How to wire an Ethernet plug

Written by michael hintz
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How to wire an Ethernet plug
Don't try to plug your Ethernet plug into a telephone socket. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Although wired networks lack the convenience of a wireless connection, there’s certainly something to be said for their security and speed. Wired connections are fully secure because no access is possible without a physical connection to the network’s Ethernet switch. Additionally, they handle file transfers from one computer to another much faster than a wireless connection. The advantage of wiring the plugs of your own Ethernet cables is twofold: it’s usually much cheaper, and, if you’re planning on drilling holes to wire your house, it means you only need to drill holes small enough for the cable to pass through -- about 6 mm (1/4 inch).

Things you need

  • RJ45 boots (optional)
  • Solid-core UTP cable
  • RJ45 crimper tool
  • RJ45 plugs

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  1. 1

    Put a boot over the cable (optional).

  2. 2

    Strip the cable’s outer coating from the end where you’d like to install the plug. You should see four unshielded twisted pairs (UTP) of wires, coloured blue and blue/white, brown and brown/white, green and green/white and orange and orange/white. Some cables may not colour the striped wires, instead leaving them white; if this is the case, you’ll need to keep track of the colour to which the white wires were twisted.

  3. 3

    Unwind the twisted pairs so that you have eight separate wires.

  4. 4

    Organise the wires in order according to the cable type you’d like to produce. For a standard straight-through Ethernet cable, pins 1 through 8 should be as follows: green/white, green, orange/white, blue, blue/white, orange, brown/white and brown.

  5. 5

    Pinch the wires together between your thumb and forefinger so that they make a flat array, each cable touching the next with no space in between.

  6. 6

    Cut the wires with the sharp part of a RJ45 crimper tool neatly about the length of the Ethernet plug away from the cable’s outer coating.

  7. 7

    Find pin 1 on the Ethernet plug by holding the plug so that the tab is facing the floor and the cable end is facing you. The leftmost pin is pin 1.

  8. 8

    Insert the organised wires into the RJ45 plug gently, with the pins and wire array matched up correctly.

  9. 9

    Double-check that the wires stayed in the correct positions after being inserted into the plug.

  10. 10

    Use the crimping tool over the plug to pinch the wires down onto the plug’s pins.

  11. 11

    Repeat the process for the other end of the cable, cutting the cable from a spool if necessary.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure to buy the appropriate cable type. Cat (shortened from category) 5 cable is rated for 10/100BaseT functionality, and category 5e (the e stands for enhanced) is rated for 1000BaseT (commonly called gigabit Ethernet) functionality. Category 6 or later will provide compatibility with future standards.
  • Two colour code standards for Ethernet wiring exist: T568A and T568B. Both work identically, but aren’t entirely compatible with one another, so make sure you stay consistent with the colour code standard you use (unless you’re making a crossover cable).
  • T568A is the preferred and most common colour code used.

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