Wiring your own keystone jacks can be a great way to maintain your network connections in the exact manner of your choosing. If you have to do a lot of work with patch panels and wall mounted Ethernet connections, it can save you a lot of money too.
Learning how to wire keystone jacks takes a little time and practice though. You need the right tools, and you need the right cables for the job. For a breakdown on what you need and how to use it, follow along with our guide on how to wire a keystone jack, and before long, you’ll be able to manage and configure your keystone patch panels exactly how you want them.
Tools You’ll Need to Wire A Keystone Jack
To wire a keystone jack yourself, you’re going to need a few important tools. The first and foremost is the cable and the keystone jack itself, but there are a range of options there so you’ll need to pick the ones that are most suitable for what kind of patch panel or wall mounted Ethernet panel you want to build.
Some options include Cable Matters bulk Cat6 Ethernet Cabling, though it’s available in a range of lengths, colors, and speeds, with different ratings and shielding options depending on your needs. For keystone jacks, Cable Matters offers a range of RJ45 jack packs, from smaller 10-packs, to much more cost-effective 50 packs.
Just be sure that you buy the kind of keystone jacks that match the category of cable you plan to use, be it Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat 6a, or even Cat 8, and that they come with keystone punch-down stands. Some keystone jacks are designed for termination, or for gender swapping a cable type, so wouldn’t be viable for wiring yourself.
As for the actual tools you need to begin wiring your own keystone jacks, you’ll need the following:
Other tools or accessories worth considering if you don’t have them already, is a modular patch panel or wall mount. Make sure when picking a patch panel that it mounts to your rack configuration or wall mount measurements. Also make sure it is large enough to cater to the number of cables you ultimately want to wire in to your keystone jacks.
If you plan to use your bulk patch cabling to make your own Ethernet cables, too, you will also want to invest in a crimp tool, a pack of RJ45 modular plugs, and a set of strain relief boots.
How To Wire A Keystone Jack
Once you have all your tools and cables to hand, you’ll be able to start the process of wiring your keystone jacks. You’ll want to clear a workspace that’s free of clutter and spill hazards, and place all of your tools within easy reach, before beginning.
Note: This method works much the same for both 90-degree and 180-degree keystone jacks. A 180-degree jack simply gives you more options for how you orient your writing.
Take your bulk patch cable, and using the wire cutter, strip the protective rubber coating of the cable an inch or two from the end to reveal the various twisted pairs inside. If your patch cable has an internal spline, cut it at the point the rubber coating terminates to make it easier to manipulate the wires. Be careful not to damage the internal wiring when doing so.
Separate out the twisted pairs into their respective colors, and untwist them so that they can be wired into the keystone jack separately.
Take one of your keystone jacks and, if you have a punch-down stand, place it in the stand to hold it in place. Alternatively, simply hold it firmly in your other hand before continuing.
Note: There are different wiring schemes you can opt for when wiring a keystone jack, but T56b is the most common, and easily recommendable. If you’re in doubt about which to use or where the wires should go, simply refer to the side of any Cable Matters keystone jack. They all include color-coded wiring guides to make the process easier.
Push the patch cable up to the opening of the keystone jack, but don’t surpass it, then begin inserting the wires into the keystone jack as designated by your wiring scheme. If you do use the T56b scheme, then the order should be as follows:
- Orange stripe
- Green Stripe
- Blue stripe
- Brown stripe
If at any point you are concerned that the wires might come loose, you can use the non-bladed side of your punch down tool to give them a slightly harder press into the keystone jack. Don’t punch them down just yet, but that extra push can help them remain more sturdily in place while you finish laying down the other wires.
Once you’ve laid all the wires in position and are happy with the layout, it’s time to punch them down. To do so, take the punch down tool in one hand and hold either the keystone jack, or the punch down stand firmly in your other hand, and push it down on top of each of the wires in turn. This will fix the wires into the keystone jack so that they are immovable, and provide an active contact for the keystone jack to utilize.
The punch down tool should also have cut off any excess wires which were overhanging the keystone jack. If not, use your wire cutter or another cutting tool to remove the excess. If any of the wires don’t look like they’re adequately punched down, use the punch down tool a second time to firmly secure them in the keystone jack.
Once you’re happy with how everything looks, push the keystone jack’s dust cap(s) into place. You should hear a snap once they’re locked in, preventing the wiring from coming dislodged.
You can then place your newly wired keystone jack into your patch panel or wall mount and test it out, or move on to your next keystone jack. Repeat the process as necessary for however many keystone jacks you need to wire.
Discover Keystone Jacks By Cable Matters
Cable Matters offers a wide range of keystone jacks, designed for RJ45 Ethernet connections, coaxial inputs, and fiber optics. RJ45 keystone jacks are the most versatile, and popular, however, and come in a range of category certifications, with different color options, and shielding ratings.
The most affordable keystone jacks that Cable Matters has in its catalog, is a 10-pack of Cat6 RJ45 keystone jacks that comes in white, blue or black. They feature the same high performance Cat 6 rated wiring, and are compatible with 23 and 24 AWG gauge wiring. They can be wired in either the T568a or T568b wiring schemes, with color coding for both on each keystone jack to make it easy.
They also enjoy gold plated, anti-corrosion contacts, are made with impact-resistant plastic, and have strain-relief dual IDC covers. They’re compatible with keystone jack panels, wall plates, and surface mount boxes, and at just $16 for 10, are incredibly cost effective.
If you’re working with larger patch panels, or expect the need to expand what you have in the future, Cable Matters also offers 25-packs of those same Cat 6 RJ45 keystone jacks. Available in the same color options, with the same features, these keystone jacks also come with their own punch-down stand, making the process of wiring your keystone jacks easier, and more cost effective.
Building a slimline patch panel? Cable Matters has slim profile keystone jacks for them too. They’re around 8% slimmer than standard keystone jacks, but are still compatible with standard Cat 6 decorator style wall plates.
Other options include higher-performing keystone jacks, like these shielded RJ45 Cat 8 keystone jacks. These are future proofed and ready for network speeds anywhere up to 40 Gigabit per second, and are backwards compatible with Cat 6A, Cat 6, and Cat 5e cables. As 180 degree jacks, they’re simple to install termination blocks in, and with a full metal housing they offer the pinnacle in electronic shielding and physical protection for your cabling.
Other keystone jacks and patch panel accessories worth considering for your personal or professional wiring project include: Blank keystone jack inserts for walling off portions of your patch panels; gender changing keystone jacks for converting male to female connections, or vice versa; HDMI, coaxial, Toslink, or fiber optic keystone jacks for a range of patch panel connection options, and even banana jack binding posts, for fitting speaker wiring in the wall for a more professional, hidden installation.
Cable Matters has all the hardware, accessories, and tools you need for whatever kind of wiring project you have planned, so be sure to explore our ranges of patch panels and wall mounts too, when it comes to planning your particular project.