A review by John Cupp
THE Wood Jointing Tool For Boat Builders
(Photos provided by RB Industries)
Greetings my fellow boat builders and read about
one of the most innovative tools I have seen in the last 20
years. I love building boats, and not all of them can be under
eight feet in length. As I perused a kit of information pamphlets
mailed to me by a wood working group, I noticed a tool called
the JointAbility on the postcard sized advertisements.
It stated I could mail this card in and get a large information
packet with a video for free (it cost me postage). A few weeks
later the packet arrived with the video in my mailbox. After
opening the packet and watching the video I had to review this
very special tool. A more appropriate word could be "cutting
jig" but it was much more. I called the manufacturer, RB
Industries (RBI) and spoke with a company representative
to make arrangements to get the large unit delivered to my door.
The box was nearly seven feet long and deceivingly narrow for
such a great tool.
Most of you know what a jointer is usually used
for but for those who may not, it is commonly used to make an
unfinished board of wood have a nice straight flat side or sides
for further wood working. It is essential that a board have
at least one straight side in order to square the rest of it.
That is what the JointAbility does but with a tool
both reasonably priced and light in weight. You can even take
lumber that still has tree bark on both sides and make dimensional
lumber for boat building. This tool allows you to seamlessly
join plywood together, butted end to end or lengthwise side
to side. To do this you need a handheld circular saw, a router
and a spiral router bit. For mounting to the circular saw, RBI
makes a bracket that requires two holes drilled into the bottom
I decided that for its inexpensive price, a Ryobi
circular saw would be perfect for permanently mounting the bracket.
I will be using it for years to come. I made a trip to Home
Depot and picked up the Ryobi saw for about thirty dollars and
mounted the kit on it. That saved my good hypoid saw the indignation
of drilling holes in it and mounting and demounting with the
required setup measurements.
I purchased the spiral ½” router
bit at a tool supply store but RBI has them in stock and they
are less expensive. With oak at the maximum thickness, my 1
½hp router could not pull the load. I found using my
Ryobi 2hp plunge router a better choice. It also has a micro
adjustment needed to scarph two plywood sheets together using
my method of ½” overlaps.
Now the JointAbility has two sizes. A 96”
version for the boat builder and a 60” version for making
furniture or smaller boats. I decided to try a sample of 5.2mm
Luan joined together. It has 3 plys with the middle being the
largest and strongest. I set my circular saw to cut to the exact
middle of the center ply ½” from the end. I then
set the router to the same dimension and I had half of my joint
ready. I took another piece of Luan and did the exact same thing
to it. I then epoxied both pieces together. I let them cure
for a day. I then set one end on a concrete block and tried
to break the Luan plywood. It broke, of course, but nowhere
near the seam I made with the JointAbility. I switched to ½”
seven ply fir plywood and it didn’t break. The plywood
lamination held, even after the eighth or ninth try, which is
more than the effect on my already crippled bones and joints.
If it wasn’t for the small amount of epoxy at the joint
you couldn’t tell where the seam was.
When making the seam, place plastic wrap on the
bottom of the JointAbility . Then place the plywood and epoxy
joint inside the JointAbility and add more plastic wrap. Clamp
the joint while it cures. I had some 2 ½” X 12”
pine from an old waterbed, so I ran it through the planer to
take off all the dark stain. I then put the pieces in the JointAbility
and trued up the edges like a jointer is supposed to do but
without tear-out and snipe. I placed two bar clamps across the
pine and cranked on the pressure but the pieces never bowed
up or down because the JointAbility makes exactly square edges
on the lumber. They also have a handy router holster to safely
place your router so it won’t interfere with what you
are doing until you need it again.
RB Industries produced it's first piece
of woodworking equipment in 1929 as a contract manufacturer
for the old Belsaw Company. From 1929 until 1980 they made all
of Belsaw's wood planers and various other woodworking accessories.
In 1980 they designed and patented what is currently known as
the Universal Wood Planer System which allows the owner to remove
the cutter head from the machine and replace it with either
a molding assembly, sanding assembly, or a gang sawing assembly.
This new design was offered to the then Foley-Belsaw company
to market and they decided against it, so they worked out a
plan to cut ties to them and went out under their own name with
the new design. --RB Industries
A large cast iron jointer could cost over a thousand
dollars and take eight men and a boy to move it. Just a month
before testing this machine I had the opportunity to buy a used
jointer that was not at all cherry for $600 and I thought it
would be a good deal but I got there as another buyer was loading
Here is even some better news! The JointAbility
is on sale right now and the smaller 60” unit that is
normally $299. Is now $229. And the 96” unit that I used
is now $329. Instead of $399. I suggest everyone get the router
holster for $49.00 and the saw guide assembly that bolts onto
your circular saw. You absolutely need the saw guide, but the
router holster can be bought at a later time. I bought the router
bit at Western Tool Supply for a whole lot more than the same
bit from RBI which costs only $39.00. I suggest you buy the
bit from RBI.
According to their
website, 80% of JointAbility buyers already have
a jointer! You cannot get better surface from any jointer than
you get with using the JointAbility. I almost fell over myself
when they told me the JointAbility has a 5 year warranty. Even
a novice can make accurate glue joints the first and every time
with this tool.
I have seen some very ugly fiberglass joints on
boats made with multiple sheets of plywood. With the JointAbility
the seams fit together so tightly they are nearly undetectable.
You can even make large flat panels like I did with the old
waterbed frame. I looks like someone cut off a 6’ wide
slab of yellow pine. I may use that for my chart table in my
next cruiser, but I know I will forever be hooked on the JointAbility.
It is built of steel that is powder coated to a mirror finish
and with a long piece of double laminated Melamine. The best
part is it is built right here in the USA.
It can also be used for cutting an ultra smooth
cut on plywood edges. A planer cuts at 6,000 rpm but the router
you use to smooth the cuts on the JointAbility is turning at
approximately 24,000 rpm. Angle cuts are also no problem and
if it is a soft substance like UHMW you can also make a smooth
finish. I tried it but I can’t say anyone at the RBI factory
has tried it. It worked for me.
If you plan at anytime to join together wood or
plywood do yourself a favor and buy a JointAbility.
You will never regret the purchase and with it’s heavy-duty
construction you should own it for many years. I’ll be
using the JointAbility on my next boat and the next
and the next after that one. When you are done using it you
can stand it up in a corner of your workshop so it is not in
If you do end up buying a JointAbility,
tell them that you read about it here. Their phone number at
RBI/Hawk Tools is 800-487-2623 the fax number is 816-884-2463.
The web address is www.hawkwoodworkingtools.com.
With a Hawk credit card you can pay an affordable $25.00 a month
for the 96” JointAbility.
The JointAbility is a tool you use as
a yardstick to compare other tools by with its time after time
perfect performance. I am very happy that I tested this tool’s
capabilities because the manufacturer has hit a grand slam home
run. I can find no faults other than my total captivation of
thinking of other useful ways to use it. If you build boats
of any length, do yourself a favor and send for the information.
It has improved my plywood joints assuring perfection with each
joint. Although not impossible, mistakes are very hard to make
using this tool. It also makes it easy to improve your boat
From my Tool Crib to yours,