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CE 438-538 Building Structures

Steel Shear Connections

Robert B. Fleischman
Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
University of Arizona
Background: Beam Boundary Conditions
You may recall from CE 333 that a fixed beam deflects less than
a simple beam and has smaller moments, especially at mid-span.
q = wL3/24 EI

D = wL4/384 EI
D= 5wL4/384 EI
M- = wL2/12

M+ = wL2/8 M+ = wL2/24

But to create a fixed condition in steel structures typically requires

expensive full penetration welding or a lot of high strength bolts.
For this reason, gravity system (girder to column, beam to girder)
connections are almost always “simple” framing.
Steel Connections: Simple vs. Rigid Framing
Note the detail to avoid a “killer”
connection on the weak axis.
Courtesy AISC Educational Guides

Full pen
Enough bolts to welds on
carry end (shear) Connect to beam Enough bolts to
reaction. beam web flange develop full shear
only + web moment.

Simple Connection Fixed Connection

Used for gravity system, designed to Used for lateral system, designed
carry vertical reaction only, so termed to resist rotation, so termed
Shear Connection Moment Connection
Steel Shear Connections

Note nuts on the

outer face (where
it is easier to get
an impact wrench).

Courtesy AISC
Educational Guides
Shear Connections (con’t)
In general, shear tabs† or angles are most common for gravity framing.
Note connections typically have shop welds and field bolts.

Welds are cheaper and more reliable in the shop due Single Angle
to fixturing, controlled environment & QA/QC.
Bolts have more “tolerance” forgiveness in the field.

Note Bolting
beam occurs in field Angle shop
direction welded to
markings beam
†Research that led to codification
Shear tab of shear tab performed by UA
shop welded professor (emeritus) Ralph Richard.
to HSS
column Shear Tab Courtesy AISC
Educational Guides
Shear Connection Design
Courtesy AISC
Educational Guides
Shear connections are designed for the
beam end reaction (or max shear), Vu,b.
Design mainly involves selecting cross-
sectional dimensions dPL tPL as well as
(number and) size of bolts and shop weld.

Standard gages and edge distance provide

the dimension bPL as modified by other reqs.
g ed
Detail material (plates, angles,
etc.) is typically A36 (FY=36ksi)

Main members are typically

A992 or A572 (FY=50ksi).
dPL Vu,b
tPL AISC Tables 2-4, 2-5
A992 A36
FY 50 ksi 36 ksi
bPL FU 65 ksi 58 ksi
Shear Connection Design Courtesy AISC

AISC Design Example: Conventional Shear Tab

Design reaction:
RU = 1.2 (8) + 1.6 (25) = 49.6k

Table10-10a AISC LRFD Manual:

Look up fRn ≥ 49.6k
Shear Connection Design Courtesy AISC

AISC Design Example: Conventional Shear Tab

Many combinations
and geometries give
52k - why this one?

Design reaction:
RU = 1.2 (8) + 1.6 (25) = 49.6k

Table10-10a AISC LRFD Manual:

Look up fRn ≥ 49.6k
¼” A36 plate
Four (4) ¾” A325 N bolts
3/16” E70xx weld

fRn = 52.2k

AISC Design: Conventional Shear Tab AISC

Code Design Objectives:

• Design plate, bolts, weld to carry the vertical end (shear) reaction
• Provide an essentially pinned connection
• Enforce the desired controlling failure mechanism
• Provide sufficient inherent ductility
• Make the connection constructible and economical
Prescriptive Rules for “Conventional” Shear Tab:
• Plate thickness limit of half bolt diameter +1/16” (tPL=½db+1/16”)
– to promote “plowing” of the bolts in an overload
• Single column of bolts typ 3” from column face (a= 2½”-3½” )
– to limit eccentricity
• Two-sided fillet welds sized at 5/8 of plate thickness (w= 5/8 tPL)
to promote plate yielding prior to weld fracture
• Edge distance of twice the bolt diameter (Le=2db) – to allow
“plowing” ductility through the total inelastic beam rotation

AISC Design: Conventional Shear Tab AISC

Prescriptive Rules for “Conventional” Shear Tab:

• Plate thickness limit of half bolt diameter +1/16” (tPL=½db+1/16”)

¼” A36 plate, ¾” A325 N bolts: ¼ < ½ (3/4) + 1/16 = 7/16 OK

• Single column of bolts typ 3” from column face (a= 2½”-3½” )

a= 3 OK

• Two-sided fillet welds sized at 5/8 of plate thickness (w= 5/8 tPL)

¼” A36 plate, 3/16” E70xx weld: 3/16 = 5/8(1/4) =5/32 ≈ 3/16 OK

• Edge distance of twice the bolt diameter (Le=2db) –

Le=1.5 = 2(0.75) OK
Code Shear Strength: Detail Elements
Courtesy AISC


Recall that the

shear yield
stress ty is
in the code as

Note you can’t determine shear rupture until you select the bolts,
but you can use shear yielding to get preliminary dimensions.
Background: Shear Yield Stress
Tension Coupon “505” Specimen:
d = 0.505” A = 0.2 sq in
For A992, when the testing machine reaches P
P=10k (s = P/A = 50 ksi), the bar begins to
yield (stretch w/out further resistance while
holding the load, i.e. not breaking).
So we assign A992 FY=50 ksi (50 grade steel)

But steel yielding is layers “sliding”.

What does that have to do with tension?

Based on this result, you might expect

that tY = 0.5FY.
0.577 FY t FY
½ FY But notice this yield condition also
involves a small amount of tension

FY When you consider

s tY shear alone, the
material can support
a slightly larger
stress, 1/3 FY.
The AISC Code uses 0.6FY
LRFD Connection Tables
Plate Strength:
Let’s see if we can back this strength out:
Table10-10a AISC LRFD Manual:
fRn = 52.2k

Agv = dPL tPL = (11.5) ¼ = 2.875 sq in

Anv = (dPL – nb drem) tPL = [11.5-4( ¾ + 1/8 )] ¼ = 2.0 sq in

Shear Yield:
AISC Tables 2-4, 2-5
Vn = 0.6 FY dPL tPL = 0.6 (36) (2.875 ) = 62.1k Main Members Detail Material
fVn = (1.0) 62.1k = 62.1k A992 A36
50 ksi 36 ksi
Shear Fracture: 65 ksi 58 ksi
Vn = 0.6 FU dPL tPL = 0.6 (58) (2) = 69.6k
fVn = (0.75) 62.1k = 52.2k 
Courtesy AISC

Shear Connection Design Educational


We performed the design for the shear force alone – this

is not exactly correct but has been shown to acceptable
for the “Conventional” Shear Tabs in AISC Table 10-10.
Let’s look more closely at the connection and create an exploded FBD
with the column face:
Designers often assume the
point of inflection (zero
EQUILIBRIUM? moment) at the bolt line as

This may or may not be the

case due to several parameters
Vb related to the entire framing.
dPL Vb
M Either way, you can see
that the shear tab is
carrying shear + moment.
M = Vb a
Background: Combined Shear + Bending
Plastic Capacity under combined shear and bending:

A½ Elastic Plastic
T=C=A½ FY a
tv sb tv sb

dPL Vb Vb d½

Clearly a steel fiber cannot fully use itself up

VY = ty APL Mp = Zx Fy
under both shear and also bending, so you can’t = 0.6Fy APL = A½d½ Fy
get VY and Mp at the same time, so a yield
We can often look up Z or Mp
criterion under combined loading is needed. but this is how to calculate it.
Background: Combined Forces
For combined axial + bending (not our current situation), both
actions create normal stress so simple (direct) addition of values
is appropriate (more on N+M later). Elastic Plastic
sa sb sa + sb


But combined shear + bending create

orthogonal vectors, so we need vector addition, tv
and also the maximum bending stress (extreme sb
fiber) and shear stress (centroid) occur at
different locations on the cross section.
Courtesy AISC

Shear Connection Design Educational


Plastic Capacity under combined shear and bending:

a Elastic Plastic
tv sb tv sb

dPL Vb Vb


Several different criteria (interaction equations) N 2

have been proposed, including the form shown. V M
+ = 1.0
The SSRC Plastic Design Handbook suggested VY Mp
N=4 while the AISC Code uses N=2
LRFD Connection Tables
Check combined Shear + Bending Yield vs.
AISC LRFD Manual Table10-10a :
fRn = 52.2k

Recall f Vn = (1.0) 62.1k = 62.1k

Zx =A½d½ so for a rectangular shear tab: ¼ tPL d2PL

Zx = ¼ (1/4) (11.5)2 = 8.26in3

Mn = Zx FY = 8.26 (36) = 297.6k”

f Mn = (0.9) 297.6 k” = 267.8 k” 2 2
52.2 + 146.8
Vu = 52.2 k ≤ 1.0
Mu = Vu a’ = (52.2) (3-3/16) = 146.8 k” 62.1 267.8

Use the AISC Plastic Design Criteria:

0.842 + 0.5482 = 1.00 OK
So design has same unity ratio for
NSF and GSY of the shear plate.
LRFD Connection Tables
Now let’s check 3/16

the weld: E70xx

156.6 k”

dPL 52.2k


te = w ( w < ¼” )
For a weld size w, te = 0.707 w te = 0.707w + 1/8”
e.g. 3/16 ” (SMAW, stick) (SAW, submerged arc)
typ. field typ. shop
w te

LRFD Weld Specification J2

f Rn = (0.75) 0.6 FEXX te Lw

f rn = (0.75) 0.6 FEXX te Strength per inch (length of weld)
LRFD Connection Tables
To start let’s check the weld
for just shear force alone

156.6 k”
w = 3/16 ”
11.5” 52.2k te = 0.707 w = 0.707 (3/16)
¼” = 0.132 (SMAW)

te = w = 3/16 = 0.1875
for SAW < ¼”
f Rn = f 0.6 FEXX te Lw

f Rn = f 0.6 FEXX te Lw Note:

= (0.75) 0.6 (70) (.132) (2x11.5) f Rn = 95.6 (.1875/.132)
= 95.6 k (SMAW) = 135.8 k (SAW)
As expected more than OK, but what about the moment?
LRFD Connection Tables OK+ for SAW
Now, let’s look at the weld te = 0.187” (SAW)
under combined forces: 3/16 te = 0.132” (SMAW)
s = Mc/I tv
156.6 k”
Moment of inertia
11.5” 52.2k (for weld design)
Iw = 2 x 1/12 (1) h3w

Iw =(11.5)3 /6
= 253.5 in4
In this case, we know the weld size (analysis): per inch (size of weld)
Iw = 253.5 in4/in (0.132”) = 33.5 in4 We must combine
shear and bending
Sw = Iw / c= 33.5/5.75 = 5.82 in3 at the stress level f tn = f 0.6 FEXX
tu, v = VU/Aw = 52.2/[(2x11.5) 0.132] = 17.2 ksi t tv = (0.75)(0.6) (70)
= 31.5 ksi
tu, h = MU/S = 156.6/ 5.82 = 26.9 ksi th
≈ OK
tu = (t2u, v + t2u, h ) =  (17.22 + 26.92) = 31.9 ksi
Shear Connection Design
Now let’s check the bolts

We have designed the connection with the assumption of a point of inflection (zero
moment) at the bolt line. According to this we will design the bolts for shear alone.

dPL Vb = 52.2k

Mw = Vb e

This may or may not be accurate, but let’s start by

reviewing the code bolt design under shear.
LRFD Bolt Specification J3
Note that first there are layout requirements.

Our connection meets all standard spacing and edge distance requirements
(actually exceeds the edge distance for sufficient “plowing” distance).
LRFD Bolt Specification J3

f Rn = f nb Fnv Ab (total)

f rn = f Fnv Ab (per bolt)

LRFD Bolt Specification J3
LRFD Bolt Specification J3

All stresses used w/

nominal (pr2) area

A325 Table 2-6

FU = 120 ksi
Athr ≈ 0.75Ab

Fnt = 120 (0.75) = 90.0 ksi

Fnv-x = 120 (0.6) = 72 ksi
Fnv-n = 120 (0.75) (0.6) = 54 ksi
LRFD Bolt Tables – Chapter 7

So for our connection:

4 - ¾ A325-N-S
frn = 0.75 (0.442) (54)
frn = 17.9k
fRn = 4 x 17.9 = 71.6k
71.6k > 52.2k OK
Discussion: Partial End Fixity
Since the connection is not really a pin, it is possible that
there is some negative moment at the bolt line.

D = 5wL4/384 EI
M+ = wL2/8

Points of
In beam M- = wL2/12

D = wL4/384 EI
M+ = wL2/24
Discussion: Point of Inflection
weld bolt The point of inflection
Mw=VE a is the point of zero
I Vb Vb=Vw = VE moment on the beam.
Mw Cases I, III, IV are true
pinned connections with the
Mw + Mb = V E a zero moment happening at
Vw II Vb different places within the
Mw Mb connection.

Mb = V E a Case II is the condition

III where the connection is
Vw Vb
providing some end
Mb restraint.

Mw - Mb = VE a
Mw Mb Let’s explore this a bit more.
Discussion: Bolt Line Moment
In their elastic state, most
connections are Case II.

In their inelastic
state, connections
can become one
of the other
After Astaneh-Asl, 2005 Sherman, 2012

Astaneh suggested values for an eccentricity eb for designers

to design the bolt for the moment Vu eb
Discussion: Shear Tab Rotational Restraint
Shear Tab Load-Rotation Response
W16x50 A992
Beam mid- L 30 ft
span at Mp E 29000 ksi
Fy 50
Ix 659 in4
Sx 81 in3
Zx 92 in3
Beam mid-
span at My
My 4050 k-in 337.5 k-ft
Mp 4600 k-in 383.3 k-ft

e = | (n-1) - a| ≥ a

wy 3.00 klf
Ry 45 k
qE,sb 0.02543 rad

wY = 8MY/L2= 8(337.5)/30^2 = 3.0 klf

RY = wYL/2= 3(30)/2 = 45.0 k

qE, sb,Y = wYL3/24EI= 3*302 122/[(24)(29000)(659)] = .0254 rad

After Astaneh et al
Discussion: Point
of Inflection
Shear Tab So it seems we need to
PI Migration
find out how to design
a bolt group subjected
to shear + moment

Eccentricity eb for designers to

design the bolt for the moment Vu eb
Note for our case, if we
assume the column is flexible
eb = max [(4-1)-3, 3 ]
= max [0, 3] = 3
This is why some designers
simply design both the weld and
After Astaneh et al
bolts for V + Ve
Background: Eccentrically Loaded Bolts
Elastic Center Method Resolve the eccentric load into vertical and horizontal
components (Py , Px ) and moment (M = Pe) acting
about the Center of Gravity (CG) of the bolt group.

The force component due to moment on bolt i, ri,M , acts

perpendicular to the arm between the CG and the bolt:
The following components
act on each bolt i due to the
direct (translational) force P:
ri,P y = Py / nb
ri,P x = Px / nb

After T. Bartlett Quimby

Background: Eccentrically Loaded Bolts
Equilibrium requires that: Elastic Center Method
nb qi
M = S ri,M di

where di is the distance di

from each bolt to the CG.

Note also that each bolt force ri,M

can further be broken into
horizontal and vertical components:
ri,M x= ri,M cos qi xi
ri,M y= ri,M sin qi
It can be seen that:
cos qi = yi/di So the force components on any bolt are:
sin qi = xi/di ri,M x= ri,M yi/di
where xi and yi are ri,M y= ri,M xi/di
measured from the CG
Background: Eccentrically Loaded Bolts
It should be apparent that the (shear) Elastic Center Method
deformation of each bolt is linearly
proportional to its distance from the CG, This is easiest to see for one bolt
and thus for elastic bolts, the force will column but holds for any pattern.
be linearly proportional as well. r1,M
r1,M r2,M rn,M d1 d r2,M
= = … = 2

d1 d2 dn

Notice that each bolt force can be d7

expressed in terms of one of the bolts.
d2 r
r2,M = d 1,M … etc. nb nb

Since bolt force is proportional to M = S ri,M di = S r1,M d2i / d1

i=1 i=1
distance from the CG, let’s put it in nb
terms of the bolt farthest from the CG M = r1,M/d1 iS= 1 d2i
since it will have the largest force.
ri,M = di r1,M
d1 r1,M = M d1 / S d2i
Background: Eccentrically Loaded Bolts
Note that for multiple bolt columns, Elastic Center Method
r1,M will be acting at an angle.
qi r1,M = M d1 / S d2i
r1,M x= ri,M y1/d1
r1,M y= r1,M x1/d1
So the force components due to moment on di
the maximum loaded bolt are:
r1,Mx = M y1 / S d2i
r1,My = M x1 / S d2i yi
Note also that
d2i = x2i + y2i

So finally you get the forces

in terms of the bolt layout: r1,Mx = M y1 / [S x2i + S y2i ]
r1,My = M x1 / [S x2i + S y2i ]
Salmon and Johnson
Background: Eccentrically Loaded Bolts
Elastic Center Method Note beam moment causes
torsion on the bolt group,
and thus shear on the bolt

Then the total components acting on the most highly loaded bolt 1 are:
vu,1 x = r1,P x + r1,M x
vu,1 y = r1,P y + r1,M y

and the design shear acting on the most highly loaded bolt 1 is:

vu, max = v2u,1 x + v2u,1 y

Shear Connection Design
Check the bolts for Recall frn = 17.9k
shear and moment:

dPL Vw= Vb
Mb = 156.6 k”

Vb = 52.2k

vu,1 y = r1,P y = Vu / nb= 52.2 / 4 = 13.05 k

vu,1 x = r1,M x = M d1 / S d2i = 156.6 (4.5)/[2(1.52 + 4.52)] = 15.6 k
vu,max =  13.052 + 15.62 vu > frn
vu,max = 20.3k NG!?
Background: Eccentrically Loaded Bolts
The Elastic Center (EC) Method is highly conservative:
• Assumes 3 DOFs are independent
• Highest stress on a single bolt EC Method
• No plastic redistribution

Recognizing this, a more rational

method was developed, the
Instantaneous Center (IC) Method.

The IC method: IC Method

• accounts for yielding of the bolts to
even out the forces.
• calculates the actual center of
rotation of a rigid body with 3 DOFs

Note: IC  CG
After T. Bartlett Quimby
Background: Eccentrically Load Bolts Methods
b Elastic Center Instantaneous Center
Rotation treated Translation & Rotation



The key challenge in the IC method is finding the IC!

Finding this location is a trial and error procedure.
Let’s define the coordinates of the IC relative to the bolt group CG
as x0 & y0. The eccentric load acts at a distance e from the CG.
After J. Liu The load can also occur at an angle, which we will term b.
Background: Eccentrically Load Bolts Methods
Instantaneous Center

All parts of
the bolt group
rotate the
same amount
about the IC

This means
deformation is
to distance qconn
from the IC
Background: Eccentrically Load Bolts Methods
The Elastic Center (EC) Method assumes the bolt remains elastic
all the way to failure. Let’s estimate this “idealized” behavior:

This is an actual test

Fnv-n = 120 (0.6) = 72 ksi Empirical curve fit

for force R vs. dmax = 0.34”
dv = VL/AG = (V/A) (L/G) deformation D
where Rult = Fnv Ab
= (72ksi) (1”)/(11200ksi)

= .0064”
Background: Eccentrically Load Bolts Methods
Instantaneous Center

Now you see that though

the deformations are still
proportional to distance,
the force is not, which is
the real case, leading to
better sharing of the force
Background: Eccentrically Loaded Bolts
For bolt i

di e Instantaneous Center Method

yo qi CG


S Fx = 0 S ri,M sin qi = Pu sin b



S Fy = 0 S ri,M cos qi = Pu cos b



S M=0 S ri,M di = Pu (e + xocosb + yosinb)


J. Liu
Shear Connection Design Check the bolts for shear
and moment using IC

AISC Part 7 – Eccentric Bolt Group Tables
Thankfully AISC has made a bunch of
design tables based on the IC Method!
The Tables provide a “C factor” that
you can think of as “equivalent bolts”.
Code: Eccentric
Bolt Group
What this means is that
your bolt pattern of
2x6=12 bolts can only
be counted as 4.53 bolts
due to the large (12”)
eccentricity in the load

So if the pattern was

made from 12 A325-N-S:
frn = 17.9k

You could only carry:

Pu = 17.9 x 4.53 = 81.1k
Code: Eccentric Bolt Group Connection Design
Checking Table 7.8
Shear Connection Design
Finally, check the bolts
for bearing:


Bolt bearing failure is a misnomer: the hardness of a bolt

is much higher than the detail material (plate). Thus bolts
cause the bearing failure, but it is the plate that fails!
Spec J10. Bearing
Shear Connection Design
Check the bolts
for bearing:


rn = 1.5 (1.5 – ½ (13/16)) ¼ (58) = 23.8k ≤ 3.0 (3/4) ¼ (58) = 32.6

f rn = (0.75) 23.8k = 17.8k Recall frn, bolt = 17.9k

Bolt will “plow” rather than shear off.

Shear Tab Design Charts
Why might it be important to know the “behind the scenes”?
Conventional vs. Non-conventional Shear Tab Configurations

The Part 10 Tables

are based on

Anything else you

need to design
Shear Tab Design Charts
PART 10: “Extended” Configuration
Two main cases: 1. Weak axis of column
2. Multiple Bolt Columns
PART 10: Shear Tab Design
One last thing: The AISC Code value for eb is a compromise
between flexible and stiff columns, and except for deep
connections (n ≥ 6), uses a/2 instead of a:

So the design we went over would be based on eb =1.5”, not eb

= 3”, explaining why the bolt U.R. was slightly higher than 1