Wired networking has been around a long time and has progressed through many topologies and technologies. The Handyguys discuss the advantages of wired networking, when to use wired networking and what the pieces of a complete solution look like.
Components of a wired networking solution
Hub or switch
The hub or switch is the central component of a wired networking solution. It acts a traffic cop for all networking in a home. Typically a switch is used. Get one with enough ports for your needs plus a few for future use. An 8 port switch is relatively inexpensive. You do not need a super fast switch if your only use is for your device to access the Internet. For example, if you have a 5 MB internet connection then a 10MB, 100MB and 1000MB switch will give you the same performance for internet browsing because the bottle neck is your Internet connection. If you are moving files or streaming video between devices inside your home network then you can benefit from 100MB or 1000MB (1GB) networking.
Plates and jacks
By using plates and jacks you make for a much more streamlined and professional install. If you are wiring up a house put a plate and jack in each home office location as well as any areas where you have multimedia (behind the TV).
A punchdown block is used where all the wires run from the plates and jacks connect. From the punch down block you run a short cable to your switch.
You will likely use cat-5 ethernet cable. There is also cat-5e, cat-6 and someday cat-4783 (kidding). Use a cable that is rated for the switch you have. Match that to the jacks you use. If you have cat-5e jacks use cat-5e cable.
When you hard wire things in your house you have many standards to consider. Pick one and stay consistent. For example, jacks can be wired up in different ways. A common configuration is called T568B another is called T568A. Read up on it if you want. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TIA/EIA-568 When buying jacks and punchdown blocks just make sue you are consistent, pick one and stick with it. The Handyguys both have wired networking with the T568B standard.
You will want a few tools for your wired networking project:
Punchdown tool for making connections to the punchdown block and the jacks.
A crimp tool if you make your own cables.