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Is there any easy way to straigten the pairs in a cat 6 cable? I've been making network cables lately, and I was wondering if there was a trick other than just a lot of practice for straigtening out the small wires.

Thank you.

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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Not really much of a trick, but I tend to get them in the correct order, and then massage them back and forth between my thumb and forefinger. Alternate directions as you do it, switching from pulling towards your thumb and towards your forefinger. With each pull, run your fingers from the sheath to the tips of the pairs, as though you're warming it up like putty. Usually works to make them nice and straight, for me.

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I give myself a little extra wire when stripping the outer sheath. After that, I bend them all outward from each other, at a 45-90 degree angle and untwist the pairs. Then I bend them back, get the wires in the right order, and straighten them out just enough to push them into the RJ45 connector. After that, I push them into the connector a couple times to finish straightening them out. Then I trim them to the right length, push them in one last time, and make sure I can see the shiny ends flush with the plastic when I look through the end of the connector, and finally I crimp the connector.

It doesn't take many cables' worth of untwisting to kill your fingertips! In the past, when I've had to unwind about 10' of twisted pair for hobby projects, I stuck the end of the wire in an electric drill and tightened the chuck. Then I just pulled the drill's trigger until the pair was unwound. If you could figure out a good way to quickly clamp and release the pairs, you could do the same with an electric screwdriver to untwist the small amounts of wire needed for putting an end on.

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I Prefer this method as well. –  LightlySalted Oct 20 '10 at 19:50

I use what is called a "spudger" it's an old phone company tool used to pull twisted pairs out of a bundle or what we called a "rats nest". It's made of plastic and looks like a pencil with a small 90 degree metal "hook" on the end. Greybar has them for less than $5 get the one with a pointed end or file the blunt tip with a small file to make a point. You could also go to the hardware store and get set of "picks" or probes they look like a dentist's tool. Strip the cable, separate the pairs, trim them off to about 2 inches and stick the "spudger" between the twisted pair and pull. I have done thousands of RJ-45's. After you've done a couple hundred you'll be doing it in your sleep.

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I just wrap my pliers jaws on some thin cloth, clamp the wire somewhat hard and then pull it.

Here, I drew it for you:

pull in the direction of the arrow

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Pinch each individual wire between your thumb and a screwdriver. Starting closest to the sheath, using the thumb of the hand holding the screwdriver bend the wire over the screwdriver and start pulling the screwdriver up the wire. It straightens the wire pretty well. If you need to terminate more than a few conenctors you may want to wear a glove to protect your thumb.

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I leave the individual conductors a little long, get them positioned in the correct order, then grab them between my thumb and forefinger and bend them back and forth, uh, horizontally. I think the best way to describe the direction is if you had a flat piece of ribbon that you were holding in the same way, I'm talking about bending it the way the ribbon wouldn't want to bend.

Also, it's much easier to straighten solid wires than stranded wires.

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I like to divide the 4 groups of wires into the roughly the right spots first, then unwind and place them between two fingers and pull. It helps if the wires are roughly the right length to begin with, as that makes for less untwisting. I've also found that there is some variation between brands, and of course, no matter what method you use, it's going to need some practice.

If you are making a lot of cables, I recommend that you buy your cables prefabricated. (eg. From Monoprice) It's not that expensive and it can save you a ton of time and headache.

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