My DIY Cajon build.

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
I decided, after messing around on one of my pupil’s cajones, to have one for myself. But it’s such a simple concept that I’m not prepared to fork out £150 for a fancy box. Besides I like making stuff.
So this thread will follow my own cajon build.

Day one:
Just went to Champion for Timber. I have researched everything I can about building cajones and then designed my own with all sorts of diagrams and measurements. So I knew exactly what dimensions I needed them to cut the 12mm hardwood ply that cost me only £14 (+ 4 for the cutting). I could do it myself with my hand jigsaw but their machine is much more accurate. Got home and immediately went to work on the sound hole (pictured below are the first few cuts (I’m building my own cone).
 

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NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
Here they are g-clamped and ready to set overnight. Can’t wait for tomorrow afternoon to start sanding and shaping the hole. (see my plans in the bottom corner three pages of diagrams – my granddad was a genius carpenter and he always muttered ‘’measure twice cut once’’ – good advice)
 

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NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
thanks dude here goes:

Day two

A busy hour and half has yielded a smooth cone shaped sound hole and my adjustable snare mechanism (made of an old wooden curtain rod and a cut in half 40 strand snare wire I had spare).
 

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keep it simple

Platinum Member
Very nice work :) Are you making the whole instrument out of the same wood? I like the snare wire assembly you've constructed. I take it the assembly will rotate with an external control to turn it on & off?

Good stuff!
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
yep. i'm going to put a little selection arm on it. the body is hardwood ply but i have yet to d the ply for the tapa. i have an idea though - an antique wardrobe.
j
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
couldn't wait so i've done some more this evening:
All the parts ready for assembly except the tapa front (still searching for the right bit of ply. The green bar is for a snare catcher to stop the wires making sound in the off position.
 

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NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
Partial assembly – I’ve seen a lot of people using allsorts of clamps to hold the cajon together until the glue set but I’ve opted for a few discrete screws. On this pic you can see how the green twine rapped bar catches the snare wire when the snare is switched off. I think I’m going to put 1x1 pine batons in all the corners to add strength.
 

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Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
What is your strike panel? The same plywood?

You should consider buying a thin ply of birch or something for your front panel. Not only is it pretty, I've seen people mess up their cajon builds by not paying enough attention to the front panel. Making it too thick for example tends to kill bass tone possibilities.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
My experience is that the whole thing might want to be thinner (made 3 and each had to be thinner than the last) but I used ply for the batter face which I think was a mistake on all 3. To be thin enough to resonate it is too flexible and you dont get the tone of any wood just the slap of the hand.

Like the sound of hacking up an antique for the batter face.
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
I’m overjoyed. I found the perfect plywood for my tapa – 4 mm oak laminate from the back of an antique wardrobe. Looks sweet! I cut it slightly larger than needed so I can sand it to size once attached. I have also glued in 1x1 pine batons in the interior corners for added strength. Here is the cajon before assembly:
 

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NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
and here it is with the countersunk screws in place, sanded and with my gorgeous willing assistant.
also pictured: the underneath view showing the rubber feet installed. The tapa’s grain stands out well and you can see the snare mechanism pole sticking out the side waiting for completion. So next she needs a little more sanding, the snare selection mechanism completed and then a nice soak in linseed oil. But that is for another day.
 

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Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
That panel looks amazing, love the grain pattern. I've never heard an oak strike panel cajon before, I'm keen to hear this puppy!
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
and here now is the completed snare selector mechanism. In the off position. Note the three variations of on position. i'm now thinking of adding something like this:
 

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Toolate

Platinum Member
cant wait to hear it- does it sound good to you? Like the snare mech. Very simple and effective and it will look great when finished.
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
the sound is good so far thanks - though i haven't played a lot of different cajones before (only one) so i have no basis for comparisson. i'm just trying to make something i can jam on with a few accoustic dudes. the snare sound is very convincing but they even sound off on the bass note so i'm wondering if i ssould trim some of them off from the middle. any thoughts?
when disenguaged the bass and slap sounds are distinct and warm (though i must remember to take my wedding ring off)
j
 
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