Gilles' Outlet

September 30, 2007

lnstalling a Cable Jack

Filed under: House Remodelling — Gilles @ 5:38 am

A cable jack is installed.


Skill Level: 1 (Very Basic)

Time Taken: About 5 minutes

New houses are usually pre-wired for cable, phone, Cat5e network… In old houses, it is sometimes necessary to add  new cable jack.

The materials for this project. From left to right:

  • A box of "no tool" type cable connectors. There are two kind of connectors: the ones which require a special tool to be installed (the connector is pressed in place onto the cable) and the tool-less ones,
  • A cable jack designed for in-wall box mount,
  • A face plate.

These items were purchased at the local Home Depot.

Left: The box for the cable jack has already been installed and the cable was already pulled.

The cable was cut so there is about 5” of play. 

Right: I used a sharp utility knife to remove the first layer of insulation (the black plastic). I exposed a little less than 1” of the conductor.

It is critical to not cut deeper than the insulation. If so, you will cut the wire and the jack may not function.

Left: I use a pair of cutting pliers to cut the outer wire mesh. I cut the mesh so only 1/4” was left. Again, I made sure not to damage the central conductor.

Right: I used wire stripper to remove the insulation protecting the central connector.

Left: I ensured that no part of the wire mesh was in contact with the central connector (aka no short circuit).

I twisted a cable connector onto the wire end. I made sure that it was locked in tight.

Right: Detail of the connector: the central conductor protrudes about 1/2”.

I visually inspected the work to make sure no wire mesh was in contact with the central conductor (no short circuit).

Left: I treated the connector nut onto the back of the jack and screwed it tight. I hand tightened the connection. I did not use any wrench or tool to avoid over-tightening.

Right: I carefully folded the cable into the box avoiding to bend it or kink it. I threaded the screws provided with the jack and tighten them using a flat screwdriver.

I positioned the face plate and threaded the provided screws. I tighten the screws with a flat screwdriver.

That is all there is to do. The next step is to test the newly installed jack.

NOTE: I have witnessed cable company technicians install new cable jacks. They do not go through all this trouble. The just drill a hole in one of the wall, all the way through, pass the cable into it and install a connector at the end of the cable. This practice creates a large cold air draft through the hole, not to mention an easy way in for bugs. It is a shame, provided that this operation only took about 5 minutes, time to take pictures included.

To avoid the air draft, I plugged the hole in the wall with insulating expanding foam, installed an electrical box and threaded the cable through it. The foam makes the hole air tight and the box, besides being required by electrical code, makes it a little harder for bugs to go inside the house.

Tools Used:

  • Flat Screwdriver
  • Utility Knife
  • Wire cutter

Materials Used:

  • One "no tool" cable connector
  • One cable jack
  • One face plate


September 18, 2007

Re-Keying a lock

Filed under: Locksmithing — Gilles @ 3:57 am

A lock is re-keyed using a "Change-A-Lock" kit.


Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About 30 minutes for two locks

Re-keying a lock is the operation by which a lock is altered so the key which used to unlock it does not work anymore. It is an alternative to replacing the whole lock. Re-keying also allows many different locks to be opened with the same key.

The "Change-A-Lock SCHLAGE, BALDWIN, PEGASUS" kit after I took it out of its packaging. I ordered it from "Change-A-Lock" web site for about $10. It allows re-keying up to 6 locks with one kit. Change-A-Lock offers five kits, one for each type of lock. You need to order the right set for the lock(s) you plan on re-keying.

There are other ways to get a lock re-keyed:

  • You can hire a locksmith: he will come by, remove the lock, re-key it and re-install it. This is by far the most expensive option,
  • You can also remove the lock yourself and bring it to a locksmith. A re-key is usually charged $8 dollars,
  • You can also bring the locks to one of the "big twos" (Home Depot or Lowes) for re-keying. At the time of the writing, HD charges $8.45 by lock.

I had two locks to re-key (with a potential third one in the future) so it made economic sense for me to purchase this kit and do it myself.

The kit is very easy to use. However, it is critical to read all the instructions completely once before attempting anything.

Left: I used a Phillips screwdriver to remove the two screws retaining the inside part of the lock.

Right: I removed the knob assembly and set it aside. It uncovered the retaining plate. The retaining plate holds the outside part of the lock with two screws. I removed them with the same screwdriver.

Left: The cylinder came easily from the lock.

Right: This lock is manufactured by BALDWIN. According to the instructions, you have to hold the retaining pin with the provided tool (that stainless steel rod on the left of the picture) as you are unscrewing the retaining nut (the silver nut on top of the brass lock body.

It sounds only difficult. This took about 30 seconds.

Left: The nut and retaining pin (and its spring) have been removed. 

Right: This is the critical step. I inserted the old key into the lock and turned about 10 degrees. Using the provided retaining tool (black plastic piece), I pushed the cylinder assembly out of its housing.

The retainer tool holds a set of five small spring loaded metal pieces located inside the brass housing. Inserting the retainer tool incorrectly would allow those spring loaded pieces to break loose and believe me, they are a pain in the neck to put back in place.

Left: The cylinder and its housing have separated. The retainer tool (black piece of plastic) is securing the spring loaded pins inside the brass housing. It is critical not to remove it at this time.

The small pieces of metal in between the cylinder and housing are the old pins. These are what defines which key open the lock. They will be replaced by new pins.

Right: I followed the instructions given with the kit to install new pins. Pins are color coded: the gold pin goes in the slot the closest to the key, they goes the red pin, then the purple pin and so on.

I found it easier to use a pair of tweezers.

Left: I inserted the new key and turned it so all pins where at the same height. I put the cylinder back into his housing. This pushed the retainer tool back as the cylinder was set into place. Eventually, the retainer tool fell off.

Right: I reinstalled the retaining pin and using the same tool as in step 4, I screwed the retaining nut back.

This completed the re-keying. I later re-installed the lock on the door by reversing the steps 1 to 3 above.

Tools Used:

  • Philips Screwdriver

Materials Used:

  • One "Change-A-Lock" SCHLAGE, BALDWIN, PEGASUS kit

Create a free website or blog at