Tonight I am going to go over something every tech person should do at least once. I feel every system administrator or tech geek should be able to wire their home or office with at least a few network runs. In order to do it properly you will want the following tools:
- Cable Snake
- Dremel or Drywall (Jab) Saw
- (Cordless) Drill + Drill Bits
- Punch Down Tool
- RJ45 Crimper
- Wire Cutters
- Screwdrivers and / or Screw Bits for Drill
- Flashlight (Headlamps work great)
- Network Tester
- Label Maker
- Two-Way Radios
You will also need the following supplies:
- CAT6 Wire
- Punch Down Jacks
- Wall Plates
- CAT6 Patch Panel
- RJ45 Connectors
- Network Rack
- Network Switch
- Pull Rope
- Duct Tape
- Zip Ties
- Velcro Wraps
I am going to go over the list above in greater detail. I feel like the cable snake is a pretty important tool for running new wire. You can sometimes get by without a snake if you are replacing CAT5 with CAT6 (or some other wire). With this method you may be able to use duct tape to secure to the old wire and pull your new runs. The cable snake is going to be essential for wiring a building with no runs in place. Another great tool to have is pull rope, or twine. A pull rope is preferred because it is designed for the job, but twine will usually work if you have it already. This is extremely nice if you are pulling multiple lines and only have one spool. Or maybe you are just pulling more lines than you have spools of CAT6. In this method you would pull your CAT6 and secure the pull rope for future runs. This is especially recommended if you have any drywall to repair after running cables.
A Dremel is just a great tool to have. It can get you out of trouble when things just don’t fit right. It will cut through metal, wood, drywall, you name it. A Jab Saw should get you buy in most cases, but I highly recommend a Dremel.
Next is a Cordless Drill. Corded will work, but its a pain when you need to drill in the attic or high in the ceiling. A charged battery should last you the entire job, and be more than enough. I also use my drill with a screw driver bit. This speeds up the process of removing wall plates and will help with unnecessary fatigue.
If you are punching down to any wall plates you will want a punch down tool. Don’t go cheap on this tool, it is very important you are not screwing these connections up. You will pay for it in the end.
An RJ45 Crimping Tool will be needed if you are terminating to an RJ45 Connector. This would really only be if you are making patch cables or sometimes PoE AP’s would want this end terminated.
Wire Cutters are very important. The cutters built into any crimping tool or multi-tool (however, very nice to have) will just slow you down. Get the real thing and keep them with you.
Screw drivers are an obvious need here. You probably already have some, but make sure you do, because this is not optional. Many times wall plates are flat head (I really don’t know why they went that route). Another good idea here would be screw bits for your cordless drill. If you have bits for your drill, have at least a regular flat head and Philips screwdrivers on hand. I have gone to quickly in the past and ruined an outlet by slipping with the drill. This wont happen with hand tools.
A flashlight is important. Many times when you are running wire it may be near some power. Don’t chance jabbing your metal cable snake into that life-ender, (They do make fiberglass tools to run wire, but you’re still running a copper line, just be safe!) just turn the power off, and use flashlights. I recommend a headlamp of course. Sure, it looks like you are spelunking, but you’ll get the job done faster and with much less frustration. Thinking back to before I was using a headlamp was dark times (lol, a pun!).
A network tester is important. You can certainly go cheaper than what I have linked. However, if you plan on doing this professionally, I would recommend getting a nice cable tester. They will tell you everything you need to know. If you want to go the cheap route, you can get a toner and a cable pin out reader.
A label maker is really nice to make the job look professional. I can’t tell you how many placed I have been to where they just write on the wall plate with a pen. It looks trashy and you can’t always read their handwriting. Not to mention it makes you wonder how well they ran or crimped the cables.
Two-Way Radios are a big help because this is usually a two person job. You don’t want to be yelling down the halls during business hours, and they make it more fun as well!
You will need a ladder. You shouldn’t be standing on chairs and desks, you need a ladder. A folding ladder like the one linked is incredibly handy. Mine fits in my little compact car (with the seats down) and it can fold into a ladder twice the size. The only downfall is that it is a tad heavy.
Some other tools that may be needed are a socket set, a set of pliers and a nice knife. You never know what you are getting into. For example I had to assemble a small server cabinet that had rolling casters. Many network and server cabinets (even two post) will require a socket set. If you are installing a two-post rack, you will want to secure it to the floor. This usually means drilling into cement. Get yourself a nice masonry bit set for the job.
Once you have collected all or most of the tools above, you will be ready for the next part of this post. If you are on a budget and just want to get the minimal tools you can just pick up a simple networking kit.