Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 2
   November 2012
 
   Build Your Own Cajón Drum
 

Cajón is a Spanish word meaning large box. The origin of the cajón drum can be traced to Peru, most likely during the late 18th or early 19th century. The instrument is associated with the Afro-Peruvian musical genre. It is relatively simple to construct, built with an internal snare drum wire set to produce a clear snare sound and a warm bass sound.

The body of my cajón is made of 1/2" Baltic birch plywood. The front is a 1/8" thick scrap piece of three-layer luan plywood from an old hollow-core door. The snare adjustment rod was made from a shovel handle, and the feet were salvaged from my old compact-disc player. You could use any good-quality plywood for the body, but be sure to use the best 1/8" thick plywood, made of at least three layers, for the front (tapa). Store-bought dowel and rubber bumper feet could be used for the remaining parts.

The Body
  Building the body
To build the body, cut two 12" x 18" pieces for the sides and two 12" x 12" pieces for the top and bottom. I used miter joints, but rabbet joints would work as well. Sand any tear-out and glue, nail and clamp the body, ensuring that it is square and all corners are flush. Use a damp sponge to wipe off any glue squeeze-out.

  Reinforcing the body
Next rip four square sticks, each about 10" long. Glue and brad one into each inside corner. These will strengthen the body to keep it square and stable, since the musician sits on the cajón while playing it. Remove any squeeze-out.

  Comfortable working height
After the glue has set overnight, use a wood chisel to remove any hardened glue spots and sand all four sides smooth. To make things easier, clamp a board across your work surface and lower the box over it so that it's at a good working height, as shown.
 
 
               
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