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  #1  
Old 06-28-2012, 11:53 PM
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NUTHA JASON NUTHA JASON is offline
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Default My DIY Cajon build.

I decided, after messing around on one of my pupilís cajones, to have one for myself. But itís such a simple concept that Iím 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 (Iím building my own cone).
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:54 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Here are the pieces ready to stack and glueÖ
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:55 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Here they are g-clamped and ready to set overnight. Canít wait for tomorrow afternoon to start sanding and shaping the hole. (see my plans in the bottom corner three pages of diagrams Ė my granddad was a genius carpenter and he always muttered Ďímeasure twice cut onceíí Ė good advice)
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Old 06-29-2012, 02:56 AM
Toolate Toolate is offline
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

I have made a couple and I am interested in what you are doing. Keep the pics coming.
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Old 06-29-2012, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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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Old 06-29-2012, 05:36 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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!
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Old 06-29-2012, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:26 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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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Old 06-29-2012, 08:27 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Partial assembly Ė Iíve seen a lot of people using allsorts of clamps to hold the cajon together until the glue set but Iíve 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 Iím going to put 1x1 pine batons in all the corners to add strength.
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Old 06-30-2012, 01:20 AM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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.
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:22 AM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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.
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Old 06-30-2012, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Iím overjoyed. I found the perfect plywood for my tapa Ė 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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  #13  
Old 06-30-2012, 03:58 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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 tapaís 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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Old 06-30-2012, 04:30 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Looks cool ...so ...how does it sound ?
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  #15  
Old 06-30-2012, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

i will record her when she's finished. promise
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  #16  
Old 06-30-2012, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NUTHA JASON View Post
i will record her when she's finished. promise
Yeah do it. Oddly enough I don't recall hearing one of those and I'm from Nova Scotia.
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  #17  
Old 06-30-2012, 07:50 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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!
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  #18  
Old 07-01-2012, 01:50 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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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  #19  
Old 07-01-2012, 02:43 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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.
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  #20  
Old 07-01-2012, 03:17 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

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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  #21  
Old 07-01-2012, 11:12 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

I might try taking one of your "snare" devices off temporarily to see if that gives you more tone options. You could also try taping some of the wires together so there's less chance of buzz when you don't want it.
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  #22  
Old 07-01-2012, 11:23 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

J, we've had our differences but you have done a remarkable job here. Your daughter is beautiful too, I wish you all the best.
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  #23  
Old 07-02-2012, 02:58 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

thanks
well the jingle stick was a failure (for now) but the actual cajon is finished! Here she is in all her oiled glory. In a few days time Iíll try to get her to the studio for a recording.
And the cost:
Rubber feet: £2.57
Ply wood and cuts: £18
Wood glue: £5
Brass screws: £3.10
Linseed oil: £3.75
Pine batton: £2
Old Curtain rod: 0
Old snare wire: 0
Thin tapa ply: 0
Various sand paper and making good: maybe £10

Estimated total cost: £45.42
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:43 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Jason I salute your DIY-ness. Looks great! Plus you have me interested in cajons now.
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  #25  
Old 07-02-2012, 09:07 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

thanks.
now i'm wondering, and i hope someone can help me, if i should modify my kick port. like so:
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  #26  
Old 07-03-2012, 06:09 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

I've never seen one of those ports on a cajon ever... Are you not liking the bass tone on your new creation?
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  #27  
Old 07-03-2012, 06:22 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

I have to ask. Is that plants growing out of a tuba or something?
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  #28  
Old 07-03-2012, 07:10 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

lol - my son has to bring a plant to school, planted in an unusual object. i have a bunch of old brass instruments (already stricpped for spares) that i'm planning to make a water feature out of.

Jinglestick mark II
The original was upright and the jingles erÖ jangled when I hit a bass note. So I cut it in half and mounted it sideways with a little spring plate I found in my scratch and spares box (I never throw anything away). It works perfectly! To make it I had some thin aluminium plates from somewhere and I laminated them with ply and jingles (from an old broken hihat tambourine).
Here is the big installation.
Followed by a close up.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:04 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

At this rate, I think MTV is going to feature you on its next episode of "Pimp My Cajon". Beautiful work, man!
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  #30  
Old 07-06-2012, 08:39 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

and finally some finger cymbals for a unique extra sound. This device took a lot of tinkering until I got a consistent sound. No more extras now. As soon as possible Iíll put up a video or sound file. Just got to wait for the studio bookings to clear.
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Old 07-06-2012, 08:44 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Awesome job J. Very nice looking indeed.
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  #32  
Old 07-13-2012, 07:35 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

I took the tappa off to add a longer bass port. I found this old turned wooden keg in a charity shop Ė luckily it was the perfect diameter (pic 1).

here it is installed with some weights (pic 2).

and here is what it looks like from the outside (pic 3).

and here is the paintjob and final fixings for the extra perc add-ons (pic 4).
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  #33  
Old 06-25-2013, 02:27 AM
bluedog1guitar bluedog1guitar is offline
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

I have to say, that is awesome work you did there. Very creative! Great job
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  #34  
Old 08-12-2013, 03:41 AM
Mauro Brazil Mauro Brazil is offline
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Can you take a more detailed photo of finger cymbals?
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  #35  
Old 08-13-2013, 05:50 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Great job.............definitely the most interesting Cajon I've ever seen.........................are you satisfied with the sound?
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  #36  
Old 12-22-2013, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

I am really curious how you feel about your final product. I am currently building two cajons right now as holiday gifts and am trying to decide on my sound hole placement as well as shape.

Did you find that bringing the hole closer to the drum head (tappa) gave you a punchier sound? My fear is losing some of the warm tone and resonance that you gain from the whole box. That is just my engineering mind thinking though not actual musical experience with working on cajons. Also have people been using both sides of the 40 strand snare usually or just one side?

Over all it is a beautiful final product. Just curious if you enjoyed it as well.
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  #37  
Old 01-05-2015, 05:45 AM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

Hi,
Total newbie to Cajon but not music or woodworking (I play guitar bass piano and have built furniture from rough sawn lumber)

I want to build one of these for my daughter. I have a few questions that I'm hoping you all can help me with...
  1. Wood...I have some solid maple that I can plane down to what ever size i want...Can I use solid maple and how will that affect the tone?
  2. I'm thinking of making the front 1/8" thick and the back 1/4" thick. Will that give me good sound?
  3. Will different woods on the front give me different tonal qualities like on a guitar?
  4. If yes what would you recommend as a good front wood for an all maple box?
  5. Your build is the first build that has a cone on the hole. What is it's function? Why the tube?
  6. I have used oil based, water based polyurethane as well as danish and tung oil as finnishes. Is less more when it comes to finish? Meaning a thiner finish will give me a more responsive or expressive box?
  7. Finally...am I over thinking this? I want it to be a birthday present for my Daughters 16th birthday and want it to be special and unique. I have intermediat to advanced wood working skills but I want this to sound as good as I may be able to make it look.

Thank you!
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  #38  
Old 01-05-2015, 06:11 AM
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Default Re: My DIY Cajon build.

dude....this is so cool it made my day!! i would love to hear how it sounds! could you maybe make a video of it being played? awesome work, im both inspired and jealous haha!
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