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  By Jon Eakes

Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, renovator and trusted construction expert Jon Eakes presents product reviews and dispense professional advice in each edition of Home BUILDER.
Back issue articles below:


Renovation is Outpacing New Construction (Spring 2018)
One characteristic of renovation is that contractors are more a jack of all trades, using a wider variety of tools than new construction workers and often dabbling in fields that are not their speciality...


The Science of Winter (Winter 2017)
It is the dead of winter and our clients are cold, if not freezing. So let me start with dog and cat doors that have been approved for a Passive House construction...

Dust Control — No Longer Just a Shop Vac
(Autumn 2017)
With growing awareness and legislation relating to silica dust and worker health, vacuum systems are changing radically.

When Two Springs Are Better Than One
(Summer 2017)
This year there are a lot of new, stronger, more durable tape measurers that stand out more and more.

What Makes a Cordless Drywall Screw Gun Shine?
(Spring 2017)
Tool guru Jon Eakes takes an in-depth look at three models.


Innovations (November 2016)
Snakes, saws and thermal breaks: a selection of innovative products from some of today’s top tool manufacturers.

From the Biggest to the Smallest of New Tools
(September 2016)
Another stellar line-up of new products from our resident tool guru Jon Eakes.

The High-Powered Battery Competition Is Not Over Yet (July 2016)
Understanding the battery platforms that will lock you into one brand or the other.

Show Stoppers (May 2016)
This month’s line-up is ready for centre stage.

Teamwork & Learning Tools (March 2016)
This month could almost be called Teamwork Talk, as two of the entries are a result of just that. Even the rest of the line-up is a direct result of manufacturers trying to one-up the competition.

Old Tools Just Keep Getting Better (January 2016)
We see a lot of “new and improved” in marketing materials, but Jon Eakes prefers to think of this month’s entries as “old and improved.” Read the story to find out why.


Sensible Solutions for the Jobsite (November 2015)
Sometimes the best solutions to age-old problems aren't sensational techno-wonders. Instead, they're just plain sensible.

Talking Tools (September 2015)
Talking with our tools is already here, and more is coming.

Tool Talk on Steroids (July 2015)
Jon Eakes delivers an expanded Tool Talk, in recognition of Home BUILDER’s 14th Annual New Products Showcase.

TOOL TALK: Tools Keep Evolving
(May 2015)
Whether you're removing deck boards or measuring a floor plan with your smartphone, Jon Eakes reviews products designed to make your workday easier.

Changing Our Work Habits Through Innovation (March 2015)
From lights to professional grade accessories to insulated strapping, Jon Eakes reviews some truly innovative products.

Fine Tuning Standard Tools & What Is In Your Boots? (January 2015)
An expanded Tool Talk by Jon Eakes, featuring a diverse selection of new products with the construction industry firmly in mind.


Simply Clever Solutions (November 2014)
From pliers to painting accessories, to reciprocating saws and laser-driven measuring devices, this month’s picks are simply clever solutions to make life on the job… simpler.

Indoors and Out (September 2014)
Whether it's fencing and fasteners or LED lighting and a heavy duty cordless reciprocating saw, these new products are sure to make life on the job a little less difficult.

The Cutting Edge
(July 2014)
Trying to keep up with all the new products on the tool horizon can be a challenge (not to mention costly!). This month, resident expert Jon Eakes selects a handful of products with a "cutting edge" — a unique combination of technology, quality and innovation.

Decks, Batteries, Boots & More
(May 2014)
Get ready for the spring/summer building season with these innovative new products.

Clever & Compact
(March 2014)
This month’s entries all have one thing in common: they’re compact, they’re clever, and they fill a much-needed niche.

Apps and Applications (January 2014)
From Bluetooth to blades, Jon Eakes reviews the latest in tools and technology.


Designed with Distinction (November 2013)
Jon Eakes reviews the latest tools and techniques.

Keeping Up with Technology
(September 2013)
Do you know what’s changed in that tool you’re about to replace?

New & Improved (July 2013)
Jon Eakes takes a look at a few of the latest improvements in tool technology.

Keeping Things Clean & Tidy (May 2013)

Non-traditional Solutions
(March 2013)
In the event that Deck Talk didn’t answer all of your decking needs, never fear: We’ve got more non-traditional solutions to make your life a little bit easier.

A Cut Above (January 2013)
From chain saws to caulking guns, this month, Jon Eakes take a look at five new products that have been developed with the professional builder or renovator in mind.


Compromise Not Required (November 2012)
Resident tool expert Jon Eakes reviews five new products that provide some no-compromise solutions.

On the Level (September 2012)
Jon Eakes provides an overview of the levelling field as it has developed to date, along with a list of the primary hi-tech players.

New Tools for the Trades(July 2012)
Jon Eakes showcases new trends in tools and tool technology.

Innovative Thinking (May 2012)
This month, resident expert Jon Eakes looks at some innovative new products which make life on the job just a little bit easier, safer and more secure.

Lock it, Leave it, Locate it (March 2012)
Lock it, Leave it, Locate it…this month, resident expert Jon Eakes looks at some of the latest and greatest gizmos and gadgets to help you protect, cover, find and maintain your equipment.


Hand to Foot Comfort & Convenience
(November 2011)
Are your work boots made for walking? This month, resident expert Jon Eakes asks readers for their feedback.

Making it Stick - Part III (Sept 2011)
Resident expert Jon Eakes finishes his three-part series in Adhesives: The Final Chapter: Applicators, Tools & Trowels.

Making it Stick - Part II (July 2011)
Resident expert Jon Eakes delivers on his promise in Adhesives Part II: Common Application Errors [and how you can avoid them].

Making it Stick (May 2011)
Resident tool expert Jon Eakes compares glues and adhesives.

Smart Solutions (March 2011)
Resident tool expert Jon Eakes showcases a selection of practical products to make life on the job a bit more comfortable.


Yes, Tools Do Change (November 2010)
Resident tool expert Jon Eakes showcases a selection of new and innovative tools.

Sensible Solutions (September 2010)
Resident tool expert Jon Eakes showcases sensible solutions to old problems. Nothing that requires a full day of reading instruction manuals — just a little a tweak here or there to make life on the job a little less of a job…

Making Life Easier Just Got Easier (July 2010)
This issue’s selection shares one thing in common: It’s designed to make the life of a builder or renovator easier. What’s not to like?

Tool Talk - Saw and Order (May 2010)
Resident tool expert Jon Eakes showcases new products for renovators.

Answering the Compressing Questions (March 2010)
Resident tool expert Jon Eakes takes on your questions about compressors and their attachments.


From Batteries to Blades (November 2009)
As with personal computers, construction high-tech is getting smaller, more useful and more affordable – but high-tech isn’t limited to electronics.

Evolutions in Cutting and Clipping (September 2009)
Energy efficiency can often be enhanced by simple changes in construction techniques, and products change with time to help us do that. These products illustrate that evolution and show that, as the materials we work on change, the blades we use to cut them change as well.

Old Tools Reinvented
(July 2009)
Resident tool expert, Jon Eakes, shows us not-so-new tools that are revolutionizing their classes.

The Carpet Revolution is Coming (May 2009)
Jon Eakes looks at a tool that's going to transform the carpet industry, big changes in drilling holes and a paint tray that's just too narrow to be a smash hit.

Saws, Screws and Soldering (March 2009)


Saving Your Skin (November 2008)
Some new tools that will not only save you time and effort but even a bit of pain.

The Cutting Edge (September 2008)
Cutting away the rest to find the best new tools.

Strike It Rich (July 2008)
Eight great new tools and gadgets worth investing in.

Spring Line-Up (May 2008)
Our tool expert suggests a shopping list of great new gadgets for your toolbox.

Layout & Alignment: Getting Simpler (March 2008)
In an era when more and more tools are being loaded with laser beams and built-in calculators, it is a pleasure to see some very simple but extremely useful tools showing up on the market.


Compact tools (November 2007)
Lithium Ion batteries have opened the door for more power in a smaller and lighter package.

Sometimes they're more important than your tools!
(September 2007)
A lot of tool accessories never get noticed but the little sleepers can be as important as the tool itself.

When New Is Actually Better (July 2007)
Given the competitive nature of our society, the push for manufacturers to always have something new creates a lot of products that are new just for the sake of being new or different, not because they represent some form of real progress.

Shifting Gears: New ways to do old thing (May 2007)
Every one of you has a pneumatic nailer and some of you have gone to heavy battery-operated cordless nailers to get away from the hose. Sure, there are gas nailers on the market but how about turning your standard pneumatic nailer that you already have into a truly portable machine?

Testing: (March 2007)
I receive a lot of tools to test out; sometimes they are just minor competitive changes to standard tools and sometimes they really break ground.


Construction Clamps (November 2006)
Clamps are the mainstay of any woodworking shop but we get good use out of clamps on construction sites as well.

Ode to Little Things (September 2006)
What is so special is that it is actually a battery-operated vacuum pump, and you keep that pump going while you are using it - so it really does stick to just about any surface with tremendous holding power.

Controlling Dust (May 2006)
Some tools make dust, some tools collect dust and some tools collect specific types of dust. Even the broom has its limits - as the instruction manual for fibre cement siding states that you should never dry sweep their dust!

One-Tooth Saws (March 2006)
Can a one-tooth saw possibly be worth $375? When it will cut a hole for a six-inch rigid ventilation duct without twisting your arm off… yes!


The Tools of Demolition (November 2005)
Almost all renovations start with removing the old, so since this issue of Home BUILDER concentrates on renovations, I thought I would seek out some of the front-line tools: the tools of demolition.

Why get complicated with Saw Blades? (September 2005)
It is kind of funny to think that we work seriously at efficiencies in our furnaces and in our vehicles, but never think how we could double or triple the power of our saws or spend less time with chipping and splintering by looking at the efficiencies of specialty saw blades...

New Products (July 2005)
This whole issue is about new products, so when we're talking about new tools, I like to mix up the little gems with some powerhouses.

The challenge of air-powered tools (May2005)
For years, pneumatic tools have dominated our worksites and, to a large extent, they still do. However, the cumbersome hoses and heavy compressors have provided a driving force for alternatives.

Time testing comes to Tool Talk (March 2005)
Once a year I get the opportunity to call up all the power tool manufacturers and ask them to send me one - only one - of their tools that would knock the socks off of a contractor audience...


Getting a grip on things - and wearing nylons (November 2004)
You have probably noticed this yourself, but scientific studies have shown that it takes as much as 30 per cent more muscle power to hold on to a tool that is slippery than it does when working with a non-slip grip. A better grip translates into less fatigue as well as fewer accidents.

Tough Tool Testers Found Nailer Wanting (September 2004)
When tool companies set out to innovate, sometimes they do really well on part of the new tool and not so well on the rest. Our tough group of Canadian builder tool testers were thoroughly impressed with the ability of the new Stanley N88 (RH-2MCN) framing nailer to do a superior job of nailing in hangers.

Real Tools for the Real World (July 2004)
Twenty years ago I was active hands-on in renovation, and my hands were considerably younger and more flexible. . . Let me share with you some of the tools that really made a difference in my real world.

TOOLS: Re-invention & Innovation (May 2004)
It is that time of year again when the editor asks me to put together the most interesting things I have discovered about tools recently. ... Here are some things that I think you may find very interesting for your sites.

How soap can rot your exterior walls (March 2004)
Soap is often used to clean house siding, usually with a pressure washer. Soap is also often added to stucco to make it more workable. Soap is good stuff - isn't it? If you believe that, read on...


The Tools for Energy Conservation (November 2003)
When the editor asked me to write about tools for energy conservation in this issue, what came to mind was the whole evolution of making airtight electrical boxes. It was the National Research Council that came forward with the data that enough moisture can flow through an ordinary electrical box to accumulate 10 pounds of ice during a cold Canadian winter...

"Please destroy my drill" (September 2003)
Manufacturers go to all sorts of lengths to get my attention, but this was a bit different. A good robust half-inch cordless drill showed up on my doorstep. It seemed just a bit heavy but I charged up the batteries to check it out later...





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