So you want to make a cable? It's real easy, and a great way to rip people off and make money. Just follow these steps and you'll be on the road to retirement in no time.
First of all, here's a list of stuff you may or may not need.
materials used in making a cable:
1. Something that conducts electricity. Usually this is copper wire in most applications due to its abundance, low costs, and ideal characteristics. I hear laminated coat hangers work well, but if you want to get real ritzy ask eBay and see if he has some crap overstock military spec wire you can use. Now, if you really want to make money, you should consider precious metals such as gold, silver, or palladium. Platinum is another option if you obtain a client with bottomless pockets.
2. Something that insulates electricity. Insulation is not a requirement, but if you want a compact cable with conductors next to each other (most cables carry more than a single signal thus it is necessary to isolate each conductor throughout the length of the cable), it is best to insulate each wire than to rely on the malleability and rigidity of each conductor to suspense them in space without contact. Technically the air surrounding each individual conductor is considered the insulator in this instance. A complete vacuum is the best of course, but this is even less practical. Most wires are already insulated thus this is not an issue, but if you find yourself with bare uninsulated wire items such as teflon tubing and products from plant derivatives (such as paper, cotton, and etc., although these do have downsides such as easy absorption of water which would ruin its dielectric properties among other things) are good choices for wire insulation.
3. Some connectors that are compatible with the sockets you want to connect. I would recommend connectors along the lines of these for RCA plugs: WBT Nexgen Ag, Eichmann silver bullets with the Bybee Technologies slipstream purifiers, or Bocchino Audio Brenda B2 gold on silver, preferably cryoed in all cases. XLR options that are recommended include Bocchino BAXLR PEEK with pure silver pins. There are others such as Acrolink, Furutech, and Xhadow that are probably worthwhile, but they don't compare to the BAXLR on any level so it's best to not consider them. A few cable manufacturers tend to use mini connectors, but they are horrible connectors and should be shunned. If your gear happens to require a mini connector, it probably isn't worth a cable anyways and should be upgraded to a proper equipment that uses XLR's preferably for all audio connections.
Those three are really the only neccessary items for cable creation, given the connectors are the crimp variety. If you want to go for the purest form, soldering two connectors together might be a good idea and skip the cable in between, although it will most likely create issues with equipment placement and use.
Here are some extra things you may want to put on your cable to pretty it up, or in the odd case these actually have practical uses such as abrasion resistance.
1. Sleeving material. The popular sleeving variety is usually from the Techflex company. It is common knowledge that the cooler the sleeve looks, the more money you can rake in from your buyers. Items such as reflective sleeving and heat resistivity are popular with buyers for the logical reason that these cables are used while out in the urban wilderness at night and need to be flashy to alert others of the presense of the cable's user, or in the case of the heat resistivity, the cable user owns an amplifier prone to spontaneous combistion.
2. Heatshrink, preferable with a fancy logo and colors. This introduces legitimacy to the product creating the illusion that the cable came from a reputable source that knows everything about cables and has done extensive research behind their products.
3. Cable ties. Some people use these under the heatshrink to introduce a certain grungy look to their cables, which appeal to a certain subset of cable hounds. These work well with fluorescent heatshrink.
4. Epoxy and other adhesives. If your cable-creation skillz aren't 1337 enough you may require these to secure the wires to prevent channel dropouts due to bad solder joints, or perhaps a complete disintegration of your cable otherwise. It also adds weight to your cables, and heavier cables usually equate to better quality and value.
5. Electrical tape. This could be of either a traditional variety of adhesive plastic tape, or the more modern liquid "electric tape" variety. These are useful when you get lazy to heatshrink materials properly, or if the application is outside the limitations of heatshrink, such as odd shapes or a closed loop. There are several varieties available and some of the cheaper types may become overly sticky and messy over time so use it wisely depending on cost considerations and expected life of the cable.
1. Soldering iron. Most connectors require solder to create a mechanical and electrical connection between the connector and wire. If your connector is a clamp-on type and secures to the wire with force, it still is a good idea to use a soldering iron to secure it further with solder.
2. Solder. Solder is very important to cable making and greatly affects the sonic attributes. You must select it carefully, with some recommendations being WBT, Cardas, and Welborne Labs solder. These usually have a decent silver content, which is essential to a proper cable. Do not use lead-based solder since lead has detrimental effects on audio.
3. Wire stripper. Some people can get by with their teeth, but if you don't possess this ability a good wire stripper is key.
4. Pliers. might be useful, might be not.
5. Continuity tester. My preferred method is a battery and tongue.
How to build:
This is pretty straight forward so I'll make it quick. The parts selection is the hard part, so as long as the cable looks pretty from a good parts selection, cutting corners in the assembly process as long as it isn't physically visible is perfectly fine.
1. select your wire.
I picked some made from high-grade solid-core pure atomic-number-29 metal for this tutorial. It is encased in high-quality insulation for maximum protection and sonic qualities.
2. sleeve your wire.
3. select your connector.
Here, I've decided to go with mini connectors since they are all the rage. I've decided upon a Switchcraft with a black casing and gold contacts for mine. My friends tell me I can call these premium plugs and tack on a couple Jacksons to my final price.
4. slide the casing onto the cable.
5. figure out what wire goes to which contact. I've selected color-coded wire so it's easy to see which wire goes where. If you mess up and reverse channels, don't worry. Just provide an explanation when selling your cable and instruct the user to swap IC's elsewhere in the chain. Just don't mix channels by soldering two wires to the same connection, or mess up the ground. A multimeter might be useful here.
6. solder them up and secure the cable and sleeving to the connector by crimping the clamp.
7. check to see if you like the final look of your cable before final assembly.
8. and there we go, a fine cable we can pimp to any self-respecting audiophile.
some requests have been made for a wider variety of cable-making how-to specifically regarding the inclusion of a teflon/silver design. I don't want to write another how-to at the moment due to time constraints, but luckily for me they also suggested that the following link is about the best that can be had in cable DIY. I like the venhaus way of things too, so please refer to the following link for a teflon/silver DIY interconnect design, while of course keeping in mind all of the items described in this how-to so you can be the best cable seller you can be!!