How to Use a Punch Down Tool

By Jeff O'Kelley

A punch down tool is most often used by telecom and data network technicians to install wiring for telephone, computer and various audio networks. This tool allows for the quick and effective cross-connection of wires through the use of 66-type or 110-type connection blocks. The name is derived from the method by which the tool pushes a solid copper wire between metal blades on the connection block and cuts off the excess by punching the tool, driving the tool blade through the wire.

Things You'll Need

  • 66- or 110-type connection block
  • Copper networking or telecom wire
  • Safety glasses

Step 1

Familiarize yourself with the punch down tool.Although there are many models and manufacturers of punch down tools, they typically are 6-8 inches long with a blade at one end. The top and bottom of the tool are usually different colors to help users identify which side is used to cut the wire. Most models have a changeable blade and a pressure adjustment screw or knob.

Step 2

Prepare to punch down a wire.Standing in front of the connection block, hold the punch down tool in one hand, with the cutting blade facing down. On the model used in the pictures, the yellow side denotes the cutting side, but your tool may be blue, black or some other color. Hold the wire in your other hand and loop it through the selected connection block terminal.

Step 3

Punch down the wire.Holding the end of the wire firmly, place the blade of the punch down on the selected connection terminal and push forward until you reach the bottom of the terminal. Continuing to hold the end of the wire, punch the tool firmly with a straight-forward motion. If done correctly, this action should connect the wire to the terminal and cleanly cut off any excess.

Step 4

Check your connection.Make sure your connection is secure and there is no loose or broken wire left in the connection block. Tug on the wire to verify that it is securely fastened and connected to the correct terminal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear safety glasses when using a punch down tool.
  • Models with interchangeable blades will extend the life of your tool.
  • Use the pressure adjustment screw or knob to set the tool to a comfortable level for your use.
  • Never use a punch down tool to tighten flat head screws because this can break the cutting blade.
  • Although the tool is usually made of plastic, there still is a shock hazard when working with electrical circuits.