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Friday, August 19, 2011

Make your own cajon

A cajon is a drum originally from Peru. It is almost always made out of plywood and produces different sounds depending on where you strike it. Some (like mine) have snares inside, some have guitar strings stretched across the inside, and some are simply hollow. They all have a hole in either the back or the side (like the one pictured) to create a deep bass drum sound when struck in the center.

Bill Wilson got me curious about cajones a while ago. The more I looked into them and researched their construction, the more I wanted to build one. Here are a couple that he's made. Bill really helped me out along the way with techniques and cluing me to all the various ways they can made.

If you are interested in making your own, here's some in-depth instruction including a video showing the cajon in action.


Here's my version:









16 comments:

  1. Hi Steve, Good job. Is the measurement for the back 12x18? Since it sits inside the rabbeted sides, and the bottom and top are 12x12, wouldn't it be shorter by the rabbeted amount? Just asking

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  2. Looks like you almost have yourself a speaker cabinet there to me. How come you mounted your woodworking vise on the wrong side of your bench? It is supposed to be screwed up from the bottom so the top of the jaws are flush with the bench top isn't it? You must be one of them Apple computer using think different types!

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  3. In other news about great things from Peru:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2011/08/201181843919238618.html

    Could be why the man in the picture at the top of the page is smiling.

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  4. That is indeed a cool project. I like the way you rubbed it out. Simple and effective. Thanks

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  5. Anon: Good observation. Yeah, I had to tweak my boards a bit after the initial cuts so the finished size isn't exactly 12 x18. At about the 2:43 mark in the video you can see the loss due to the rabbets. I had to shave that down flush.

    This is one of those situations where drawing up exact plans would help, but I figured it was simpler to just trim the boards to size while building since an exact 12 x 18 size wasn't critical to me.

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  6. I know for making speakers there are formulas to calculate dimensions for the best sound which leads me to believe that there are some optimal values for your instrument as well. Those figures can get to be quite exact. But I've made some speakers and not worried about it all and found any box sounds better than no box. I've learned also I like speakers that would be considered, "boomy".

    You did your rabbets correctly, they are supposed to overhang so you can trim them flush. I'd have made the "topo" oversized as well and trimmed it to fit too. You can always take more wood off, not so easy to put it back on though.

    I've learned from much bitter experience to cut pieces bigger to begin with on purpose and then trim them to fit instead of cutting them "the exact right size" and finding out they're too small. I'd rather throw out some I trimmed off than a whole piece and have to start over.

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  7. Paul, I'm with you. I tend to cut wood a little over sized and trim it up. I did exactly what you suggest on the rabbets: I let them overhand and then trimmed them down with a flush-trim bit on my router. And then of course, sanding. I am always torn by what needs to stay and what I need to scrap in my videos. This one started out 20 minutes long before I managed to boil it down to something watchable!

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  8. Unless it is a hosting issue... could I suggest you host both the long and short versions? I cant speak for everyone else, but I know I love anything wood working and none of it is boring to me, every detail is important to me.

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  9. Hey where do I get the parts for the pickup and mike adapter?

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  10. I would like to know if the tapa has to be vertical grain? Will it make a different sound if it is horizonal grain ?

    Thanks

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  11. Plywood will be just as strong either direction.

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  12. Hi Steve, Thanks for a great vid. will have a go at making one . have you put the plans on your site? As i can't find them. Can i get away with 1/2" for the sides, top & bottom ? and 1/4 " for the back?
    thanks

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  13. Hi great video,very helpful thanks! I am trying to make a Cajon for my school project and i am finding it hard to find the right size plywood, do you know what websites would be good for plywood?

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  14. any chance of getting the plans for this project posted to the site?

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  15. What kind of plywood are you using?

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