Title:
JOIST HANGER TOOL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An improved joist hanger tool suitably adapted to be placed over a standard joist hanger which is in turn placed over the end of a joist, to shape the joist hanger to its proper installation configuration and to hold the joist hanger securely to the joist so that the installer has both hands free to support the joist and/or to fasten the joist hanger to a header; said joist hanger tool being a substantially “U”-shaped, monolithic clip fashioned out of a flexible, resilient, and substantially rigid material, having a wider bottom, an intermediate narrowest point, and a flared open end.



Inventors:
Collins, William N. (Steuben, ME, US)
Application Number:
11/971622
Publication Date:
07/09/2009
Filing Date:
01/09/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/545, 52/749.1
International Classes:
E04G21/16; A44B99/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMITH, MATTHEW J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANTHONY D. PELLEGRINI RUDMAN WINCHELL (BANGOR, ME, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An improved joist hanger tool suitably adapted for use with a standard joist hanger and a joist, said joist having a thickness and an end, said joist hanger tool being a substantially “U”-shaped, monolithic clip fashioned out of a flexible, resilient, and substantially rigid material, said joist hanger tool comprising a bottom portion, a first side extending from the bottom portion, and a second side extending from the bottom portion opposite the first side, with the first side terminating at a first end and the second side terminating at a second end, whereby the joist hanger tool is dimensioned to snugly fit over the joist hanger after the joist hanger is placed over the end of the joist, with the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool adapted to be placed over and against the joist hanger with the joist hanger positioned between the first side and the second side of the joist hanger tool.

2. The tool of claim 1 wherein each of the bottom portion and the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool has a substantially round, substantially uniform cross-section, with the cross-sections of the bottom portion and the two sides all having substantially equal diameters.

3. The tool of claim 1 wherein the joist hanger tool is constructed out of steel.

4. The tool of claim 1 wherein the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool is squared.

5. The tool of claim 1 wherein the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool is rounded.

6. The tool of claim 1 wherein the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool is comprised of a plurality of segments, with each segment being substantially straight, with pairs of adjacent segments oriented at obtuse angles to each other.

7. The tool of claim 1 wherein the first side is substantially the same length as the second side.

8. The tool of claim 1 wherein the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool angle towards each other as they extend away from the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool, wherein the joist hanger tool has an inside width at the bottom portion which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist, and an inside width between the first and second ends which is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist.

9. The tool of claim 1 wherein the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool angle towards each other as they extend away from the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool towards a narrowest intermediate point, then extend substantially parallel to each other as they further extend towards their respective ends, forming an open end to the joist hanger tool, wherein the joist hanger tool has an inside width at the bottom portion which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist, an inside width at the narrowest intermediate point which is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist, and an inside width at the open end which is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist.

10. The tool of claim 1 wherein the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool angle towards each other as they extend away from the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool towards a narrowest intermediate point, then angle away from each other as they further extend towards their respective ends, forming a flared open end to the joist hanger tool, wherein the joist hanger tool has an inside width at the bottom portion which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist, an inside width at the narrowest intermediate point which is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist, and an inside width between the first end and the second end which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist.

11. The tool of claim 10 wherein each of the bottom portion and the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool has a substantially round, substantially uniform cross-section, with the cross-sections of the bottom portion and the two sides all having substantially equal diameters.

12. The tool of claim 10 wherein the joist hanger tool is constructed out of steel.

13. The tool of claim 10 wherein the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool is squared.

14. The tool of claim 10 wherein the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool is rounded.

15. The tool of claim 10 wherein the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool is comprised of a plurality of segments, with each segment being substantially straight, with pairs of adjacent segments oriented at obtuse angles to each other.

16. The tool of claim 10 wherein the first side is substantially the same length as the second side.

17. An improved joist hanger tool suitably adapted for use with a standard joist hanger and a joist, said joist having a thickness and an end, said joist hanger tool being a substantially “U”-shaped, monolithic clip fashioned out of a flexible, resilient, and substantially rigid material, said joist hanger tool comprising a bottom portion, a first side extending from the bottom portion, and a second side extending from the bottom portion opposite the first side, with the first side terminating at a first end and the second side terminating at a second end, with each of the bottom portion and the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool having a substantially round, substantially uniform cross-section, with the cross-sections of the bottom portion and the two sides all having substantially equal diameters, with the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool comprised of a plurality of segments, with each segment being substantially straight, with pairs of adjacent segments oriented at obtuse angles to each other to approximate a curved bottom portion, with the first side of the joist hanger tool being substantially the same length as the second side, and with the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool angling towards each other as they extend away from the bottom portion of the joist hanger tool towards a narrowest intermediate point, then angling away from each other as they further extend towards their respective ends, forming a flared open end to the joist hanger tool, wherein the joist hanger tool has an inside width at the bottom portion which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist, an inside width at the narrowest intermediate point which is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist, and an inside width between the first end and the second end which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist, whereby the joist hanger tool is dimensioned to snugly fit over the joist hanger after the joist hanger is placed over the end of the joist, with the first and second sides of the joist hanger tool adapted to be placed over and against the joist hanger with the joist hanger positioned between the first side and the second side of the joist hanger tool.

18. The tool of claim 17 wherein the joist hanger tool is constructed out of steel.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field

The present invention relates generally to the construction industry. More specifically, the invention is directed to an improved hand tool used by carpenters to assist with the installation of joists using standard joist hangers.

2. Description of Prior Art

Buildings often are constructed with floor framing systems comprised of parallel horizontal support structures called joists which may be affixed to support structures called headers. Joists may also be used to support other structural components of a building, such as the roof rafters. Joists are typically fashioned of dimensioned lumber, at least two inches in thickness and eight inches in width (“2-by-8”), and are often found in 2-by-10, 2-by-12, and larger sizes. Joists are positioned such that the width is oriented substantially vertically, with the length and thickness oriented substantially horizontally. Joists may be made of materials other than wood as well, such as steel, laminates, and the like. Headers are also typically fashioned of dimensioned lumber, as well as other similar materials as joists. A joist is affixed to a header in a substantially perpendicular orientation, with the end of the joist butted against the side of a header and attached thereto with fasteners. Fasteners are typically nails or screws, though other types of fasteners are also used.

To increase the strength of the connection between the end of the joist and the header, joist hangers are often used. Joist hangers are typically fashioned of metal into a squared-off “U”-shape, with perpendicular flanges depending outward from the sides of the “U”. The flanges have apertures through which fasteners are inserted. Joist hangers are placed under the end of the joist and against the header, whereby the bottom and sides of the “U” surround and abut the bottom and sides of a properly oriented joist and the flanges of the joist hanger abut and are flush with the header. Fasteners are placed through the apertures in the flanges into the header, securing the joist hanger in place, with the bottom of the “U” of the joist hanger supporting the joist. Fasteners may also be passed through other apertures in the joist hanger into the joist itself.

When installed, the sides of a joist hanger are substantially parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the bottom of the “U”. However, joist hangers are typically manufactured with the sides angled outward and away from each other, forming a flat-bottomed “V”-shape. The purpose of this configuration is to permit the nesting of joist hangers for more efficient storage. Because the metal joist hangers are relatively flexible, they are easily bent into the appropriate configuration. However, the process of bending a joist hanger into the appropriate shape for installation is rather cumbersome. The joist itself must be appropriately positioned against the header and held in place, the joist hanger must be placed into the proper position against the joist and the header, the joist hanger must be bent into the proper shape, and the sides of the joist hanger must be fastened to the header. A single carpenter cannot perform all of these actions simultaneously. Either the carpenter requires an assistant to hold the joist or the joist hanger (or both), or the joist may be preliminarily fastened to the header apart from the joist hanger, or the joist hanger may be preliminarily fastened to the header apart from the joist. Each of these work-arounds has disadvantages. Using an assistant is inefficient. Fastening either the joist or the joist hanger to the header independently of the other presents problems with proper alignment. Moreover, it may not even be possible to insert the end of the joist into the joist hanger if the joist hanger is preliminarily attached. It is therefore clear that an easy to use tool is needed to allow a single carpenter to install a joist hanger and joist quickly and properly.

The prior art is replete with devices which attempt to solve this problem. Most such devices are complex and designed to achieve other goals as well, such as proper joist spacing. These devices comprise multiple cooperating parts, are cumbersome to use, and are costly to manufacture and purchase, thus failing to appropriately solve the problem. What is needed is an easy to use, simple, inexpensive device which allows a single carpenter to properly and quickly install a joist hanger and joist.

It is therefore an objective of the present invention to provide an improved joist hanger tool which can be used by a single carpenter to properly and quickly install a joist hanger and joist.

It is a further objective of the present invention to provide an improved joist hanger tool which is easy to use.

It is yet a further objective of the present invention to provide an improved joist hanger tool which is easy to manufacture.

It is a further objective of the present invention to provide an improved joist hanger tool which is inexpensive to manufacture and purchase.

Other objectives of this invention will be evident from the following disclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is an improved joist hanger tool. The joist hanger tool is suitably adapted to removably secure a joist hanger to a joist in the correct position without use of other fasteners or the need for the carpenter to hold the joist hanger in place with his or her hands. The improved joist hanger tool is a substantially “U”-shaped, monolithic clip fashioned out of a flexible, resilient, and substantially rigid material, such as steel. In the preferred embodiment of the invention the “U” is wider at its bottom than along its sides, with the sides of the “U” angling towards each other as they extend away from the bottom of the “U” towards a narrowest intermediate point, and then angling outwards from each other towards the open end of the “U”, which terminates in an outward flare. The inside width of the joist hanger tool at the bottom of the “U” is slightly greater than the thickness of the joist; the inside width of the joist hanger tool at its narrowest point is slightly less than the thickness of the joist; and the width of the joist hanger tool at the flared open end of the “U” is slightly greater than the thickness of the joist. The resiliency of the material comprising the joist hanger tool allows it to be opened slightly by forcing the sides of the “U” apart, and further causes it to tend to return to its original shape, thereby exerting a clamping force until it has returned to its original shape.

To use the improved joist hanger tool, the joist hanger is placed onto the end of the joist and then secured thereto by sliding the joist hanger tool over the joist hanger. The flared open end of the joist hanger tool allows it to be easily placed over the bottom of the joist hanger. An upward force directs the joist hanger tool over and along the sides of the joist hanger. As the joist hanger tool is slid along the sides of the joist hanger, the relatively narrower inside width of the joist hanger tool causes the sides of the joist hanger tool to press against the sides of the joist hanger and to deform the sides of the joist hanger tool slightly outward. The resiliency of the joist hanger tool affects an inward clamping action against the joist hanger, forcing the sides of the joist hanger against the sides of the joist and retaining it in position.

The placement of the joist hanger tool over the joist hanger may occur before the joist is placed into its proper position, thus freeing the carpenter from having to support the joist and allowing the carpenter to use one hand to position and hold the joist hanger and the other hand to place the joist hanger tool onto the joist hanger. The joist, with the joist hanger now secured thereto by the joist hanger tool, is then properly positioned by the carpenter against the header. The carpenter can hold the joist in place with one hand while using a tool, such as a nail gun, with the other hand to attach the joist hanger to the header with fasteners. The joist hanger tool not only secures the joist hanger to the joist but also forms the joist hanger into its proper installation configuration, that is, with the sides of the joist hanger oriented substantially parallel and positioned along and in contact with the sides of the joist. Once the joist hanger is fastened to the header the joist hanger tool is quickly and easily removed by pulling it downward and off the joist hanger. The resilient sides of the joist hanger tool return to their original configuration and the joist hanger tool can then be reused with another joist and joist hanger. Alternatively, a joist may be temporarily fastened to a header and then the joist hanger tool may be used to install the joist hanger. This method is especially useful where the fasteners are nails and the carpenter is using a hammer, rather than a nail gun, to drive the nails. As such, both hands are occupied with the holding and hammering of the nails, leaving no hands free for otherwise supporting the joist hanger. In yet another alternative use, the joist hanger tool can be used with a temporary short piece of lumber with the same thickness as the joist to install the joist hanger. Then the temporary piece of lumber is removed and the joist is positioned in place.

The joist hanger tool may be manufactured in several sizes, to accommodate joists of varying thicknesses. It may be constructed of any appropriate material having the above-described characteristics of resiliency and rigidity.

Other features and advantages of the invention are described below.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a plan view of the present invention.

FIG. 2 depicts how the present invention is placed onto a joist hanger and joist, with FIG. 2A depicting the present invention before use, FIG. 2B depicting the present invention as it is being positioned over a joist hanger, with directional arrows showing the movement of the present invention onto the joist hanger and the movement of the sides of the present invention and the sides of the joist hanger, and FIG. 2C depicting the final position of the present invention when correctly placed onto a joist hanger over a joist.

FIG. 3 depicts various alternative embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is an improved joist hanger tool 10 suitably adapted for use with a standard joist hanger 20 and a joist 30. The joist hanger tool 10 is a substantially “U”-shaped, monolithic clip fashioned out of a flexible, resilient, and substantially rigid material. While any material having the aforementioned characteristics is suitable, in the preferred embodiment the material used to construct the joist hanger tool 10 is steel. The “U”-shape of the joist hanger tool 10 comprises a bottom portion 12, a first side 14, and a second side 15, with the first side 14 extending from the bottom portion 12 and terminating at a first end 16 and the second side 15 extending from the bottom portion 12 opposite the first side 14 and terminating at a second end 17. See FIG. 1.

The joist hanger tool 10 is dimensioned to snugly fit over the joist hanger 20 after the joist hanger 20 is placed over the end of the joist 30, with the two sides 14, 15 of the joist hanger tool 10 adapted to be placed over and against the joist hanger 20 with the joist hanger 20 positioned between the first side 14 and the second side 15 of the joist hanger tool 10. See FIG. 2. The resilient nature of the joist hanger tool 10 allows the first and second sides 14, 15 to be spread apart slightly and then returned to their original configuration. Thus, when the joist hanger 20 is positioned between the first side 14 and the second side 15 of the joist hanger tool 10, the first and second sides 14, 15 are slightly spread apart to accommodate the joist hanger 20 and then allowed to spring back towards each other, thereby exerting a clamping pressure on the joist hanger 20 against the joist 30.

The specific shape of the joist hanger tool 10 may vary, as long as the overall configuration results in the described utility. For example, in one embodiment the bottom portion 12 of the joist hanger tool 10 may be squared, whereby the bottom portion 12 and the first side 14 form substantially a right angle and the bottom portion 12 and the second side 15 form substantially a right angle. See FIG. 3C. In an alternate embodiment, the bottom portion 12 may be formed of several substantially straight short segments to approximate a curve. See FIG. 3A. In yet another alternative the bottom portion 12 may be a substantially smooth curve. See FIG. 3B. In the preferred embodiment the bottom portion 12 will be rounded, either as a segmented curve or as a smooth curve. Such a rounded bottom portion 12 configuration leaves a gap between the bottom portion 12 of the joist hanger tool 10 and the joist hanger 20 when the joist hanger tool 10 is placed onto the joist hanger 20 during use, thereby allowing the user to readily grip the joist hanger tool 10 at the bottom portion 12 for easy removal.

The first and second sides 14, 15 of the joist hanger tool 10 may also comprise various configurations. The first and second sides 14, 15 may be of differing lengths. In the preferred embodiment the first side 14 is substantially the same length as the second side 15. The first and second sides 14, 15 may also be substantially straight, substantially curved, or a combination thereof. In one embodiment the first and second sides 14, 15 of the joist hanger tool 10 angle towards each other as they extend away from the bottom portion 12. So configured, the joist hanger tool 10 has an inside width at the bottom portion 11 which is wider than the inside width between the first and second ends 16, 17. See FIG. 3A. Moreover, the inside width at the bottom portion 11 is slightly greater than the thickness of the joist 30, and the inside width between the first and second ends 16, 17 is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist 30. In this configuration, with the joist hanger tool 10 placed onto the joist hanger 20 and the joist 30, the first and second ends 16, 17 affect a clamping force on the sides of the joist hanger 20 against the joist 30.

In another embodiment the first and second sides 14, 15 of the joist hanger tool 10 angle towards each other as they extend away from the bottom portion 12 towards a narrowest intermediate point 18, then extend substantially parallel to each other as they further extend towards their respective ends 16, 17. See FIG. 3B. In this configuration the joist hanger tool 10 has an inside width at the bottom portion 11 which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist 30 and an inside width at the narrowest intermediate point 18 which is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist 30. The joist hanger tool 10 affects the same clamping action on the joist hanger 20 as in the previous configuration, but with an extended area of contact between the sides 14, 15 and the joist hanger 20.

In the preferred embodiment the first and second sides 14, 15 of the joist hanger tool 10 angle towards each other as they extend away from the bottom portion 12 towards a narrowest intermediate point 18, then angle away from each other as they further extend towards their respective ends 16, 17, forming a flared open end 19 to the joist hanger tool 10. See FIG. 1. In this configuration the joist hanger tool 10 has an inside width at the bottom portion 11 which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist 30, an inside width at the narrowest intermediate point 18 which is slightly narrower than the thickness of the joist 30, and an inside width between the first end 16 and the second end 17 which is slightly wider than the thickness of the joist 30. This preferred configuration has the added benefit of greater ease of use, as the flared open end 19 allows for easier insertion of the joist hanger tool 10 onto the joist hanger 20.

In one embodiment each of the bottom portion 12 and the two sides 14, 15 of the joist hanger tool 10 has a substantially round, substantially uniform cross-section, with the cross-sections of all having substantially equal diameters. This configuration may result from the joist hanger tool 10 being manufactured from a steel rod, which is then bent into the desired “U”-shape. In order to form the bottom portion 12, the steel rod simply may be bent once at each junction of the bottom portion 12 and the first and second sides 14, 15, thereby resulting in a squared bottom portion 12. See FIG. 3C. In an alternate embodiment, the steel rod may be bent several times in substantially straight short segments to approximate a curved bottom portion 12. See FIG. 3A. In yet another alternative the rod may be bent in a substantially smooth curved manner to form the bottom portion 12. See FIG. 3B. The steel rod may be similarly bent to form the first and second sides 14, 15 as described above. These and other methods for forming the “U”-shape of the joist hanger tool 10 from a steel rod result in an inexpensive and simple method of manufacture. Where other materials are used, the joist hanger tool 10 is formed into its “U”-shape by methods well understood in the art.

Those skilled in the art will perceive improvements, changes and modifications in the invention. Such improvements, changes and modifications within the skill of the art are intended to be covered by the claims set forth herein, and that all matter contained in the accompanying specification shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not in a limiting sense.