How To Build Your Own Cajon Box Drum With Adjustable Snare

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Picture of How To Build Your Own Cajon Box Drum With Adjustable Snare
In this instructable I will be showing you how to build your very own Cajon box drum. We made 2 Cajon drums for under 50$, so around 25$ a piece. I will be entering this instructable in the Musical Instruments Contest, so please vote!
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Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Things you will need will include: Wood- its up to you what type, we used 1/4 inch Birch Plywood for the drum faces. and 1/2 in Birch ply for the remaining 4 sides. Wood Glue. Screws- make sure they look nice because they will be visible. Snare Mechanism- You will need 1/2 of a standard snare wire set. You can find them here. Dowell Rod- 1/2 inch. The Tools You will need: Table Saw- or a handsaw if you do not have one. Screwdriver- one that matches the type of screw. Sandpaper- rough for getting the overall shape, finer grit for the overall finish. Dremel- or another tool that can be used to cut a circle. Drill- used to presink screws as to not crack the wood. Optional- Paint- your choice. Stain or varnish- your choice

Step 2: Start The Planning

Picture of Start The Planning
We've all heard it, measure twice and cut once. The goal was to make the Cajon Drum 1x1x1.5 ft (length X width X height). We also wanted to make the box sit flush with the ground, which means you will not see the bottom piece of wood at all. This overall made it a little complicated to do the measuring and lining up of the box. In the end we settled on an ideal design that consisted of 2, 1/4 inch panels (used as the front and back panels) that were 18.5 inches tall by 12 inches wide. the two sides (left and right) measured 18 inches tall by 1 foot wide. the top was a square that was 12 inches by 12 inches. the bottom was cut as to fit flush with the ground and measured 11 inches by 12 inches. Look at the picture if your confused, excuse the handwriting.
SirB200011 days ago

I must say this is a nice instructable. I would think the snare would be the most expensive thing and that's only Seven (US) dollars. (very nice) The Drums you made look so much better that store, and I look forward to making one. Nice work.

Ps: I love the fact that you made the snare adjustable.

Bricology4 months ago

In searching for any info about drums with wooden heads, I
discovered cajons and eventually, this Instructable. The thing that I'm
not entirely satisfied with is using plywood for the head. Here's

The head of most drums is a membrane in *tension*. When
it's struck, the head vibrates, forming complex soundwaves that radiate
outward in concentric circles from the striking point, which in turn
interact with soundwaves being reflected from the edges/rim of the drum
head, until the waves' energy is dissipated.

OTOH, a guitar's top (or a violin's or any other stringed instrument) is
basically a stressed member in *compression*. When the strings are
plucked, strummed or whatever, it vibrates the bridge
which bears against the instrument's top and causes it in turn to
vibrate, producing soundwaves that behave similarly to those from a
drumhead being struck.

Better-quality stringed instruments
use a plank of solid wood (or more often, a bookmatched pair with the
seam running lengthwise from neck to tail) as the top of the guitar.
The directionality of the wood's grain seems to create more "musical"
tones than plywood which, with its interlocking grain, essentially forms
a homogenous membrane; plywood-topped guitars, double-bases, etc., tend
to sound dead.

Since So, if stringed instruments sound better if
the top material is solid wood (not plywood), wouldn't it make sense
that the wooden head of a drum would likewise sound better if it was
solid, rather than plywood? Yeah, I understand that a plank of spruce,
mahogany or other common stringed instrument tonewoods would be more
fragile, expensive and difficult to work. But my question is, would the
sounds it produces be more "musical" than plywood?

Reloin4 months ago

will it effect the sound if I add a handle beside the cajon?

jʎɐɹ-ɾ1 year ago

Does the type of wood make a big difference? where can you find out about the acoustic differences between wood types?

birch makes best sound other woods dont resonate as well
COCHNE6 months ago

Excellent, I'll be making one of these for a mate of mine. Thanks for taking the time to pass on to all

Hi. Great, detailed build and awesome design!

Although, I tried using the same 1/4inch plywood for the front face, but it was not resonant enough and seemingly too thick for the snare mechanism to work. Is it positive that you used 1/4inch plywood for the front face, or could it have been much less, especially after sanding? Thanks.
It seems 1/8 face I pretty popular
Rykley! (author)  dreamchords1 year ago
I've seen Cajon drums with very thin faces. I used 1/4 inch birch ply in the instructable but you could go down to make it more sensitive. I found 1/4 inch was good for the amount of bass I wanted in it.

This is awsome, may I suggest a video sound test of this or a link to one uploaded else where. Great job guys.

aesir059 months ago

Whoah! Wish I found this a year ago. As a relative newbie to drumming, my small family of various hand drums needs expanding, ;).... I've seriously fallen in love with the versatility of the Cajon, but can't afford one from the shops right now, so this made my day!! I'm a handy-girl at heart, now I'm going to make my own - wheee! (will try to remember to load some pics). Thanks for the tutorial. You rock!

alex.merwin10 months ago

What would you do differently if you wanted to make the drum a little bigger?

Could you explain the gear and the toggle switch more, as in how it works and how it was made? Also with the wheel inside that holds the dowel rod as well. That would be very helpful because I wouldn't want to mess up the most important part that makes the cajon unique than from being just a wooden box.

Thanks !

How well did this turn out for you?? It looks great but how does it sound?
Rykley! (author)  Paladin60041 year ago

It sounds good for a basic box drum. I still use it almost a year later for live performances and such. It gets the job done, which is what I needed.

I am building it now, thanks for such a simple and effective method!
We will post a photo when we finish.
Thank you!

-Eric & Bela

akamal uwk1 year ago
i love it :)
wow great job !
brgt401 year ago
I don't understand the snare action. The picture in the link looks like the snares from a snare drum. I don't understand how those floppy springy wires are connected to the rod and to where else? How does rotating the rod press the wires against the drum surface? Please add more detail or more pics of the finished mechanism.
Rykley! (author)  brgt401 year ago
The wires actually remain pretty firm and don't flop around a whole lot after they've been cut. The snare wires are only connected to the dowel rod by the holder( IDK what its called) that would normally attach it to a snare drum, if your confused look at the picture in step 4. The dowel rod holds the snare straight up normally, and when you turn the dowel it rotates the dowel and presses the wires against the inside face. The "gear" and "peg" that I placed on the outside of the box is a simple way to keep the wires from turning the rod back. Sorry, I don't have many more pictures of the snare mechanism. Hope this helps! Feel free to ask if you have any more questions!
sotack2 years ago
K4nyix2 years ago
Hm very nice ! Might actually follow some of those guidelines if I get around to building one this summer ! Thanks ! (voted)
Rykley! (author)  K4nyix2 years ago
Thank You! I think everybody needs a drum of some sort.
Wow, I had never seen these things before and am very impressed by them. It's amazing the types of sounds you can get out of them. I kind of want to build one just to play with.
Rykley! (author)  NitroRustlerDriver2 years ago
Its a really fun build that doesn't require to much prior knowledge. And you get a pretty neat drum. Go for it!
Great build!

they're also known as "cajón flamenco" or "cajón peruano" if it doesn't have any snares.

where are you from?
Rykley! (author)  Mad inventor2 years ago
I made it with the adjustable snare because I love the sound of a flamenco. I'm from Florida.
Great job! Being a percussionist, I know these are spendy at the music store, this will definitely be a project I take on in the future. I voted for ya. thanks for sharing and I hope you win. Looks great!
Thanks!! Hope yours turns out as awesome as mine did!
pdub772 years ago
Wow, your snare mechanism is almost exactly like one I came up with about a year and a half ago, but your gear idea is different than what I did. Great work! Have you seen my bongo cajon instructable?
Rykley! (author)  pdub772 years ago
Thanks! I have seen yours! You did a great job also!
AnnaLove2 years ago
I love this!
hooyadiver2 years ago
This is so cool. This looks better than the one at Guitar Center for 150$.
stevedawg2 years ago
Really cool I voted