Prongs, tracks, biscuits, or clips, these attachments are here to stay
by Andy Engel
Who came up with the first hidden decking fastener is open to debate. Weston Leavens remembers first seeing them in a magazine sometime around the end of the Reagan administration. A screw or nail affixed the clip to the first board and to the joist, and the second board was driven onto a prong protruding from the first clip.
At the time, Leavens was the owner of one of the largest deck-building companies in San Diego. Intrigued, he ordered a box of the fasteners and used them to build a display deck for the annual home show. "The deck moved and squeaked," says Leavens. "It was embarrassing. I thought we'd done something wrong, so I called the magazine and eventually got in touch with the author. It happened that the deck featured in the article wasn't far away, so I arranged a visit. Well, it squeaked and moved, too, but the owners didn't seem to mind." That experience led Leavens to invent the Deckmaster, a track system that he began to use in his own business in about 1989.
That was a fertile time for the hidden-fastener industry. Sometime in the early '90s, Harry Eberle was working on a high-end house in Hunterdon County, N.J., and as seems common with busy builders, his mind was in two places at once. While he was using a biscuit joiner to put together the cabinets, he was also noodling out the best way to fasten down the furniture-grade ipe for the deck.
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