Intro: Making a Cajon
Hi there! in this instructable, I will explain you how I and a friend made a Cajon. You can also watch my YouTube video, which you can watch above, or here:
For those who don't know: a Cajon is a drumming instrument from South America. 'Cajon' is the Spanish word for 'box' and that is basically all a Cajon is: a wooden box with a big hole in the back and snares on the inside.
To play the instrument, you must sit on the top with the hole facing backwards. The front of the Cajon, which is called the 'Tappa' is the part where you hit it (most often with your hands). If you hit the Tappa in the middle, you will get a 'bass' sound. If you hit it a little higher you will hear a 'snare' sound. if you drum on the edge you will produce some high notes.
Step 1: Get Your Materials
Me and my friend went to our local hardware store and we bought some wood. The dimensions of our Cajon are 30 x 30 x 50 cm. You will need four pieces that are 5 mm thick, one piece for the back which should be 4 mm thick and the front piece (Tappa) should be about 3 mm thick. You will also need a square (1 x 1 cm) wooden beam with a length of about 3 meters (you can also use four 49 cm long beams and five beams which are 28 cm long).
Note: with thinner wood you will get better sound, but you will also sacrifice some structural strength.
Our wood was sawn in the store, so that saved us a lot of time. You shouldalways check your wood before you buy it. Me and my friend didn't do that and we found out that some of our pieces were slightly bowed when we started building. For our Cajon we used poplar plywood, which was really cheap.
You will also need some snare wire (the ones with two metal ends and a bunch of snares) and some elastic clothing band. This last material is used to keep the snares in place and is optional.
Step 2: Saw Beams to Length
You will need to saw the beams to length. Four beams should be cut to 49 cm, assuming you use the previous dimensions. Four other pieces should be 28 cm long and one piece slightly longer. These beams will sit on the two sides of the Cajon and will hold everything together.
Step 3: Attach the Beams to the Boards
Now it's time to attach the beams to the side boards of the Cajon. We used glue and screws, but there are plenty of other ways to attach the beams.
You will need to attach two 49 cm long beams to the outer edges of one of the side panels. You should find that the tops and bottoms of the beams don't line up with the edges of the board. They should be equally spaced 5 mm apart from the top and bottom edge of the board.
After you attached the two vertical beams you will need to install the horizontal pieces.They should fit in between the other two beams. Again, space them 5 mm from the outer edges and attach them to the top and bottom.
Make sure you do this for both side panels.
Step 4: Drill a Hole in the Back Panel
For the Cajon to properly work, you will need to drill a big hole in the back panel. We used a hole drill with a diameter of around 10 cm. We spaced our hole 15 cm from the bottom edge.
Step 5: Attach Bottom, Back and Top Panels to the Sides
In this step you can really see your Cajon coming together. Me and my friend first attached the back panel to the side panels with glue and screws. After that you can attach the top and bottom panels in a similair fashion.
Step 6: Assemble the Snare Part
In order to add a snare sound to the Cajon, you will need to install snares to the inside of the instrument. The tops of the snares must hit the inside of the Tappa from a slight angle. In order to achieve this, you will need to make some angled blocks of wood. This can be made from some scrap or from leftovers of the beams.
Remember that fifth 28cm long beam? You will need to add the angled blocks with the snares on them to this piece of wood.
Step 7: Attach Snares to the Cajon
The contraption that you've just made needs to be secured to the two vertical beams facing to the front. Again, we attached it with woodglue and screws, but there are plenty of other ways to join the pieces. The snare part should be attached about 20 cm from the top. If you want to you can add the elastic band near the top of the snares. We stapled the elastic band to the beams spanning from left to right. The band is used to make sure the snares don't go back too far when you hit them.
Step 8: Glue on the Tappa
It's finally time to add the Tappa. I advise you to just use glue, because screws or nails might interfere with the sound and glue fills up any gaps at the edges. Make sure to add weights and/or clamps to attach the Tappa securely.
Step 9: Sanding and Finishing
At last, it's time to finish your new instrument. As with any other woodworking project, sand your Cajon with different grits of sandpaper and apply your finish of choice. You can add paint, varnish, lacquer or any other finish to your Cajon. Add some rubber feet to the bottom and you're done!