Here’s how I did it (and much more reading than you bargained for)… I have two PCs (or more, counting customer computers) in my office/shop (actually in a converted 2-car garage) and two more in other rooms/offices at the other end of my house about 100 wire feet away (we have three people living here and each of us has a home office). I have a Surfboard SD2100 cable MODEM (http://duxcw.com/digest/Reviews/Modems/cable/sb2100D.htm), an SMC Barricade broadband router (http://duxcw.com/digest/Reviews/Network/smc/smc7004br/smc7004br.htm), and a D-LINK DSS-5+ 5-port Ethernet switch (http://duxcw.com/digest/Reviews/Network/dlink/dfe-910/dfe-910.htm) in my office. The phone lines and cable enter the house in a closet in the basement at the other end of the house from my office and near one of the two remote PCs. Since I am the only one who is normally here all day, nearly every day, I had the cable company run the cable through the house, etc. to my office.
We have three phone lines: home, office voice, and MODEM/FAX. I connected a new CAT5 cable to the telco (telephone company) termination boxes outside of the house, using three of the pairs (connected in parallel with the existing phone wiring), and punched them and three CAT 5 cables going to my office and the two remote PCs into small 66 punchdown block (66B4-3; a larger and more common 66 block looks like this: http://www.action-electronics.com/pps66.htm). A 66B4-3 block will join six cables with three pairs each. A CAT 5 cable has four pairs. I left the brown pair in all of the cables folded-up and unconnected. I did no homework to select the kind of cable and type and model of punchdown block to use. I already had a 1,000-foot reel (in a box) of CAT5 cable (http://kitchen-sink.monkey.sbay.org/~srl/telecom/cat5/tps.html) and the punchdown block was already mounted on a piece of plywood near the main power box. I just removed all of the wires that were punched onto it, which were not being used, and cleaned it up. I punched-down the cables with an old 66 punchdown tool (http://kitchen-sink.monkey.sbay.org/~srl/telecom/cat5/tps.html), which I already owned. To punch-down the pairs, strip (http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/network/cable/cable3.htm) an ample amount of the outer insulation off the cable, bring the cable though slots in the block and in between rows clips, untwist the pair to the appropriate pair of clips, pass each wire into slit in each clip (left and right, or up and down, depending on the orientation of the block), position the punchdown tool so the blade cuts off the end(!) of the cable, and smartly whack it with the palm of your hand (see LAN Wiring, an illustrated guide to network cabling by James Trulove, http://www.domsys.com/bookshop/c/Computer_Network_Cabling/LAN_Wiring_2nd_Edition_0071357769.htm ) for more info, techniques, and lots of pictures). If you are starting from scratch, you may want to consider getting a 110 punchdown block (http://www.milestek.com/sohodistributionblock.htm) and tool (many punchdown tools now on the market have blades 66 and 110 blocks; e.g., http://www.phone-system.com/punforpunblo.html). The 66 blocks are rated for CAT3 wiring which is sufficient for telephone/56K MODEM/FAX wires and 110 punchdown blocks are rated for CAT5/5E (100BASE-TX network) wiring. I did not spend a lot of time deciding on the color code for the telephone wiring (I didn’t want to spend another three months researching and writing another cable article), except I was consistent, used care not to reverse polarities (which can slow down MODEMs), labeled the cables with ZipTape wire markers (http://www.ziptape.com/wire_markers/mity_dispensers.htm), and documented the wiring.
One CAT5 cable from the 66B4-3 block goes to the attic above my office and connects to small telephone terminal strip with screw-down terminals, which I already had. From there another Cat 5 cable segment drops down through the wall, through a rectangular hole, to a four hole wall plate/faceplate (http://www.national-tech.com/specs/301-4k.htm and http://www.icc.com/mps-Faceplates%20-%20Classic.htm) screwed to the wooden wall behind my computer tables and high enough on the wall so I can get at it without climbing under a table. There are four Hiperlink 1C1078E51V RJ11 jacks (http://www.icc.com/mps-Modular%20Connector%20-%20Cat%203%208P8C.htm) mounted on the wall plate. The fourth RJ11 jack attached to the wall plate is wired into the office voice line (essentially a Y connector made at the terminal strip in the attic above my office) for the answering machine. The telephone pairs connect to pins 4 and 5 on the RJ11 jacks.
All of the network connections in my office are straight-thru cables (http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/network/cable/cable1.htm), which are connected from the PCs directly to the Barricade/DSS-5+ (I use the DSS 5+ mainly for customer machines on my workbench). The two CAT 5 cables going to the remote computers are connected directly to the Barricade. They run to Channel Master surface housing (Model 7305), which I also had, located near each of the remote PCs. These surface housings or boxes are plastic and old. I don’t know if they are still available. Go to http://www.icc.com/mps-Junction%20Boxes.htm for similar ones. The ones I used are 1 1/8” deep, just about right. These boxes look good enough for my wife (I hid hers under her computer table) and simplify wiring. In one room I drilled a pair of holes in a closet along the back wall and down into the cellar and drilled another pair, one above the other, through the wall to the upstairs office. One then just pulls the cables (telephone and network) from the cellar, passes the wire through the holes in the wall to the office, and screws the surface-mount box over the holes. It sure beats cutting rectangular holes in walls, fishing wires through the walls, and contending with boxless mounts/outlet extenders (or whatever they are) and faceplates that come loose (I don’t care how you fasten them on drywall walls, they will come loose over time). If you have to run wires down walls where they are visible in an office, you can (if your wife will let you) use wire mold (http://www.michaelholigan.com/Departments/TVShow/TVSpage.asp?ts_id=tD45-3-98). I buy it from a local electrical supply. It is bulky and easily bent, accidentally—get it locally. I do not personally like to see it in living spaces or do not want it in my office, but I was a “perfectionist” when I was younger (lesser so now).
The two remote PCs have four-hole wall plates on the surface-mount boxes. Three RJ11 jacks connect to the telephone line pairs. The CAT5 (or CAT5E) cable connects to an ICC Hiperlink 1C1078E51V CAT 5E RJ45 jack (http://duxcw.com/about/rj45jack.htm). I really like these jacks. They are nicely color coded for both the EIA/TIA 568A and 568B color-code standards (http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/network/cable/cable5.htm) and assembly instructions are right on the plastic bag the jacks come in. I wired them for 568A. The wires can be installed either with a 110 punch-down tool or a plastic cap that comes with the jack. When using the plastic cap, I run the wires through the slots at the back of the cap and pull them through the slots at the front of the cap to clinch them in place. I then snap the cap onto the jack and give it a good squeeze with a small pair of channel locks. This forces the wires into terminal strip on the jack. I then gently and carefully pry/pull the cap back off the jack with a tweaker (small screw driver), trim the wires as close to the terminal strip as I can, and then snap the cap back on. If the wires are not trimmed or if they are untwisted more than ½” behind the jack, noise in the line can caused by what is known as near-end crosstalk. The remote PCs are connected to the RJ45 jacks with straight-thru cables. Networking the computers (http://duxcw.com/digest/Howto/network/net2pc/intro.htm) and setting-up the Internet was straight forward, without a glitch, and worked on the first attempt (I don’t know why everyone is having so many problems, ha ha).
I see no need to install a patch panel. A patch panel costs money, serves no useful purpose in a small network, and adds one more component to the network that can break. The Barricade and DSS-5+ are, in essence, patch panels. Likewise, I see no need or function for punchdown blocks in a small network. Unlike the telephone system, none of the network cables share a common set of wire connecting points. The KISS principle is one of the criteria for my wiring systems. If you really must have a patch panel, you can probably save some money by making one yourself with a large surface-mount box and plate, say a double box with an 8-hole surface plate.
I buy my jacks, plugs, faceplates, cable, etc. from Atlantic Cable (http://www.atlanticcable.com/). Larry