At the time of writing I could find 3 instructables on how to build full size cajones:
So why bother with another instructables? The reason is simple: instead of using snare wires to obtain the snare sound I have used a guitar string. Many cajones are built in this way and I thought someone out there might find this interesting.
Unlike full size cajones, you cannot sit on a mini cajon but you rather hold it between your legs at knees height when playing it. It is a very compact and portable solution when you need a good percussion instrument on the go.
If you like this instructable please vote for it in the musical instruments contest and the weekend project contest. Thanks heaps!
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
- Circular saw
- Grinding machine (optional)
Multiplex plywood for the resonating box and sizzle effect (snare sound)
- 290x130x10 mm (2 pieces)
- 200x130x10 mm (2 pieces)
- 290x180x10 mm (1 piece)
- 290x30x10 mm (1 piece)
- 100x21x10 mm (1 piece)
- 310x200x4 mm (this will be the slap surface)
Pine wood for the inner frame:
- 140x20x20 mm (2 pieces)
- 290x20x20 mm (2 pieces)
- Glue for wood
- 10 wood screws
- 1 classic guitar string (A)
- 2 t-nuts (size 6mm)
- 2 hex socket head screws (at least 6 cm long)
- Wood finish
- 4 rubber feet
- 4 washers
- 4 bolts
- 4 nuts
Step 2: Cut Parts
Step 3: Cut the Hole
Step 4: Glue Resonating Box and Inner Frame
Step 5: Built in Sizzle Effect System
I have then assembled all the parts and placed the slap face on the resonating box to check whether there was enough room between the plywood slider and slap face for the string to run through. There was not, so I had to sand down the slider a bit and use the grinder on the t-nut as well. With better planning and measuring you can probably avoid this, but be careful as you don't want too much of a gap or your string will not be touching the slap face.
Step 6: Set the String and Close the Box
The tension of the guitar string is therefore adjustable from the outside of the cajon using the hex cap screws: by tightening them the slider will move towards your hand increasing the tension of the string. It allows you to find the sound that you like the most and to change easily sound (perhaps removing completely the snare effect) simply using an allen key.
IMPORTANT: if you are using this guide to build a full size cajon I'd recommend to use more than one string (I generally use three. The slider will be at the bottom of your cajon and you should separate the tiny holes where the strings are blocked a couple of cm one from the other. This is obviously a guideline: feel free to experiment!
Being a drummer, I have screwed the slap face on the box following the scheme that I would use on a drum head. To be honest I don't think it makes much of a difference using plywood.
I have rounded the edges with an orbital sander.
Step 7: Finishing: Rubber Feet and Paint
In order to improve the snare sound it might help to apply some masking tape inside the box to keep the string against the slap face. I use this common little trick also on the full size cajon. I am not expert enough to say whether it sounds better with guitar strings than it would with snare wires: I have only built one with snare wires (full size) and I am not fully satisfied with its sound whereas I have built a few more with guitar strings... anyway, i suppose there are pros and cons with the different solutions.
Unfortunately I don't have any video to show how it plays: I have completed this project months ago and did not take it with me when I have moved to a different continent! Personally I still very much prefer the richness of tone of a full size cajon. Obviously a mini cajon will not have the same bass tone, but it still makes a nice percussive option when you are travelling and you have limited space!
I hope you enjoyed this instructable.
If you did, please vote for it in the musical instruments contest. Thanks heaps!