Running network cable

The phone company has just sent me a new DSL modem and I would like to use this opportunity to run approximately 30 feet of network cable from my office to Hamish’s room, to allow him to use my DSL. This is the first time I have contemplated something like this, and leads me to some questions:

  1. Is it feasible for the home user to buy cable and plugs separately, run the cable through walls and then wire the jacks to the end of the cable?

  2. Will special software be required? (He runs Windows XP.)

  3. Is this enterprise grossly more complicated than running the wires, plugging them in, and hoping for the best?

As to number 1. They have all the parts at Home Depot. If I can do it, so can you.



You’ll need a punch-down tool, but they’re very easy to get the hang of. Search the net for “running ethernet cable” if you want to see all the steps involved before getting into it.

You can either terminate the cable with RJ-45 plugs at both ends and just use it as a very long patch cable, or you could buy a pair of wall-mounted ethernet sockets and wire the cable into them at both ends, then use a short patch cable to connect the PC to the socket at one end and another patch cable to connect the router to the other socket.

Either way, it’s not rocket science. Getting the internal conductors in the right order is fairly important, especially on a longish run like this, but there are any number of online instructions for this.

What is the possibility of going wireless? Some DSL modems have the wireless access built in. The from Qwest and the one I bought from Radio Shack had wireless. It’s what I am using now.

It’s not that hard to get a wireless card or even a wireless USB card.

This should be easier than running cable all over the house.

I second The Surb’s recommendation. The cable connections themselves are easy, but running wire through walls can be tricky and require punching a lot of holes in the drywall, depending on what’s between your office and the destination.

If your DLS modem doesn’t already have wireless, you can get a wireless router for cheap. You can plug your machine directly into it, and buy a USB wireless card for the remote machine. It will take you less than 30 minutes to set up the router, and no time at all to get the remote machine connected to the network.

Running cable and terminating stuff is easy, with the right tools (side-cutters, punch-down and crimp tool). Wireless may work, but when I last set out run a piece of ethernet (from a DSL modem plugged into the BT termination point to my firewall/server in the utility, about 30 meters outside the house) I ended up spending just a bit more for a couple of Powerline Ethernet adapters. This took 2 minutes to set up, runs way faster than the 20Mb DSL line, and saved drilling holes in external walls, cable runs, terminations, the whole 9 yards. Best decision I ever made.

I would not use it for my inhouse runs, though. I stream video from the server to media players, and much prefer 100Mb ethernet for that (and I don’t believe that powerline stuff will manage the throughput). I will be looking at Flatwire when I next cable/redecorate for speed and tidyness.


Here’s a very good site on how to do the wiring at the end of those CAT-5 or CAT-6 cables:

Since the others have answered your question, I’ll add to The Surb’s recommendation to consider wireless if the wiring is going to be inconvenient or ugly to run across the rooms.

You could also look into Ethernet over powerlines:

Plug one adapter into a power socket in your office, plug the second adapter into a power socket in the other room. Connect an Ethernet cable to each adapter, and the whole thing acts like one long Ethernet cable. It is an expensive option, though (~$70).

For a single run like this, yes go either WiFi or Ethernet over powerline. Your time is unlikey to be worth the effort of gearing up to run a single cable. Unless you want to add the learning experience to the value to you. :slight_smile:

WiFi has some disadvantages. It is subject to interference under some circumstances. A serious gamer son might be unhappy:

If youve never run cable then its going to hard, frustrating, and not worth it. Digging through drywall and not having the luxury of a conduit is pretty rough. Id also consider wireless or ethernet over power.

>I would like to use this opportunity to run approximately 30 feet of network cable from my office to Hamish’s room

Its not the distance that matters but how many walls youre going to have to snake the wire through. On top of the cost of wiring, terminators, etc you need to add spackle and paint.’

Contrary to what is being said about wireless or powerline, they both now have quite a bit of available bandwidth in the form of wireless-n and powerlineHD. Enough for typical HD streaming.

I have done a lot of cabling over the years, so I have no fear in doing my own terminators, etc. But in my house I have never done my own plugs on Cat5-type cable. I use store bought plugged cables and run those.

What I mainly take advantage of is the gap under the base molding that the edge of the carpeting fits under. I drill a small hole from above at an angle so I can find it from underneath. Then a big hole from underneath. Run the cable thru that. If need be, I can run a cable under the molding for a good ways. Best of all, I can remove the cable and leave to visible marks.

While the OP’s situation might be different, most houses have little features like that which allow running cables.

The advantages of wired vs wireless networking is tremendous. Faster and a lot more secure and stable. If you can do wired, do that.

Flatwire’s not a bad idea. I’ve run a ton of cable, but in our new co-op the walls are plaster and lathe so I didn’t want to mess with in wall for speakers. Flatwire was a bit labor intensive and expensive, but it looks great.

Step 1 - Stick the wire on the wall: Pic 1 Pic 2

Step 2 - Cover with joint compound: Pic 1 Pic 2

Step 3 - Paint: Pic 1 Pic 2

Step 4 - Let music annoy cat while he’s sleeping: Leave me alone!

I’ll echo this - you don’t want to try putting plugs on bulk cable unless you’re able to find RJ45 plugs designed for use on solid wire. The significance is that the sharp pointy teeth inside the usual plugs designed for stranded wire tend to cut right through the solid wires. The result is a cable that will only work on its own whim and you’ll waste a lot of time trying to figure out what’s wrong. More likely, it will work for a few months, then once you’ve forgotten about it, it will start going wonky.

The proper way to go with bulk cable is to put jacks on the end. You don’t need the fancy $98 punchdown tool - the $3.99 tool works fine for doing one or two jacks, and you may even find jacks that need no punchdown tool at all. You just lay the wires into the jack’s body and squeeze the whole thing together with pliers.

If you’re really desperate, you can wire up a jack with nimble fingers and a small flat screwdriver. I’ve done this more times than I care to admit, and they’re still working.

Our wireless router died earlier this week, and we decided to give the Ethernet over powerlines a try.

The room we wanted to go to is in an addition to the house with it’s own circuitbox. We were a bit worried that the signal might be subpar, because of this.

Plug everything in, power up the computer, and Hazzah! it works. The connection is slower then it would be if we were connected by Cat-5 cable.

It does look great. Did you have to work much to get the joint compound smooth? I will definitely be looking in to it (I have speakers to hang in my study/studio, and the walls need repainting, so…


It was a bit counter intuitive. Generally when taping I start with a small taping knife and larger with each coat. Flatwire suggests the first coat to be 10", then the second coat around 4" so that it tapers from thin to thick back to thin, with the thickest part over the wire. I couldn’t find quick drying compound, so I was stuck with a 24 hour wait between coats.

Sanding is key with multiple grits to make it nice and smooth. In my case, you can definitely see a lack of sanding in certain areas as I got tired. Too much standing on too-short step stool for me (I had to go over two windows and a door in one direction, and another door in the other). Once primed and painted, it’s almost unnoticeable unless pointed out.

I also didn’t use their boxes except behind the stereo and behind the two larger front speakers. For the sides and rears, I used the pin connector for a cleaner look.

This was the one big concession I had in the new place, but it’s totally worth it to me. The only thing I would change is having the side/rear speakers mounted much higher and pointed down. I’ve got them at sitting ear level, and I’m always bumping them.