The idea behind the "Traveller's Cajon" came up with the question of how would somebody be able to get their percussion wherever they might go, without worrying if there is enough space in their baggage.
So considering this, I tried to make one cajon combining some dismounting tricks with the desired and practicable outcome of great guality of sound!
After dismounting, the size will be reduced significantly and you 'll be able to transfer your cajon with safety.
So here I go!
Materials I used:
1) Hardwood(with high density) for the front frame: 80* 14* 2cm
2) grooved wood dowel pins (x8)
3) knockdown joins (x10)
4) 12mm plywood (27x 150cm) and 3mm plywood (30x 100cm)
5) black screws 3,5x 20mm (about 60)
6) screws for wood 3,5x 12mm (40)
7) snare (20 wires minimum)
8) 4 feet for chairs & tables
9) 10 grommets of 12mm diametre
Total cost: under 60 euros!
Step 1: Cutting Hard Wood for the "frame"
Start with hardwood (here in Greece you can find very nice walnut, so I used that) becouse you need wood of high density for a strong frame!
I used 2 blocks of 30x5x2cm and 2 blocks of 43x5x2cm.
final dimensions of frame: 47cm hight, 30cm width, 5cm depth. (pic.5-6)
Step 2: Join the Frame
For the making of the frame, I used 8 grooved wood dowel pins. The size of pin, is 6x 40mm.
See pictures for more informations.(pic.10,11,13,15)
Note: for practical reasons, I put some soap (pic.17) on the pins, in case there is something wrong with the next steps!
Don't glue the frame yet, jus leave it with the pins.
Step 3: Making Paths for the Body of Cajon
I made a mistake with the position of the hole, so I decided to drill an extra one at the center of each wood (pic.21)
After this, its time to cut the paths for the body
The cutting depth will be, 12x 12mm (the same as the depth of the plywood that you will use). I used a 12mm birch plywood, so I had to cut it 12x12mm exactly. See the photos for more optical info.
Step 4: Cutting the Plywood - Making Joining Paths of the Body of Cajon
In this step, I cut birch plywood of 12mm.(pic.27)
dimentions: two pieces for the UPward and DOWNward part, (30x27cm) and two pieces for the 2 SIDES (43x27cm)
Afterwards, Ι made paths at the plywoods (at the sides of 27cm )
The cutting dimensions are 8x 8mm for large plywood and 8x 4mm for small ones,like pic.28.
Use sand papers, for the edges.
Join the plywood pieces (body) together and afterwards to the frame.
Be sure it fits nice and properly!
Step 5: Making Bases of Mounting and Dismounting
At this step I made some bases for the knockdown joins (pic.48),
I cut a blockof hardwood of 8x 2x 50cm,
I cut it in half, and had two pieces of 3,5x 2x 50cm.
Then with a router, I made a path, so the bases can fit correctly to the frame and the body at the same time (pic30-31)
10 bases are enough for the construction (final dimensions of each base: 10x3,5x2cm), 3 on each large side and 2 for the small ones. (pic.40)
Drill them, put some transparent wood glue (Rapid hardening) and place them on the frame like pic 42,43,44
screw size: 3,5x 16mm
Step 6: Placing Male Knockdown Joins at the "frame".
I spotted, drilled and placed the knockdown joins in the middle of each base, at 1mm before the external edge of the base.
Step 7: Glue the "frame"
After I placed the knockdown joins, it was time, finally, to glue the frame!
I put wood glue and tightened the clamps. Make sure that you do that on a straight surface, to avoid any bad
alignment of the frame.
Step 8: Place the Female Knockdown Joins at the Body
In this step, I placed the frame vertically to the ground so it would be easier and more comfortable for me to screw the female joins on the body.
Start with the up and down parts of the body, which are smaller, and then screw the joins of the two sides, keeping the frame vertical to the ground (or the surface you are working on) each time.
Use screws 3,5x 12mm
(For each side ) Use a clamp as you can see in the pic.54, to be sure that the body and frame fits properly and that they are steady.
Leave 2mm distance from the perfect contact between the male and female joins and thats where you will spot the screws of female joins! This will help the whole join to tighten well without leaving any gap.
Step 9: The Back Part
The back part, is the key for the stability of the cajon!
Very important piece with details.
Measure the back part dimensions of the body (probably 47x 30 if everything goes well until this point) and cut a plywood of a 3 or 4 mmthickness on these exact dimensions. I used a birch of 3mm
Put the back part down, place the cajon above it as they would eventually join together. Be sure they fit exactly and with a pencil draw the inside lines that have been created by the body on the back part (pic.66) you need this so you can glue a back frame on these lines.
I did some Sides of the inside frame smaller, I suggest you to cut it at 2x( length of the lines you draw)
this is an inside frame and it must be exactly on the marks, otherwise it won't close perfect and the sound won't be so nice and clean.
Glue the blocks you cutted carefully and place them right next to the lines you drew.
Tighten the clamps the way photos show and turn it to the other side.
Glue is not enough for the required stability, so I put some screws (3,5x 20mm) to make it stronger.
It is wise to drill first with a smaller drill like 2mm so the ply won't open.
Afterwards, I sanded the edges of the frame, so the back part, will fit in without problems.
I made a hole of 12cm diameter, 15cm from the top side, so the sound will escape from there.(72,73)
Step 10: Stabilizing the Back Part
To make the joins stronger, I made some holes at the body of cajon, at the back edges, just to go through the inner frame of the back part.
I used 10 grommets of 12mm diametre and 10 black screws of 3,5x 20 for this step.
I didn't want the heads of the screws to stick out, so I dig a little deeper with a drill of 12mm.(pic 79)
I screwed then in and checked for stability.
If everything's ok, go to the next step!
Step 11: The "Tapa"
Tapa is the name of the front surface, from where you can play the cajon.
I took a birch plywood of 3mm thickness ( it has to be very thin) and cut it at the same dimentions of the frame (30x47cm).
Then I placed it on the frame and I temporarily stabilized it with some tape at the edges.
I drew a frame on it (left 12mm from each side) and spotted where to drill. (follow the instuctions at pic. 85-Tapa)
After that I screwed the black screws (3,5x 20)
Step 12: The Snare Wires
I bought a Snare from a local music store, of 20 wires and I had to cut it in half.
As a Snare base I used a piece of hardwood (or plywood if you want, it doesn't matter) and I cut it at 2,5X 1,5cm X (inner width dimension of frame, probably 26cm)
Place each Snare, 1-2cm from the edges of the snare base and screw them.
After this, dismount the cajon and place the frame face down.
Place the Snare carefully with an angle (20degrees) and with the endings of wires 2-3cm far from the top of the frame.
Mark the position on the 2 side woods of the frame.
Then glue the Snare base (not so much glue) put it back on your marks and tighten with clamps (1hour at least)
Step 13: Feet!
Choose anything you want for feet and place them at the bottom of the cajon.
I used rubber of 1cm thickness and screwed them with screws of 3,5x16mm.
Dismount the cajon (even the Tapa and the feet), sand the pieces and paint them the way you like!
Use water base finish (3 hands) for the finish
The "Traveller's Cajon" is now ready!
Learn how to play this percussion (there are many free lessons on the internet) you are going to love it!
Any questions or suggestions are welcome!