Woodworking and home improvement plans and tips and Tool reviews

Information on DIY home improvement projects I'm working on or planning as well as reviews for tools and gadgets for the home.

How to Wire a 4 Line Bridge with a 66 Block


Instructions on how to wire a 66 block with as a 4 line bridge for 11 telephone ports. This is a common way to wire residential and small business telephone wires.

There are a number of different ways to wire your phones using a 66 block. I discussed another option in my article on How to Wire a 66 Block. That was a little more complex but it's worth reading if you're not familiar with 66 blocks and would like a better understanding of how they work and what you can do with them. That other wiring provided less density but gave you greater flexibility.

This article will show you to use the inner pins to create a daisy chained bridge for up to 4 incoming lines going to up to 11 phone ports. It's still a bit complicated so if you want something easier look at the pre-made 1x9 bridge in my article on organizing telephone lines in an older home for an easier solution. We're essentially using a 66 block to make a 1x11 bridge. You can always buy 2 1x9 bridges and wire them together saving a lot of time but if you want to understand 66 blocks better or, like me, just enjoy using your punch down tool keep reading.

What you'll Need

Materials

  • A 50 pair split 66-block 
  • A couple of screws to attach the mounting bracket to your structured media panel
  • Cat5e cable running to your phone jacks as well as an incoming phone line
  • Some spare Cat5e you strip to separate individual pairs

 Tools

  • Screwdriver for screwing down mounting bracket
  • Punchdown tool with 66 black (cut and non-cut)
  • Spudger
  • Wire snips


Above are the tools I use. I have a Klein Tools VDV427-822 Comfort Grip Impact Punch down tool kit which I think is the best punch down tool out there because it has a long reach and is shaped like a screwdriver. It comes with the spudger which is a tool used for moving and pulling small wires in tight to reach areas. And I have a pair of 5" Wiss electrician snips for cutting and stripping wires. You'll also need a 66 blade that has a cutting and non-cutting side like the Klein VDV427-016-SEN  66 blade.

The kit comes with a nice case that clips everything I need on my belt even has a pouch for extra blades.

Step 1: Mount 66 Block To Structured Media Panel Feed Cables


Remove the 66 block from the 89d mounting bracket and secure the bracket to your structured media panel or other appropriate surface and start to feed your cables up from the bottom leaving a bit of a loop in case you need extra wire to punch the wires down again in the future.

There are 12 cables total. 1 Grey Cat5e for the incoming lines and 11 green Cat5e cables for the premise wiring that goes to the phone jacks. You can use any colors but for consistency I follow my Structured Wiring Jack Color recommendations. Feed 6 cables through each side of the mounting bracket making sure the grey incoming cable is on the upper left of the bracket.

Clip the 66 block back on the mounting bracket.

Step 2: Punch down Incoming Cable

I like to start out by punching down the premise cables first since in a residential installation they're typically not going to change.

I start by punching down the grey Cat5e cable that has 4 pairs for up to 4 incoming lines. I punch it down to the upper left of the block which is where incoming lines are typically placed.

I'm using a Cat5e rated 66 block and Cat5e cables even though analog phone lines don't really need to be installed with that spec. Because of that I'm wiring the 66 block slightly different to maintain the twists in the wire pairs as much as possible.

Instead of stripping the cable all the way back I'm stripping it so that it lands around the center of the area of where it will be punched down and instead of untwisting the wires and feeding each one through it's own fin, each pair goes through one fin and there's an empty fin below it.


The wires get punched down to the pins closest to the fins. I hook the white striped wire of the pair up to the pin above and the colored wire down to the pin below. This way the twists are preserved as much as possible. I use the terminate and cut side of my 66 blade in my punchdown tool to punchdown and trim away the excess cable.

Important: Make sure the cut side is up for the white striped wire and down for the colored wire when punching down.

The order of wires is white-blue, blue, white orange, orange, white green, green, white brown brown.  It's easier for me to just remember blue, orange, green brown and the white striped wire goes on top.


Step 3: Punch down Premise Cables

The green cables lead to phone jacks installed in various rooms throughout the house and will be terminated in the 66 block.

First we strip the cable. I take my snips and score the jacket a couple of inches down from the end then bend to crack and remove the outer jacket. Grab hold of the rip cord and start ripping down the outer jacket until it comes to just under the fins. I hold the cable down around 4 fins from where the first wire is going to be punched down so it lands around the middle. I trim off some of the excess wire at the end as well as the jacket and rip cord.


Now separate the pairs in the order they will be punched down, blue, orange green brown and feed them through the appropriate fins.


Untwist the blue pair just enough so you can hook the white-blue wire to the pin on top and the blue wire to the pin below.


Then punch down the wires making sure the punch down tool is cutting on the top for the white blue wire and on the bottom for the blue wire. I use my finger to hold the jacket of the cable down to the side of the block so it stays in the middle. This isn't that important but I think it looks nicer when it's centered.


Repeat for the other 3 pairs, orange, green and brown.


Now just repeat that process for the rest of the premise cables and your 66 block should now look like this.


Keep in mind that the 66 block has 50 rows of pins but we're only punching down 6 cables which is 24 pairs or 48 individual wires so there will be two empty rows on the bottom.

Step 4: Cross Connect Daisy Chains

We have the incoming lines and all our premise wiring punched down on the 66 block but they're not connected to each other yet so none of the phones will have dial tone.

To get the phone lines connected to the incoming phone lines we're going to daisy chain some wires on the inner pins to feed dial tone from each incoming line to each phone jack.

I cut a length of Cat5e cable, remove the jacket and separate out the 4 pairs of wires to create the cross connects. That way each cross connect daisy chain is color coded to match the colors on the incoming line pairs.


We start with the blue pair, line 1 and punch down the white blue wire to the pin next to the incoming white-blue wire and the blue wire next to the incoming blue wire. Feed the cross connect wire through the same fins that the incoming blue pair is in.


The blue pair cross connect now has dial tone for line 1. We'll use the cross connect wire to provide dial town to the other extensions. Here you can pick and choose which lines to send line 1 to. You can send it to only a few of the extensions, you can choose to send it to a different line (color pair) instead of blue, etc. For simplicity and because it's the most common way of doing things in a home installation we're going to send line 1 to all the line 1's (blue pairs) of the premise wires and do the same for the other 3 lines as well.

Now run the cross connect wire down to where the blue pair is on the next premise cable and start to separate the twists without cutting the cross connect wire. It sometimes helps to use the spudger to create an opening in the twists.


Punch down the wires using the non-cutting side of the 66 blade. We don't want to cut the wire because that will break the connection and lose dial tone we need to send to the other cables.

When you're done punching down the wires feed it back out through the same fins the wire came in through and continue to the next cable's blue pair.


Wrap around the bottom of the 66 block and continue up the other side until you get to the end. When you get to the end use the cut side of the 65 blade to punch down and cut the cross connect wires. Your 66 block should now look like this.


Side Note: We don't have to do both sides of the 66 block with the cross connect wire. We could just do one side and use cross connects to send dial tone to the other side but I think it looks more consistent to use the cross connect wire and I enjoy punching things down. :)

Now repeat the above with the orange cross connect wire to send line 2's dial tone to all the premise wires.


Most homes these days probably only have 1 phone line (if that) but it's nice to have one extra line setup and ready to go if necessary. Back in the day you'd have the main house line, maybe a line for a modem, then the kids would want a line to talk to their friends but now most people have broadband and you're more likely to get your kids a cell phone than a landline. Most people can probably stop right here but we have the other cross connects ready and it's fun to punch wires down so we'll feed line 3 (green pair) and line 4 (brown pair) to all the lines too and our 66 block will end up looking like this.


And here's one more shot showing a bit of the side.


So that's how you make a 4 line 1x11 bridge with a 66 block. You can use the techniques to customize the wiring to suit your needs now or in the future. If this seems too difficult for you there's always the Leviton 1x9 Telephone Bridge that already has the bridge part done for you, all you have to do is punch down your incoming and premise wiring. No need to punch down all those cross connects but the 66 block locks cooler and did I mention I like punching things down? :)
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Easy Simple Plywood Nightstand Plans

Free woodworking plans to build simple and easy plywood nightstands that require minimal tools and use ClosetMaid Fabric Drawers for storage. You can also use these as end tables.

I ran across these inexpensive nightstands on Amazon which I thought were pretty cool but they are ridiculously small and unusable in my opinion. I like nightstands that come up to a couple of inches below the top of the mattress. That way they're easy to access but you won't hit your head on the corners if you roll around in your sleep or other things you do in bed. So I decided to build my own based on the design.
The top of my mattress is pretty high as I have a box spring, pretty thick mattress and a memory foam topper. I decided to make the nightstands 20-1/2" tall which was a comfortable height and allowed me to make 4 nightstands out of one sheet of plywood. I maid one pair larger than the other to accommodate the different storage drawers I wanted to use. You can adapt the plans to make nightstands to fit whatever storage drawer you'd like to use and make as many or as few as you want. I needed 4 and I don't like to have too much scrap plywood leftover.

I made one set to fit with the larger ClosetMaid 25066 Deep Fabric Drawer, and two with the smaller ClosetMaid 5878 Cubeicals Fabric Drawers which come in a variety of fun colors. I painted all of them black.


What You'll Need

I'm making 4 nightstands of 2 different sizes and these are the materials I used. If you're making different sizes or different quantities you may need more or less.

Materials

Tools & Supplies

Cut List

 I broke out the cut list into 2 sets. One for the bigger nightstand that uses the deep storage drawer and one for the smaller nighstand that uses the Cubeical fabric drawer.

Big Nightstand

  • (2) 20" x 17-1/2" Tops
  • (4) 17" x 16" Shelves
  • (8) 20-3/4" x 4" Legs

Small Cubeical Nightstand

  • (2) 14-1/2" x 14-1/2" Tops
  • (4) 11" x 11" Shelves
  • (8) 20-3/4" x 3" Legs

Cut Plan

Ideally I would have wanted the legs to be maybe an inch longer but at 20-3/4" I could make 4 nightstands of the sizes I wanted out of one sheet of plywood. For aesthetic reasons I wanted the grain on the tops and shelves to run from left to right and on the legs I wanted it to run vertically from top to bottom.

Step 1: Cut out all parts from Plywood

I had an associate at Home Depot make the 4 cross cuts so I could fit the plywood in my cargo area instead of on my roof rack and I made the remaining cuts with my Milwaukee M18 Cordless Circular Saw and my Kreg Rip Cut Jig.

Step 2: Edgebanding and Sanding

Sand the edges where the edge banding is going to be applied to get a nice smooth surface and, clean off any sawdust and start applying the edge banding along the edges shown bellow for the different parts. If you want to save a bit of edgebanding you can skip the backs of the tops and shelves.


Cut the edgebanding slightly larger than the edge and iron it on. Use a roller or scrap wood to press it down firmly after ironing. Let it cool a bit then trim it with a trimmer.

After edgebanding is a good time to sand all the pieces so they're ready for finishing after assembly.

Step 3: Drill Pocket Screw Holes

On the inside top of each leg drill 2 holes so the center of the hole is about 1/2" in from the side of each leg. On the bottom side of each shelf drill 2 holes at each of the 4 spots on the side of the shelf where the legs will connect. Make the holes about 1" from the edge and 1" from where the edge of the leg will be.

Step 4: Mark Shelf Locations on Legs

For each set of legs clamp them together and mark the location of where the tops of each of the shelves will go.Measure from the top to where the top of the shelf will be.

I wanted the toe kick area to be 3-1/2" on all my shelves and then I had to accomodate for the different heights of the fabric drawers. The large, deep drawer needed 8-1/2" of space and the Cubeicle drawer 11-1/4" of space.

So for the Big nightstand legs I made lines at 6-1/2" and 15-3/4" from the top.

For the Cubeicle nightstand I measured 3-3/4" and 15" from the top to make my reference lines for the shelves.


Step 5: Temporarily Attach Legs to Shelf

We're going to start assembly by temporarily attaching one of the shelves so that it's flush with the top of the legs. This isn't going to be it's final position but it will make assembly easier.

It's easiest to do this upside down on a flat surface. Lay one of the shelves upside down and use screws to attach the legs in each corner as shown. Make sure the legs line up squarely with the shelf.

While you're at it also mark the center of the shelf on each of the edges and use a combination square to draw a line on the edge as shown.


Step 6: Attach Bottom Shelf

I used some straight cut scrap wood and quick clamps to hold the bottom shelf in place (remember we're still working upside down. I set the scrap so that it was in line with the reference marks I made previously on the legs so the bottom shelf would line up properly. After checking to see everything looked okay. I applied some wood glue to where the pieces would join and screwed them together while holding them in position.


I don't always feel the need to use glue along with pocket hole joinery but for this design I thought a little extra strength would be helpful.

Step 7: Attach Legs to Top

Start by measuring the center of each edge and marking lines on the underside of the top as shown.



Then place the leg assembly and line up the centermarks on the edge of the side with the reference marks you just drew on the top.

Check to make sure everything looks good, then remove the leg assembly so you can apply some glue to the top of the legs. Place the leg assembly back on the top and line up the marks, clamp it down and start screwing the pocket hole screws to attach the legs to the top.

Once you have all the legs screwed down, unscrew the shelf that we attached temporarily and clean up any glue that spilled over on all pieces using a slightly damp rag.

You may want to fill the temporary screw holes with wood filler and sand it down after it dries.

Step 8: Attach Top Shelf

The final step of assembly is to  attach the top shelf to it's actual location instead of just using it to hold the legs in place.

Just like we did for the bottom shelf, use some straight scrap pieces aligned with the reference marks we made on the legs held with clamps to provide a space for you to rest the shelf.

After checking to see everything looks okay, remove the shelf, apply some glue where the shelf meets the leg and screw the shelf to the legs. Remove the clamps and clean up any glue that oozed out with a damp rag.

Step 9: Finishing

Clean off any sawdust and finish the nighstands as you'd like. I chose to prime and paint mine black but you could also stain and apply polyurethane instead. Follow the directions of the finishing materials you choose.

I wanted to paint mine black. I primed with a water based primer then sanded down the primer with 150 grit sandpaper lightly because water based primers raise the grain. Cleaned up the sanding dust after it had dried and followed with 2 coats of black paint.

Once the paint dries the drawers simply unfold and slide into place.


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Plywood Cutting Table Plans

Free woodworking plans to build a plywood cutting table that can store away easily yet still support full 4' x 8' sheets of plywood. This will help you get cleaner and more accurate cuts when cutting plywood with a circular saw.

Normally when I'm cutting plywood with a circular saw and either a circular saw guide or my Kreg Rip-Cut jig I just throw some scrap 2x4's on the ground or a sheet of rigid insulation to put the plywood on but lately I've been getting tired of the bending over and being on my knees while cutting sheet goods. I've been using a couple of 2x4's on my saw horses but it doesn't provide as much support for short pieces so I've come up with this alteration that provides more support and doesn't take up a lot of space in my garage when I'm done. I can also pack it up in the back of my truck easily if I need to cut some plywood somewhere else.

What You'll Need

Materials

Tools

  • Circular Saw
  • 2 bar clamps with a minimum 12" opening
  • Combination square or speed square
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil

Cut Plan

2 of the 2x4's will remain uncut and the entire 8' length. The other 4 will be cut in half to get 8 roughly 4' long pieces mines the saw kerf.

Step 1: Mark Short Notches


Set up your 2 saw horses and place the long 2x4's in the notches of the saw horses as shown. Place a short 2x4 on top of the long 2x4's and center it. Mark the width and location of the long 2x4's on the short 2x4 as indicated by the red lines.

Step 2: Cut Notches in Short Boards

Clamp all 8 of the short 2x4's together keeping all the crown sides facing down. Transfer the cut lines you marked in the previous step across the tops of all the boards. 

Set the depth of your circular saw to 1-3/4" and start making cuts through all 8 boards simultaneously. Make one cut, move the blade over and make another cut until all the wood from the notch is cleared. You can use some scrap wood on the sides as stops. The placement of the stops will depend on the dimensions of your circular saw bottom plate. Just line up the blade with one line and place the stop, do the same on the other side. That way you don't have to be too concerned with measuring your saw.

Repeat for the second notch.

Step 3: Mark and Cut Notches on the Long Boards


Clamp the 2 long boards together with the crown sides up. Mark the center of each notch starting 6" from one end and then every 12".

To mark the actual sides of the notches take one of the short boards and roughly center it over the center line and mark the sides. The placement doesn't need to have laser precision as long as the notches on each board line up, which they will since we're cutting them clamped together. 

Cut out the notches as described in the previous step for the short boards.

Step 4: Assemble Table


Next it's just a matter of putting it all together. 

Set up your saw horses and lay the long boards with the notches facing up in the notches on the saw horses. Don't press them down all the way yet so you can make adjustments.

Place the first short board in one of the end notches and use that to help line up the long boards.

Continue placing short boards on the long boards with the short board notches facing down. Make adjustments as you go if necessary.

Once all the boards are in place make sure the long boards are pressed in fully into the notches on the saw horses and that everything is lined up.

When you're done cutting your plywood just reverse the steps to disassemble everything until you need it again.

Step 5: Add Rigid Insulation

This is optional but recommended. Add a 1-1/2" or thicker 4'x8' sheet of rigid insulation over the boards. This will give you more support and help produce cleaner cuts.

When you cut make sure the good side is down. Also, after placing your plywood on the cutting table double check to make sure everything is still stable and hasn't moved before you begin cutting. Practice general good care when using a circular saw.
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How to mount a TV on a Hollow Core Door

DIY instructions on how to mount a flat screen TV on a hollow core door.

Sometimes in a small bedroom between closets, doors and windows there aren't a lot of good options to mount a TV that works with the furniture layout. This was the case for me in the small bedroom I'm using as a guest room and home office. I spent a lot of time trying to come up with solutions. Everything from ceiling mounts and even a drop down mechanism from the attic but they all seemed overly complex. In the end I decided to try to mount the TV on the sliding hollow core closet doors and it worked out pretty well.

Disclaimer

This mounting technique isn't the most ideal. Even though manufacturers of TV mounts provide a warranty against damage to a TV if the mount doesn't hold, none of the ones I contacted for advice will honor the warranty in this type of mounting. You need to make sure the door is in good condition and the track hardware is in good shape. Still I wouldn't recommend doing this with a very heavy or expensive TV or in a room children have access to. It has been working fine for me for months but you understand if you do this you do it at your own risk.

About Hollow Core Doors

Hollow core doors are constructed from a thin veneer face mounted to a thin frame and the middle section is usually filled with some sort of material to keep the veneer from caving in. Sometimes cardboard honeycomb is used as the fill. The veneer and fill isn't strong enough to support the weight of a TV and mount.

The frame is usually about 1-1/2" square lumber. It's not always real wood either. Sometimes it's a particle board or MDF type frame. This however does provide some support and we can use it to attach a piece of wood that can provide better support for the TV mount.

Other considerations

Since the door slides I think it's best to pick a smaller, lighter TV. An LED TV with a width that's less than the width of the door will work best in my opinion.

Mounting a TV to a Hollow Core Door

First we'll need to get a piece of lumber that is cut to the exact width of the hollow core sliding door. In my case it was 36".

The width of the board should be a few inches wider than what you'll need to attach the mount. You want to have the screws at least couple of inches away from the edge of the board to prevent splitting.

The thickness of the wood should be at least 1". 1-1/2" would be better. You can use framing lumber but you may want to go with something that has a nicer appearance such as pine boards marked S4S (surfaced 4 sides.) A 5/4 x 6 board worked for my mount.

Start by securing the board to the hollow core door and making sure it's level. Drill pilot holes and countersinks into the board and door frame to prevent splitting while driving the screws in. I used #8 2-1/2" coarse thread bugle head wood screws that I found at my local Home Depot. You want to make sure your screws will drive in at least an inch through the door frame but not so long that they poke out the back. If you use a thicker piece of lumber you may want to get longer screws. I used 5 screws on each side spaced about 1" apart. If you're using a wider board I would recommend using more screws.

Once you have the board mounted, you may want to take the time to paint or stain the board so it matches the door.

Next you'll mount the TV mount to the board you just attached to the door. Drill pilot holes and use the appropriate lag screws. I was able to use the lag screws that came with the mount because they weren't so long that they would go through the board and door.


Before I mounted my TV I waited to make sure the heavy mount was secure enough to the door. It was so then I mounted the TV. Follow the instructions for your particular mount to get the TV attached.

Cable management will be a it of an issue. Leave some slack in the cables so you can slide the door open and closed as needed. Attach the cables around the top of the door trim to help keep it out of the way when accessing the closet.

This isn't the most ideal solution but it's been working out pretty good for me. The doors still function properly for me to access my closet and even with sliding the doors, tilting and turning the TV it's been very secure.
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Garage Door Opener Won't Close When Sunny Fix

Have you ever had a problem with your garage door not closing on a sunny day? You click the button to close the garage door and the garage door opener lights start flashing and the door doesn't move or it starts to roll down and then rolls back up. This is a quick tip article on how to fix it.

I had that problem myself recently and I knew someone that was also having the same problem. It was worse for me because my garage door faces south and gets a lot of direct sunlight throughout the day.

The problem is the infrared safety sensors which sit at the base of the tracks that prevent the door from closing when there's something in the door opening can get somewhat blinded if there's too much sunlight. At night or on overcast days the garage door opener works perfectly, but on bright, sunny days I'd have to get out of my car and hold down the button the keypad to force the door to close.

I searched the internet to try to find a solution to the problem and most people recommended adding some sort of devices to cast shade on the sensors. This didn't make a lot of sense to me. The sensors are installed behind the walls and there was no direct sunlight being cast on them. If for some reason you do have direct sunlight on your sensors then that's something you can try. The fix I found was much simpler.

When I finished installing my garage door opener one weekend it was dark out. I aligned the sensors and it worked fine. The next day it was very sunny and the door wouldn't close.

After a few days of problems I tried to re-align the sensors while the sun was out. Once I had the sensors optimally aligned during the sunniest part of the day the garage door opener has been working perfectly.

If you're having the same problem, try to re-align your garage door opener's safety sensors. When the sensors are properly aligned an LED on each should light up.
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FocusAiry Leader G1 Air Purifer/Qi Charger Review

The FocusAiry Leader G1 is a combination HEPA Air Purifier and Qi Charger that allows you to charge your phone simply by placing it on the charger. It's designed for small rooms such as offices and has some really cool features. It combines two functions that are nice to have in a small office so it only takes up one power outlet and little desk space. Continue reading for my full review.
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Residential Keystone Wall Plate Configurations

It's important to run enough cables and provide enough jacks in your home to not only provide the services and equipment you currently use but also to account for any future needs including rearranging furniture. In this post I'll go over what I think are the best practices regarding which keystone ports to include in your wall plates.

ANSI/TIA-570-C Residential Structured Wiring Standard

There's actually a standards document that was last updated in 2012 for residential structured wiring, ANSI/TIA-570-C. It provides the minimum outlets to meet 2 different grades of the standard. Each of the grades indicates you should have at least one wall plate in each kitchen, bedroom, family/living/great room, and den/study/office of your home. See my recommendations on where to put voice/data/video outlets in each room of your home.


For ANSI/TIA-570-C Grade 1 you should have at least one 4 pair UTP (Cat5e minimum) and one RG6 cable terminated in each wall plate.

For ANSI/TIA-570-C Grade 2 you need at least 2 4 pair UTP (Cat5e minimum) and 2 RG6 cables at each outlet with 2 optional fiber cables.

According to the standard all residential 4 UTP cables should be terminated according to the T568A standard.  Which I think makes the most sense. There's a misconception that T568B is newer or better, but it's not. The only difference between the two is that the green pair and orange pair are swapped. T568A is more compatible with phone systems so you can use an RJ45 jack for phone or ethernet depending how you have it terminated on the other end.

My Disagreements with TIA-570-C

The ANSI/TIA-570-C standard is a long document covering many concerns with residential wiring, most of which I agree with and I think make a lot of sense. There are a couple of things I don't agree with.

RJ12 Phone Jacks Not Allowed

This is a poor decision in my opinion. All residential phones use 6p4c jacks. While you can get a 6p4c plug into an RJ-45 jack it's not ideal. The ports should be designed to work with the  intended equipment.

I know landlines aren't a priority for most people these days but I don't agree. In the event of an emergency, the more communications options you have the better. I live in an area where most phone, cable and power lines are above ground on poles. It's not uncommon to lose power or phone service for brief periods of time. Over the past few years there have been some major events in my area. I'm only a few miles away from the site of the World Trade Center. On 9/11 you had a hard time making a cell phone call. During Superstorm Sandy a lot of people had their landline and/or power. Again, cell phone service, even wireless data was very unreliable for those that were able to keep their cell phones charged since even gas was hard to come by due to generator usage and no power at many pumps. If you're already running cables, it's not a big deal to run phone lines too and you can get

I think having a landline with at least one corded phone on each floor is important to have. Even if you don't use it frequently it's good to have for emergencies. You can strip off all the calling features and get the minimum per minute rate with free local calling in most areas for around $15 or less. You might have to spend some time on the phone with your provider but it's worth it. Get rid of all the extras like wire maintenance too. If you're reading this document and doing your own cabling you can manage to fix your phone wires yourself and save over $100 a year.

According to the spec, all Cat5e cables should be terminated at outlets using 8p8c (RJ-45) ports. You also can't split the wiring behind the outlet. That means if you run Cat5e for your phone, have 4 phone lines, one for lines 1&2, the other for lines 3&4, you can't have 2 Cat5e ports wired to 1 cable, which would be the cleanest way to work with most phones. Instead you'd have to wire the 4 line cable to a Cat5e jack then use a break out cable to split the lines externally. I have instructions on how to make a RJ45 to telephone jack breakout cable.

I don't like this at all. My recommendation. Include at least one RJ-11 6p4c Keystone ports on each wall plate. Run Cat5e even though Cat3 is more than fine for standard telephone lines. You can always change out the ports later, just make sure you allow some extra cable at the wall plate and patch panel to allow you to terminate a new connector. You'll only need to punch down the blue and orange pairs. If you have 3 or more lines (or just want 2 phone ports that you can connect to line 1 at the patch panel) punch down the green and brown pairs on a second RJ-11 keystone. See the post on the breakout cable I mentioned previously for more info. As long as you keep each pair twisted as close to the punch down terminal as possible and keep each pair of pairs twisted as much as possible there shouldn't be much risk of noise in the line.

Doing so is cleaner, neater and it helps you differentiate phone and network ports easily. While you can plug a phone plug into a RJ-45 jack, it can sometimes damage the pins. If you do that you'll also best to color code network and phone ports which I don't like. Even though I wound up ordering different colors (blue) for my network Cat5e ports I'm starting to think it looks a bit tacky and too much like an office, which I don't want in my home.

Don't even consider Fiber

I know TIA only mentions fiber optic cable as an optional feature but I don't think you should even consider it. Everything about fiber (the cable, the networking equipment the tools you'll need) is much more expensive.

Properly terminated and run Cat5e should handle 10GB/s speeds on cable lengths less than 140 ft that don't have much alien cross talk between cables which shouldn't be an issue for most residential installations. If 10GB/s speed is important to you look into Cat6a or preferably Cat7. 

Even if you only get 1 Gigabit per second speeds that should handle most residential needs, including streaming large HD video. Over the air ATSC broadcasts are less than 19.28 Mb/s per channel and the maximum blu-ray transmission rate is about 50 Mb/s. On a 1000Base-T network you can stream 50 TV channels or 20 Blu-Ray movies at the same time. Probably not something you'll be doing at home.

With some broadcast quality HD cameras you can record video at an uncompressed 1.5 gigabits per second but there's no reasonable way to play those at home right now. If you do manage 10Gb speeds you can still stream six of those movies. By the time you'll need the speeds of current fiber, current fiber technology will be cheaper and they'll be something way better.

My Wall Plate Configuration Suggestions

As I discussed in my recommended locations for voice/data/video wall plates you should strive for at least 2 outlets in each room and at least one in the dining room since most people use their dining rooms for other purposes these days.

More details in the other article but basically in each room you have at least two areas where you'll need connectivity. In a family room you'll have the area where you'll put your TV and other video equipment where you'll need RG6 and networking cables (maybe even phone) and you'll have your sitting area where it's nice to have phone and networking. In a bedroom you may have a bed, desk and TV where it's nice to have connectivity but you can serve 2 of those areas from one wall plate.

Wall Plate Labeling and Port Numbering

A quick aside before we get to the wall plate configurations. I think labeling wall plates and using colored keystone ports looks tacky and too much like an office for my tastes so wall plates won't be labeled and all keystones colors will match the wall plate except in rare instances like if you need to easily identify a PoE (power over ethernet) port to avoid damaging equipment. In a future article I'll show you how I'm mapping out my own installation so you can see how easy it is to manage without labels on the wall plates. 

Since there may be more than 1 type of cable present, all cables will be numbered from left to right and top down. So let's say you have a 6 hole wall plate with 2 coax on top and 4 RJ-45 network ports. The two RG6 cables will be video 1 on the left and video 2 on the right and the 4 RJ-45's will be data 1 and data 2 from left to right on the middle row and data 3 and data 4 from left to right on the row under that.

No need to label the cables V, D, P or anything like that for video, data and phone, the different types of connectors and cable colors (see my residential cable jacket color recommendations) will take care of identifying the purpose of the cable.

Bare Minimum


At the very least, every room should have 1 RG6 port, 1 RJ-45 network port and 1 phone port. 

There should be at least 2 wall plates in most rooms. One on either side of the main traffic pattern of the room or other obstacles. 

Each wall plate should have at least 1 ethernet port except where you're wiring a location for a wall mount phone. For example, if you plan to keep things down to cut costs and you're installing 2 wall plates in the bedrooms, one for phone near the bed, one for RG6 on the opposite wall for a TV, also run a Cat5e for networking to each wall plate even if you currently don't plan to use a wired laptop in bed, desk or you don't have any TV equipment that's currently networked. Chances are you'll want to have as many options for networked devices as possible.

I have a very good WiFi setup but I always prefer to have a wired networking connection. Wired will always be faster and as more neighbors get WiFi mine gets occasional hiccups.

Dual VDV Wall Plate


In an ideal world, if money and number of holes you can drill was not an issue, you would run at least 5 cables to each and every wall plate. This will give you the most freedom to rearrange your furniture and equipment without having to alter any of the structured wiring.

This is also the most versatile solution for new construction where you or the builder may not know how the furniture will be arranged.

Two RG6 cables. One can be used for a paid TV service and the other can be used for rooftop over-the-air antenna or you can just have two feeds, one for a TV, one for a media center. You can also just use one as a feed and the other to send an RF signal back to the distribution panel then back out to another outlet if you want to do something like share the output of one cable set-top box with another television set.

Two RJ-45 ports to connect to your home's ethernet network. Two is ideal but you may need more than 2 in some locations. For example in a family room with an internet connected TV, Blu-Ray player and a couple of gaming systems 4 ethernet jacks would be ideal near the TV.

Two 6p4c phone jacks. If you have more than one phone line (including VOIP lines) you can split them up between the ports so you have lines 1&2 on the left and lines 3&4 on the right, or if you only have one phone line you can send the line up twice, once to each jack, by connecting the blue pair and the green pair to your line 1 dialtone bridge. See my post on how to wire a 110 block for more information.

You may want to run 2 separate Cat5e cables, one for each jack even though you may only be using 1 or 2 pairs from each. It's nice to have an extra cable in the wall if your phones are important to you. Sometimes a cable or even just a pair can get damaged. I stuck to 1 because even I realize landlines aren't as important. 

One Dual VDV and One Dual DV

We don't live in an ideal world and money, time and how many cables we can run is limited. If you've lived in your home a while and aren't the type of family that constantly rearranges furniture drastically, you may omit the RG6 cables from any wall plate that you don't currently have or want the option to install a TV.

In your family room for example you'll have two walls plates (as in most rooms). The one closest to the TV will be the Dual Video, Data and Voice configuration while the one near your seating area will just be dual data and voice. You can even omit the phone cable by the TV if you want or run a third network cable.

This is the setup I'm going with. RG-6 cable is the most problematic to run. It has a larger diameter so you can't run that many through holes or conduit. (See my post on how many cables you can fit through a hole.) It's also thicker and harder to pull and more expensive to run and terminate. I do plan on leaving a bit of slack looped up in the wall, attic or unfinished parts of the basement so that if there's ever a need to move the TV to the other side of the room moving the RG6 cables from one wall plate to the other will be easier.
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