How to Build a Cajon? Tips and Tricks

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to build a cajon drum at home under 50$?

Something that has six sides and produces groovy beats.

a wooden cajon in standing position

Source: Amazon

Well, Cajon is the perfect answer to that.

Cajon is one of the simplest and most popular instruments that allows you to play a wide variety of music genres with swiftness and passion.

It is an exciting instrument that allows you to produce tunes and melodies through your hands and feet.

There is a variety of Cajon Drums of different brands available to buy in the market, online stores, and music stores, but why waste money when you can easily make one at home by treating it as a DIY Project?

It won’t be an easy task to complete. Still it will be a fun and productive activity for you and especially for your kids if they are into drumming and DIYs.

With the right materials, a good plan, and a little motivation, you will nail this activity.

In this article, we are going to share a brief history of the Cajon, along with a few tips, steps and instructions on how to build an amazing Cajon Drum at home.

What Exactly is a Cajon?

Cajon is a Spanish word for Box, drawer, or a coffin.

It is a rectangular Box Drum derived from African Slaves during the 19th century when they were forbidden to play the drums by their Masters, so they started using wooden boxes to play their melodies.

How to Build a Cajon

Now, Cajon is commonly used among various music styles. The best thing about it is its mobility, it absolutely needs no set-up. It is relatively light and a simple instrument to have around.

The front part of the Cajon is called the Tapa; this part can create different sounds and rhythms when you hit it with your hand or palm. You can produce sounds from this part in two ways – For a higher pitch, hit the upper edge of the Tapa, and if you want a better and expressive pitch, hit the middle of the Tapa.

There is a hole in the back of the Cajon, which allows the sound to exit and produce a Bass tone. The circular hole can be placed anywhere in the back; the middle, top, bottom, or at the sides according to the sound you want to achieve.

Cajon drum is mainly made of hardwoods like Beech, Oak, Maple, and Birch as they can give the best sound quality and popping tones and bass sounds. But if you want a high-quality Cajon, get or make one with Maple Wood.

back to menu ↑

Steps to make a Cajon Drum

Now that you know what exactly is a Cajon, you will learn how to make a Cajon Drum at home.

We are going to give some instructions below. Still, you don’t just need to stick to those instructions, you can customize and personalize the sizes and details according to your desires and feasibility. Let’s get started!

Gather All the Materials

Cajons are made of either solid wood or plywood, that is totally up to you. Just keep in mind to use high-quality, durable wood without any defects for a durable and sturdy Cajon. You will need the following things to make a Cajon:

  • Thin plywood for the Tapa
  • Thick plywoods for other parts of the Cajun
  • Glue
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws and nails
  • Paint or Gloss of your choice
  • Snare Wires

Cut the Wood to your Desired Dimensions

The measurements and dimensions should be of your choice and desire. To give you a rough idea, the average dimensions of a Cajon are 18.9 x 11.8 x 11.8 inches.

Again, the dimensions are really up to you. The ideal thickness for the back and front panel should be 4 and 2 millimeters respectively. While the top, bottom, and side panels should be 5 millimeters thick.

Take any plywood of your choice, measure and mark the dimensions on it, and then cut out the pieces with a saw. Also, make sure you put tape on the edges to prevent them from damaging from the saw.

Take all your time and do this procedure with patience, you will regret if you make any mistakes in a hurry.

Before going further, make sure to check out our reviews on some of the Best Cajon Drums you can find online. See which one suits you the most; you’ll get an idea of the type of end product you’re aiming for.

An open cajon drum

Source: DIY Instruments

Cut Out a Sound Hole

Again, the location of the soundhole at the back depends on you and the quality of sound you want.

For example, if you want a loud sound, you will cut the hole in the center – for a continuous sound, the hole would be at the bottom, and if you want an acoustic sound, the hole should be at the side. We would suggest you build a hole in the center.

Once you are done deciding, take a jigsaw a saw and start cutting the hole of, let’s say 4 inches. When you are done, make sure you sand the edges of the wood with sandpaper to give it a neat and tidy look.

Paint and Gloss your Panels

Do you know what the best thing about building a Cajon Drum yourself is? You can paint, gloss, and decorate it the way you like. You can draw your own art and write your name with custom fonts.

Moreover, if you want a more sophisticated and simple Cajon, you can just gloss it to give a neat and beautiful look.

Make sure you paint your Cajon before assembling it with screws. Otherwise, you won’t be able to achieve a neat and clean look!

Assemble the Panels with a Glue

Take the top, bottom, and back panels and start gluing them together. Once done, put clamps on them so that they stay together while the glue dries.

We won’t be using glue for the Front Panel of the Cajon as it does not provide a tight grip. Instead. We will use simple screws or screws explicitly designed for woods – that is up to your preference, both works fine.

Take some screws and drill holes in the machine with a drill machine carefully.

After assembling the front panel, make sure the screws are tightened properly to avoid any vibrations or unwanted sounds while you are drumming. Moreover, screwing the front panel will also allow you to remove it easily when you need to change or adjust the snare wires.

Add Snare Wires

The snare mechanism is basically what makes Cajon a drum from just a wooden box. Also, snare wires are affordable, adjustable, and easy to remove or replace.

Take almost 16 snare wires and cut them in half with the help of a wire cutter. The edges of wire are usually sharp, so make sure to balance them with a sander. Then, fix the snare wires just at the top of the backside of the Tapa.

Some people prefer to make adjustable or removable snare wires, just in case if they want to play without a snare.

Few Final Tips

  • For building a Cajon, make sure you use straight wood, not a deformed one.
  • Select the wood type according to your desired sound quality.
  • Install rubber pads at the bottom to avoid scratches on the floor.
  • Make sure to trim and even the edges while cutting the woods.
  • Take extra precautionary measures while using tools like hammer, drill machine, and saw.

Here you can see a quick tutorial as well:

back to menu ↑

Which wood is best for Cajon?

There are different woods available to make a Cajon like Birch, Oak, and Mahagonny. But according to our research, Maple is considered the best wood for Cajon. Maple produces a balanced, bright sound and is durable. So if you want to build your own Cajon, start with Maple Wood.

back to menu ↑

How do you make a Homemade Cajon?

Building a Cajon at home is similar to building a cabinet. It is easy, fun, and a bit of time taking activity. Also, there are many Cajon building blogs around, with fruitful instructions about the proper woods, dimensions, building tips, and instructions. Also, there are many step-by-step Video Tutorials available. Check them out!

back to menu ↑

How do you make an adjustable Snare Cajon?

An adjustable Snare Cajon allows you to remove the snare wires when you want. This can be done by sliding a rod through the drum and placing a block of wood on the other side of the box right next to the hole. Then, glue a wheel to the edge to secure the rod inside the box.

back to menu ↑

All Set!

If you have successfully followed all the steps mentioned above, Congratulations! You just made your first Cajon. You can also add pads or wheels at the bottom if you want to give it a more magnificent look, that is totally your choice. Here is an example of a perfect DIY Cajon Drum!

By now, you have probably figured out that it is indeed a fun-filled and creative activity. Just follow all the steps carefully and you will get a groovy and bass-y Cajon drum in no time. Did you find this guide helpful? Do give us your feedback, and don’t forget to tell us about your DIY Cajon. Happy Drumming!