I went to my local retail network box store and after being assured by the sales person that this would work for Cat6 and produce Cat6 speeds I purchased this Surface Mount Box to wire-up my Cat6 cable to, then run a Cat6 cable from the surface mount box to my device. I know End 1 (connected to switch works), and I know the Cat6 cable that I connect to the surface mount box is good as I have tested it in multiple other switches, which leads me to the fact that I have wired something up incorrectly.

This is an image of the wiring that I have done...does someone notice right off what I did incorrectly and is causing the box to be "dead" enter image description here

  • 6
    You didn't strip the wires; You only looped them under the screws?
    – Dan D.
    Jun 25, 2018 at 21:06
  • @DanD. - no the cat6 is not stripped. I am so used to using Keystone jacks I have never had to strip them before. Do you recommend one tool over another that can strip the Cat6? And everything I stumble upon is for stripping the outer sheath from the Cat6. Jun 25, 2018 at 21:18
  • 1
    @user2676140 For thin wires like that, I like an adjustable wire stripper instead of the kind with different sized notches on the same blade. They're cheap and work great for thin wire.
    – mrog
    Jun 25, 2018 at 21:29
  • 1
    Aside from needing to strip the wires, I question the choice of a box with screw terminals. It looks like it was designed for a telephone circuit. There's a decent chance it would work for ethernet, but it's not ideal.
    – mrog
    Jun 25, 2018 at 21:31
  • 1
    Whoever told you that would work for "CAT6" was smoking their socks. That's a telephone jack and that's all it's good for. CAT3 if you're very, very lucky.
    – brhans
    Jun 25, 2018 at 21:33

2 Answers 2


Wrong Jack

That is NOT a normal CAT6 (or even CAT5, or to be honest, not even CAT3) jack. That is an "old style" phone jack, just happens to have 8 pins.

I can't tell easily whether you have the wires matched up correctly. If they're not matched correctly then it is guaranteed to not work. However, CAT6 (and CAT5 and even CAT3) normally:

  1. Use colored pairs (Blue, Orange, Green, Brown) in T568A or T586B configuration. Even if the actual wires are not in those colors, the jack will have markings to indicate how to match your cable wires to the jack.

  2. Use a punch block rather than screw terminals. This allows for very consistent and reliable termination using a punch tool.

  3. Use twisted pairs except for the very end. In this case you have separate wires from each screw, not twisted pairs, which is I think a key reason for a punch block instead of screw terminals.

What you need is a CAT6 jack such as:


and a surface mount box to install it in, such as:


and a punch tool such as:


Actually that particular jack includes a (effectively, as it will likely break) single-use punch tool. But if you have more than 2 jacks to install, get a punch tool. The same punch tool (make sure it is 110 type, not 66) will work for CAT 3, 5, 5e, 6.

The brand of the parts does not matter much. Leviton is a big name brand, but I've used plenty of others as well. What does matter is that the jacks & the surface mount boxes (or wall plates, which mount on a standard electrical box or box eliminator) are compatible - there are some variants with slightly different sizes. Cat 3, 5, 5e, 6 all work pretty much the same. However, using an older type will not necessarily get you full error-free operation at the higher speeds of the newer types due to differences in twists and other factors. In other words, if you use CAT 3 jacks with CAT 5e or 6 cable, you may find that you can't get Gigabit speeds even though simple testers will show a good electrical connection.

Most good CAT 5/5e/6 jacks (even from "off brands") will show color-coding for both T568A and T586B. It doesn't matter which one you use, as long as you use the same on both ends of the cable.

  • I'll only be using one of the "ports" in the box - what should I cover the un-used port with? Jun 26, 2018 at 18:50
  • 1
    Somebody out there has 1-port boxes. But if you can't easily find one, or if 1 costs more than 2 (that happens) then a piece of tape is fine. Jun 26, 2018 at 18:52
  • would I need to run two cat6 cables to the mount if I were going to use both ports on the surface mount box? Jul 1, 2018 at 21:06
  • 1
    @user2676140 Yes. Each port should have its own full 4-pair cable. Jul 1, 2018 at 21:48

I am using these surface mount units for a home self wired network. Picked them BECAUSE they are screw connections since I have no long term need for a punchdown tool. They work fine on a cat 5 / cat 6 network, at least in my house. My only issue was on one, the cable wire had come away from the post. Rescrewed it down & works like a champ.

  • 1
    Not a good reason, RJ45 jacks at big box stores usually have a cheapo plastic punch down tool included that works well enough. Feb 27, 2021 at 17:57

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