other support structure having a rounded contour.

BACKGROUND

Extruded plastic pipe is frequently used to manufacture components for deck railings, including posts and hand rails. Cylindrical plastic pipe provides a strong, light-weight and weather-resistant material that is well suited for outdoor railing installations. Many outdoor railing systems include rails that are joined to cylindrical posts, columns or other curved support surfaces. Rounded surfaces present a difficult challenge for mounting railings. For example, the round curvature of a cylindrical post does not mate with a straight cut made at the end of the railing. Many installers address this problem by using a coping saw or similar tool to cut a circular profile or notch at the end of the railing.

Coping cuts are difficult to make, and require considerable time and labor. Since the required length of railing is frequently measured at the job site at the time of installation, the coping cut must be made at the job site. Each coping cut must be done with a high degree of precision so that the end of the railing mates tightly against the curved exterior of the support post. If the radius of curvature of the support structure is not known, the radius must be determined accurately so that the proper radius is used on the coping cut. Coping cuts must also be made at the correct locations on each railing. If the coping cuts are not made at the proper locations, the finished length of the railing may be too long or too short. Errors in coping cuts can not be concealed, since the connection between the coped railings and posts are exposed on the finished railing. Therefore, coping cuts offer very little margin for error. Since a railing installation can include several dozen rails, the step of coping each end of each rail can add a significant amount of time to a project. Therefore, coping cuts are not very practical or efficient for joining railings to rounded support surfaces.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The drawbacks of coping cuts are overcome to a large degree by the present invention, which includes a connector fitting that eliminates the need to make coping cuts or other labor-intensive alterations to railings when joining the railings to cylindrical posts and other rounded surfaces. In a first aspect of the invention, a fitting for connecting a railing to a generally cylindrical support element includes a saddle end and a socket end. The saddle end has a generally circular face forming a concavity that conforms to the curvature of the cylindrical support element. The socket end forms a hollow section surrounded by an inner wall. A stud member projects out of the hollow section in the. socket end to form a circumferential socket between the stud and the inner wall of the hollow section. The circumferential socket is adapted to receive an end of the railing over the stud to connect the railing to the support element.

In a second aspect of the invention, a fitting for assembling a hollow railing to a generally cylindrical support structure includes a first end and a second end. The first end has a generally circular face forming a concavity that conforms to the curvature of the generally cylindrical support structure. The second end forms a socket adapted to receive an end of the railing to connect the railing with the support structure.

In a third aspect of the invention, a railing system comprises a generally cylindrical fitting having a first end and a second end. The first end of the fitting comprises a generally circular face forming a cylindrical concavity. The second end of the fitting forms a cylindrical socket. The cylindrical concavity has a longitudinal axis generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the fitting. The socket has a longitudinal axis generally parallel to the longitudinal axis of the fitting.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary and the following description will be better understood when read in conjunction with the figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a post and railing structure in accordance with the present invention, using connector fittings to join a pair of railings to a pair of posts.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of a connector fitting used in the post and railing structure of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an elevation view of the connector fitting of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a first end view of the connector fitting of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5 is a second end view of the connector fitting of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of components used to connect a railing to a post in accordance with the present invention, where the ends of the post and one end of the railing are severed for clarity.

FIG. 7 is an elevation view of a second embodiment of a connector fitting in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of a connector fitting in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the connector fitting in FIG. 8, taken through line 9-9 in FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a top view of a corner post configuration, where the post is connected to a pair of railings by a pair of fittings in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to the drawing figures in general, and to FIGS. 1-2 specifically, a railing system 8 is shown in accordance with the present invention. The railing system 8 includes a pair of hollow rails 12 that are supported between a first cylindrical post 14 and a second cylindrical post 14′. Each rail 12 has a first end 13 supported on post 14 and a second end 15 supported on post 14′. The rails 12 are joined to posts 14, 14′ by a plurality of connector fittings 10. The connector fittings 10 form adapter couplings that conform to the rounded contour of posts 14, 14′, thereby eliminating the need to make coping cuts or other labor-intensive alterations to the ends of the rails 12.

The fittings may be used to connect railings to a variety of support elements having rounded convex curvatures, including but not limited to cylindrical columns and newel posts. A variety of geometrical arrangements may be incorporated into the fitting to connect the fitting with a rounded support surface. Referring now to FIGS. 2-5, one possible configuration is shown on fitting 10. Fitting 10 has a generally cylindrical body that includes a socket end 20 that connects with the end of a rail. The fitting 10 also includes a saddle end 30 that connects to the convex curvature of a rounded support structure. For purposes of this description, the fitting 10 will be described as it would be used to connect one of the railings 10 with the post 14 in FIG. 1. It will be understood that the fitting 10 may be used with other styles of railings and support structures, and the railing system of the present invention is not limited to the specific components and styles illustrated in the drawing figures.

The saddle end 30 of the fitting 10 has a generally circular or U-shaped face 32, forming a rounded or cylindrical concavity 33 that conforms to the convex curvature of the post 14. The longitudinal axis of the concavity 33 is generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the fitting. The cylindrical concavity 33 has a radius of curvature equal to or substantially equal to the radius of curvature of the post 14. In this configuration, the fitting 10 can be used to join the railing 12 to the post 14 without coping or shaping the end of the railing. This arrangement allows railings to be quickly connected to posts or other structures in the field without the use of tools.

The fitting 10 may be molded as one piece formed of a variety of materials. The material used in forming the fitting may depend on many variables, including but not limited to the desired properties of the fitting and the environmental conditions existing at the site of installation. For example, the fitting 10 may be formed of polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene or other thermoplastic material, which offer strength and durability in outdoor environments. One-piece construction reduces the cost of manufacturing the fitting. One-piece construction also minimizes the number of parts that must be handled and assembled in the field, decreasing the time and labor required to connect railing components. The socket end 20 of fitting 10 has a hollow section with an inner wall 21. A cylindrical hub or stud member 40 projects outwardly from the hollow section and forms a circular end face 41. An annular recess or socket 42 extends between the circumference of the stud 40 and the inner cylinder wall 21.

The socket end 20 of the fitting 10 is adapted to telescopically receive the end of a railing. The diameter of the inner cylinder wall 21 is preferably equal to or substantially equal to the outer diameter of the railing 12. In addition, the width of the annular recess 42 is preferably equal to or substantially equal to the wall thickness of the railing 12. If desired, the recess 42 may be sized to receive the end of the railing 12 in a friction fit. For example, the outer surface of the railing 12 may frictionally engage the inner cylinder wall 21, and the inner surface of the railing may frictionally engage the outer circumference of the stud member 40. The frictional engagement between the fitting 10 and railing 12 allows the railing to be joined with the fitting without the use of adhesives, which add to the cost of construction, require dry conditions and clean surfaces on which to apply the adhesives, and add to the number of accessories that must be supplied in the field. A frictional engagement between the fitting 10 and railing 12 also allows the railing to be joined with the fitting without the use of set screws, bolts or other fasteners. The ability to avoid using any fasteners is desirable for individuals who want to eliminate or minimize the number of fasteners that are visible on the exterior of the railing assembly. Fasteners also increase the number of parts that must be handled in the field, increase the time required to connect fittings to railings, and require the use of additional hand tools. The frictional connection between fittings and railings may be established by hand, requiring no use of hand tools.

Of course, the fitting 10 and railing 12 may be connected by other means in lieu of, or in addition to, frictional engagement. For example, a friction fit connection may be reinforced with other connecting means, including but not limited to adhesives or fasteners. In FIG. 2, an optional side port 25 extends through the side of the socket end 20. The side port 25 is sized to receive a fastener, such as set screw 27. The set screw 27 has threads 28 that engage the inner wall of the side port 25, and an end portion 29. The set screw 27 may be rotated in the port 25 until the end portion 29 advances through the wall of the socket and bears against the exterior of a railing inserted in the socket. The engagement between the screw end 29 and the exterior of the railing provides resistance to axial and rotational displacement of the railing end in the socket, in addition to the resistance offered by the frictional engagement.

The socket end 20 and saddle end 30 provide several advantages during assembly of the railing system. The circular face 32 of the saddle end 30 is adapted to fit flush against the side of the post 14 in a tight joint that creates a smooth and seamless transition between the post 14 and the fitting 10. Since the saddle end 30 readily conforms to the curvature of the post 14, the railing member 12 can be joined to the post without any coping or other special alterations on the end of the railing. The railing member 12 is cut to a desired length and immediately inserted into the socket 42. The fittings 10 may be connected to posts during fabrication of the railing system and prior to taking the components to the job site. As a result, the railings may be joined to posts in the field in fewer steps.

The socket end 20 extends over a portion of the railing member 12 in an overlapping manner that covers the cut end of the railing. The overlap between the socket end 20 and railing end eliminates any concerns about the appearance or straightness of the cut end, since the end will be concealed inside the fitting 10. Since the railing end is concealed in the socket end 20 of the fitting 10, the fitting decreases the level of accuracy required in measuring the desired length of a rail. That is, the overlap between the socket end 20 and railing member 12 allows for some degree of imprecision when measuring and cutting the railing end. The depth of the socket is sufficient to extend over the end of a rail, even if the rail is inadvertently cut shorter than intended. The margin of error provided by the fitting 10 depends largely on the depth of the socket, which can conceivably tolerate cutting errors of one inch or more on a length or railing. This margin of error reduces the amount of careful preparation and measurement that must be devoted to each railing, thereby shortening the task of measuring and cutting railing members.

The saddle end 30 of the fitting 10 may be attached to the post 14 using a variety of means, including but not limited to fasteners, couplings and adhesives. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 6, the fitting 10 is joined to the post 14 with an anchoring element 16. The fitting 10 has an elongated bore 18 that extends along the longitudinal axis of the fitting. The bore 18 extends between the saddle end 30 and the end face 41 of the stud member 40, penetrating through the saddle end and the end face. The bore 18 is adapted to receive the anchoring element 16 to mount the fitting 10 onto the post 14. The anchoring element 16 has a length greater than the length of the bore 18, such that an end of the anchoring element projects outwardly from the arcuate face 32 of the saddle end 30 when the anchor element 16 is fully inserted into the bore.

The fitting 10 is mounted to the side of the post 14 to form a junction between the post and the railing 12. A post hole 15 is pre-drilled or punched through the side of the post 14 at the location where the rail is to be connected. The saddle end 30 of the fitting 10 engages the side of the post 14 over the post hole 15, with the bore 18 aligned generally coaxially with the post hole. The bore 18 and the post hole 15 receive the anchoring element 16 to mount the fitting onto the post. In FIG. 6, the anchoring element 16 is a long threaded bolt. The bolt 16 is rotatable in the bore 18 of the fitting 10 to drive the bolt into the post hole 15. The dimension of the post hole 15 is substantially equal to or slightly larger than the thread diameter on the bolt 16. As such, the threads of the bolt 16 engage the wall of the post hole 15. The bolt 16 has a bolt head that abuts the end face 41 of the stud member 40 and bears against the stud member when the bolt is anchored into the post 14. The engagement between the bolt threads and the post, combined with the engagement between the bolt head and the end face 41 on stud member 40, forms a tight connection between the fitting and the post that resists deflection caused by axial and shear forces on the fitting.

The rounded concavity 33 at the saddle end 30 of the fitting 10 forms a pair of rounded flanges or extensions 34. The flanges 34 wrap around the exterior of post 14 and overlap a portion of the post. It may be desirable to limit the amount of area on the post that is overlapped by the flanges 34, so that the fittings are less noticeable on the posts. The amount of overlap may be decreased by decreasing the size of the face 32. Referring to FIGS. 2, 3 and 5, the flanges 34 include a curvature or taper 35 that flares inwardly toward the longitudinal axis of the fitting 10. The inward taper 35 decreases the arc length of the circular face 32, which would otherwise be longer if the saddle end had no taper. Since the arc length of the circular face 32 is shorter, the saddle end 30 extends around a smaller area on the post. The decreased area of overlap between the saddle end 30 and the post 14 makes the fitting less noticeable and provides a more subtle transition between the railing and post.

A method for using connector fittings to connect a railing between two cylindrical posts will now be described in connection with FIG. 1. Connector fittings 10 are mounted to the posts 14,14′. If desired, the connector fittings 10 may be mounted to posts 14,14′ prior to delivering the components to the job site. The connector fittings 10 may be joined to the posts 14,14′ in a variety of ways. For example, each connector fitting 10 may be mounted to the side of a post with an adhesive applied on the curved face 32 on the saddle end 30. Once the adhesive is applied to the curved face 32, the saddle end 30 is placed against the post with the curved face mated with the curvature of the post. Force is applied to the fitting 10 to press the curved face 32 against the curvature of the post. The fitting 10 is held in place while maintaining pressure against the fitting until the adhesive sets, forming a bond between the fitting and post.

Alternatively, or in addition to the adhesive, a threaded bolt 16 may be used to mount the connector fittings 10 to the posts 14, 14′ as illustrated in FIG. 6. A post hole 15 is pre-drilled or punched through the side of the post, at a section on the post where the fitting is to be mounted. The post hole 15 may be drilled or punched prior to delivering the components to the job site, or at the job site. The saddle end 30 of the fitting 10 is placed over the post hole 15 with the curved face 32 mated with the curvature of the post. The bore 18 that extends through the longitudinal axis of the fitting 10 is aligned with the post hole 15. The bolt 16 is inserted through the bore 18 and into the post hole 15. If desired, the diameter of the bore 18 may be larger than the thread diameter on the bolt 16 so that the bolt passes easily through the bore before reaching the post hole. As the end of the bolt 16 reaches the post hole 15, torque is applied to the bolt to drive the bolt threads into the post hole and securely mount the fitting 10 to the post 14.

Once the connector fittings 10 are mounted on the posts 14,14′ the posts may be mounted on a deck surface or other foundation. Once post 14 is mounted on its foundation, the first end 13 of each railing 12 is aligned with one of the fittings 10 on the post. The railing end 13 is positioned adjacent the socket end 20 of the fitting 10 and advanced fully into the circumferential socket 42. As the railing end 13 is advanced into the socket 42, the inner wall of the socket and annular wall of stud member 40 may frictionally engage the exterior and interior walls of the railing member 12, providing a frictional connection between the railing 12 and the fitting 10. As described above, the frictional connection provides a cost effective and time-saving means for attaching the railing 12 to the fitting 10, and avoids the costs and burdens associated with handling adhesives or fasteners in the field. Of course, the frictional connection may be reinforced with an adhesive or fasteners, if that is desired. The adhesive may be applied to surfaces on or around the stud member 40, socket 42 and the interior wall of the railing member, prior to inserting the railing member into the socket. Alternatively, or in addition to an adhesive, the friction connection may be reinforced with hardware, such as a set screw inserted through the side of the fitting to engage the exterior wall of the railing.

The above described process is completed for each railing member 12 being connected to post 14. Once the first end 13 of each railing 12 is secured to the post 14, the second end 15 of the railing is prepared for mounting to post 14′. Since the fittings 10 overlap the first and second ends 13, 15 of the railing member 12, the clearance space between the fittings in the final installation will be less than the finished length of the railing member. Therefore, the post 14′ is preferably mounted to the deck in an arrangement that allows the post to be tilted or adjusted. For example, the post 14′ may be mounted with fasteners that are not completely tightened to allow the post 14′ to be tilted or displaced away from post 14, thereby permitting the railing members 12 to fit between the posts during installation. The second end 15 of railing 12 is maneuvered until the second end is aligned with one of the fittings 10 on post 14′. If necessary, the railing 12 is cut to a length that allows the second end of the railing to be inserted into the socket in the fitting 10.

It is not critical to make a clean or perfectly straight cut across the end of the railing 12, as stated earlier, since the fitting 10 will overlap and conceal the end of the railing. In addition, it is not critical to measure and cut the end of the railing 12 with a high degree of accuracy. The finished length of the railing 12 only needs to be long enough to allow the railing to extend into the fitting on post 14′. Preferably, the railing 12 is cut to maximize the amount of overlap between the railing and the fitting 10. Once the end of the railing is cut, the post 14′ is tilted and maneuvered until the fitting 10 is aligned with cut end of the railing 12. The cut end of the railing is inserted into the fitting 10 and advanced until the rim of the socket completely overlaps and conceals the cut end of the railing. The post 14′ is then adjusted to a vertical or near vertical position and anchored to the deck surface. The connection between the railing 12 and fitting 10 may be established by frictional engagement, adhesives, fasteners, or any combination that includes friction, adhesives or fasteners.

The foregoing description is not the only method for installing railings in accordance with the present invention. The method of installation may be influenced by many variables, including site conditions and the size of the railing system. In some cases, it may be possible to pre-assemble large sections of a post and railing system prior to installing the sections on a deck surface or other support structure. For example, the railings 12 in FIG. 1 may be connected between the posts 14, 14′ prior to installing the posts on the deck surface. In this method, the connector fittings 10 are mounted on each of the posts 14, 14. The fittings 10 are aligned with the ends of the railings 12, and advanced over the ends of the railings to connect the railings between the posts 14, 14′. The post and railing segment is then lowered onto a deck surface and secured in place.

In FIG. 7, a second embodiment of a fitting in accordance with the present invention is shown and designated generally as 110. The fitting 110 is a corner fitting configured to be attached to the exterior of a post adjacent to another corner fitting. Corner fittings permit two railings to be connected in an adjacent arrangement at the same section of a post. For example, the corner fittings may be mounted on a vertical post to mount two railings at the same height on the post, with the railings being separated by a horizontal angle having an apex at the post. This arrangement permits railings to be quickly joined to single post. Corner fittings may be used at any location where two railing segments intersect, such as the corner of a deck or the corner of a staircase landing.

The corner fitting 110 has a socket end 120 and a saddle end 130, similar to the fitting described in connection with FIG. 2. The saddle end 130 has a chamfered face 150 on one side, which is oriented at an angle toward the longitudinal axis of the fitting. The chamfered face 150 is configured to abut a chamfered face on a second corner fitting to form a horizontal angle between adjacent railings. The sum of the angles of orientation of the chamfered faces 150 is equal or substantially equal to the horizontal angle between the adjacent railings. For example, the angle of orientation of the chamfered face 150 on each fitting may be one half of the desired horizontal angle which will separate the adjacent railings. Where two railings are to be joined to one corner post to form a horizontal angle of ninety degrees, the chamfered face 150 on each corner fitting would be oriented at an angle of 45 degrees relative to the longitudinal axis of the fitting 110. The corner fitting 110 may be mounted to a post using the same components and methods described previously in connection with FIGS. 1-6. Once a corner fitting 110 is mounted to a corner post, a railing end may be inserted into the socket end 120 to secure the railing to the post. The corner fittings 110 permit adjacent railings to be quickly and easily joined to the outer perimeter of corner posts, without making high-precision measurements and cuts on the ends of the railings.

Referring now to FIG. 10, a corner post arrangement includes two corner fittings 310, 311 that are joined to a cylindrical corner post 314. Corner fitting 310 has a socket end 310 that telescopically receives the end of a first horizontal tubular railing 316, and corner fitting 311 has a similar socket end 330 that telescopically receives the end of a second horizontal tubular railing 317. Fittings 310, 311 each have a rounded face 332 that mates with the rounded exterior of post 314. A chamfered edge 350 extends adjacent to the rounded face 332 on each fitting. Each chamfered edge 350 is oriented at a 45-degree angle with respect to the longitudinal axis of its respective fitting. The fittings 310, 311 are attached to the post 314 in a symmetrical arrangement in which the chamfered edges 350 are mated together. In this arrangement, the longitudinal axis of fittings 310,311 are separated by an angle of ninety degrees, permitting the railings to be joined to the post and spaced apart by an angle of ninety degrees, or twice the angle of orientation of the chamfered edges 350. The corner fittings of the present invention may be molded with chamfered edges having a variety of angles to permit different horizontal angles between adjacent railings. For example, the corner fittings may manufactured with chamfered edges having a 60 degree orientation to permit adjacent railings to be spaced apart by a horizontal angle of 120 degrees.

Referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, a third embodiment of a fitting in accordance with the present invention is shown and designated generally as 210. The fitting 210 is an adjustable pivot fitting for use on stair railings or other structures where a railing is mounted at a vertical angle on the side of a post. The fitting 210 has a first component 211 with a saddle end 230, similar to the saddle end on the embodiments described above. The fitting 210 also has a second component 213 with a socket end 220. The first and second components 211, 213 are pivotally connected to permit the railing to be mounted to the post and subsequently adjusted to a desired angle. The first and second components 211, 213 may be joined by a variety of pivoting connections, such as a pin connection or a bolt. Referring to FIG. 9, the components are pivotally connected by a hex screw 215. The hex screw 215 cooperates with a nut 216 to loosen or tighten the engagement between the first and second components 211, 213. The hex screw 215 is loosened to permit the connection to pivot, and tightened to secure the components at a fixed orientation relative to one another.

The first component 211 has a pivot end 212 that mates with a pivot end 214 on the second component 213. The pivot ends 212, 214 are cut through their center sections, forming a pair of complementary halves that mate with one another. The first component 211 has a stepped face 217 having rounded contours, and the second component 213 has a stepped face 218 having rounded contours that conform to the rounded contours on stepped face 217. The stepped faces 217, 218 mate with one another to permit pivoting of the first component 211 relative to the second component 213, and vice versa, when the pivot ends are connected. If desired, the first and second components 211, 213 may be joined so that the stepped faces 217, 218 slidably engage one another. Alternatively, the first and second components 211, 213 may be separated by a small gap or clearance space to minimize the amount of friction created between the components when the components are pivoted relative to one another. In either arrangement, the first component 211 may be pivoted in two directions relative to the second component 213, as illustrated by the arrows in FIG. 5. The dashed arrow and dashed lines represent one possible position in which the first component 211 can be pivoted.

A pivot hole 221 extends through the first component 211, and a pivot hole 222 extends through the second component 213. The pivot holes 221, 222 align with one another when the pivot ends are fitted together, forming a continuous slot through the first and second components 211, 213. The slot has an inner diameter slightly larger than the diameter of the body of the hex screw 215, permitting the slot to receive the hex screw. If desired, the hex screw 215 and nut 216 may be installed flush with the exterior of the fitting components 211, 213 to help conceal the hex screw and nut. For example, the first component 211 may include a shallow recess 223 that surrounds the head of the screw 215 when the hex screw is inserted through the slot. Similarly, the second component 213 may include a shallow recess 224 that surrounds the nut 216. In this arrangement, the hex screw 215 and nut 216 are concealed below the exterior surface of the fitting 210 so that the hex screw and nut do not detract from the appearance of the fitting. The recesses 223, 224 also protect the head of the hex screw 215 and nut 216 from excessive exposure to moisture, dust and other potentially harmful elements.

The terms and expressions which have been employed are used as terms of description and not of limitation. There is no intention in the use of such terms and expressions of excluding any equivalents of the features shown and described or portions thereof. It is recognized, therefore, that various modifications are possible within the scope and spirit of the invention. Accordingly, the invention incorporates variations that fall within the scope of the following claims.