Introduction: DIY Cajon - a Modern Take

Picture of DIY Cajon - a Modern Take

As a long time musician and music lover I'm always looking for new ways and sounds to express myself, and just a few weeks ago I became interested on the cajon sounds in particular. Me being me I was not about to go to a music shop and buy one, nooo!, Instead I went the diy way and this is the result. You can find the link to my drawing with the cajon measures at the end of this instructable. I hope you like it!

Materials used:

1/4 sheet of furniture grade pine plywood, 15mm thick

1/4 sheet of furniture grade pine plywood, 5mm thick

4 pieces of oak for the corners

1 length of walnut veneer for the front and back tapas

Yellow glue

41 1" drywall screws

4 rubber feet

Minwax fast drying poly satin


Tablesaw, router table, drill press, cordless screwdrivers

Step 1: Wood Cut to Size

Picture of Wood Cut to Size

Before cutting anything I made a plan on Illustrator, always do that with all my proyects. I had all the wood from previous proyects laying around so I just picked up what I had at hand, in this case some plywood and oak, and some walnut venner. Went to the table saw and in a few minutes the wood was ready.

Step 2: Routing Dados Into the Wood Sides

Picture of Routing Dados Into the Wood Sides

After checking all the 4 pieces where the same length, I did one 3/8" x 3/8" dado on each corner, with a straight bit on the router. That's where the side panels fit.

Step 3: Routing Rabbets Into the Side Panels

Picture of Routing Rabbets Into the Side Panels

The router table was setup to leave a 3/8" rabbet on the the top and bottom sides of the panels.

Step 4: Test Fit

Picture of Test Fit

It was time to make a dry fit, it worked almost perfect, just had to sand a bit here and there but otherwise it worked as planned.

Step 5: Cutting Tapas to Size

Picture of Cutting Tapas to Size

Then I made the cuts on the 5mm plywood to get the front and back tapas, as my tablesaw and sled are small, I had to get a bit creative to make the long cuts. The cuts were made a bit larger than the final size, You'll see why later.

Step 6: Cutting the Veneer to Size

Picture of Cutting the Veneer to Size

I took the veneer, looked for the best pattern and measured it a bit larger than the tapas so it would overhang some, placed some masking tape to protect the edges from breaking and used sissors to make the cut.

Step 7: Gluing the Venner to the Tapas

Picture of Gluing the Venner to the Tapas

"Can't never have enough clamps" they say, and it was almost true this time!

After spreading yellow glue into the tapa, I placed the venner taking care of the alignment and carefully sandwiched the tapa/venner between some pieces of plywood, then went to do something else while the glue dried.

Step 8: Rounding the Corners Edges

Picture of Rounding the Corners Edges

While waiting for the tapas to dry, I went to round the sides of the cajon with a roundover bit at the router table, made several small passes turning the cajon around to match the curves on both sides.

Step 9: Gluing the Cajon

Picture of Gluing the Cajon

After the tapas dried I proceeded to glue the cajon, went first with the bottom panel + the corners, then the side panels, then the top panel + corners, the photo shows the last step, just waiting for the glue to dry again.

Update: added a drawing to show you where to apply the glue on this type of joints.

Step 10: Making the Sound Hole

Picture of Making the Sound Hole

As the back tapa was too big to fit on my drill press I had to get creative again. I found a good piece of 5mm plywood that would fit on the drill press and made a pattern so I could make the sound hole at the router table.

After the hole was ready, I took the pattern and glued it on the inside of the back tapa, to reinforce the hole as it is used to carry the cajon... one stone, two birds :)

Step 11: Fastening the Tapas

Picture of Fastening the Tapas

After carefully measuring the spacing and location of the screws to hold the tapas in place, the whole drill/countersink/screw dance started, 41 screws and one battery recharge later, it was done!

Step 12: Shaping the Tapas Borders

Picture of Shaping the Tapas Borders

The overhang on the tapas was left so I could route them to the shape of the cajon with the pattern bit on the router table getting a better fit.

Step 13: Adding the Rubber Feet

Picture of Adding the Rubber Feet

Next, the rubber feet were screwed on the bottom. Just marked the proper placement, drilled a pilot hole and that's it, fast job. Then into the varnishing.

I went with minwax fast dry poly satin applied with a piece of foam in thin layers, I prefer the look and feel of this, instead of thick and shiny.

Step 14: Cajon Finished!

Picture of Cajon Finished!

And this is it! As I had some stickers with my monogram from another proyects I added one to the cajon as a finishing touch. Later on I will add strings or a snare wire, haven't decided yet which sound I like to go with, but it sounds pretty good as it is.

Here is the link to download my drawing if you are interested, if you build a cajon, let me know ;)

AS cajon.pdf

Thanks for reading, and I hope you liked the instructable ;).

Step 15: Small Update: Snare Wire

Picture of Small Update: Snare Wire

So, for the time being I'm testing the cajon with a snare wire, it sounds good , maybe too prominent and there are some harmonics when tapping it so I may have to tweak the placement of the snare wire a bit to find a sweet spot, mabe add some sort of muffler.

Btw. thanks to everyone reading and adding this instructable as a favorite! I have a new one to publish soon ;)


InstinctsKill (author)2016-03-18

Impressive. I really like the joint work in place of the internal supports. Does it feel as sturdy as it looks too?

sineSurfer (author)InstinctsKill2016-03-18

Thanks InstinctsKill, It is sturdy as a rock!, on the dry test it wobbled a little bit but not at all when glued. Also, the back and front covers (tapas) add a lot of extra stability, similar to the way a carpenter does the back of dressers and cabinets.

InstinctsKill (author)sineSurfer2016-03-21

Awesome. I've been thinking about making one of these for a while now. Still not sure when I'll get around to doing so, but I think I've found the best method to do so! Best of luck in the competition, man.

sineSurfer (author)InstinctsKill2016-03-23

Cool, post a pic or two when you build it InstinctsKill ;)

fs woodworking (author)2016-03-19

hey! I have started making a cajon like this one a few weeks ago. I have used exactly the same method to make the box
My instructable will be up here soon. Nice cajon by the way

Thanks fs woodworking!

TheThinker (author)2016-03-17

I'm using the Android ap and do not see the voting button. Well done on the project. Looks great.

sineSurfer (author)TheThinker2016-03-18

Thanks TheThinker, it has to be reviewed before the vote button appeared, I guess you can vote now if you like ;)

About This Instructable




More by sineSurfer:A nice box for a thereminDIY Cajon - A modern takeHow to etch aluminum panel labels/designs with a reusable acid mix
Add instructable to: