Skip to main content

How to make your own Ethernet cable

Whether you want to make some cabling of a specific length or just wish to have a little more fun than picking up Ethernet cables from your local store, it's actually an easy and straightforward task to make your own. This process can also help you repair damaged cable in the home or at the office without having to fork out cash for replacements. To get started, here's what you'll need:

  • Ethernet cable.
  • Crimping tool.
  • RJ45 modular connector.
  • Cable tester.

For the cabling itself, you can pick up pre-assembled cabling that are ready to use and then cut to size or you could save some more money and pop to your local DIY store who should be able to cut some from a reel for you. You can pick up the crimping tool, modular connectors, and a cable tester in one package:

See at Amazon (opens in new tab)

The cable testing equipment isn't required (you can easily check by connecting the cable to your PC and router), but it makes things easier because you can just reach for a nearby tool and not have to fetch a device.

  1. Cut the cable to the length you require.

Ethernet Cable

  1. Using the crimping tool, strip away the cable jacket.
  2. Check to see if you nipped away at the wires inside.
  3. Spread the twisted wires out.(The thin thread that joins the four twisted wires allows you to pull the jacket back further, but note that there may be a plastic spine in the middle that requires cutting, along with the wires.)

Ethernet Cable

  1. Straighten out the wires.

Ethernet Cable

  1. Line them up in order, using the guides below:Looking at the underside of a connector, the copper contacts are in eight individual slots, numbered one through eight. We're using the T568B standard, which differs slightly from the T568A standard for wiring Ethernet cables.

RJ45

  1. Slide the wires carefully into the RJ45 connector.

Ethernet Cable

  1. Insert the cable into the crimper tool and press hard to secure the connector.

The clamp within the connector should press against the cable jacket. You should not be able to test the cable using the tool or plug each end into a device and see if a connection is made.

Fear not if you don't get the wires lined up perfectly because it can take some practice to get the hang of preventing the wires from overlapping or locking as pairs into the connector. If you make a mistake, simply cut a bit behind from where you were working, and try again.

Rich Edmonds
Rich Edmonds

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

43 Comments
  • The silver lining of not having major windows news(especially for mobile) is that we get a ton of articles like this
  • Good article 🌹 thanks
  • You should always use the thread to strip further down. It's also important to keep the outer jacket as close as poosible to the RJ45 connector to retain the twists in the internal wires. It's also worth mentioning that you shouldn't go really any more than 300 feet when running a cat5e cable.
  • I'm sure most people who do this kind of thing would use the newer Cat6 or Cat7 cables
  • Both also have the same max length. So it doesn't matter. As a rule, I say more than 300 feet use fiber. I know they all have a little more than 300 feet max length, but that also counts your patch cable on either end.
  • Metrics, feet are old earth
  • I use USC, it doesn't make my statement any less true.
  • I'm interested in this article as I to setup a small network.
    No sweat, I'll convert ok.
  • @Axmantim, 300 feet is plenty for most people :). Besides people should be using at a least cat 6 imo. My entire network would be cat7, flat cables have become cheap enough along with POE switches and decent access points (not the over priced consumer grade ap's, they are dime a dozen).
  • Depends on what you've got going. Where I live cat5e is plenty and will be for a very long time. My internet connection won't surpass network speeds on 5e for a while, and 5e is plenty for any internal file transfer most people do. If I had google fibre or something similar I'd go 6. Still won't increase the range though, and you'd be surprised how fast 300 feet can creep up. My parents have a fairly long house, running from one end to the other so I could get into the garage, then up to floors, and all the way across the attic so I could get into an upstairs bedroom cleanly (I don't like to see wires lol) used a lot of cable, well over 200 feet.
  • I'm thinking more or along the lines of done once, done properly cat7 should be way more than enough for 4K :). Everyone streams in my house (10 people at minimum at a given time). Neither do I like seeing any wires I was going to trunk my entire lan but family decided against my cabinet placement so I have to adapt to flat cables, shortest route possible and to ensure it's designed to be fluid as possible (hence POE). They can't make their minds up in terms of furniture placement lol. Otherwise I'd have trunk my network in a mesh with failover, it's tiring to be called random times "the internet is down again, what shall I do" lol.
  • Keep in mind, there is a maximum limit to reliable Ethernet cables. 324ft is as long as you can go and still get reliable Cat5e connections. Also beware there are cheap network wires. Usually they say CCA or Copper Clad Aluminum. Soild copper wires is the only reliable way to go.
  • Thanks for the technical explanation.
  • I wish someone would have told me not to skimp on the connectors. I got a package deal with a box of cable, tester, crimper and connectors.  The connectors are un-usable garbage.  First, they are very hard to get right, I strongly suggest the pass-through kind where your colored wired actually poke through the end of the connector so you can be sure you have the right wires in the right place before crimping.  But even more than that, I found my cheap connectors to not fit just right in my switch so my connection could be lost if the cable was bumped.
  • I think you forgot to mention that there are types of cat cables and rj45 connectors. Can't just slip on cat5e rj45 connector on cat6 cable to see the increased speeds along with several other network components. I have cat6 in walls with cat6 wall connector with cat6 short length cables with cat6 rj45 connectors.. If you look em up... Pattern designs are different. I can get speeds between 118-124MB/s on 1gbps!
  • That's not entirely accurate. RJ45 connectors are mostly universal. The difference between Cat5 5e 6 6a and 6e is the twist ratio and internal seperation of the pairs. That being said some manufacturers use larger gauge conductors in cat 6 cabling for numerous reasons (greater distance, more amperage for PoE, better reliability.etc) Most of the time they will sell connectors that match their larger gauge. Best bet is to pay attention to what you are buying.
  • Solid copper is for in-wall installations, also called premise cable. Stranded copper is for patch cords. Each type uses different RJ-45 connectors. Solid-core wire requires twin tines that cup the wire on the sides. Stranded wire requires a connector that pierces the plastic wire coating. Be sure not to use connectors for stranded wire on solid-core, as the connection won't be solid. Also be sure to use certified Cat6 connectors on Cat6 wire. 300 Meters is the maximum length for either between repeaters. Unless you need something right now, it's best to buy prefab cables. I've made hundreds if not thousands, and it's simply not worth the time any more.
  • I believe you mean 100 meters.
  • I'm glad you covered this because it's really important when making your cables. I just picked up all the supplies yesterday. I went with stranded so I don't have to worry about having two types of cable and connectors around.
  • Most of the time solid core wires are thicker than stranded so you should not even be able to insert those into the stranded-type connector which may be another source of headaches. Other than that thanks for pointing out, I was about to do the same.
  • Yeah, I made that rookie mistake many years ago when I was starting to do my own cabling. We had boxes of the stuff at work and did our own cabling around the office. It worked well as we had the appropriate krone tools, sockets, and patch panels. But of course I tried to make a few patch leads with the stuff and couldn't understand why they had high failure rates - I always tested the cables with a cable tester, and some pins would be dead or be sensitive to movement. It was only then I realised that the bag of RJ-45 connectors we had were for stranded-only. I'd always used connectors that could be used on solid or stranded cable, so it had never occured to me that there were actually different types.
  • Just buy your own cables, much easier.  I have made network cables and find it tedious and really a rather PITA and unless you have done it a lot, it can be tricky.  This is something I would NEVER recommnd to anyone.
  • If you need one that is extra long, or extra short, it certainly is worth it. As for learning how to do it, I pretty much had it down after my third one.
  • It's pretty simple in practise and it's a life skill to boot.
  • I agree here if you don't really want to make many cables it's not much worth investing into equipment that will lay for the next couple of years unused. But sometimes you just have to make your own cables (e.g. cut to precise length).
  • Was just making cross over wires for an implementation of new firewalls this weekend.  Recently purchased a bigger switch for basement I am going to make all my wires custom lengths to clean everything up now lol.  Wasn't bothering me until I read this article.
  • Why crossover wires? All equipment from the last ~15 years or so has MDI detection. Just go for B standard on both ends and you're good.
  • My manager asked brother just supplied.  He went to training last week on the equipment setup and asked for it last. night.  Checkpoint equipment I believe.  
  • Nah, id rather buy those thin/flat network cables from Monoprice.com. They come in a bunch of different lengths and colors. Sure making ur own and have different lengths. But I like having the different color network cables to know whats going to what.
  • Beware of flat cables. These twisted pair cables are called that for a reason, the twisting is actually part of how the cabling deals with noise. If you remove it the realiability of your cabling goes crashing down.
  • In a home lan environment that is really not a factor :). Most people switch off when you start talking about ROI, reliability, bandwidth etc they just want it to look neat and tidy. The main thing most people need to worry about is not damaging the cables whilst installing... Lol.
  • What a coincidence. I just bought some cat 6 cable and now I realize it has different specs for installation. Will it be too hard regarding corners or will I be able to manage? It's for a home LAN wiring.
  • If you got decent cable, it should have a spine in it to keep proper curves. Either way, you likely won't notice a difference if you put a kink in it unless you have the equipment to certify the cable. Just make sure you keep your runs under 300 feet.
  • Probably more useful than an article on how to make a cable would be how to do premises wiring including setting up a small patch panel and wiring biscuits (wall jacks). Many homes are going this route and quite a few people are undertaking the task themselves instead of hiring someone to do it.
  • Funny thing is the wall jacks are much easier to deal with. They are usually color coded so you know which strand goes where and when you close them they automatically crimple themselves. It's like anybody can do that.
  • to make life easy... they also make easy RJ45 connectors. It requires a crimp tool that can cut excess cable as you crimp, but the jacks allow the cable to go straight through. This lets you check your wiring before crimping. It does cost a bit more, but for beginners and those working in dark spaces, it's VERY helpful.
  • You're the second person I've seen point these out. My tip is this, remove a good 4 inches of the cable jacket and unwind all the wires. Put them all in the correct order and then (hard to explain) grab hold with one hand at the end of the jacket, and with the other hand "pinch" the wires while slightly pulling and flattening. This keeps them aligned and flat. From there, I've learned to eyeball how much wire I need, but about 1/2"-3/4" is all you need. Push it in the RJ and crimp.
  • I know this very well ... 😀
  • Worth pointing out is that when you spread and straighten the twisted pairs they don't always match in length. You need to cut the free ends to the same length (usually the crimple tool has a cutter for this). If you don't do that and some of your strands are too short the connection can be unreliable.
  • Great article, awesome info in the comments - thanks, folks!
  • I remember when I first attempted making my own Cat6 cable. I bought the cable, the ends, and the crimping tool. I figured it was easy and proceeded to strip the cable. And then I proceeded to strip the tiny itty-bitty microscopic individual wires. After futile attempts at stripping these tiny itty-bitty microscopic wires without cutting the actual wire itself I turned to the Internet to discover I did not need to cut these tiny itty-bitty microscopic wires! Boy was I a dumbass.   So yeah, articles like this are a good thing.  
  • thanks for tutorials
  • I used to get paid 40 cents per cable to do this back in the 90s...