Title:
Post for wood fence system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fence post for use in a wood fence system comprises an elongated center panel, a first side flange and a second side flange that are configured such that the fence post has a generally Z-shaped cross-section. The fence post is preferably made out of metal, such as galvanized steel or the like, with the rails and pickets being made out of wood to provide the appearance of a wood fence. The width of the center panel is approximately the same width as a standard two-by-four such that when the end of a rail is placed against the center panel one of the side flanges abut the side of the rail and the opposite side of the rail is aligned with the other side flange. In the fence system, pickets are attached to the rails. If desired, one picket is placed over a side rail to cover the fence post.



Inventors:
Renteria, Samuel Z. (Sanger, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/156010
Publication Date:
12/04/2008
Filing Date:
05/28/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
256/22, 256/65.01
International Classes:
E04H17/14
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
AMIRI, NAHID
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICHARD A. RYAN (Fresno, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fence post for use in a wooden fence system having standard two-by-four rails extending between a pair of said fence posts with a plurality of pickets attached to the rails, said fence post comprising: an elongated center panel having a first side edge, a second side edge, a top edge and a bottom edge, said center panel having a panel width approximately the same as the width of a standard two-by-four; a first side flange disposed along said first side edge of said center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to said center panel, said first side flange having a first end at said center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a first direction from said center panel and a top edge aligned with said top edge of said center panel; and a second side flange disposed along said second side edge of said center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to said center panel, said second side flange having a first end at said center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a second direction from said center panel and a top edge aligned with said top edge of said center panel, said second direction generally opposite said first direction such that said center panel, said first side flange and said second side flange define a generally Z-shaped cross-section for said fence post.

2. The fence post according to claim 1, wherein each of said first side flange and said second side flange have a length substantially the same as said panel width of said center panel.

3. The fence post according to claim 1, wherein said fence post is sized and configured such that said first side flange is in abutting relation with a first side of a first rail and said second side flange is in abutting relation with a second side of a second rail.

4. The fence post according to claim 1 further comprising a plurality of mounting apertures in each of said first side flange and said second side flange.

5. The fence post according to claim 4, wherein said mounting apertures are sized and configured to receive a connector therethrough to connect said first side flange to a first rail and said second side flange to a second rail.

6. The fence post according to claim 1, wherein said center panel is substantially covered by the end of said standard two-by-four when placed in abutting relation therewith and said first side flange is abutting a first side of a first rail and said second side flange is abutting a second side of a second rail.

7. A fence system, comprising: a plurality of spaced apart fence posts, each of said fence posts having an elongated center panel with a first side edge, a second side edge, a top edge and a bottom edge, a first side flange disposed along said first side edge of said center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to said center panel and a second side flange disposed along said second side edge of said center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to said center panel, said center panel having a panel width approximately the same as the width of a standard two-by-four member, said first side flange having a first end at said center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a first direction from said center panel and a top edge aligned with said top edge of said center panel, said second side flange having a first end at said center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a second direction from said center panel and a top edge aligned with said top edge of said center panel, said second direction generally opposite said first direction such that said center panel, said first side flange and said second side flange define a generally Z-shaped cross-section for said fence post, said fence post having an upper section generally towards said top edge of said center panel and a lower section generally towards said bottom edge of said center panel, said lower section disposed in the ground; at least one rail extending between pairs of said fence posts, each of said rails comprising said standard two-by-four member, a proximal end of said rail in abutting relation to said center panel; and a plurality of pickets attached to said rails.

8. The fence system according to claim 7, wherein each of said first side flange and said second side flange have a length substantially the same as said panel width of said center panel.

9. The fence system according to claim 7, wherein said fence post is sized and configured such that said first side flange is in abutting relation with a first side of a first rail and said second side flange is in abutting relation with a second side of a second rail.

10. The fence system according to claim 7 further comprising a plurality of mounting apertures in each of said first side flange and said second side flange, said mounting apertures sized and configured to receive a connector therethrough to connect said first side flange to a first rail and said second side flange to a second rail.

11. The fence system according to claim 7, wherein said center panel is substantially covered by the end of said standard two-by-four when placed in abutting relation therewith and said first side flange is abutting a first side of a first rail and said second side flange is abutting a second side of a second rail.

12. The fence system according to claim 7 further comprising one of said pickets placed generally over at least one of said first side flange and said second side flange to substantially hide said fence post.

13. A method of constructing a fence, said method comprising the steps of: a) inserting a lower section of a fence post into the ground, the fence post having an elongated center panel with a first side edge, a second side edge, a top edge and a bottom edge, a first side flange disposed along said first side edge of said center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to said center panel and a second side flange disposed along said second side edge of said center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to said center panel, said center panel having a panel width approximately the same as the width of a standard two-by-four member, said first side flange having a first end at said center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a first direction from said center panel and a top edge aligned with said top edge of said center panel, said second side flange having a first end at said center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a second direction from said center panel and a top edge aligned with said top edge of said center panel, said second direction generally opposite said first direction such that said center panel, said first side flange and said second side flange define a generally Z-shaped cross-section for said fence post; b) attaching one or more first rails against said first side panel with a proximal end thereof in abutting relation to said center panel; and c) attaching one or more second rails against said second side panel with a proximal end thereof in abutting relation to said center panel.

14. The method according to claim 13 further comprising the step of: d) attaching a plurality of pickets to each of said first rails and second rails.

15. The method according to claim 14 further comprising the step of: e) placing one or more of said pickets over said fence post to substantially cover said fence post.

16. The method according to claim 13 further comprising the step of attaching one of said first side flange and said second side flange of said fence post to the corner of a structure either before or after said inserting step.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/932,119 filed May 29, 2007.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

A. Field of the Invention

The field of the present invention relates generally to wood fence systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to metal fence posts utilized in wood fence systems to support one or more wood rails. Even more particularly, the present invention relates to such fence posts which are shaped and configured to beneficially mount one or more wood rails thereto and then be substantially covered by other wood components.

B. Background

As is well known, wood fence systems are commonly utilized to segregate one person's property from another person's property and to segregate a single property into separate sections. Despite the availability of many different materials, wood fences are often preferred by many property owners. The reasons for this preference include aesthetics, cost, blending with neighborhood fences and materials utilized in nearby structures and due to the contractor's familiarity with the materials.

Wood fences are typically, but not exclusively, configured in a post, rail and picket formation whereby a series of spaced apart posts have their lower ends mounted into the ground in a generally vertical, upright configuration, one or more of the rails are perpendicularly attached to the posts such that they are configured generally horizontal relative to the ground, and a series of pickets are attached in a substantially perpendicular, side-by-side configuration to the rails such that they are generally vertically disposed and parallel to the posts. The standard wood fence system has at least one rail positioned at or near the top of the posts and one rail positioned at or near the bottom of the posts. A center rail may be utilized midway between the top and bottom rails to better support the pickets. In the typical prior art fence, the materials for the posts, rails and pickets have all been wood, such as cedar, pine or the like. The bottom portion of the wood post that is mounted in the ground supports the fence system. To provide additional upright support for the posts and, therefore, for the entire fence system, the bottom portion of the fence post may be placed into a post hole that is then filled with cement, concrete or like materials. In some areas, the use of concrete or like material is mandated by city or county codes to prevent the fence from falling over due to high winds. Even where not mandated, many fence owners and fencing contractors prefer to mount the posts in concrete to prevent strong winds, unexpected contact or other events causing the fence, or portions thereof, to be knocked down.

Often, new wood fences are installed to replace a previous wood fence. A common reason for replacing a fence is because it no longer stands in the preferred upright position due to the posts being unable to adequately support the weight of the rails and pickets (i.e., after being blown over). Often this results from deterioration of the wooden posts, particularly at or near the interface with the ground or concrete in which the post is buried. Generally, this deterioration takes place over time, weakening the fence system as it gets older. Although the posts may be damaged and unable to support the fence, it is not unusual that the remaining components may still be in relatively good condition. Even if this is the case, the fence owner typically replaces the entire fence system. Although some of the fence post deterioration can be avoided or substantially slowed by the use of proper preventative materials and techniques, such as specially formulated coatings, most fence owners do not apply these materials or do not apply them on a frequent enough basis. As a result, there is a need for a new fence post that can be utilized with wood fence systems (i.e., the rails and pickets are still wood). Preferably, the new materials for fence posts should not detract from the beauty of the wooden fence system.

Several fence manufactures and material suppliers provide fence posts that substantially eliminate the deterioration problems associated with wood fence posts by utilizing fence posts made out of non-wood materials, such as galvanized steel and like materials (i.e., strong, non-corrosive, etc.). These posts are mounted into the ground or, often preferably, into a concrete filled hole and then the rails are mounted to the posts and the pickets to the rails, creating a fence system that is configured substantially the same as a typical wood fence system. Often the posts are no more than square or round tubular shaped members, which tend to visually stand out and detract from the overall wood fence system. To avoid detracting from the beauty of a wood fence system, at least one manufacturer has developed a galvanized steel post that is adaptable to being substantially hidden by the wood fence system components. The PostMaster™ fence post by Master-Halco comprises a generally U shaped member with a pair of opposing, outwardly extending side members at the open end of the U. The wood rail sections, such as two-by-fours, are mounted to the post on opposite sides of the U against the side members. A series of holes in the side members are utilized for inserting nails or screws into the rails to connect it to the post. A separate piece of wood material is used to cover the otherwise exposed closed end of the U. Master-Halco also has a SteelMate™ fence post that is shaped similar to the above-described post except that the “arms” of the U are pressed close together. Both of these posts are made from galvanized steel.

Although the Master-Halco fence posts provide some of the benefits desired from the present invention, they do have several drawbacks. Because these fence posts include a U member that is mounted in the ground or in concrete at the bottom of the post, a channel is formed that runs the full length of the post above the ground or concrete. To provide the illusion of a fully wooden fence, the U shaped member must be hidden. Manufacturing the fence post to properly make the desired shape and avoid potential corrosion problems within the channel results in a relatively expensive fence post.

Several fence posts have been the subject of issued patents. For instance, the U-shaped Master-Halco fence posts set forth above are described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,530,561 to Larsen, et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,945 to Lindsey, et al., both of which are assigned to Master-Halco, Inc. of La Habra, Calif. U.S. Pat. No. 4,542,885 to Rossiter describes a C-shaped metal fence post that has a plurality of openings in the side of the post configured to receive wooden fence rails therethrough. U.S. Pat. No. 670,042 to Vinson describes a generally Z-shaped fence post having wings which extend above the top of the mid-rib member of the fence post to receive the top rail therebetween to support the top rail on top of the mid-rib member. The patent describes only one of the side wings as having perforations for attaching a rail between the mid-ribs of adjacent fence posts. There is no indication that the mid-rib has a width equal to the width of a standard two-by-four or that the lengths of the wings are of any specific length. In addition, because the top rail is disposed between the wings above the top of the mid-rib, the fence post is not easily adaptable for turning a corner for the fence system.

What is needed, therefore, is an improved fence post for wood fence systems that can be made out of metal or other non-wood materials and which is less expensive to manufacture and more easily hidden than presently existing metal fence posts. The fence post must be of sufficient strength to provide the support needed for the typical wood fence system. The preferred fence post should be shaped and configured to be easily mounted in the ground or a concrete filled hole (preferred) and adaptable for mounting one or more wood rails thereto. To be effective, the fence post must be made to support the typical wood fence system without requiring an undo number of posts or extraordinary efforts to conceal the non-wood fence post.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The fence post for wood fence systems of the present invention solves the problems identified above. That is to say, the present invention discloses a new and improved metal fence post that can be relatively easily and inexpensively made out of galvanized steel and other non-corrosive materials. The metal fence post of the present invention is utilized in a wood fence system to support one or more wood rails connected thereto and a plurality of wood pickets attached to the rails. In a fence system utilizing the present fence post, the metal fence post can be easily hidden from sight by a wood picket or other wood member to provide the illusion of a solid wood fence.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the fence post has an elongated center panel, a first side flange and a second side flange. The center panel has a first side edge, a second side edge, a top edge and a bottom edge. The center panel of the fence post has a panel width that is approximately the same dimension as the width of a standard two-by-four, which is approximately 1.5 inches. The first side flange is disposed along the first side edge of the center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to the center panel. The first side flange has a first end disposed at the center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a first direction from the center panel and a top edge aligned with the top edge of the center panel. The second side flange is disposed along the second side edge of the center panel in substantially perpendicular relation to the center panel. The second side flange has a first end disposed at the center panel, a second end extending outwardly in a second direction from the center panel and a top edge aligned with the top edge of the center panel. The second direction is generally opposite the first direction such that the center panel, the first side flange and the second side flange define a generally Z-shaped cross-section for the fence post. Each of the first side panel and second side panel have a plurality of mounting apertures that are sized and configured to receive a connector therethrough to connect the first side flange to one side of a first rail and the second side flange to one side of a second rail. In the fence system utilized with the fence post, the rails are attached to the fence post with one or more connectors and the pickets are attached to the rails. A picket or other wood member can be utilized to cover the metal fence post to provide the illusion of a solid wood fence.

Accordingly, the primary objective of the present invention is to provide a fence post and a fence system utilizing such fence post that provides the benefits described above and solves the problems presently associated with presently available fence posts and fence systems.

More specifically, it is a primary objective of the present invention to provide a Z-shaped fence post that is suitable for being made out of galvanized steel and like materials to avoid the corrosion and deterioration problems associated with presently utilized wooden fence posts.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a fence post that has a center panel with a width that is substantially the same width as that of a standard two-by-four member and a pair of side flanges that are perpendicularly disposed relative to the center panel and which extend in opposite directions away from opposite ends of the center panel to define a generally Z-shaped fence post.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a fence system utilizing a Z-shaped fence post that supports a pair of opposite extending fence rails wherein the fence post can be substantially hidden utilizing one or more pickets placed over the fence post.

It is also an object of the present invention to provide a fence system that utilizes a non-wood fence post that is configured for attachment to a plurality of wooden rails used to support a plurality of wood pickets.

The above and other objectives of the present invention are explained in greater detail by reference to the attached figures and description of the preferred embodiment which follows. As set forth herein, the present invention resides in the novel features of form, construction, mode of operation and combination of parts presently described and understood by the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings which illustrate the best modes presently contemplated for carrying out the present invention:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a fence post configured according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1 is a top view of the fence post of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the fence post of FIG. 1 shown with two rails affixed to the generally Z-shaped fence post;

FIG. 4 is a front view of a fence system utilizing the fence post of FIG. 1 therein;

FIG. 5 is a top view of the fence post of FIG. 1 shown with two rails attached thereto utilizing an alternative manner for attaching the rails;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the fence post of FIG. 1 showing use of the fence post of the present invention alongside a structure, such as a wall or side of a building; and

FIG. 7 is a top view of the fence post of FIG. 1 shown with two rails attached thereto and pickets attached to the rails and a picket positioned over the Z-shaped fence post.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to the figures where like elements have been given like numerical designations to facilitate the reader's understanding of the present invention, the preferred embodiments of the present invention are set forth below. The enclosed text and drawings are merely illustrative of a preferred embodiment and represent one of several different ways of configuring the present invention. Although specific components, materials, configurations and uses are illustrated, it should be understood that a number of variations to the components and to the configuration of those components described herein and in the accompanying figures can be made without changing the scope and function of the invention set forth herein. For instance, although the figures and description provided herein are directed primarily to an eight to ten foot high fence post that is made out of galvanized steel, those skilled in the art will readily understand that this is set forth merely for purposes of simplifying the present disclosure and that the present invention is not so limited.

A fence post that is manufactured out of the materials and configured pursuant to one embodiment of the present invention is shown generally as 10 in FIGS. 1 through 7. Fence post 10 is sized and configured to be utilized as part of a wood fence system, shown as 12 in FIG. 4, having a plurality of spaced apart fence posts 10, a plurality of rails, such as first rails 14 and second rails 16, that extend between adjacent fence posts 10 and are attached thereto in generally perpendicular relation to fence post 10 and a plurality of pickets 18 attached to the rails 14/16 in generally perpendicular relation to rails 14/16. Each of rails 14/16 comprise a standard two-by-four member 20 having a typical width of approximately 1.5 inches and height of approximately 3.5 inches. The standard two-by-four member 20, which is utilized with the preferred embodiment of the fence system 12 of the present invention, is made out of wood. In an alternative embodiment, the two-by-four member 20 can be made out of a variety of composite materials that are selected for their wood-like appearance and other beneficial properties.

As best shown in FIG. 1 through 3, fence post 10 comprises an elongated center panel 22, a first side flange 24 and a second side flange 26 that are cooperatively configured to form the generally Z-shaped fence post 10 of the present invention. The center panel 22 has a first side edge 28, second side edge 30, a top edge 32 and a bottom edge 34, as best shown in FIG. 1. The first side flange 24 is disposed along the full length of first side edge 28 of center panel 22 in substantially perpendicular relation to the center panel 22 and the second side flange 26 is disposed along the full length of second side edge 30 of center panel 22 in substantially perpendicular relation to the center panel 22. As a result, the first side flange 24 is substantially parallel to the second side flange 26 at opposite edges 28/30 of center panel 22. More specifically, the first side flange 24 has a first end 36 that is at first side edge 28 and a second end 38 that extends outwardly in a first direction, shown as A in FIG. 2, from center panel 22 and second side flange 26 has a first end 40 at second side edge 30 and a second end 42 that extends outwardly in a second direction, shown as B in FIG. 2, from center panel 22. As shown, first direction A is generally opposite second direction B. As best shown in FIG. 1, first side flange 24 has a top edge 44 that is aligned with top edge 32 of center panel 22 and second side flange 26 has a top edge 46 that is also aligned with top edge 32 of center panel 22. Typically, the bottom edges 48/50 of first 24 and second 26 side panels, respectively, are aligned with the bottom edge 34 of center panel 22, as also shown in FIG. 1.

Center panel 22 will have a panel width, shown as W in FIG. 2, that is approximately the same as the width of two-by-four member 20, which is typically approximately 1.5 inches. In the preferred embodiment of fence post 10, the panel width W is substantially the same as the width of a standard two-by-four member 20 such that when the proximal ends 52/54 of first rails 14 and second rails 16, respectively, are placed in abutting relation to center panel 22, as shown in FIG. 3, center panel 22 is substantially covered by rails 14/16 when mounted to fence post 10, first side flange 24 is in abutting relation to the first side 56 of first rails 14, second side flange 26 is in abutting relation to second side 58 of second rails 16 and the opposite sides of first rails 14 and second rails 16 will be aligned with second side flange 26 and first side flange 24, respectively. In a preferred embodiment, first side flange 24 and second side flange 26 will both have a length L, as measured from center panel 22, that is approximately 2.25 inches. In another embodiment, the length L is same dimension as panel width W of center panel 22, or approximately 1.5 inches. Generally, the preferred configuration is to have the first 24 and second 26 side panels with a relatively short length L so that as little of fence post 10 will be visible, yet be long enough to provide the desired strength to support fence system 12. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 7, pickets 18 are placed against rails 14/16 next to side flanges 24 and 26 and attached to rails 14/16. If desired, an additional picket 18 or other wood member can be utilized to cover the side panel 24 or 26 to hide the fence post 10 by straddling the pickets 18 on either side of the side panel 24/26, as shown in FIG. 7.

Typically, fence post 10 will be manufactured from a single piece of elongated, non-wood material approximately eight to ten feet long with center panel 22, first side flange 24 and second side panel 26 being formed by bending or otherwise shaping the material at the appropriate locations. In the preferred embodiment, fence post 10 is manufactured from galvanized steel, such as ten or twelve gauge galvanized steel, due to its strength, corrosion resistant nature, cost and ability to shape. As will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art, materials other than galvanized steel can be used for post 10. These materials, which may include aluminum, certain composites and the like, must be sufficiently strong to support the weight of the fence and be able to withstand wind and other loads. In addition, it is preferred that the materials either be selected as being generally corrosion resistant, for as least as long as the anticipated useful life of fence system 12, or be easily adaptable to being covered, such as being painted, powder coated or the like, or otherwise treated to reduce the likelihood of corrosion.

As best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, first rails 14 and second rails 16 are attached to fence post 10 during its use. In the preferred embodiment, first 14 and second 16 rails are attached to fence post 10 by the use of a one or more connectors 60 on each of rails 14 and 16. As well known in the art, connectors 60 can be nails, screws or other attachment mechanisms suitable for securely attaching the proximal ends 52/54 of rail members 18 and 20 to fence post 10. As best shown in FIGS. 1 and 4, the preferred embodiment of fence post 10 includes one or more, usually a plurality of, mounting apertures 62 in each of first 24 and second 26 side flanges that are suitable for receiving a connector 60 therethrough and securing (i.e., by nailing or screwing) into rail members 14/16. In a preferred embodiment, a plurality of such apertures 62 are used so that the fence installer may select one or more of the apertures 62 for insertion of one or more connectors 60 into each of the rail members 14/16. As an example, FIG. 4 shows the use of two connectors 60 into rail members 20. Generally, mounting apertures 62 not used for receiving a connector 60 are left open. Although the apertures 62 may be utilized along the entire length of first 24 and second 26 side flanges, a preferred embodiment has apertures 62 in upper section 64 of fence post 10 and no such apertures 62 in lower section 66 (as shown in FIG. 1). In general, the lack of mounting apertures 62 in lower section 64 provides a stronger lower section 64 for the fence system 12. As known by those skilled in the art, the mounting apertures 62 can be sized and configured to accept a variety of connectors 60 without substantially reducing the strength of fence post 10.

The fence system 12 of the present invention, shown in FIG. 4, utilizes fence post 10 mounted in a posthole 68 in ground 70 with a supporting material 72, such as dirt, concrete or cement, filled in posthole 68 around the lower section 66 to securely mount post 10 in an upright position so as to supportably receive the remaining fence materials, namely rails 14/16 and pickets 18. In one configuration, a set of first 14 and second 16 rails are located at the top of post 10, at or near where post 10 intersects the ground 70 and at approximately midway between the top and bottom sets of rails 14/16, as shown in FIG. 4. Typically, only the top and bottom rails 14/16 are utilized. As known in the art, various other configurations are also possible. Rail members 14 and 16 are configured to receive a plurality of pickets 18 thereon, typically placed in a side-by-side configuration, as shown partially installed in FIG. 4, or any other configuration desired by the owner or installer of fence system 12. In contrast to that shown in the drawings, the location mounting apertures 62 in fence post 10 can be limited to certain areas along fence post 10 where the rail members 14/16 will be positioned.

Fence post 10 of the present invention can be manufactured by use of a bending machine, familiar to those skilled in the use of galvanized materials, that can bend a flat piece of galvanized steel into shape to form first side flange 24 and second side flange 26 on either side of center panel 22. In conjunction therewith, or before or after bending, the mounting apertures 62 can be placed into fence post 10. Typically, mounting apertures 62 will be formed in first 24 and second 26 side flanges before such bending. Due to the simplicity of the design, the cost of manufacturing fence post 10 is somewhat less expensive than the other configurations presently available.

In use, posthole 68 is dug into the ground 70 at the desired location for fence post 10 or, alternatively, fence post 10 can be driven directly into the ground 68. If posthole 68 is utilized, supporting material 72, preferably a material such as concrete, is placed into posthole 68 around the lower section 66 of fence post 10 to secure fence post 10 in place in an upright position. Once a plurality of fence posts 10 are installed in spaced apart relation to each other, first rails 14 are attached to first side flange 24 and second rails 16 are attached to second side flange 26 at the locations desired on fence post 10, typically at or near the top, bottom and middle thereof, by inserting one or more connectors 60 into one or more mounting apertures 62. First 24 and second 26 rails will extend between pairs of adjacent fence posts 10. Pickets 18 are attached to rails 14/16, using nails, screws or other attachment mechanisms, in a side-by-side configuration to form fence system 12. Additionally, due to the Z-shaped configuration of post 10, the first side flange 24 and second side flange 26 will be in abutting relation to the respective sides 56/58 of rails 14/16 and generally in-line, though not as thick, with the pickets 18. As shown in FIG. 7, a picket 18 or other wood member can be placed over first 24 and second 26 side flanges and fence post 10 to cover fence post 10 such that none of fence post 10 will be visible. As such, a person viewing fence system 12 of the present invention will generally consider fence system 12 to be an all wood fence.

Although post 10 will typically be utilized as a free standing member to which rails and pickets will be attached in the manner shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, use of fence post 10 is not so limited. For instance, FIG. 5 shows use of fence post 10 to attach first rails 14 and second rails 16 in a different configuration than that previously described. Also, as shown in FIG. 6, fence post 10 may be utilized to begin a fence at the edge of a separate structure 74, such as a brick wall, the side of a building, a fence post or other structure. As shown in FIG. 6, center panel 22 and second side flange 26 can abut the corner of structure 74, with the mounting apertures 62 in second side flange 26 being used to affix fence post 10 to the structure 74 so as to support one end of the fence. First rails 14 can attach to first side flange 24, as described above with connectors 60, and pickets 18 can attach to rails 14 in the manner described above. The opposite end of first rails 14 will attach to a second fence post 10 that is spaced apart from structure 74 a distance the length of first rails 14.

While there are shown and described herein a specific form of the invention, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that the invention is not so limited, but is susceptible to various modifications and rearrangements in design and materials without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. In particular, it should be noted that the present invention is subject to modification with regard to any dimensional relationships set forth herein and modifications in assembly, materials, size, shape, and use. For instance, there are numerous components described herein that can be replaced with equivalent functioning components to accomplish the objectives of the present invention.