US 20020104985 A1
A clip for securing a picket cap to a vertical profile of a picket fence consists of a U-shaped thin piece of stainless steel, or other suitable material, for frictionally fitting onto opposing end tabs protruding from a bottom portion of the picket cap. A backface of the picket clip has a barb-like portion formed thereon, and bent into an interior portion thereof for permitting the clip to be pushed onto one of the opposing tabs of the picket cap, but preventing the removal of the clip therefrom by digging into the material of an inside wall portion of the associated tab if an attempt is made to remove the clip from the associated tab. One such clip is installed on the two opposing tabs. The front face of the clip includes a topmost barb portion bent away from the clip, for digging into an inside wall portion of a recess in the top of an associated vertical profile into which the tabs of the picket cap are inserted, to permit removal of the associated picket cap from the vertical profile.
1. A clip for securing a picket cap to a vertical profile of a picket fence, said picket cap including a top cap portion, and a bottom portion having at least two opposing tabs for insertion into a top end opening of a vertical profile, said clip comprising:
a U-shaped piece of material configured for frictionally fitting onto said tabs;
a front face having a topmost first barb portion bent away from an interior portion, for digging into an inside opposing wall portion of the vertical profile to prevent removal of the associated picket cap therefrom; and
a back face having a second barb portion formed thereon bent into an interior portion in a manner permitting said clip to be pushed onto a said opposing tab, but preventing the removal of said clip therefrom by digging into the material of an inside wall portion of an associated said opposing tab in the event an attempt is made to move an installed clip off of the associated said opposing tab.
 The present invention relates generally to picket fences, and more particularly to picket fences fabricated from plastic components, and mechanisms for securing picket caps to vertical profiles or slats of the fence.
 Picket fences fabricated from plastic materials, and other artificial materials, typically require the use of adhesives, screws, and so forth for securing the various components of the fence together. The use of screws for securing components of a picket fence together can be time consuming, and the screws can come loose over time. Also, the use of adhesives is not only time consuming for securing parts together, but requires extra clean up measures. One particularly troublesome area in assembling picket fences fabricated from plastic materials is the securement of picket caps to vertical profiles or slats such a picket fence.
 One object of the invention is to provide an improved mechanism for securing a picket cap to a vertical profile of a picket fence consisting of plastic material.
 Another object of the invention is to provide an improved mechanism for permanently securing a picket cap to the top end of a vertical profile of a picket fence of plastic or similar material.
 With these and other objects in mind, and in view of the problems in the art, the present invention includes generally U-shaped clips of appropriate material for installation on opposing end tabs of a picket cap. A backside of the clip includes an inwardly extending and downwardly projecting partial cut-out portion for providing a barb member that partially embeds itself into a portion of the inside wall of the associated end tab of a picket cap the clip is installed on, for preventing removal or dislodgement of the clip from the end tab of the associated picket cap. The front face of the clip is in one embodiment of the invention shorter than the backface of the clip, and has a front lip portion bent away from the clip body at an angle sufficient for having the bent lip portion act as a barb for partially penetrating into an associated inside wall of a vertical profile into which the associated end tab of a picket cap is installed or pushed into. The barb-like lip of the front face of the clip extends across the full width of the front face, and prevents the picket cap once installed in the open end of a vertical profile from being removed from the vertical profile. Accordingly, in one embodiment of the invention, with the inventive clips installed on opposing end tabs of a picket cap, once the associated cap is installed on the end of a vertical profile, it will become permanently attached thereto, thereby enhancing the reliability and durability of the associated picket fence.
 Various embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with reference to the drawings, in which like items are identified by the same reference designation, wherein:
FIG. 1 shows a side elevational view of a picket fence incorporating one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a side elevational view showing an exploded assembly view of picket clips for one embodiment of the invention in the process of being installed on opposing end tabs of a picket cap;
FIG. 3 is a pictorial view of the exploded assembly diagram of FIG. 2, looking toward the bottom of a picket cap;
FIG. 4 shows a pictorial view looking toward the bottom of a picket cap with the clips of one embodiment of the invention installed on opposing end tabs of the picket cap;
FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the picket cap of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a cross sectional diagram taken along 6-6 of FIG. 5;
FIG. 7 is an enlarged view of the “A” designated area of FIG. 6, for more clearly showing the securement of a clip to an end tab of a picket cap for one embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 8 shows the sectional view of the clip of FIG. 7 for showing typical dimensions and angles for an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of the clip of FIG. 8;
FIG. 10 is a back or rear elevational view of the clip of FIG. 8;
FIG. 11 is a pictorial view of a clip for one embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 12 is a partial pictorial view of a picket fence showing a picket cap with clips of one embodiment of the invention installed on opposing end tabs thereof, just prior to insertion of the bottom portion of the picket cap 10 into a top opening of a vertical profile of the picket fence.
 In FIG. 1, a portion of a picket fence fabricated from plastic or similar material is shown. The fence includes a post cap 2 secured to the top of a post 4, with a horizontal profile 6 secured to an upper inside side portion of the post 4, as shown. A plurality of vertical profiles are rigidly secured to the horizontal profile and spaced apart juxtapositioned to one another, as shown. Two of the vertical profiles 8 shown have picket caps 10 secured to their top portions. One of the vertical profiles 8 as shown just before assembly with a picket cap 10 that includes opposing end tabs 12 having clips 16, respectively, secured thereto, and spaced apart side tabs 18, as shown. As will be explained in greater detail below, after the picket cap 10 has its end tabs 12 and side tabs 18 pushed into an opening in the top of the associated vertical profile 8, through use of the inventive clips 16 the picket cap 10 will be permanently installed to the associated vertical profile 8.
 In the exploded assembly diagram of FIG. 2, clips 16 are shown just prior to being pushed onto opposing end tabs 12 of a picket cap 10. This is more clearly shown in the pictorial view of FIG. 3. The pictorial view of FIG. 4 shows the clips 16 installed on the opposing end tabs 12 of the associated picket cap 10.
 The side elevational view of FIG. 5 shows a clip 16 of the present invention as installed on an end tab 12 of the associated picket cap 10. The cross sectional view of FIG. 6 taken along 6-6 of FIG. 5 shows securement features of the clip 16 for permanently retaining it on an associated end tab 12, once installed thereon. The enlarged view of area A, as shown in FIG. 7, more clearly shows that the clip 16 includes a partially cutout portion for permitting the formation of a barb 20 by pushing the partially cutout portion of the clip material inward. The barb 20 tends to dig into or protrude partly into the material of the associated end tab 12, and will even more rigorously dig into the material if an attempt is made to pull the associated clip 16 off of the end tab 12. The clip 16 also includes a lip portion at the top of the front face that is bent away from the clip for forming a front face barb 22 to prevent the associated picket cap 10 from being pulled away from the top of a vertical profile 8 once installed therein, as will be described in greater detail below. An example of dimensions in inches or portions of an inch for a typical clip 16 are shown in FIG. 8, along with the bend angles of the back face barb 20, and front face barb 22. It should be noted that the dimensions are given for purposes of illustration only, and are not meant to be limiting. The clip 16 can be dimensioned as required for accommodating the dimensions of any particular fence and associated picket caps.
 In FIG. 9, a front elevational view of the clip 16 of FIG. 8 is shown. FIG. 10 shows a back elevational view of the clip 16, and FIG. 11 a pictorial view thereof. Note the partially cut through portions 24 on the back face of the clip 16 for providing the barb 20 which is formed by bending the partially cutout portion along with fold line 25 to protrude into the interior clip 16. Also as clearly illustrated, the front face barb 22 is formed by a top lip of the front face of clip 16 that is bent away from the interior portion of the clip 16, as shown.
FIG. 12 shows a pictorial view of a portion of a picket fence. As shown in this embodiment, the vertical profiles 8 include a hollow top portion 26 that in this example is rectangular in shape, for receiving the bottom portion of a picket cap 10. As shown, for the centermost vertical profile, a picket cap 10 with clips 16 installed on opposing end tabs 12 is positioned for being pushed into the open end 26 of a vertical profile 8 for securement of the picket cap 10 thereto. Note that the side tabs 18 are designed for frictionally engaging inside surfaces of the front and back portions of the associated vertical profile 8.
 Although various embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, they are not meant to be limiting. Those of skill in the art may recognize certain modifications to these embodiments, which modifications are meant to be covered by the spirit and scope of the appended claims. For example, the vertical profiles 8 of the fence can be configured to be other than rectangular, such as square, or rectangular, for example. The design of the picket cap 10 will vary in accordance with the design of the associated vertical profiles, with the design being modified in a manner for permitting the clip 16 to permanently secure the picket cap 10 to the associated vertical profile 8, as previously described. Also, the clip 16 in a preferred embodiment of the invention consists of stainless steel, but can be made from any other suitable material. In addition, the clip 16 may also be installed on the side tabs 18 of a picket cap 10 in addition to being installed on the end tabs 12, or in some combination thereof.