July 28, 2012, 7:03 AM — Although it's easy to head to the electronics store to buy network cables, making do with cables of predetermined lengths can be a problem. More often than not, premade cables are either too short (and require coupling) or too long (in which case, you have to tie up excess cabling and tuck it away somewhere). The end result is usually a mess of extra network cable, wrapped and bundled up alongside your devices and network switches. It works, but it isn't ideal, and it looks horrible.
You don't have to deal with premade network cables of incorrect lengths, however. Creating your own custom-length network cables is quite easy once you have the know-how and the right tools. Making network cables takes just a little cutting and crimping, plus a bit of wire arranging. Here's how to do it.
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To make your own network cables, you need some raw CAT 5, 5e, or 6 cable (a composite cable consisting of four twisted pairs of internal wires), some RJ45 connectors, and a proper crimping/wire-cutting tool. Ideally, you also want a network-cable tester, to easily confirm that your custom cables are correctly wired and working properly. A cable tester isn't a necessity, but it will save time and prevent headaches down the line should you have a problem with a cable or connection.
All of that stuff may sound expensive, but you can find a full network-wiring toolkit--containing the necessary tools, ends for network and phone cables, a cable tester, and some other assorted parts--for only about $30 to $35. Pay a few more bucks, and the kit should include punch-down tools and other probes as well.
The cost of a network-wiring toolkit may be prohibitive to people who want to make only a few cables. But if you have the need to make many cables, the toolkit will easily pay for itself over time, as bulk cable and RJ45 connectors are significantly cheaper than premade cables. On top of that, you'll end up with much cleaner wiring, a nice bonus.