Plywood Mini Cajon (Hand Drum with Guitar string)

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Picture of Plywood Mini Cajon (Hand Drum with Guitar string)
This instructable describes the process to build a small cajon similar to commercially available ones. I will call it mini cajon, but the instructions can be easily applied to build a full size cajon.

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!
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Step 1: Tools and supplies

Picture of Tools and supplies
Here is a list of tools and supplies that I have used for this project

- Drill
- Sander
- Jigsaw
- 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

Picture of Cut parts
I had most of my ply cut at the local DIY store. I only had to cut  2 pieces of plywood with a circular saw and the the 2-by-2 pine wood for the inner  frame

What was your approximate cost to make a mini cajon? I would like to make 60 with my students and wondering if I can manage the cost. Thanks for any input on cost, additions/subtractions/substitutes in building materials you believe would make the project more cost effective or simplified without compromising the effectiveness of the instrument.

olesgreb1 year ago
Would you ever consider manufacturing?
VortexSurfer (author)  olesgreb1 year ago
Hi olesgreb,

thanks for your comment. I do have sold a couple of cajones but I have never thought to do it on a large scale. They are still average products that anyone who does not want to invest on a high end branded one can easily build. You should give it a go ;)
colt011 year ago
How tight do you make the guitar string?
VortexSurfer (author)  colt011 year ago
Hi colt01

the tension of the guitar string is 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. When you are setting up the string the first time I would suggest to make it as tight as possible and to have the slider in a central position on the scews (as shown in the pictures) so that it has some leeway to move in both directions.

Thank you for your question: clearly I did not explain it well enough in the instructable and I am going to edit it to include these informations.

I hope I have answered your question.
Kiteman1 year ago
Can we hear what it sounds like?
VortexSurfer (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
Hi Kiteman,

unfortunately my mini cajon is back in Italy and I currently live in Melbourne... To get an idea, I have drawn inspiration from the Palito Cajon produced by Meinl, which is built in the same way. One of several videos on the web:

For a comparison, the Cajonito (by Schlagwerk) uses snare wires:


Nice job!

By the way... next time you post a reply, click on "Rich Editor" then when you put your links in, you can highlight them and make them an active link like this...

One of several videos on the web:

For a comparison, the Cajonito (by Schlagwerk) uses snare wires:

Or, if it is a YouTube video... copy the EMBED code from the YouTube Link, then click the filmstrip in the rich editor and paste... then you get this...

I hope that helps you.
VortexSurfer (author)  askjerry1 year ago
Hey Jerry,

Thanks for the heads up. Will do next time ;)

profpat1 year ago
nice one, have been planning to build one myself for my son! i believe this is a good guide!
hohum1 year ago
cool, thanks
MrRedBeard1 year ago
That's really cool. For those interested in what it sounds like I found one with strings on youtube

WrshpMzshn1 year ago
Terrific variation of the traditional cajon.
Great build. I am a huge fan of cajons, and I believe the guitar strings have a better sound
pshelton11 year ago
I like the use of the log