How to make Ethernet cables

Cable Matters ethernet plugs

Cable Matters makes all sorts of great cables, Ethernet cables included. But if you have a specific length of cable you need that isn't provided, or you want to save a bit of money, you can always make your own.  To do it, you'll need a couple of tools, some time, and a good selection of Ethernet RJ45 (8P8C) plugs – depending on what category of cable you're targeting.

It doesn't hurt to know all about modern networking either, as the types of custom Ethernet cables you want to make will have their own specifications and limits you'll want to be aware of before starting.

What You Need to Make Custom Ethernet Cables

Unless you need absolute bleeding edge network performance, the best custom Ethernet cables to make are Cat 6 or Cat 6a. They offer excellent speeds of up to 10,000 Mbps, or 10 Gbps (Cat 6a can do so at longer distances), and have excellent shielding against crosstalk and signal degradation.

Once you've picked the category of cable you're looking to build, you need to buy the right RJ45 modular plugs for the job – like these great Cat 6 plugs and Cat 6a plugs. You'll also need enough bulk stranded Ethernet cable for however many cables, at whatever length, you want to make. All Cable Matters bulk Ethernet cable is pure copper (not copper clad aluminum), and adheres to all guidelines for communications cabling.

Although there are a few options for bulk Ethernet cabling, most of them will work just fine for home use. You'll want to opt for at least in-wall rated (CM) cabling. Alternatively, there are riser rated (CMR) and plenum jacket (CMP) cables, which offer better protection against fire, if that's something you're concerned about; though they're more designed with office buildings in mind.

The last thing you need is a proper RJ45 crimp tool. It doesn't matter what cable category you opt for, this will work just fine as a Cat 6 crimping tool, or a Cat 6a crimping tool.

How to Make Ethernet Cables Yourself

With your Cat 6 crimping tool, Cat 6 plugs, and a lengthy section of Cat 6 (or Cat 6a) cable, it's time to make your own custom Ethernet cables.

  • Measure the length of the bulk Ethernet cable that you want to use. If you have a specific task in mind, it can help to lay it out where you expect it to go. That way you won't end up with a cable that's too short, or with lots of excess cabling that you only need to tuck away somewhere. Give yourself a little extra to work with so that the cable's not too taut.
  • When you're sure you have the right amount of cable, use your crimp tool's wire cutter to cut the cable to the right length.

Cable Matters Ethernet crimper

  • Most Cable Matters Cat 6 plugs come with strain-relief boots to help protect the modular clips. Put one on each end of the cable if they are included. 
  • Starting at one end, use the crimp tool's wire stripper to cut open the PVC jacket to expose the internal wires. Take care not to cut into the wires or damage the spline (if it has one).

Network crimper tool

  • Untangle the wires and arrange them in the industry standard T-568B configuration, as seen in the diagram below.

Cable Matters RJ45 jacks

  • Straighten the wires as best you can, and if necessary, trim them back to about half an inch in length using the wire cutter on the crimp tool.
  • Take your Cat 6 plug and slide the wires inside, paying close attention that the wires stay in the correct order. If they jump or don't slide in correctly, remove the RJ45 plug, re-straighten the wires, and try again.
  • Push the wires right to the end of the connector. This may take a bit of force or jiggling around, but they should get there eventually. At this point the PVC coating of the Ethernet cable should also have entered the plug, making for a tight fit.
  • Take the crimping tool and slide the RJ45 plug into its crimping slot as far as it will go. Squeeze the crimping tool tightly to crimp the connector.

Crimp tool

  • If you're using strain relief boots, slide your previously applied relief boot over the Cat 6 plug.
  • Repeat the above steps on the other end of the Ethernet cable.

Once complete, test it out by connecting it to your devices and confirming whether you have an active network connection. If you do, congratulations, you've made your own custom Ethernet cables. If not, you might want to retrace your steps to see if you missed something. Alternatively, try again. You should have plenty of cable and Cat 6 plugs to work with.

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