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
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.
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.
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
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.