Title:
Framing connector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A framing connector used with a power fastener driver that has at least two connecting panels. One of the connecting panels is a flange having a fastener zone with a plurality of openings. Each of the openings having a diameter that is greater than the diameter of a shank of a fastener and less than the size of a head of the fastener. In addition, the openings are at least 50% of the surface area of the framing connector panel.



Inventors:
Totin, Jody J. (Delaware, OH, US)
Application Number:
11/156052
Publication Date:
12/21/2006
Filing Date:
06/17/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/61
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FONSECA, JESSIE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KREMBLAS & FOSTER (REYNOLDSBURG, OH, US)
Claims:
1. A framing connector for use with a power fastener driver, the framing connector comprising: at least two connecting panels, at least one of which is a flange having at least one fastener zone with a plurality of openings, each of said openings having a diameter that is greater than the diameter of a fastener shank and less than the size of a fastener head, and having openings that occupy at least 50% of the surface area of the fastener zone.

2. The framing connector in accordance with claim 1, wherein each of said openings has angled sidewalls for guiding the shank of one of said fasteners into the opening.

3. The framing connector in accordance with claim 2, wherein at least said fastener zone is expanded metal.

4. A framing connector for use with a power fastener driver, the framing connector comprising: at least two connecting panels, at least one of which is a flange having at least one fastener zone with a plurality of openings.

5. The framing connector in accordance with claim 4, wherein each of said openings has a diameter that is greater than the diameter of a shank of a fastener and less than the size of a head of the fastener.

6. The framing connector in accordance with claim 5, wherein the openings occupy at least 50% of the surface area of the fastener zone.

7. The framing connector in accordance with claim 6, wherein each of said openings has angled sidewalls for guiding one of said fasteners into the opening.

8. The framing connector in accordance with claim 7, wherein at least said fastener zone is expanded metal.

9. A method for using a framing connector with a power fastener driver, the method comprising: (a) abutting at least two members of carpentry materials together to form a framing area; (b) placing a framing connector having at least two connecting panels, at least one of which is a flange having at least one fastener zone with a plurality of openings, each of said openings having a diameter that is greater than the diameter of a shank of a fastener and less than the size of a head of the fastener, and having openings that are at least 50% of the surface area of the framing connector panel near the framing area; and (c) fastening said framing connector to the framing area using the power fastener driver to drive fasteners through the openings in the fastener zone and into the carpentry material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to framing connectors, such as joist hangers, and more specifically a framing connector for use with automatic fastener devices, such as nail guns.

2. Description of the Related Art

As shown in FIG. 8, conventional joist hangers are used to connect two pieces of lumber 1 and 2 together. Conventional joist hangers 3 are made of a single sheet of stamped metal that are bent to have two flanges 4 and 5 with openings 6 into which nails are inserted.

For a worker to install a conventional joist hanger, he must hold at least one of the two pieces of lumber and the joist hanger in a precise relationship while hammering a nail into an opening and into the lumber. A person only has two hands, which makes holding all of the above items at the same time a difficult task for one person to handle. Conventional joist hangers, which have small openings, do not allow a person to use a nail gun to insert the nail into the opening, because a worker using a nail gun is not accurate enough to “shoot” the nail into one of the small openings. Furthermore, if another nail, a knot or any other structure lies beneath one of the hanger's openings, fewer than the desired number of nails will be inserted through the flanges into the lumber.

Therefore, it is the object and feature of the invention to provide an improved apparatus for connecting two members of carpentry materials together with the flexibility to fasten the members in multiple locations.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention is a framing connector having at least two connecting panels and that is used with a power fastener driver. In a preferred mode of use, the power fastener driver is a nail gun. One of the connecting panels is a flange having a fastener zone with a plurality of openings. Each of the openings has a diameter that is greater than the diameter of a shank of a fastener (e.g., a nail) and less than the size of a head of the fastener. In addition, the openings are at least 50% of the surface area of the framing connector panel. The framing connector is used to connect at least two members of carpentry materials and to give the materials support during use.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a view in perspective illustrating the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a view in perspective illustrating the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a schematic view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view illustrating an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a perspective view illustrating a prior art embodiment.

In describing the preferred embodiment of the invention, which is illustrated in the drawings, specific terminology will be resorted to for the sake of clarity. However, it is not intended that the invention is limited to the specific term so selected and it is to be understood that each specific term includes all technical equivalents, which operate in a similar manner to accomplish a similar purpose. For example, the word connected or term similar thereto is often used. They are not limited to direct connection, but include connection through other elements where such connection is recognized as being equivalent by those skilled in the art.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the framing connector 10 includes two connecting panels 12 and 14. At least one of the connecting panels 12 and 14 is a flange having a fastener zone 16 with a plurality of openings 18. The flange will have fasteners driven through it into underlying building material, such as lumber, to keep the lumber pieces from moving relative to each other during use.

The connecting panels 12 and 14 are planar sheets of material and are preferably made from expanded metal. The panels 12 and 14 can be made of a variety of materials, such as carbon steel, HD galvanized steel, aluminum, stainless steel or even a composite. Any variety of thickness or gauge of metal can be utilized to accommodate different loading needs. For example, the steel used can range from 28 gauge to 10 gauge or if aluminum or other metal is used the thickness can range from 1/32″ to ¼″. A person having ordinary skill will recognize that the ranges given are only examples and are not intended to be limiting regarding possible thicknesses.

In addition, the framing connector 10 can be formed in a variety of shapes, for example, in the shape of conventional joist hangers or hurricane clips. As will be recognized by a person having ordinary skill, a framing connector that is in accordance with the invention can have more than two connecting panels.

A flange is a connecting panel (planar sheet) that has a fastener zone. A “fastener zone”, as that term is used herein, is the area within a flange where a fastener can be inserted into one of the many, closely-spaced openings using a power fastener driver. A “power fastener driver”, as that term is used herein, is a tool that can be operated with one hand to drive fasteners into building materials. For example, air powered nail guns, power screw drivers, power actuated drivers, gun powder drivers, hilti guns, and staple guns are power fastener drivers. Power fastener drivers are different from conventional manual fastener installers, such as conventional hammers and nails inasmuch as power fastener drivers can be operated by a user with one hand to drive a fastener. The fasteners 20 are preferably conventional nails or screws that are fired from a power fastener driver but can be a variety of other fastening devices including staples.

Each of the openings 18 in the fastener zone 16 has a diameter that is greater than the diameter of the shank of the fastener 20 and less than the size of the head 22 of the fastener 20. Alternatively, if the material that the connector 10 is made of can be deformed by driving the fastener through it, then the diameter can be slightly smaller than the shank. Conventional nails and screws have a shank with a pointed tip and an enlarged head extending radially from the shank. The head conventionally has a diameter that extends beyond the parameters of the shank's diameter. This relationship between the sizes of the openings 18 and the fastener 20 keeps the head 22 of the fastener 20 from extending through the opening 18 and thereby being ineffective in holding the framing connector in place. Additionally, conventional staples have two shanks and a head that connects the two shanks. In this case the shanks can be inserted into two different openings 18 and the head will span across the flange material that separates the two openings for preventing the staple from being pulled through one of the openings.

The fastener zone 16 is preferably made of standard expanded metal. As will be recognized by a person having ordinary skill, the fastener zone 16 can be made of a variety of materials, such as carbon steel, HD galvanized steel, aluminum, stainless steel or even a composite. The holes need not be formed by expanding the metal, but can be made by drilling, punching, laser cutting, plasma cutting or any other hole-forming device.

Alternatively, as illustrated in FIG. 3, the fastener zone 116 can be made of metal having a plurality of “openings” that include thinner material at weakened areas or dimples 118 through which a nail can be easily inserted by a power fastener driver. Thus, while not completely open, the dimples 118 function in the manner of the openings 18, by permitting a power fastener driver to drive a fastener through the flange. For example, the fastener zone 116 can range in thickness from 1/16th of an inch to 1/64th of an inch at the dimples 118, but be, for example ⅛th inch around the dimples 118. As will be recognized by a person having ordinary skill, this is only an example of thicknesses and any useable combination of thicknesses can be utilized.

Preferably, the surface area occupied by the openings 18 makes up at least about 50% of the surface area of the fastener zone 16. This opening area can even be 60, 70, 80 or even 90 percent of the surface area of the fastener zone, depending upon the material's strength. This surface area percentage range is advantageous to the user because the power fastener driver is less precise in placing the fastener than hand-nailing. Therefore, having equal or more space in the fastener zones occupied by openings 18 than solid material almost guarantees placement of the fastener into one of the openings 18 by the user operating the power fastener driver. Furthermore, each of the openings 18 preferably has angled sidewalls 24 for guiding the fastener 20 into one of the openings 18. A person having ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the sidewalls can be any variety of shape, including flat.

In a first alternative embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 4, the framing connector 200 has a plurality of fastener zones, such as the fastener zone 210 with a plurality of openings 220 for inserting a fastener. The openings can be drilled, stamped or machined into the fastener zone 210. The openings 220 are preferably circular but can be a variety of shapes.

In a second alternative embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 5, the framing connector 300 has a plurality of irregularly shaped fastener zones such as the fastener zone 310 that has a plurality of openings 320 for inserting a fastener.

In a third alternative embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 6, the framing connector 400 is mounted to a piece of carpentry material 430. The fastener zone 410 has a plurality of openings 420 of various sizes for accepting a fastener.

In an alternative embodiment of opening shape, illustrated in FIG. 7, the framing connector 500 can be made of a panel of metal that has a fastener zone 510 with a plurality of openings 515, one of which has angled sidewalls 520 around the opening to guide a nail into the opening. In addition, a sharp edge 525 may be created during the formation of the opening that can act as a burr to hold the connector 500 in place.

The framing connector 10 can have a plurality of ears or burrs on one of the connecting panels 12 and 14 of the framing connector 10. These ears or burrs are jagged edges of the panel or a unitary prong that can be inserted into the members 30 and 32 to hold the framing connector 10 in place prior to nailing and during initial fastener insertion at the fastener zones. These ears are conventionally known and are illustrated in FIG. 3 of U.S. Pat. No. 6,085,482, herein incorporated by reference. Burrs or other friction increasing structures can aid in keeping the connector 10 in place during installation.

The method for using the preferred embodiment of the present invention begins with the user abutting at least two members of carpentry materials 30 and 32 together to form a framing area 34 as shown in FIG. 1. Then the user places a framing connector 10 near the framing area 34. While holding the two members 30 and 32 and the framing connector 10 in place using one hand, the user then fastens the framing connector 10 to the framing area 34 using a plurality of fasteners 20 from a power fastener driver in the other hand (not shown) by driving the fasteners through one or more of the openings in the fastener zone. As noted above, an ear or burrs on the connector can aid in positioning the connector prior to and during this step.

Each of the fasteners 20 is forced from the power fastener driver and is guided into one of the openings 18 by the angled sidewalls 24 of the opening where the fastener 20 then enters one of the members 30 or 32. The head 22 of the fastener 20 seats against the angled sidewalls 24 of the opening which, because of the diameter of the opening, prevents the head of the fastener from being forced through the opening. The user can quickly insert many fasteners through a plurality of openings to fasten the framing connector to the members using the power fastener driver in a conventional manner. The plurality of closely spaced openings 18 enables the user to work quickly and efficiently without having to be precise with the location of the fasteners. Thus, a nail gun or other single-hand use device can be used to connect lumber together.

The framing connector is advantageous because a user can quickly and easily install framing connectors to lumber with one-hand tools instead of having to manually use a hammer and carefully place a nail before hammering the fastener into place.

While certain preferred embodiments of the present invention have been disclosed in detail, it is to be understood that various modifications may be adopted without departing from the spirit of the invention or scope of the following claims.