Traditional coaxial cables were once the standard means of connecting a television to an antenna or cable TV access point, but they are less common now that high-definition and ultra-high-definition televisions make prevalent use of HDMI, fiber optical, and ethernet cables for many of their connections. Still, coaxial cables have their purposes, and your video system may still use them.
A coaxial cable used to bring electronic signals to a television or other electronic device terminates in a fitting called an F-connector, which is the fitting that actually connects to the television or wall jack. There are several ways these F-connectors can be attached to coaxial cable. Professional installers use a coaxial cable stripper, which strips all three layers of the cable at once. Then, they slip on the F-connector and secure it with a coaxial cable tool, which presses the connector onto the cable and crimps it at the same time.
But if you're not a pro, you probably don't have these special tools, but you may own (or can borrow) a basic cable crimper that will allow you to install a crimp-type F-connector. Don't have a crimper? No problem—simply buy a twist-on F-connector, which you can install by hand.
As for stripping the cable before adding the connector, an ordinary utility knife will do the trick. It helps to have standard electrical wire strippers for one of the steps, but you can also do this with the utility knife.
Equipment / Tools
- Utility knife
- Wire strippers (optional)
- Cable crimper (for crimp-style connectors)
- Crimp-type or twist-on F-connector
Strip the Wire
First, you'll strip 3/4 inch of the black outer jacket from the end of the coaxial cable, using a utility knife.
Carefully make a shallow cut all the way around the cable, cutting through the outer jacket only. Use your fingernails to peel away the jacket from the cable. This exposes the layer of fine metal shielding wires and foil just inside the jacket.
Trim the Shielding Foil
Fold back the shielding wires onto the cable jacket, and trim them with wire strippers or scissors so they are about 1/8 inch long. Now, use the utility knife to cut through the metal shielding foil so it extends only about 1/4 inch from the cut in the cable jacket. Again, the wires are folded back onto the jacket, while the foil extends 1/4 inch toward the end of the cable.
Trim the Plastic Layer
Strip 1/4 inch of the white plastic insulating layer from around the copper wire core of the cable, using wire strippers or a utility knife. Be very careful not to cut or nick the copper wire itself, as this can affect the cable's performance. There should now be 1/4 inch of the bare copper wire extending from the end of the white plastic layer.
Install the Connector
Crimp-type F-connector: Fit the crimp ring of the F-connector over the end of the cable so it seats over the outer jacket (and the shielding wires). Slide the other half of the connector onto the cable so it fits into the crimp ring and the white plastic layer makes contact with the hole inside the connector. You should see about 1/4 inch of copper wire inside the end of the F-connector. Continue to the final step.
Twist-on F-connector: Fit the F-connector onto the end of the cable and twist it clockwise until the white plastic layer contacts the hole inside the connector, and the copper wire extends about 1/16 inch beyond the front end of the connector. For twist-on connectors, your work is done.
Completing a Crimp-Type Installation
On a crimp-type F-connector, place the crimping tool jaws over the crimp ring of the F-connector, and squeeze the tool handles to secure the connector to the cable. You are now finished.