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How to Terminate and Install Cat5e, Cat6 Keystone Jacks?

August 6, 2013

DIY for your home network is a trend in the IT community, and also worthy to try for those non-professionals. Maybe you've already succeeded in running your telecom network's cross-connect cabling by yourself according to some instructions online or maybe haven't yet. This "How To" article covers the basic background info, needed materials, and specific punch down techniques for your Cat5e/Cat6 wiring. If you want to self-terminate network cables (Cat5e cable or Cat6 cable) into keystone jacks, check this easy-to-follow termination tutorial now.

Preliminary Information for Keystone Jacks

To terminate and install Cat5e/Cat6 keystone jacks on yourself, you have to be certain of every connection you make to ensure a reliable network. Before introducing the termination method and process, it's necessary to have some basic knowledge or about "keystone jack".

What is keystone jack? A keystone jack is a female connector used in data communications, particularly for local area networks (LANs), usually mounted in a wall plate or patch panel. T568A and T568B are the two wiring standards for an 8-position modular connector, permitted under the TIA/EIA-568-A wiring standards document. The only difference between T568A vs T568B is: the orange and green wire pairs (Pair 2 & Pair 3) are interchanged. Both T568A and T568B wiring schemes are labeled for keystone jacks. The cat5e and cat6 wiring diagrams with corresponding colors are twisted in the network cabling and should remain twisted as much as possible when terminating them at a jack.

t568a-and-t568b

A principal advantage of keystone connectors is their versatility. Several types of keystone jack can be mounted on a single patch panel. They are available in unshielded and shielded forms and can accommodate cords and cables having various numbers of conductors. Each keystone jack is slightly different in how they are labeled and how the colors are arranged. The following are the three most commonly seen keystone jacks:

Diagram Explanation
punchdown 2 standard pairs on the right and 2 variable pairs on the left. The A standard is the center column and the B standard is on the left. Both A and B standards apply to the right side of the jack.
The solid color box with the lower right corner missing represents the solid color wire with the white stripe; the white box with the colored tip represents the white wire with the colored stripe.
punchdown A and B standards on both sides of the jack, with the color code running down the center.
A and B standard codes labeled on the outside of the jack, with the A standard on top and the B standard on the bottom.
punchdown A and B standard codes labeled on the outside of the jack, with the A standard on top and the B standard on the bottom.
The solid box represents the solid wire with the white stripe while the box with; the white diagonal stripe going through the middle represents the white wire with the colored stripe.

Materials and Tools Needed for Cat5e/Cat6 Wiring

Gathering your materials and tools is what you need to do after having some technical knowledge on keystone jacks. The essential tools you will need are listed below before you start Cat5e / Cat6 termination:


  • Solid Cat5e/Cat6 Bulk Cable

  • Cable Stripper

  • Punchdown Tool

  • Conductor Clipping Tool

  • Network Cable Tester

Cat5e and Cat6 Termination Guidance

Follow the below instructions step by step according to the wiring diagram, you'll find Cat5e or Cat6 wiring may look intimidating, turning out to be a piece of cake.

Step One

Insert the cable into the stripping tool to the required strip length. Strip off only as much cable jacket needed to properly terminate the pairs (1 to 1.5 inches should be sufficient to terminate pairs). Holding the cable near the tool, rotate the tool around the cable several times. Slightly bend the outer jacket and manually remove the cut piece or slide the cut outer jacket with the stripper.

Step 1 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

Step Two

Bend each pair in one direction to expose the ripcord, binder, or cross-web filler on the cable. Remove the ripcord, binder, or cross-web filler if they are present on the cable, leaving only the twisted pairs of wire. The cross-web filler should be cut as flush as possible to the jacket. Determine the wiring scheme and properly align all four cables accordingly on the jack. Keep the cable jacket as close to the connector as possible.

Note: Use connectors, wall plates, and patch panels that are compatible (same rating or higher) with the grade of the cable used.

Step 2 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

Step Three

Preserve the wire pair twists as close as possible to the point of termination. When connecting jacks and plugs, do not untwist the cable more than 0.5 inches for Cat5e, Cat6, and Cat6a cable. (FYI: A half of an inch of an untwisted wire pair results in 1.5 dB of near-end crosstalk.) Insert wires down into IDC terminal slots to position them before punching down and maintain the twist. Terminate all four pairs in the T568B wiring scheme for example.

Step 3 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

Step Four

When using a punch-down tool, make sure the tool is straight before punching down on the connector. Make sure the cut-side of the tool is facing outward. Inspect the connector to verify that the wires are fully engaged in the IDC terminals and they are cut properly. Place a dust cover on the jack for protection.

Step 4 for Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

DONE!

The below diagram shows how an assembled jack looks. Ready to insert into a wall plate or keystone jack patch panel?

Complete Cat5e & Cat6 Keystone Jacks Installation

If you skip the above textual descriptions, go check this video that demonstrates more directly and visually. The below guidance video mainly focus on terminating FS Cat6 bulk cable into the Cat6 unshielded toolless keystone jack module:

Brief Summary

Well, there you have it—a ready-to-go keystone jack termination for your Cat5e and Cat6 cables. Have you acquired this skill after going through all the steps? In this tutorial, we have tried to make steps more intuitive and helpful for you. If you have learned how to terminate a keystone jack, why not have a try? Hope your networking is smooth!

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