Crimp tools, also called crimpers, are used to crimp connectors onto bare wire when assembling a cable. There are a few different versions of crimp tools, depending on how the crimper is made and what type of cable it was designed for.
How Do Crimp Tools Work?
Using a crimp tool is fairly simple. First, a cable must be stripped to expose the metal wire inside. Then the metal wire(s) are inserted into the connector. Single conductor cables (coax) are easier to use than multi-wire cables like ethernet or phone lines (additional details below). Once the wires are inserted, put the connector inside the crimp tool and squeeze the handle. The pressure applied by the crimper will tighten the connector to keep it in place.
Manual vs. Ratchet Crimpers
There are two main types of crimpers, manual and ratchet. Manual crimpers are powered completely by hand. The amount of pressure they can apply to a connector depends entirely on how hard you squeeze the handle. Manual crimpers are harder to use than ratchet crimp tools but are also less expensive. Generally, a manual crimper is the way to go if you plan on using the tool infrequently or for a small number of cables.
Ratchet crimpers are built using ratchets, which allow extra pressure to be applied when crimping. The extra power of a ratchet makes crimping much easier, requiring less raw strength for each individual crimp. This makes ratchet crimpers ideal for frequent usage or when you need to assemble many cables.
Coaxial Crimp Tools
Coaxial crimp tools are rated based on the type of cable they can be used with. The type of connector you are using does not impact whether a tool will be compatible. Since the metal ring where the connector meets the cable is what the coax crimper will squeeze down on, the thickness of the cable is the determining factor.
Coax crimpers are generally ratcheted and built using different hex sizes, making the average coax crimp tool compatible with multiple types of coax cables. For example, this crimper works with eight different types of coax cable. You will notice that all the types of cable compatible with that coax tool are thinner versions of coax. Typically, the types of coax cable that a single crimp tool works with have similar thickness. This can make some coax crimpers somewhat limited, such as this crimper which only works with LMR-600.
Modular Crimp Tools
A modular crimp tool is designed for ethernet, phone lines, or both. RJ45 (ethernet) as well as RJ11, RJ12, and RJ22 (phone jacks) all fall under the category “modular”. Modular crimpers are typically built with strippers on them, eliminating the need to buy a separate stripping tool.
For ethernet cables, RJ45 jacks are the only type of connector that can be crimped onto a cable. They look like bigger versions of telephone connectors and there are a few different types of RJ45 jacks. The standard jack just called “RJ45” is used with Cat5e and Cat6 cables. Any modular crimper labeled for RJ45 should work with this type of connector. RJ45 connectors for the newer Cat6a and Cat7 cables can be a different size and shape, which requires a special crimper. There is also a version called a DEC jack, which has the release tab to the side instead of in the center, that also requires a specific crimper.
Ethernet cables contain eight separate wires inside, which are color coded. When assembling an ethernet cable, you must be sure that the wires are lined up in the correct order or the cable will not work. Standard ethernet pinouts (wiring diagrams) can be seen here. There are also different types of RJ45 connectors available depending on whether your cable is solid, stranded, or flat so be sure to pick up ones compatible with your cabling.
Phone cables can use two different sized connectors. RJ9 connectors are the smaller of the two and are most commonly used on coiled handset cords. These are small enough that there is only enough room inside for four metal pins. RJ11 and RJ12 connectors are a little bigger than RJ9 and are used with cables that connect phones to wall outlets. RJ11 cables only have four wires inside, like RJ9, while RJ12 have six. These two are the same size so you can tell them apart by checking whether there are four or six metal pins inside the connector.
Installing a phone jack is very similar to installing ethernet, since they are downsized versions of the same connector. Like ethernet, there are different ways to wire a phone jack. The two main configurations are straight and reverse. A more detailed explanation can be seen here as well as in the diagram below.
D-Sub Crimp Tools
D-Sub crimp tools are used with serial cables named “DB#”. These types of cables are built with varying numbers of wires, with the name of the cable indicating how many wires are inside the main cable. DB9 cables contain 9 wires, DB15 cables contain 15 wires, etc. Connectors for D-Sub cables are sold disassembled and put together by hand. D-Sub crimpers are not used on the connector itself. They are used to attach individual pins to the individual wires.
After the pins have been attached, the rest of the connector must be assembled by hand. This allows each D-Sub connector to be customized with its own pinout (wiring scheme). To see what wiring scheme you need, consult the instruction manual for whatever device you are using the cable with. Also be sure that you are using a crimp connector before picking up a D-Sub crimper. Solder versions of D-Sub connectors also exist, which would require a soldering iron instead of a crimper.
HDMI Crimp Tool
The HDMI crimp tool is a professional grade tool designed for repair work with broken HDMI cables that cannot be replaced. There are also solder HDMI connectors available, so be sure to select one of our two crimp connectors when using this tool. HDMI cables are difficult to work with so it is recommended to consult a professional before attempting this type of repair.