Ethernet punch down tool - do I really need one?

My new crash pad came pre-wired for Ethernet. All I need to do is get the Ethernet coming out of my modem hooked in to the system, but I do not want to spend $20 plus on a punch down tool to use on literally eight wires if I can avoid it. I will never, ever use that tool again.

So far I’ve struck out on finding a friend with one. On a scale of one to ten, how bad would it be to use like a small screwdriver or some other inelegant implement to punch in those eight wires? Could I mess up something good that will make me regret not spending $20? Or is the need for a punch down tool just one of those myths spread by Big Tool corporate lobbyists and their lackies?

Nah, you only need it if you have to punch down lots of blocks at once. Just be careful; those prongs on the punchdown blocks are sharp.

A small flathead screwdriver will work (the ones that come with eyeglass repair kits are good, or those cheap sets of small drivers that you can get at Radio Schlock.)

grab the wire on the far side of the terminal with a needle nose pliers. put a flat blade screwdriver on the wire on the near side of the terminal. gently push simultaneously with each until the wire slides in place.

I’ve seen pre-packaged 8p8c jacks (aka RJ45) with really basic punchdown tools in the package. Otherwise, you may be able to find cheap combo jacket stripper/punchdown tools for about three bucks.

Faking it with screwdrivers is a good way to bollix the terminals, resulting in flaky connections. If nothing else, find a friendly geek in the neighborhood or at work. They probably have a 110 punchdown tool.

What are you punching anyway? If the new home is pre-wired. that usually means there are jacks on the wall, ready for use. Normally, you’d just plug a patch cable from the device to the wall jack and be done.

But, what’s at the other end of the in-wall cable? Does the cable go to a central wiring terminus where you plan to plug in a switch to connect other rooms?

This. Buy one overpriced individual jack with this little tool and it will cost you no more than $2-3, net, and make the job easier and less fault-prone than any substitute.

So there is a terminus with three functions: cable TV, Ethernet with the regular old plugs, and telephone. The previous owners had all the Ethernet in the house running to the block that’s really the telephone part. It’s all wired correctly, from what I can see, but I cannot plug in an RJ45 to that block. I need to strip the cable from the modem and punch it in to an input block, if that makes sense.

I really have no interest in putting plugs on the eight cables already pinched in just to move them to the proper block.

Hold the phone here. Something’s not adding up to a normal “structured wiring” installation for LAN.

Are you looking to attach wires to a frame like thiswith the small connector blocks?

Aside from that, punching stranded wire to a terminal made for solid wire is all but guaranteed to fail. The sharp inner edges of the 110 contacts will cut the individual strands of the wiire rather than biting into and holding a solid wire. It is possible to buy solid-wire patch cables made for this very purpose, but they’re not common unless you go to someone who specializes in the oddball stuff.

Here is the actual box. The top block is the one populated with all the Ethernet that runs through the house. The middle post in the top block is labeled “Input” and my plan was to take the cable running out of the modem and install it there.

If the right answer is to put jacks on all the cables, I will kick, moan, and ask a zillion questions why my plan won’t work, and I’ll probably ultimately give up, and eventually do it the right way. But only if I have to.

I used to do it with just a pair of needle-nose pliers, without additional assistance from a screwdriver. Just push the wire into place with the pliers. Worked fine for me, and I never broke anything.

Hmmm… That top block is for phone wiring. According to the instructions for that box, all of the terminals are bridged so you can connect the incoming phone line and it goes out to all the rooms. No good for data.

The middle section is a mini patch panel for data. Cables from each room are punched down to the terminals and you can then plug in patch cables from a switch or router.

Ah, drat. That all makes sense now. Thanks for asking the questions that I never would have thought of, at least I think I know what I’m doing now:

  1. Remove all the cables from the top block and punch them in the middle one.
  2. Get a bunch of patch cables.
  3. Get an 8 port wired router.
  4. Put the patch cables and the output from the modem into the router.
  5. Profit!


I’ve seen such connectors that don’t require a tool, just install the wires and pace on the cap. Yes it is a bit larger then the standard but there you go.

I never trust those suckers. They work for you?

Step 6: Profit!

Sounds like a good plan. I’m thinking the previous people either really goofed on the wiring or they had a “KSU-less” phone system with four lines. Doesn’t really matter what they did, as long as you can fix it and make it work. You already have the expensive stuff and just need to get the right ends on it. Should be a piece of cake… :dubious:

The possibly tricky part will be to make sure each end of the cables is wired the same way. The instructions for your box say it’s wired as 568A, so you should make sure the jacks in the rooms are also 568A. I normally punch my stuff as 568B, but either works, as long as it’s the same at each end. If you have A at one end and B at the other, you’ll have what’s called a crossover cable. Ten years ago, that would be significant, but now, almost all computers and switches are able to figure it out automatically.

That Step 5 may be a killer. It’s where you sort out messes like discovering the jacks in the rooms were wired for phone lines rather than data, so you have to re-punch them, or one room doesn’t work at all because a mouse ate the wire, or someone put a drywall screw through it, etc.

Where the hell did two standards come from?
We are 568B, and if something is wired A, the device on that end can’t figure it out.

You must have some older stuff that can’t do automatic MDIX - this is the now well over ten year old protocol that sniffs out which wire pair in the cable is transmitting and which is receiving.

The “why” came from Western Electric and Bell Labs. 568A was originally meant for home use as the first pair was blue and the second pair was orange, just like a regular phone line. It’s not recommended, but it is possible to plug an RJ14 into an RJ45, so the cable could carry phone or data. The B version was apparently intended for commercial use, and is also the wiring standard for the AT&T/Lucent/Avaya Merlin phone system. Leave it to Ma Bell to codify the heck out of something in the most unexpected way possible.

screwdriver is bad to push into the gap. You might use it to push on the wire but not into the gap…

You can use a plastic card like a plastic identity card to push into the gap. The plastic is soft and won’t blunt the blades.

Truth be told, I only did it once, which was enough, several years ago.

Thanks for the explanation.