Turning cat6 into 16 carats
July 15, 2010 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I have just come into possession of a lot of cat6 cable (in bulk). What's the best way to turn it into money?

Basically, my question boils down to: should I turn the bulk cable into individual Ethernet cables and try to sell them at various lengths? Or should I just try selling the cables in bulk? Where would be the best place to sell them (ebay?)?

Other ideas and suggestions very much appreciated.
posted by Geppp to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would sell them in person if I were you. I've noticed with things like Ethernet cables, the in-store prices at places like Radio Shack or Best Buy are insane compared to online prices. If you can find people who want a cable *now*, in person, you can charge much more (while still being cheaper than other brick-and-mortar places.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:11 PM on July 15, 2010

Yeah, I would sell it as an item on e-bay or craigslist (materials section).

You could try to turn it into individual cables, but machines can do it way faster and more efficiently than you can, so I doubt you can sell it in such a way to make it worth your while. Ethernet cables are available REALLY cheap.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:11 PM on July 15, 2010

Check out monoprice for a reality check on cable prices before seeing if it's worth your while. If you are selling individual cables outside of a Best Buy you might be able to charge 1/2 retail, but anyone who wants to purchase in bulk won't pay close to that.
posted by benzenedream at 2:19 PM on July 15, 2010

A while back I had gotten a bunch of nice Cat5 cable when the office I was working in was re-wired. I had the idea of spending my free time measuring out segments and crimping ends on them, then listing them on ebay -- but I was nowhere near being able to make it profitable. Even with free cable to start with, the ethernet ends and my time didn't equal out with the reality of only making $0.05 profit off each cable. There were three million people doing something similar on eBay -- even cables with nice moulded ends were cheaper than I could do, simply because they had the ability to do more in bulk than I could.

Focusing locally is a somewhat good idea, though, and I would go with larger lengths: OfficeMax charges like $20 for a 10-foot cord; if you become the go-to guy for 20-foot cables for $5 each, you might be able to make it worth your time.

Overall, I'd say "bulk" is your best option, though.
posted by AzraelBrown at 2:27 PM on July 15, 2010

10 years ago I would have said wire people's homes, 5 years ago I would have liked your patch cable idea. Today, not many people are still going to want that. Sell it to someone who uses it for a living.
posted by jander03 at 2:30 PM on July 15, 2010

anybody actually looking for cat 6 will know to go to monoprice.com to get it .

Its not worth it. Just sell the whole thing at close to monoprice prices on ebay or something.
posted by majortom1981 at 3:19 PM on July 15, 2010

Add it to your hoard of potential useful stuff, you'll never be wanting for cat6.

When it obsolesces scrap it.
posted by Max Power at 3:25 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would call around to different electrical contractors.
Many electricians use that stuff regularly - and if it is in decent shape, and you are selling it cheaper than the electrical supply shop - someone will be happy to have it.
posted by Flood at 6:04 PM on July 15, 2010

This sounds more like a curse than a blessing. One of those things that feels, instinctively, like it should be useful or profitable -- but it will simply never be. You will regret every minute you spend terminating various lengths of cable by hand. Get rid of it, preferably for free on craigslist.

(Or use it to hang plants and heavy picture frames and to replace broken handles on heavy old trunks. Seriously, my grandmother has a trunk that was rigged up this way.)
posted by thejoshu at 6:49 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Honestly, don't expect to make more than four of five cents a foot for the raw cable. I'd just keep it for when you or someone you know needs a cable or two made.

If you're VERY quick at making a good cable, you might make a few bucks selling pre-made cables, but it comes down to how long it takes you and what you think your time is worth.
posted by jjb at 6:52 PM on July 15, 2010

Unload it on CL, materials section, but expect a significant discount from what a legitimatenormal bulk retailer would charge, because most people are going to assume you stole it.

Also I'd expect people to want to inspect it in person before buying, particularly if it's in boxes rather than bare spools. This is because it's not at all infrequent for scammers to sell 500' or 1000' spools of Cat-5/6 that only contain a few hundred feet plus a brick in the bottom for weight. If you take photos for the ad (which you should), be sure to get a detail shot showing the cable jacket in enough detail that the distance measurements on it can be read; that will at least make it clear that you're not selling the "tail end" of a spent box. Also so that they can at least read the mfr and cable type.

Back when Ethernet cable was a little harder to come by, selling it would probably have been easier. But now that it's pretty much a basic building supply, available in quantity in any electrical supply store or Home Depot to anyone who wants to buy it, you're pretty much in the same position as someone who's found themselves in possession of a load of copper pipe or roof shingles. Yeah there's a market for it, but most people don't buy it out of the back of the proverbial truck.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:59 PM on July 15, 2010

Don't bother pre-making cables. You really can't crimp cables by hand to spec anymore.
posted by mendel at 8:53 AM on July 16, 2010

This answer is coming a little late, but do you live anywhere near a university or college? Two of my roommates had a couple of spools and they pasted fliers all over campus advertising cables cut to any length desired. I think it worked because they were targeting freshmen who didn't have a car to go to the local Radio Shack and also undercutting the campus bookstore. They made enough money to keep our house supplied with pizza and beer.
posted by Zaximus at 3:14 PM on July 19, 2010

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