Patent application title: APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR CONNECTING A RAIL OR STRUCTURAL MEMBER TO A POST OR OTHER STRUCTURE
Richard Bergman (Ottawa, CA)
IPC8 Class: AE04H1714FI
Class name: Connection rail to post bracket
Publication date: 2013-11-07
Patent application number: 20130292624
A connector to connect a railing to a post comprising a male bracket that
attaches to the railing and which has a front surface on which is
provided an elongate tenon that widens outwardly from the front surface.
The tenon is tapered from its bottom towards a wider top end, and it also
narrows in thickness from the top end towards the thinner bottom end. The
connector also includes a female bracket that attaches to the post and
which has a front surface in which is provided a slot that widens
inwardly from the front surface. The slot also tapers from a bottom end
towards a wider top end, and it also narrows in thickness from the top
end towards the thinner bottom end. The slot and tenon are complementary
so as to together, providing a snug joint between the brackets when the
tenon is completely received within the slot.
1. A connector for detachably connecting an end of a horizontal
longitudinal member to a vertical support member, the connector
comprising: a. a male bracket for attachment to one of said members, the
male bracket defining a first rear surface for abutting the one of said
members and a first front surface opposite the first rear surface, the
first front surface having an elongate tenon thereon that widens
outwardly from the first front surface, the tenon further being tapered
from a first tenon end towards a wider second tenon end, and the tenon
further narrowing in thickness from the second tenon end towards the
thinner first tenon end; b. a female bracket for attachment to the other
of said members, the female bracket defining a second rear surface for
abutting the other of said members and a second front surface opposite
the second rear surface, the second front surface defining a slot therein
that widens inwardly from the second front surface, the slot further
being tapered from a first slot end towards a wider second slot end, and
the slot further narrowing in thickness from the second slot end towards
the thinner first slot end, wherein the second slot end extends to an
edge of the female bracket to define a slot opening; and c. wherein the
slot and the tenon are complementary such that they provide a snug
connection between the male bracket and the female bracket when the tenon
is completely inserted into the slot.
2. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the tenon and the slot are in full engagement when the tenon is completely received within the slot.
3. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the tenon has tenon sides that are angled such that the tenon gradually widens outwardly from the first front surface, and the slot has slot sides that are angled such that the slot gradually widens inwardly from the second front surface.
4. The connector as claimed in claim 1 further including a plurality of projections on one or both of the first rear surface and second rear surface wherein said projections are sized to grip the material of one or both of said members.
5. The connector as claimed in claim 4 further including an extension from the first front surface of the male bracket that overhangs the edge of the female bracket to conceal the slot opening when the male bracket and female bracket are connected thereby providing a fully blind joint there between.
6. The connector as claimed in claim 5 wherein the edge of the female member defines a bore and the extension defines a hole that aligns with the bore, and wherein the hole and the bore are adapted to receive a fastener for securing the extension of the male bracket to the edge of the female bracket.
7. The connector as claimed in claim 4 wherein said brackets are sized such that when connected to each other they conform to the external dimensions of the end of the horizontal member thereby continuing the shape of the longitudinal member to the support member.
8. The connector as claimed in claim 1 further including an extension from the first front surface of the male bracket that overhangs the edge of the female bracket to conceal the slot opening when the male bracket and female bracket are connected thereby providing a fully blind joint there between.
9. The connector as claimed in claim 8 wherein said brackets are sized such that when connected to each other they conform to the external dimensions of the end of the horizontal member thereby continuing the shape of the longitudinal member to the support member.
10. The connector as claimed in claim 8 wherein the edge of the female member defines a bore and the extension defines a hole that aligns with the bore, and wherein the hole and the bore are adapted to receive a fastener for securing the extension of the male bracket to the edge of the female bracket.
11. The connector as claimed in claim 8 further including a plurality of projections on one or both of the first rear surface and second rear surface wherein said projections are sized to grip the material of one or both of said members.
12. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the first front surface of the male bracket is angled relative to the first rear surface to provide an angled connection between the longitudinal member and the vertical support member.
13. The connector as claimed in claim 1 wherein the second front surface of the female bracket is angled relative to the second rear surface to provide an angled connection between the longitudinal member and the vertical support member.
 In the field of railing construction and particularly outdoor wood railings for porches, balconies, decks and the like, there is a common problem of connecting wooden structural rail members to posts or super structures such as a wall of a building so that direct wood on wood contact is eliminated, the connection surpasses functional load requirements imposed by building codes, and it does so ideally by substantially or completely concealing the fasteners. Applications of suitable connections may include but are not limited to rail members, stair stringers or even balusters to rail members.
 Wood is a very popular material to build outdoor railings and other structures; both in terms of its preferred aesthetic qualities and its affordability. However, as a natural material, wood is susceptible to premature rot and deterioration if subjected to continuous moisture. Common areas where rot can set it are nail or screw penetration holes on flat surfaces. But exposed end cuts of lumber are even more susceptible to moisture damage. This is because an end cut of dimensional lumber exposes the open ends of the grain of the wood. The grain has a natural capillary structure that aids the tree when it is living, but which can be detrimental to wooden structural members if exposed to moisture. Water is sucked up by the end grain thereby creating an optimal environment for rot and mould to establish itself and eventually destroy the integrity of the wood.
 To combat this, it is recommended to build with wood in such a way that the porous end cuts of wood members are not exposed to moisture. Reducing areas of wood to wood contact is one of the first lines of defense that can be employed to extend the life of any wood structure or railing. This is simple enough to do in some types of construction but is more difficult to do when building wood railings because the horizontal rail members must connect directly with wood posts. It is at these contact points where moisture can reside because of lack of air flow to promote evaporation.
 There is another common problem beyond wood on wood contact that is associated with building wood railings or stairs and it pertains to the challenges of securing such things as a rail member or stair stringer or any structural member that is laterally opposed in some way to another securing surface. An example is where rails laterally connect to posts, but is not limited to this situation. Rails are generally oriented at 90° to posts. In the case of stair rails or stair stringers, the angle is usually somewhere between 30°-35°. Furthermore, these angles can become compounded if the direction of the vertical plane of the rail sections mate with corners at 45° or 22.5°, which are common in the field.
 In both cases, the union between post and rail is potentially weak because of the very small surface contact area between the post and the rail and because of the long arm which the rail represents. Although rails are connected at both remote ends to posts and does not function as a lever arm, they nonetheless must successfully transfer the entire lateral load that may be inflicted upon a guard rail without failing. They are a crucial component of any guard rail.
 Common methods used in the field to secure post and rails are "toe-nailing" techniques where nails or screws are driven through side walls of a rail member near the remote end at a 45° angle and then into the mating surface of the post. This is the crudest means of connection.
 Another problem that has not yet been adequately solved is one of aesthetics. There is a desire among homeowners and builders to create the most attractive looking railing connection means as possible. Brackets and connectors which are highly visible and tend to wrap completely around the horizontal rail members are generally less appealing to most people. It would be very desirable, to have a connector which would be completely hidden from view between the end of the rail members and the post while still surpassing all performance and safety standards.
 Various connecting devices have been developed, which are referenced more thoroughly in the following discussion concerning the prior art, that permit an easier means of attaching post and rail than simple "toe-nailing" techniques and also act as an intermediary surface to prevent direct wood on wood contact.
 While it is a simple task to create a connector which provides adequate strength, it is a much more challenging task to devising a solution which performs well and is completely concealed from view. And with such a concealed connector, it would also be desirable if it would have features that made it easy to precisely locate said connectors onto opposing posts so that an entire assembled railing section could be quickly dropped into position between posts. As will be shown, none of the prior art offers a completely or substantially concealed means of connecting the post and rail, exterior stair stringer to ledger or the like (to name a few possible applications), while also providing a simple and reliable means of accurately locating a series of four connectors on two opposing posts that will easily allow a completed railing assembly to precisely mate and connect with them.
 There are numerous examples in the prior art of railing mounting brackets. One of the earliest forms of prior art is U.S. Pat. No. 4,280,686 issued to D. Wack which is a one piece device comprising a strip of sheet metal folded to create a lower tab and a horizontal ledge upon which a 2×4 can rest. The strip continues vertically between the end of the 2×4 and the post, extending just above the top surface of the 2×4. Three nails or screws can be driven into the end of the 2×4 from the post face side and a single fastener can be screwed from the 2×4 side through the lower and upper exposed tabs into the post.
 The Wack device is purely utilitarian and serves as an intermediary material through which fasteners may pass at 180 degree opposition to each other and into both post and rail. The upper and lower fasteners remain visible. There is no decorative profiling or shaping of the device, although this could easily be done were the device to be made through an injection molding process. The fasteners are positioned in shear relative to all forces that are imposed on the railing.
 This concept has evolved over the years to include the use of the toe-nailing techniques discussed earlier as seen in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,160,211 and 5,419,649 to T. Gilb, which teach the use of a device that permits easy toe-nailing into the post and the underside of a rail that completely covers the top of a post or abuts to the side of a post. The fasteners are also positioned in shear relative to the forces imposed on the rail.
 Over time refinements to this concept continued and are exemplified in the design characteristics of U.S. Design Pat. Nos. D549,555, D523,325, and D532,679 issued to Ignagni. The Ignagni devices build upon the notion of providing a flat planar surface and incorporates a built up radiused perimeter edge that completely encircles the end of a 2×4 rail on all four side, three sides or two parallel sides. The radiused edges are significant enough to allow for angled and counter sunk holes for screws to pass through and penetrate the post at an angle utilizing the "toe-nail" fastening technique but with better aesthetic results. The countersinking hides all of the screw except the top of the head. In this way the raised edges, being proud of the planar surface of the device, provide some lateral stability to the post and rail connection while improving appearance and promoting a drier post to rail connection.
 The Stoltzfus device, in U.S. Design Pat. No. D553,479, varies from the previous examples by providing a concave apparatus for a T shaped rail where either a one piece rail formed into a T can be inserted into the concave opening or two rectangular shaped members could be inserted inside. The Stoltzfus device suggests a design that seems intended for a proprietary molded rail system but the concept could be extended for wood rails also. The Stoltzfus design extends the concept of raised radius edges to a greater distance along the length of the rails.
 In all of this prior art, one sees a progression from that of the Wack device which uses a thin strip of metal that generally runs vertically in line with the periphery of the vertical walls of the 2×4 rail, with upper and lower tabs to extend beyond the periphery of the horizontal walls of the rail to the subsequent devices and designs that extend beyond and then upwards along all peripheral walls of the rails to various degrees.
 The Stoltzfus device contemplates or could be implied to contemplate the potential use of a second rail member that would be secured flat on top of the edge of a bottom 2×4 to create the common "T" profile of a wood top rail configuration. It would be possible to achieve this "T" configuration using only one of the Ignagni three or two sided devices for the 2×4 oriented on its edge. A flat 2×4 could then be set on top of the other 2×4. It would lay flat and be screwed down onto the edge of the lower 2×4 and then traditionally toe-nailed to the post. This top rail would then have direct wood to wood contact and be at risk of premature deterioration from water damage. The Ignagni device could not be used for the flat capping 2×4. Whereas an ideal device that would sit entirely within the peripheral walls of a 2×4 could also be used for securing flat top rail 2×4s to posts in the common "T" configuration.
 Of these devices only the relatively recent device described in European Patent 1288508 issued to Harrer comes close to doing what an ideal device would do. The Harrer device uses a tongue and groove or a dove tail like pair of connectors with particular application for securing structural members of timber frame buildings although it could be applied to lighter structures. Given that the purpose of the device is to ultimately support many tons of weight, all aspects of it are designed to maximize load performance and preserve the precision of the connection.
 The two connectors are able to fit within the peripheral walls of a member and therefore provide the aesthetic demands many people desire. But the typical installation is to form a cavity with a router in one surface and set one of the connections tightly within the cavity and screw it into place. The cavity walls serve to secure the connector so that it can not move while the numerous screws are being installed in a toe-nail fashion.
 Given the prescribed toe-nail installation of the screws through the connector, which is intended to provide the maximum shear resistance in order to help achieve the desired high structural loads, the connector would be very hard to keep in a stationary position without the cavity, as screws driven at such an angle often veer unpredictably until they catch enough material to set their path. And once a toe-nailed screw reaches its final maximum depth it is common for the screw to pull the assembly transversely across the planar surface. This effect is accentuated the softer the wood material is. Compensating for this requires carefully and slowly alternating the driving of opposing screws so as to equalize the pulling effect and maintain the connector in a stationary position. This is overcome when the connector is set into a cavity.
 However this methodology, while shown to be effective in connecting heavy structural perpendicularly oriented members is not the optimal solution for lighter weight structures such as wood guardrails or fence panels as an example for two primary reasons.
 Firstly, the process of cutting a receiving cavity is time consuming and demands a higher level of skill particularly in the use of high powered plunge routers and accurate placement of immoveable templates to ensure precision of the cavity dimensions. Time and skill implies higher costs. That being said, the construction of a timber frame structure implied by the Harrer device is invariably encompassed in a larger and more expensive construction project than a comparatively smaller outdoor deck with wood rails. It is foreseeable that the increased costs associated with Harrer device, installation procedures and technical skill of the tradesman required, could be more easily subsumed within the overall construction budget of a larger building project. However the opposite holds true for the average homeowner or tradesman planning to build a small lightweight structure like a deck railing quickly and affordably. The Harrer device and methodology renders itself too expensive for all but the most affluent customers in the market and thus not a solution for the mass do it yourself market.
 Secondly, an optimal installation method for quickly connecting railing section panels between posts, that being two pre-built horizontal rail members connected together by balusters perpendicularly between them, so that the complete and finished railing section may be fitted accurately in place whereby the male shaped connectors affixed to the ends of the horizontal rail members can be fitted into their female counterparts against the posts, can not easily be achieved using the Harrer device. This is because of the necessity to very accurately locate the cavities within the posts to receive the female part of the connector and to ensure that they in turn are in perfect spatial relationship to the multiple awaiting male connectors of the railing section. This is critical because the design of the tongue and groove of the Harrer device fits so precisely together and necessarily so in order to perform at the higher load standards envisioned for the device as a structural frame connector. If any of the female connectors attached to the posts were out of position even slightly, then its corresponding male part would not fit or seat itself fully. To force the anomalous connector together would either pull the balusters apart from the top and bottom rails or not permit the connector to seat fully with its male counterpart leaving it sitting proud or high in the groove because the balusters could not be compressed.
 The Harrer device attempts to alleviate this issue somewhat by utilizing a tapered "lead in" shape in the male and female tongue portions along a singular planer dimension which will be subsequently explained in greater detail and shown why this is not an optimal solution for use in installing lighter weight structures, panels or railing sections.
 The Harrer device performs its specific function of maximizing load resistance from many axes largely because of its precision according to company literature. The Harrer device is therefore designed so that the female channel is widest at the opening and then quickly tapers inward before becoming straight. The taper is along one dimensional plane only--across the connectors wide but flat surface. Thus to engage the connectors, the lateral rail or frame member must be in perfect proximity to the female connector along the dimensional plane corresponding to the longitudinal axis of the lateral member. In other words, it must be pressed up close against the post and awaiting female connector whereas, some latitude is afforded along the connector's lateral plane or second dimensional plane. In simpler terms, sideways movement of the lateral rail is permitted because of the taper and assists in allowing the tongue and groove to align and catch. This uni-planar dimensional taper may provide the performance characteristics desired by users of the Harrer device but renders it difficult to use in the application of installing lighter weight pre-built panels such as railing and fence sections as described above.
 Given the weight of large timber members and the fact that they are likely required to be held overhead in precise alignment with a hoist or crane during installation, it is much less likely that multiple heavy timbers built in advance into assemblies would or could be easily positioned so accurately as to account for the precise simultaneous alignment of at least four pairs of mating connectors as would be the case with a lighter weight rail section with top and bottom rails and filled with balusters between. The latter example is not the application that the Harrer apparatus effectively addresses.
 Having shown the strengths and weaknesses of the Harrer device, a discussion of the need for an ideal device and methodology in light of the Harrer device's limitations will now follow.
 If one contemplates using the Harrer device in the day to day installation of railing assemblies, numerous challenges come to mind. In order to secure a timber with the
 Harrer device the connectors must be fastened to the remote ends of a timber and the entire member must be fitted in to place to determine where the other half of the each connector must be located on the opposing surfaces. Perhaps one could calculate this with precise and careful measurements. In either case because of the heavy weights involved it is certain to require mechanical lifting assistance and precision just for a single timber which has only two remote ends to be connected. Little forgiveness if any is afforded in this apparatus for precisely the reason that it can be used to support such heavy loads.
 If one thinks of the installation of a railing assembly where connectors are fixed on the four remote ends of the rail members and an installer lifts the assembly into position, all four of the connectors must align with the receiving opening of their mated connector. The Harrer device allows room for assisting alignment of the tongues along a single lateral dimensional plane; the flat planer width of the connectors by virtue of the tapered opening in the groove and so in order for all four connectors to mate and slide easily and completely together very close tolerance is required. This imposes a higher standard of skill, effort and accuracy for a person building a rail assembly even if the paired connectors that are secured to opposing posts were initially perfectly positioned. If the rail assembly has any looseness or "give" it could be enough to move any one of the four connectors off of perfect alignment and make if more difficult for a user to drop the rail assembly in place.
 One way to try to address this if using the Harrer device would be to "dry-fit" the assembled rail section between posts and then precisely mark with a pencil the locations of the where the post connectors should be set for final resting position. The assembly could be removed from between the posts. The connectors pulled apart and the portion then relocated exactly on the post where it was marked. Screwing those connectors to the post would require precision. If the screws pulled or pushed the connector into a final resting location that is not exactly as marked, it would result in an imperfect re-joining of the connectors on the four remote ends of the rails in the assembly. The alternative would be to cut cavities into the post wall to retain the connector, as is taught by Harrer.
 For a person skilled in the art of building railing or deck building, a myriad of issues arise which must be dealt with to maintain exact alignment for this kind of a system to ever be user friendly in the field.
 An ideal device for the applications common to building lighter weight structures such as deck railing would provide for a means of marking exact connector locations, preferably by physical impression or registration onto the flat planar surfaces of the opposing posts or surfaces and providing great leeway for each pair of mating connectors to engage laterally and more importantly, longitudinally; for imprecise movements or minor errors in the building of the rail section so that all four connectors would more easily align and then pull together for a final firm fit.
 In summary, none of the prior art devices discussed herein, other than Harrer's apparatus, efficiently address the issue of keeping the ends of the rails as dry as possible at the point of contact on the post or of providing the most concealed fastener system possible; concealed by virtue of being situated entirely behind the end of a rail and within the peripheral of the walls of the 2×4 rail. Nor do they completely hide the fastening means from view. Nor do they lend themselves to a simpler method of installation that can account for the typical margin of error in measurement and building.
 An ideal device that would address these functional needs and installation challenges would represent the highest aesthetic and practical installation standards possible and with a simpler, faster installation method, would also reduce user costs associated with time and skill thus giving is more appeal as a mass market solution. In the case of the Harrer device it is designed to carry extreme structural loads. Therefore both its design and installation method require high levels of precision rendering it more difficult and less practical to install in the way that builders and homeowners commonly install lighter structures such as completed rail section assemblies with balusters. Among theses devices and methods there is significant room for improvement. A greatly improved aesthetic appearance can be attained by virtue of utility and design attributes which will be presented by the ideal apparatus and its easier method of use and installation.
 Therefore there is a need for a hidden rail to post connector device and method for constructing wood railings and the like that maximizes speed and simplicity of installation, standards of appearance, and improves the ability for the post and rail to remain drier, longer and thereby extend the useful life of the railing. Furthermore there is a need for a device and method that makes it easier for a user to accurately mark and locate multiple pairs of connectors in a fixed relationship to opposing mating surfaces. Lastly, there is a need for such a device or method to compensate for a reasonable margin of error or imperfection so that multiple pairs of connectors can be easily and simultaneously aligned and inserted into their counterpart connectors during installation.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 In some aspects the present invention provides a connector for detachably connecting an end of a horizontal longitudinal member to a vertical support member, the connector comprising: a male bracket for attachment to one of said members, the male bracket defining a first rear surface for abutting the one of said members and a first front surface opposite the first rear surface, the first front surface having an elongate tenon thereon with angled tenon sides such that the tenon widens outwardly from the first front surface, the tenon further being tapered from a first tenon end towards a wider second tenon end, and the tenon further narrowing in thickness from the second tenon end towards the thinner first tenon end; a female bracket for attachment to the other of said members, the female bracket defining a second rear surface for abutting the other of said members and a second front surface opposite the second rear surface, the second front surface defining a slot therein with angled slot sides such that the slot widens inwardly from the second front surface, the slot further being tapered from a first slot end towards a wider second slot end, and the slot further narrowing in thickness from the second slot end towards the thinner first slot end, wherein the second slot end extends to an edge of the female bracket to define a slot opening; and wherein the slot and the tenon are complementary such that they provide a snug connection between the male bracket and the female bracket when the tenon is completely inserted into the slot.
 The term "tenon" as used herein is in accordance with its dictionary definition, namely, a projecting member on a piece of material for insertion into a mortise to make a joint. The terms "tongue" or "tang" are sometimes used interchangeably with "tenon". The term "mortise" as used herein is also in accordance with its dictionary definition, namely, a slot into which some other part of an arrangement of parts fits or passes, especially, a cavity cut into a piece of material to receive a tenon. The terms "slot" and "socket" are used interchangeably with "mortise".
 In some embodiments, the connector may include a plurality of projections on one or both of the first rear surface and second rear surface wherein said projections are sized to grip the material of one or both of said members.
 In some embodiments, the connector may include an extension from the first front surface of the male bracket that overhangs the edge of the female bracket to conceal the slot opening when the male bracket and female bracket are connected thereby providing a fully blind joint there between. In some embodiments, the edge of the female member defines a bore and the extension defines a hole that aligns with the bore, and wherein the hole and the bore are adapted to receive a fastener for securing the extension of the male bracket to the edge of the female bracket. In some embodiments, the brackets may be sized such that when connected to each other they conform to the external dimensions of the end of the horizontal member thereby continuing the shape of the longitudinal member to the support member.
 In some embodiments, the first front surface of the male bracket is angled relative to the first rear surface to provide an angled connection between the longitudinal member and the vertical support member. In some embodiments, the second front surface of the female bracket is angled relative to the second rear surface to provide an angled connection between the longitudinal member and the vertical support member.
 The present invention provides a connector that can fit completely within the periphery of any rail member. It requires no routered cavities with a mounting surface to prevent the connectors from moving from their intended positions as they are secured to opposing surfaces. It physically marks or registers its final location on a surface so it may be moved, separated and then accurately repositioned its exact original location prior to fixation. It secures itself reliably as screws are driven into place. The connector of the present invention provides a cleaner, sleeker appearance with only a shadow like reveal between rail and post. The fact that the device does not extend beyond the peripheral walls of the rail member, provides the highest aesthetic qualities because the fasteners would be completely hidden from view. A device that is equal to or marginally smaller than the periphery of the 2×4 walls, would therefore fully expose the peripheral walls near the terminus of the 2×4 rail and allow air to flow unimpeded around all four walls hastening and promoting water evaporation. The device would provide sufficient distance as an intermediary material between post and rail preventing wood on wood contact.
 A device which incorporates the characteristics of a male tenon and female mortise, slot or channel that can be made into a blind configuration entirely hides from view the working aspects of the joint. Furthermore, and to the benefit of installers, a device incorporating such a joint which is tapered in two adjacent and perpendicular dimensional planes would provide a degree of latitude and margin of error for users while simultaneously aligning multiple remote connectors of an assembly. This is an aspect which would improve and render more efficient the installation of railing sections or other like assemblies.
 In summary such a device would represent a significant advancement in this field and have many desirable characteristics for longevity and enhanced appearance. It would also represent a movement away from the direction that the prior art has tended to teach which is towards connectors that wrap further around the side walls of the rail member and only employing decorative designs to improve the appearance rather than fitting inconspicuously behind the end cut of the rail and utilizing concealed means of connecting.
 In order to address some of the shortcomings of the prior art there is provided a concealed post to rail connecting apparatus which can act as a fastening union between post and rail that is itself largely hidden from view behind the end of a lateral rail member and which also hides any fasteners inside itself. It is concealed in terms of a) being physically hidden behind the end of a rail member as opposed to wrapping around its side walls; b) providing virtually complete concealment of the means by which parts mate together; and c) completely conceals all fasteners within the bodies of the parts, save and except for an optional flat head top screw to prevent uplift--an atypical load force for guardrails. And in order to render the installation of complete rail sections consisting of at least two rail members with perpendicularly oriented balusters, it is necessary to include in the device a means of allowing for greater leniency for simultaneously aligning the multiple mating parts of the device along lateral and longitudinal planar dimensions and thus reduce the precision required by the user to engage them all at the same time during an installation.
 Accordingly, the preferred apparatus is comprised of at least two parts. For ease of description the first part will be referred to as the male bracket, which in illustrated embodiment is the rail bracket, and the second part as the female bracket, which in the illustrated embodiment is the post bracket. Together they form the complete railing connector. Each bracket is secured separately to post and rail by screws through countersunk holes in each bracket. The brackets then mate securely together by means of a male tenon and complementary female slot to create a strong joint.
 In some embodiments, from a front view of the mating surface, a female opening in the shape of a narrow elongated trapezoid is defined on the flat front surface of the post bracket with the wide base at the top and the narrow end of the trapezoid shape near the bottom of the bracket. The aperture then slopes outwardly inside the body of the post bracket towards the exterior walls and resembles a chamfered shape. From a front view of the rail bracket a reciprocal narrow male elongated trapezoid shape is defined and is raised or elevated above a lower planar surface. The sides of the male member slope downward from the top surface of the male member in a chamfered shape towards the lower planar surface. The male and female shapes are tapered along two dimensional planes and observable when viewing the rail bracket from the front and side of its length so that it is easier for them to align and mate when used in the field. The male and female portions of the brackets slide parallel together in order to secure itself. The result is a very rigid and concealed union which resists very high shear forces.
 The joint created is referred to as "blind" because the male member shape of the rail bracket stops short of running the entire length of the connector as does the female channel of the post bracket. The post bracket has a flat bottom shoulder or shelf like area situated near the tapered end of the female aperture near the end of its length but well within its defined peripheral walls thus allowing the male shape to finally seat itself on the shoulder and hiding itself within the post bracket.
 Counter bored through holes for screws are located along the longitudinal center line and in an offset placement pattern of the brackets. Sufficient clearance for the heads of each screw is provided so that the brackets may slide freely into their final resting place and completely concealing the internal fasteners from view. The screws are oriented in shear against the lateral forces that are imposed upon the rail during its useful life.
 Some embodiments comprise post and rail brackets that have identical perimeter shapes and appear as one when they slide together. The perimeter would at most, be equal to the periphery of the walls of the 2×4 rail. The benefit of having the perimeter of the joined railing connectors equal to but not larger than the peripheral size of the 2×4 member is that a single form of connector can then be used for rails oriented vertically on their edge as is common in fence and rail top and bottom rail members and as to secure a flat oriented 2×4 on top of a 2×4 on edge to create a "T" formation unlike anything else in the prior art. These "T" formations of rail members is commonly seen in the field of wood guard rails but sometimes on fences as well.
 It will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention can be adapted easily for use with stair rails and stair stringers that have a longer diagonal cut surface that mates with a post. It will also be apparent that the post connector can be adapted to adjust to angled corners, such as for example 45° and 22.5° corners that are common in the field. In such cases, the back side of the post bracket would be built up to account for the angle so that the front face of the post connector would be perfectly aligned with the rail connector. In this way the end of the rail member can easily be cut off straight at 90° to the length of the gap between posts without complication and the resultant railing section aligned parallel to the plane of the railing system.
 In some embodiments, rather than having a unique post bracket part as referred to above with an integral 45° or 22.5° surface on the backside of the post bracket, a third unique part may be provided in either 45° or 22.5°. The third part would fit inside the cavity at the back of the post bracket thus making it quickly adaptable for using in corner applications. It is understood by those skilled in the art that either a unitary piece or an angled insertion piece as suggested would achieve the same result.
 Referring to the 45° or 22.5° embodiments, either as a unitary part of the back side of the post connector or as an independent insertable part, it would be secured to the post wall by the same screws that pass through the counter bored holes in the female shaped channel or aperture of the post bracket. However, additional counter bores would be located along the long side of the post connector and angled insertable part. Flat head screws would pass through and seat within the counter bores permitting further means of attachment between the post connector and the post.
 The rail bracket has a horizontal flange on one end that overlaps the opposing mating surface of the post bracket once the dovetail members are slid together. A small counter bored through hole is located in the center of the flange and accepts a flat head screw which when inserted secures the rail and post connector so as to prevent separation of the parts.
 The flat surfaces of the post and rail brackets that contact either the post or end of the rail may be provided with a plurality of small projections such as gripping cones at various locations. The cones are hard and yet short enough to impress into soft or medium density wood fiber or similar material in order to help keep the parts secure and immoveable during the installation phase when screws are at risk of veering along grain lines.
 The mid span of the top and sides of the post and rail brackets are also defined by a positive or negative embossed line near the peripheral edge that serves to identify the center of the railing connector and provide a reference point by which a user can easily make a pencil mark on the mating surfaces of the post or rail. This allows the connectors to be separated and individually secured to opposing mating surfaces but in perfect reference to each other for re-connection.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
 For a better understanding of the present invention and to show more clearly how it may be carried into effect, reference is made by way of example to the accompanying drawings in which:
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of the railing connector device in accordance with the present invention and shown attached to post in a railing application;
 FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the railing connector device in accordance with the present invention shown attached to a post forming an angled corner in a railing application (45° angle shown here);
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the railing connector device in FIG. 1 from behind with the post not being shown;
 FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of the railing bracket comprising part of the rail connector shown in FIGS. 1 and 3;
 FIG. 5 is a rear elevation view of the post bracket comprising part of the rail connector shown in FIGS. 1 and 3;
 FIG. 6 is an exploded rear fragmentary perspective view of the post bracket in FIGS. 1 and 3;
 FIG. 7 is an exploded front fragmentary perspective view of the post bracket in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3;
 FIG. 8 is a rear perspective view of the rail bracket in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3;
 FIG. 9 is front perspective view of the rail bracket in FIG. 1 and FIG. 3;
 FIG. 10 is a side elevation cross sectional view of the rail connector connecting a rail to a post;
 FIG. 11 is a side front perspective view of the 22.5° wedge bracket;
 FIG. 12 is a side and rear perspective view of the 22.5° wedge bracket;
 FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the second embodiment of the railing connector in a corner angle application from the rear of the 22.5° wedge bracket, post bracket and rail bracket;
 FIG. 14 is a perspective view of the second embodiment of the railing connector in a corner angle application from the rear of the rail bracket, post bracket and the 22.5° wedge bracket with all fasteners;
 FIG. 15 is a side front perspective view of the 45° wedge bracket;
 FIG. 16 is a rear perspective view of the 45° wedge bracket;
 FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the second embodiment of the railing connector in a corner angle application from the rear of the 45° wedge bracket, post bracket and rail bracket;
 FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the second embodiment of the railing connector in a corner angle application from the rear of the rail bracket, post bracket and the 45° wedge bracket with all fasteners;
 FIG. 19 is a top view of a common 90 degree corner configuration of posts and rails connected by the railing connector;
 FIG. 20 is a top view of a 45° corner configuration of posts and rails connected by the railing connector;
 FIG. 21 is a top view of a 22.5° corner configuration of posts and rails connected by the railing connector;
 FIG. 22 is a side elevation view along the length of the railing bracket;
 FIG. 23 is a cross sectional view along the length of the post bracket;
 FIG. 24 is a combination cross sectional view of the railing bracket across the lower portion of the male member tenon and a top view of the post bracket across the upper portion at the opening of the female channel depicting the size difference of the mating parts at the moment of engagement;
 FIG. 25 is a perspective view of a completed rail assembly fitted loosely between posts and resting on spacers;
 FIG. 26 is a perspective view of a completed rail assembly and exploded fragmentary perspective view of rail brackets to be secured prior to being mated with post brackets attached to posts; and
 FIG. 27 is perspective view of a complete rail assembly secured into final position by rail connectors to opposing posts.
 For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiment illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Any alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and any additional applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated herein, which would occur to one, skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.
 Referring to FIGS. 1-9, and 22-24, there is depicted an embodiment of a connector in accordance with the present invention, which in the illustrated embodiment is a railing connecter 3 particularly suited to connecting horizontal railings to vertical supports. The connector may also be used for other applications as will be apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reading the disclosure herein. Connector 3 comprises a male bracket such as rail bracket 4, and a female bracket such as post bracket 5. The rail bracket 4 and post bracket 5 mate together to provide the completed railing connector 3.
 The rail bracket 4 has a horizontal extension 10 which overlaps the top edge 13 of the post bracket 5 when the parts are fully mated. A counter bore hole 20 is located in the extension 10. In some embodiments, the post bracket 5 may be modified to form any desired angle including the most commonly used 45 and 22.5 degrees.
 A third part may be used that forms a wedge shape at the desired angle and can fit together with the post bracket to adapt the completed railing connector for desired angled or corner applications. This part will be described further on in FIGS. 11-18. The post bracket 5 is secured to the face of any planar surface but most commonly a post 1 and the rail bracket 4 is secured to another planar surface of transverse oriented member but most commonly an end of a wood rail 2.
 Preferably, the brackets 4 and 5 are sized such that when connected to each other to provide the complete connector 3 they conform to the external dimensions of the end of the rail (or horizontal member) thereby continuing the shape of the rail to the post (or support member). Thus, the complete railing connector does not extend beyond the peripheral walls of the rail member and preferably slightly within the walls in order to provide a desired aesthetic appearance. The railing connector 3 also creates a space between the two mating surfaces of post 1 and rail 2 in order to eliminate wood to wood contact. Embossed or impressed lines 7 formed into the post bracket 5 and rail bracket 4 provide a user with the ease of marking the exact locations of these line on both the rail and post mating surfaces. The benefit of this will be explained further in this description.
 Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5 there are front views of the rail bracket 4 and post bracket 5 respectively. The rail bracket 4 depicts the rectangular shape of the sides of the bracket, which is identical for the post bracket 5. The extension 10 is also shown as is the tapered shape of the tenon 11. In addition the rail bracket 3 can be oriented to secure rail members 2 that have their edge facing upwards or to secure rail members that are oriented flat and have their edges facing horizontally. The wider opening or throat 31 of the slot 17 of the post bracket 5 is also shown.
 Referring to FIGS. 4, 8, 9, 22 and 24, rail bracket 4 defines a rear surface 81 that abuts the end of the rail 2, and an opposite front surface 46 on which is provided an elongate tongue or tenon 11. The tenon 11 is tapered from a first tenon end or bottom end 35 towards a wider second tenon end or top end 34. The sides 82 of the tenon 11 are angled, as best shown in FIG. 24, such that the tenon 11 gradually widens or flares in cross section outwardly from the front surface 46. Furthermore, as best shown in FIG. 22, the tenon 11 narrows in thickness from the thicker top end 34 towards the thinner bottom end 35.
 As an alternative to the gradual widening of the tenon outwardly from the front surface, the tenon may be of uniform cross sectional width except that a lip or flange portion may be provided remote from the front surface. Thus, the tenon can be said to widen outwardly, whether or not the widening is gradual as in the case of the illustrated embodiment or abrupt as in the case of a lip or flange remote from the front surface 46.
 Referring to FIGS. 5-7, 23 and 24, post bracket 5 defines a rear surface 66 that abuts the post 1, and an opposite front surface 58 in which is provided a mortise or slot 17 that is complementary to the tenon 11. The slot 17 is tapered from a first slot end or bottom end 33 towards a wider second slot end or top end 31. The sides 83 of the slot 17 are angled, as best shown in FIG. 24, such that the slot 17 gradually widens or flares in cross section inwardly from the front surface 58. Furthermore, as best shown in FIG. 23, the slot 17 narrows in thickness from the thicker top end 31 towards the thinner bottom end 33.
 As an alternative to the gradual widening of the slot inwardly form the front surface, the slot may be of uniform cross sectional width except that a wider channel portion may be provided remote from the front surface sized to accommodate the wider lip or flange portion of a complementary tenon. Thus, the slot can be said to widen inwardly, whether or not the widening is gradual as in the case of the illustrated embodiment, or abrupt as in the case of a channel portion remote from the front surface 58.
 The slot 17 and the tenon 11 are complementary, analogous to a sliding dovetail joint, such that they provide a snug connection between the rail bracket and the post bracket when the tenon 11 is completely inserted into the slot 17.
 In the illustrated embodiment, there is shown the perimeter tapered shape of the tenon 11 and parallel ridge lines 42 which define a thin strip of surface 47 that sits above larger surface 43 creating a concave depression rather than having surface 43 same elevation as surface 47 defined by the perimeter 11 and parallel ridge lines 42. Surface 47 forming 45 degree cut or chamfered tips 50 provide more latitude for initial engagement of tenon 11 and slot 17 as well as extra room once tenon 11 is seated finally into deepest extent of female channel 11. This lowered area represents the removal of material within the body of tenon 11 and provides additional space for reciprocal elevated surface 44 as defined in the slot 17 of post bracket 5 as shown in FIGS. 5 and 7. Surface 43 is defined further by a cavity 45 located on underside of extension 10 and by counter bored holes 12 at more or less remote ends of surface 43. Said holes 12 through tenon 11 permit flat head screws 19 to sit deeply enough that they will not obstruct the mating functionality of the rail and post brackets.
 Referring to FIG. 9 is a perspective of the rail connector 4 showing the tapered tenon 11 and fasteners 19 that are seated in counter bores 18. A counter bore hole 20 in the extension 10 accepts a fastener 21 thus locking the rail bracket 4 and post bracket 5 together when mated. The rail bracket 4 is further defined by its "L" shape which from a side view appears with a uniform thickness and forms a smooth flat surface 46 at lower elevation than surfaces 43 and 47 of tenon 11. Surface 46 continues until interrupted by perimeter juncture line 49 of upwardly chamfered side surface 48 forming the underside of tenon 11.
 FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of the back side of rail bracket 4 which is defined by a central rib 51 running the length of rail bracket 4 and intersected perpendicularly by three vertical protruding cross ribs 52 thus further defining eight cavities 53 surrounded by ribs 52, 53 and perimeter ridge 54. Fastener holes 16 are surrounded by a cylindrical mass of material 55 to reinforce screw hole channel 16 and remove as much excess material as possible. The zone along the length of rib 51 is further defined by sub-cavities 57 which are visible in six of the upper eight cavities 53 and descend underneath top surface 43 of tenon 11. Gripping cones 22 that impress into the end of the rail member 2 are shown at corner locations but could also be in other locations along central rib 51 or cross ribs 52 as desired to improve stability near fastener holes 23 shown exiting the back side of the bracket. Thus the gripping cones 22 provide a plurality of projections on the rear surface of the rail bracket 4 that are sized to grip the material of the rail.
 The rail bracket 4 is depicted in FIG. 22 to show greater detail of the tapered thickness of the tenon 11 along its length. The top 34 of the tenon 11 is the thickest and widest part and it becomes progressively thinner as it slopes downward along its length until the bottom end 35 where it is at it thinnest and narrowest. The post bracket 5 is depicted in a section along the longitudinal medial plane in FIG. 23 to show greater detail of how the complementary slot 17 is also a tapered shape along its length in this second dimensional plane. The thickest and widest part of the slot is at the top which would represent the opening 31 and it becomes progressively thinner as it slopes downward inwards along its length until the bottom end 33 where it is at its thinnest and narrowest.
 Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, there is a perspective view of the back and front of the post bracket 5. A flat surface 13 at the top edge of the post bracket 5 allows for the extension 10 to sit flush and a screw hole 14 located in the flat surface 13 allows for a screw 21 to secure the rail bracket 4 to the post bracket 5. The slot opening or throat 31 of the slot 17 is defined in planar surface 13. The slot 17 narrows as it moves down to the opposite end of the bracket 5. Surface 44 inside the slot 17 is defined by descending and outwardly chamfered surfaces 56 which terminate at juncture of flat surfaces 57 and which mate closely with the reverse chamfered surfaces 48 of tenon 11 as shown in FIG. 9. By virtue of surface 44, chamfered surfaces 56 and flat surface 57 a zone of thicker material is created around screw hole 14 when viewed from the perspective of surface 13 thus permitting screw 21 to function properly and safely as a means of fastening extension 10 to post connector 5. Counter bored holes 18 are located along the center line of the surface 44 and flat surface 58 of post bracket.
 Fasteners 19 are seated below the planar surfaces. It is understood by those skilled in that art that it would also be possible to locate a counter bore screw inside the channel 17 if desired with acceptable performance. But it is preferable to locate fasteners as near to the ends of the brackets as possible in order to provide greater resistance to torsion or rotational forces that may be imposed on the rail member 2 or post 1.
 Surface 58 is further defined by eight cavities 59 located inside peripheral walls 60 and perpendicular ribs 61. The opening in surface area 58 is defined by edges 62 which match juncture lines 48 of tenon 11.
 From viewing the back side of the post bracket 5 as shown in FIG. 6 with a similar central rib 63 running the length of post bracket 5 and also intersected perpendicularly by three vertical protruding cross ribs 64 thus further defining eight cavities 65 surrounded by ribs 63, 64 and a perimeter wall 66. Fastener holes 16 exiting the back are surrounded by a cylindrical mass of material 67 to reinforce screw hole channel 16 and remove as much excess material as possible. Fasteners 19 pass through said hole 16. The zone along the length of rib 63 is further defined by sub-cavities 68 which are visible in all eight cavities 65 and descend underneath top surface 44 of slot 17. Small gripping cones 15 are shown in the corner regions of the post connector 5 but could be located in various locations along ribs 63 or 64. Said cones 15 are designed to impress the post surface precisely and physically register its desired final location. Thus the gripping cones 15 provide a plurality of projections on the rear surface of the post bracket 5 that are sized to grip the material of the post. At least four locator pin receptacles 40 are shown and are required so as to mate with at least two locator pins 29 on wedges 24 and 30 given the asymmetrical nature of the wedge design which allows for only one molded part to function with the post bracket 5 when connected to opposite ends of a 2×4 rail 2.
 Referring to FIG. 10 is a side perspective view of the rail bracket 4 and post bracket 5 when the tenon is slid into the slot and fully seated. Gripping cones 15 are shown penetrating the post wall while gripping cones 22 from the rail bracket are embedded into the end of the rail member 2. Fasteners 19 in the post 1 are located as far apart as possible to create the longest distance to resist torsion or rotational forces that may be imposed at the union. The top fastener must clear the end the vertical screw 21. Therefore the upper most location of counter bore 18 is determined by depth of screw 14 as shown in FIG. 24. The embossed or impressed lines 7 are set along the peripheral edges of the mated railing connector 3.
 Referring to FIGS. 11-18 are perspective views of the rail bracket 4, post bracket 5 and 22.5 degree wedge 24. References to wedge 24 also apply to 45 degree wedge 30 in FIG. 15 which differs only in their angle. A view of back side of wedge 24 shows gripping cones 15 at corners and along peripheral wall 69. Said cones 15 are identified by the same numeral as in the post bracket 5 even though in this iteration the post bracket and wedge 24 are two independent parts. It should be understood by those skilled in the art that the post bracket 5 and wedge 24 or 30 could be made into a single part if desired without sacrificing the functionality of the completed railing connector 3. The interior area of wedge 24 or 30 is defined by central rib 70 running the length of wedge 24 or 30 and intersected perpendicularly by three vertical protruding cross ribs 71 thus further defining twelve cavities 72 with flat planar surfaces 73 parallel to the top planar surface 68 and surrounded by ribs 70, 71 and peripheral wall 69. A unique defining feature of wedges 24 and 30 are cavities 73 which may be formed by removing material around the walls of the fastener holes 25 or by being molded into the part. Furthermore the four exit holes 26 for fasteners 19 are defined integrally into central rib 70 and seen as cylindrical masses 74. Four holes are provided so that wedge 24 or 30 will mate with the back of post bracket 5 whether secured to either end of a 2×4 rail 2.
 FIGS. 11 and 15 show counter bore holes 27 in the sides of the wedge 24 and 30 allowing fasteners 19 to penetrate post 1 from an angle. Flat surface 64 is defined by concave gripping cone cavities 28 to accept the gripping cones 15 of the post connector 5. At least two cylindrical locator pins 29 are further defined on the planar surface 68 of the wedge that fit into receptacles 40 on the back of the post bracket 5. The fastener holes 26 in the wedge are perfectly aligned with the holes 16 exiting the back of the post bracket 5. In addition, a person skilled in the art will note that there are four holes 26.
 This arrangement compensates for the asymmetrical positioning of the pair of fastener holes 16 in the post bracket 5. The wedges 24 and 30 can be flipped or rotated as would occur in the field when the post brackets are being attached at the opposite end of a top or bottom rail 37. This feature allows one wedge to be used in a left or right rail to post connection.
 Referring to FIGS. 14 and 18 are perspective views of the back side of the wedge 24 and 30 and the gripping cones 15 and of the completed railing connector 3 with post and rail fasteners 19 and flange screw 21. Post bracket 5 and wedge 24 or 30 are mated together by locator pins 29, pin receptacles 40, cones 15 and cone cavities 28 and then held tightly together by common screw 19 passing through aligned screw holes 16 and 26.
 These views show how the various components that comprise the completed railing connector 3 can be modified with the addition of the 22.5 degree wedge 24 or 45 degree wedge 30 to create a connector capable of joining opposing members at 45 or 90 degree opposition to one another by bisecting the angles in half.
 Referring to FIG. 19 is a top view of a common 90 degree corner configuration to illustrate how the simplest embodiment of the apparatus is configured to join post and rails where opposing post faces are directly facing each other in 180 or 90 degree applications.
 Referring to FIGS. 20-21 are top views of a common 45 and 22.5 degree corner configuration illustrating how the 45 degree wedge 30 and 22.5 degree wedges are used to adapt to different post orientations as the case may be.
 Referring to FIGS. 22-23 are views that provide greater detail of how the tenon 11 tapers from thickest at the top 34 to thinnest at the terminus of the member near the bottom 35 of rail bracket 4. The same is observed along the length of the slot 17 where it tapers from the opening 31 which is the widest part of the slot and to the end 33 where it is shallowest at the bottom of bracket 5.
 Referring to FIG. 24 is a cross sectional top view looking down on the slot 17 of the post bracket 5. The mating relationship is depicted at the moment the tenon 11 is about to enter the slot 17. From this view it can be clearly observed that because of the tapering of the tenon 11 and slot 17 along two dimensions (thickness and width), a gap 36 and gap 41 are created at the precise and critical moment of aligning post 5 and rail 4 brackets. Gaps 36 and 41 allows a user to simultaneously align the tenons 11 more easily at the four remote ends of the top and bottom rails 2 in a completed rail assembly 37. Gap 36 provides additional space along central axis (in and out movement) between tenon 11 and slot 17 while gap 41 provides similar space along lateral axis (sideways movement) at the moment of engagement.
 Referring to FIGS. 25-27 are perspective views of completed post and rail assemblies in various stages of installation. FIG. 25 depicts a rail assembly 37 including balusters 39 and secured rail connector devices 3 comprised of rail bracket 4 and post bracket 5 fitted accurately between two posts 1 and resting on spacers 38 which set the lower rail 2 at the desired height above the surface and allowing precise registration of post bracket 5 gripping cones 15 against each post. FIG. 26 depicts the rail assembly 37 elevated above the posts with exposed rail brackets 4 and post brackets 5 secured in final position on posts 1 just prior to dropping rail assembly 37 in place. FIG. 27 depicts the final resting position of the rail assembly 37 between posts.
 The following emphasizes some of the aforesaid characteristics of the device and describes the preferred method of employing it. The preferred method will describe installing a complete assembled railing section taking full advantage of the features of the railing connector device 3. However it will be clear to those skilled in the art that rails 2 can be installed individually with balusters 39 connected afterwards even though this is a slower method.
 The first step is to cut two rails 2 to precise length to match the distance between opposing post 1 faces less the total thickness of two rail connectors 3. Rail connectors 4 are then closely aligned along the periphery of the walls of the rail 2 and against the transverse surface of the end of each 2×4 rail 2 and fastened with screws 19 that pass through counter bored holes 12 in the inner contoured body of the tenon 11. This is made easy by virtue of gripping cones 22 located on the rear planar surface of the connector 4. They are small but long enough to impress into the end grain of soft to mid density wood fiber. This ensures that the connector maintains its location while driving the screw 19 even if it begins to try to follow a grain line in the wood. Precisely driving screws parallel to the grain is more difficult than in a cross grain direction as screws can drift and follow the interface between grain rather than cutting through and maintaining an original trajectory. The gripping cones resist this force and keep the screw tracking correctly in line with the original position of the connector. In order for the two separated parts to re-align perfectly they must not move while screws are being fastened.
 The next step is to slide the post connectors 5 together with the rail connector 4. This is done by aligning the tenon 11 of the rail bracket above the throat 31 of the slot 17 of the post bracket 5 and pushing the pieces together until the tenon and slot fully engage and the overlapping horizontal extension 10 of the rail connector sits flush over top the flat surface 13 of the post connector 5. This is followed by attaching a series of balusters 39 to each rail 2 to create a rail assembly 37.
 The rail assembly 37 with rail connectors 3 secured to the ends of each rail 2 is then fitted between opposing posts 1 and set onto spacers 38 which set the rail assembly 37 at the desired height above the surface. The rail assembly 37 is intended to fit between the posts 1 with a close tolerance such that once rested on the spacers 38 an installer can easily press each post connector 5 firmly against the post 1 face forcing the gripping cones 15 to leave a physical depression in the wood thus precisely registering the final location where each post connector 5 will be secured. In addition, the impression lines 7 can be used to mark the center lines of the post connector 5 against the post with a pencil. Using a pencil would be more suitable for installations where the post material is sufficiently dense that the gripping cones 15 are not able to register their locations or only faintly so. With very hard material it may be necessary to cut the cones off with a knife blade prior to fitting the assembly between the posts.
 Once the exact locations of the four post connectors 5 are marked on the posts 1, the rail assembly 37 can be removed from between the posts 1 and the post connectors 5 can be slid apart from the rail connectors 4 and placed in exact position on each post 1 as indicated by the physical depressions or pencil markings. The cones 15 fit easily in the depressions and let the installer know that the connector 5 is seated in precise location before driving screws 19 and securing the connector 5. The gripping cones 15 hold the post connectors 5 in place and stop them from moving while the screws 19 are driven through fastener holes 16 and seated fully into the counter bores 18 within the slot 17 in the body of the post connectors 5. The counter bores 18 are sufficiently deep so as to ensure the heads of the screws 19 are below the planer surface of the slot 17. The importance of the precise location of the post connectors 5 on the posts 1 and the depth of the top of the screw heads within the counter bores 18 will become apparent in the following steps.
 When the post connectors 5 have been accurately secured to opposing posts 1, the rail assembly 37 which has rail connectors 4 secured to the ends of each rail member 2 is re-aligned between posts above the throat 31 of each slot 17 in the post connector 5. Each tenon 11 is slid into the corresponding slot 17 until fully seated and the parts are mated. A small screw 21 is then installed through the counter bored hole 20 in the overlapping extension 10 of the rail connector 4 and embedded into a hole 14 in the body of the post connector 5 thus preventing any vertical uplift of the connectors. In normal use of a rail or fence, no upward forces are usually experienced but this securing technique ensures it is not possible to pull the connectors apart from upward forces.
 The tapered shape of the tenon and slot in two dimensions--from wide to narrow across the width and from thicker to thinner along the length--provides very user friendly functionality for a user working alone to install rail assemblies. When the mating connectors are positioned above each other just prior to engagement, the narrower tip 35 at the bottom of the tenon 11 on the rail connector 4 has additional clearance 36 to enter the wider throat opening 31 at the top of the slot 17 on the post connector 5. This allows a user a greater degree for margin of error during the critical alignment and simultaneous insertion of four remote tenons 11 into the corresponding slots 17. As the connectors slide together, the clearance between the tenons and slots gradually decreases until it is all together eliminated and the parts fit snuggly and precisely together.
 Because of the nature of the device 3 and how all four post connectors 5 can be so accurately located on to a post surface as to mate with the reciprocal rail connector 4, a precise fit is greatly enhanced in each installation of a railing section. Furthermore the tapered shape of the tenon 11 and slot 17 permits a wide margin of forgiveness at the moment of simultaneously aligning the four independent mating sections of the connectors. This makes for an easier and more pleasant installation procedure as the parts literally pull themselves into a tighter connection as they slide together.
 This rail connector 3 can be modified to work with different corner angles. A 22.5° wedge 24 and a 45° wedge 30 can be fitted together securely into the back side of the post connector 5. When installing the rail connector with either of the wedges 24 and 30 depending the on the desired angle, the locator pins 29 of wedge 24 are fitted into pin receptacles 40 of post bracket 5. The assembly of wedge 24 and post bracket 5 is now used in the same methodology as previously described for the post bracket 5 and rail bracket 4. That is to say, rails must be cut to precise length equal to the distance between the faces of opposing angled posts measured from the vertical center line of each post face less the total thickness of two of the conjoined rail connectors 3 comprised of post bracket 5, rail bracket 4 and wedge 24 or 30 as the case may be.
 Thickness of the wedges 24 or 30 for purposes of subtraction, are measured from opposing edges of wedge 24 or 30 and rail bracket 4 and along the center line of the conjoined rail connector 3 by using the center impression lines 7. The rail brackets 4 can then be screwed to the ends of each 2×4 rail as part of a completed rail assembly 37. Rail assembly 37 may then be set on spacers 38 between opposing rail posts 1 such that the gripping cones 15 on the back of wedges 24 or 30 can be depressed into each post face with modest pressure registering physical depressions of exact desired location. The assembly 37 can then be pulled away from the posts 1, wedge 24 or 30 and post bracket separated from each rail connector 4 then and located exactly on each post 1 by aligning cones 15 with each of the cone depressions. Screws 19 are then used to fasten the wedge 24 or 30 and post bracket 5 through the holes 15 and 25. The rail assembly 37 can now be lowered into place by sliding tenon 11 and slot 17 together and screw 21 through extension 10. This is repeated for the three other remote ends of the remaining 2×4 rails.
 While embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated, such embodiments should be considered illustrative of the invention only. The invention may include variants not described or illustrated herein in detail. Thus, the embodiments described and illustrated herein should not be considered to limit the invention as construed in accordance with the accompanying claims.
Patent applications by Richard Bergman, Ottawa CA
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