Return to Main Site
Projects & Stuff
How to Build a Cajón
Phantastic - DIY phantom power checker
South Asia Earthquake Journal
Background Tabs Firefox Extension
SRSBDNR (Thunderbird Extension)
How To Build a Cajon - License
Written by Casey
Friday, August 14 2009 14:43
How To Build a Cajon
Wood and Frame
Door and Feet
Micing and Audio
Page 12 of 12
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License
Last Updated on Sunday, October 17 2010 11:15
Add a comment if you like...
re: Hole location
Friday, March 08 2013 19:49
See page 3 of this article, cleverly titled "Hole": http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=3
...with a couple amendments that I haven't updated the article with:
- now that my door is better sealed, hole size does indeed matter. Smaller = deeper resonant pitch of kick sound, as you'd expect; too small = too deep.
- i'd put it in the back, maybe lower back actually, contrary to what the article says, but upper back seems to be the collective wisdom, so maybe that's right.
As far as overall impact on the sound that hole location has, ignoring the placement of the instrument against walls and so forth, I can't say; haven't done enough experimentation. I'd be surprised if it made a big difference.
Friday, March 08 2013 19:04
Just started to build one for my daughter from the dimensions - noticed many plans have the hole in the back but yours is in the side. Is hole location important or is this a personal preference
Tuesday, February 26 2013 18:51
Hi Kevin - glad you like the site.
I don't have any experience with Masonite, really... my impression is that there'd be a lot of internal damping and it'd be kind of floppy, so it's probably not the first thing i'd reach for, but who knows... maybe it would have a nice dull thud without non-harmonic overtones, etc. I think we need more experimentation with cajon tapas, so hey, give it a shot and report back. :-) The birch plywood i used for mine seemed awful floppy as well before it was screwed down on the frame, so maybe masonite would be ok. As long as you don't glue it, it should be easy to try a couple or even several different materials for the tapa.
Monday, February 25 2013 17:30
Thanks for the website....lots of great information here. I'm new to cajon drums but can't wait to build my own.
I was curious what your thoughts were on using Masonite for the tapa?
Monday, December 24 2012 22:18
Hi Tim - That PDF looks great. Can't wait to digest it.
I've been promising an update to this site for a year now, but i swear to god it's coming, hopefully this winter. I did a bunch of home-spun research on the resonance issues with the kick sound / tapa / helmholtz chamber / etc and can't wait to compare notes with that PDF. I also installed a couple pickups in my cajon and will share info about that.
I mention somewhere in this article that the hole size doesn't seem to affect the kick pitch, but I think that was due to my door. More later, but suffice to say that it does, now that I've made some modifications.
Regarding your comments:
- yeah, it's amazing how much better a home-made cajon can sound than a store-bought cajon.
- snare wise, my vote is still for clipped snares (one end free) angled up in to the corners. The trouble is the mounting system, but if you sort that out it's the best separation i've found. It takes a lot of careful adjustment though, for sure. I spend probably an hour tweaking with it when i first set it up... has to lie just right with the right tension or it "slaps" as you say. My new snare uses a very thick electrical cable (gauge 10 i think... underground feeder cable for a 100 amp panel).
- in terms of two compartments... i've never played a 2-compartment cajon i liked, but i haven't played many (1 or 2). Seems like you'd be undercutting whatever vibration the kick was going to have... i.e. why not just make two drums, at that point. I've also found that playing technique can eventually help with the separation, once you get to know your cajon.
- I saw somewhere on the internet a kick pedal for cajon... it turns 180 degrees so you can play it normally and it kicks towards you. I think it was expensive. I have a regular pedal and might try modifying it some day, but not soon. :-) If someone finds that, let me know, and i'll link to it.
Slap up a cajon... and snare issues...
Monday, December 24 2012 17:57
Made a smaller (shorter) cajon with my son yesterday; A piece of marine ply (Bunnings) 1220x600x12mm ($27), plus 4 rubber feet ($10). Cajon is 300x300x400 nominal dimensions with hole diam 170mm (Based on research paper http://34iac.acoustics.sk/proceedings/Kicak.pdf) which basically said to go larger than most. Bit impatient so nail-gunned 20mm square into corners with PVA rather than wait for clamped sides. Quick stain and finish on nice hot day and ready to go in afternoon.
Nice big bass and surprisingly crisp sound - like a tight heavy kit - the tapa was a very thin but dense ply I found on an old wardrobe. Easily as loud as the bought one his uncle played the day before (http://www.tocapercussion.com/product/ethnic/cajon.html)
Playing around with the with snare: Tried the curtain hanging wire (2m for $3.80 Bunnings) and very easy to strip, then stretch. Trouble is, very difficult to isolate snare from bass. Started with crosswise like http://caseyconnor.org/cajonstuff/images/johnscajon3.png but way too much snare on bass hit. Tried just on corner which was better but still not isolating very well, and more "slappy" than "buzzy". Also wondering if it would work to divide the box into 2 compartments, a lower (roughly square) box for the bass and the top would be for slap and snare. Another question - why not rig up a bass kick so we can have 2 hands free plus kick bass...
Anyway... Still experimenting...
it's me again
Sunday, November 25 2012 22:56
i just change my blog name. it is now become
re:latest cajon build
Tuesday, October 30 2012 16:36
ups sorry for MR. Ocana...lol
Blockboard is stronger than plywood and has enough density. google it, you'll have more information about it.
i make them quickly? i just can't waste my time by daydreaming:-)lol
thanks for the inspiration Casey
re: latest cajon build
Monday, October 29 2012 20:25
Looks good... you're making them quickly. :-)
Blockboard - had to look that up. It worked well? Strong enough, etc?
I think maybe you have misunderstood "ocana". Germán Ocaña is a person -- a cajon builder who provided a lot of the data I used to make my cajon (see info, above.) As far as I'm aware, it's not a part of the cajon.
Glad your design is coming along.
latest cajon build
Saturday, October 27 2012 23:31
i just build a new one. this time i don't use plywood or MDF but i take blockboard. i use it coz i think it is healthier than MDF. and the result is quite satisfying! its dimension is 11.5'x11.5'x17.5'. unlike the previous one, i can feel more bass sound. well, the thickness of the back ocana might be the thing and i put the 13cm hole right in the middle. and i add another thing here, that is ADJUSTABLE SNARE! it's a real thing man. just get into my blog to see it. thank you Casey!
Thursday, October 25 2012 04:00
hi everyone! i want to share my cajon sound here. and i do really need comment to improve it. here is the link
Tuesday, October 23 2012 02:36
alright! i can't wait to make another one. thanks a lot. very nice to talk with you. i'll let you know just after i build the new one. unfortunately, we can't post photos in this comment. talk to you again soon. God bless you
saint avee-inSaint Design cajon
re: sound setting
Monday, October 22 2012 21:15
You know, regarding size issues: since you hit the tapa more or less towards the top and in the corners (traditionally, anyway), I don't think a 160cm person would have any trouble with a cajon the size in my plans. I can't guarantee that, but that's my guess. If you had to hit it in the middle, etc, it might be more of an issue, but it's usually played closer to the the top.
I don't think MDF would sound any different than plywood, and it might be harder to work with (e.g. screwing the tapa on might split it?) I don't have much experience with it. Other than that, I don't think using it would hurt anything. But I would concentrate on the size, the tapa, and the snare type/placement: that's where the sound is really decided. After that, the sound seal, the way the tapa is screwed (how many screws, how it sits on the internal frame, where the screws are), and maybe the orientation of the tapa grain (?). I have found that the hole size is almost irrelevant, and I am guessing that the material used in the sides is pretty unimportant. A comment below stated: "The choice of materials that you use will decide the tone of the cajon. The harder the wood, the more cutting the sound will be. The softer the wood the more warm it will be. You don't want to go too far either way, look for a wood that will have a nice balance. One of my favorite choices for the shell of a cajon is poplar."
I did see your blog. Very pretty. :-)
Monday, October 22 2012 21:10
thank you casey
Monday, October 22 2012 20:56
oh i see, so that might be the matter.
i make it smaller since in my country, indonesia, the average people height is only about 170 cm and i'm only 160 cm.
what do you think about using 12 mm MDF to replace the body?
did you see my blog already?
re: sound setting
Monday, October 22 2012 20:55
Remember too that the snare is pretty difficult to adjust -- once it's right, it's usually much better than when you first put it on. Consider trying different lengths of snare, as well. If you cut a snare drum snare exactly in half, it might be too short to give much of a sustained sound... good luck.
Monday, October 22 2012 20:49
Oh -- the other thing I would note is that your cajon is a lot smaller than the one I built. I like them bigger... almost all the small ones I've played sound weak to me. Maybe a solid-wood tapa would help a smaller cajon, I don't know (see the page on this site about tapas).
Monday, October 22 2012 20:41
thanks for the fast respond.
i use 3 mm plywood for tapa and i don't glue it to its body, i use screw as you said.
snappy snare here is the wire that is used below the real drum snare. i cut it into two and set it inside the cajon toward the inside tapa.
while, the hole diameter is 13 cm.
Monday, October 22 2012 20:21
Hi - if you're talking about adjusting the existing cajon, after you have made it, my guess would be that changing the snare or the tapa would be the most effective (hopefully you didn't glue the tapa). You can make sure that the air seal is good (Ocana recommends extra glue along all the seams), but once the thing is built it's built. Don't bother trying to change the size of the hole, it won't make much, or any, difference.
What do you mean by "snappy" snare?
How thick is your tapa? Is it plywood also?
Monday, October 22 2012 20:14
hi there, i have a question here. how to adjust the sound? i made my own cajon already, however, in some point i'm not satisfied with the sound. i use plywood and snappy snare. the dimension is 45cmx30cmx30cm.
this is the stuff
would you please help me. Thank you
re: Tapa ?
Saturday, October 13 2012 18:36
Thanks, glad you like it.
Keep in mind that the layers (plies) of wood that constitute plywood are typically oriented at 90 degrees to each other, so I would guess that orienting a plywood tapa with the visible outside grain horizontally wouldn't have a big impact, but I suppose it would depend on how many layers your plywood has, what orientation they all are, etc. I put the indicator of the grain direction in the plans because it made sense to me, but there was no especially profound reason for it, to be honest. :-) It just seemed like a predominantly vertical-grain tapa (mine is 3-ply, so the outer 2 plies are vertical) would flex more along the vertical axis (meaning, the predominant "crease" in the bending tapa runs vertically), giving the tapa a longer resonant period and thus lower sound, presuming that the cajon is taller than it is wide.
With a solid wood tapa, however, I would expect a difference. My instinct still says vertical grain, and I think that's what I've seen on expert-made instruments, but maybe you could check some pics on the internet to be sure.
If you don't glue your tapa, it's pretty easy to just make a couple and experiment.
Saturday, October 13 2012 17:45
This is a well done site ! Thanks for all the info.
I would like to know if it is a must to have thre tapa vertical grain ?
Will this change the sound?
The Kopf Cajon
Tuesday, September 11 2012 16:37
This is a really great website and has tons of information. The choice of materials that you use will decide the tone of the cajon. The harder the wood, the more cutting the sound will be. The softer the wood the more warm it will be. You don't want to go too far either way, look for a wood that will have a nice balance. One of my favorite choices for the shell of a cajon is poplar.
Pics of finished cajon- sharing door and snare ideas
Monday, July 23 2012 19:18
I posted back in March about my adjustable snare idea and the "flip-top" access door. I finally got around to building my first cajon with a whole lot of help from your site so thank you. I've got some pictures up for you and your site visitors to look at. I know I got a lot of ideas from looking at all the other pictures out there and came up with a design based on all those, so I hope someone else can benefit from my pictures. See http://bit.ly/LK64aN for pics.
The drum sounds great with a crisp snare and some good bass. I even installed a "rest bar" for the snares to rest against when they are not against the tapa so I have both a snare cajon and a non-snare cajon in one (with no rattle when it's off).
Thanks again for your help!
re: We're havinng Tapa problems.
Thursday, July 19 2012 16:06
Interesting... i'm not enough of an expert to really expound on this, but it sounds like the glue is loosening or something (I'm assuming you meant birch plywood). Since you're in the US as well I assume that the glue holding your plywood is probably pretty much the same as mine, but who knows. Of course maybe my cajon sounded better when new and I've just forgotten. I'm planning to play around with different tapas in the next while so maybe i'll more to offer you then.
I will say that my impression is that you could make a tapa with a variety of different materials. Not sure which to suggest, but e.g. plexiglass or some other synthetic would probably sound the same or better (my guess, here). I just don't think using wood is necessary in a cajon -- I mean, we're using plywood here, after all, it's not like it's a matched spruce top on a guitar or something.
And I'm assuming that there's nothing breaking down in terms of the air seal for you, which may affect the bass.
There's also "aircraft grade" plywood, which may behave differently... I believe the stuff I looked at had the sheets 45 degrees from each other instead of plywood's typical 90 (so they could steam and form it, I understand?) -- maybe it would hold up better (and maybe it would just dull the same way, eventually).
Let us know what you find out!
We're having Tapa problems.
Thursday, July 19 2012 08:16
We're using 2.7mm (approx. 1/8 inch) unfinished birch for our Tapas. We tried finishing/sealing them but everything we used really dampened the resonance.
When the Tapas are new, they sing, crisp open highs and extraordinary lows. After approx. 30 hours of play, they sound ... flat. Besides the obvious humidity problems (live in arizona so thats not a major factor) the Tapas seem to be breaking down really fast.
Any suggestions, thoughts, ideas?
Music for Kids
Wednesday, July 18 2012 09:30
I like Kopf Percussion Cajons. The make a very nice Kids Cajon. - Thank you very much for this very instructive How to Build a Cajon webpage. Nicely done! http://www.musicforkids.com
Has anyone tried making a Cajon with Cedar?
Sunday, July 08 2012 13:03
I've literally a TON of cedar that was used to transport pinecones to a pinecone seeding factory. There's probably another couple of tons there still.
Anyway, the boards are either 3" or 9" wide by 24" long by 5/16" thick and they're rough sawn.
I can run them through a planer to smooth them down a bit, then sand them smooth.
I've got a lot of Douglas Fir I can use for the frames as well.
pro rockbox with pedal, slide guitar, blues harp and foot hi hat
Thursday, June 28 2012 22:50
I make Rockbox cajons, hence I own quite a few cajons and I play whatever I can get my hands on to test and compare.
Recently I made another rough recording in front of the workshop playing my foot hi-hat and pro rockbox combo, I'm more of a guitarist than a drummer but it sounds ok.
The recording was done with a zoom h2 field recorder with no post production/effects right on the road.... about 5 meters away.
This recording is really raw and unrehearsed, it me playing pro rockbox with pedal, slide guitar, blues harp and foot hi hat, the guitar is tuned in an open minor scale.
Hope you enjoy.
How to make folding cajon
Thursday, June 14 2012 11:35
Who among you guys already made a folding cajon? Cos' i saw someone who has one of those.
If anyone of you guys knows how to build one. Please be considerate to help me. Thanks
Tuesday, April 24 2012 20:20
I've been looking a site like this for a few months since the cajon-build bug bit me. I was pleasantly surprised to note My chosen dimensions were the ones you used.
Your directions and self-critique are thoughtful and amazingly clear. Thanks for your efforts.
Tuesday, April 10 2012 12:09
You could always just buy a snare cut it in half and make a bracket, so it fits tightly in the middle of the base.
microphone for a cajon
Wednesday, April 04 2012 16:14
Hey Andy - thanks for the offer; yes, I'd love to know whatever you care to share regarding your techniques (and I won't post the info unless you want me to.)
I have been doing some experimenting with aspects of the design as well, and I'm looking forward to updating this site in the next month or two with a lot more data on the physics/resonance issues (tapa, air chamber) and mic'ing samples that I've made over the last couple/few years. I've been threatening a site update for a year, but i swear it's coming. :-)
You could send an email to anything at caseyconnor.org and it'll get to me (as long as it's not a spammy address like sales@ or something), so feel free.
microphone for a cajon
Wednesday, April 04 2012 00:53
I have been building cajon from allsorts of bits and pieces including old wooden speakers. The snare i have built using everything from bottle caps to guitar strings. I have had some success with micing up a cajon. I simply put a old mic head inside the cajon, I dont want to give the game away as it has taken me months to get a good working prototype. but if your interested i can send you an mp3 of the mic in the cajon and then details on how i did it?
ps brilliant webpage, i like the phantom power checker a lot - i have one which plays a tune!
Wednesday, March 14 2012 11:26
@michael b wilkins - see the snare page of the article for some ideas on that. Good luck, -c
Wednesday, March 14 2012 04:41
michael b wilkins
I have built the Cajon and scrounged an old snare from the drummers in the band just thinking of the best way to mount it it fits the whole width of the Cajon
re: Snare and door ideas
Thursday, March 08 2012 13:32
I like that door idea a lot. Whatever you decide on, I look forward to hearing about it when it's done. Good luck, -c
Snare and door ideas
Sunday, March 04 2012 14:39
I've been to this site quite often in my planning to build my cajon, but still haven't made anything yet. I have looked at all the snare options and also found the need to have a tunable solution. The image http://www.framedrums.net/wp-content/uploads/cajon-flamenco-snare.jpg (from an earlier comment in this thread) is similar to what I am going to build, only flipped upside down as Casey suggests to put the ends of the snares in the corners. It will also be on a large tuning "frame" of sorts- adjustable by tightening/loosening a nut inside the drum (accessible from the hole or optional door) that will increase/decrease/fully disengage the snare system from the tapa. I want the ability for a "snare-less" cajon as well so had to build the disengage aspect into the tuning system. Essentially I am remaking the snare system of a typical snare drum to fit the layout of a cajon. I can provide details and results once this is built.
As for the door, someone else posted alternate ideas on doors to have the bottom open so that the weight of the player created the seal needed. I liked that idea, but then you would need to have a latch system. If you built the door in the top (cut the top board in halves or a 1/3 and 2/3 split, then the front half or third could be attached creating the rigidity needed while the back half or two-thirds could open as an access hatch. That way once you sit on it you create the seal.
We'll see how my first cajon turns out, and thanks in advance for all the ideas/inspiration!
Sunday, February 26 2012 15:30
im jox this is good this is helpfuil
Saturday, February 11 2012 14:55
@jjp - if the gluing/connection is solid, no, I don't think you need to put the frame pieces in the back in that case.
If you're going to have a snare inside, though, and if you don't have some kind of fancy adjustment system you can access when it's done, then I do recommend some way of getting inside... maybe instead of glue for the back panel, a bunch of screws (like every few inches) if it comes to that (though if using plywood you'd want the frame pieces to screw in to if you're going that route, because screwing into the edge of plywood isn't the best). The door is a pain, and the next one I build may not have it, but I would always want some way of taking it apart (with the tapa still on).
Saturday, February 11 2012 13:21
If I'm not going to put the door on the back and instead just have a solid piece of wood, do you still think I need to put framing in the back?
Saturday, January 21 2012 21:45
@Tau - oops, accidentally ignored your fiberglass tapa question... no, sorry, no info on that, though I've heard of it being done. Seems like a good idea. I saw a picture of a plexiglass cajon somewhere on the net...
Saturday, January 21 2012 21:13
@tgf - awesome, glad it worked out for you. I too played a lot of store cajons and couldn't believe how bad they sounded. It's weird that something so simple wouldn't be easier to mass-produce well. I often wonder how many people consider getting in to playing the cajon, go the store to try a few, and decide against it.
Friday, January 20 2012 12:55
I tried approximately 15 store cajones and I didn't like the sound of any of them. I saw this site and decided why not? I built my frame out of 3/4" birch and the tapa form 1/8" birch. I improvised using a stretched half of a snare on an adjustable piece of wood to tension the snare sound.
I love the rich tones especially when mic'd
The only change I am going to make is to add resting block , made of scrap wood and rug, for when I disengage the snares.
Thursday, December 15 2011 18:31
@Tau - I didn't assemble the frame on the outside, I just kind of stacked it up to give people the idea in the photo. Those are just freestanding pieces of wood. Thanks for the note, though.
@ched - thanks!
Thursday, December 15 2011 15:05
I was wondering if assembling the frame inside the box would be more useful to avoind gaps than assembling the frame outside the box and fitting it into the box. (if that makes sense. also I havent been able to find much information on any fiberglass tapas. do you have any ideas on thoes?
Friday, November 04 2011 19:32
reminds me of "the river detectives"
Cajon para nino
Wednesday, October 19 2011 15:15
Hola alguien sabe donde puedo conseguir un cajon para nino, no tan caro?Lo necesito lo mas pronto possible! Vivo en NY. Cualquier informacion escribanme a mi email, email@example.com El cajon es para un nino de 8 anos, gracias!
Absolutely pleased with my result
Friday, September 30 2011 04:01
Ernesto Roman Vega
I followed Germans instructions (in Spanish) to the best of my ability. Using a combination of inches & centimeters... The box went together. Used knurled nylon screws for tension on guitar strings. Spent the entire summer making cajones (most of them before looking at any website), but this one sounds better than any cajon i've played or heard yet.
Tuesday, September 06 2011 11:06
@hrasan - I can believe that the strings on mine were too short to work properly, for sure. Since i didn't want to commingle the snare and kick sounds, i didn't really have another option, which is why i gave up on the strings. That is, i didn't want to stretch them across the whole face of the tapa because then they'd always be sounding, no matter where i hit the cajon. In terms of the traditional string sound / guitar-like sound of your strings, I assume you mean that there is a perceptible pitch to the string, as opposed to just a snare-like shimmer or rattle. Since i gave early up on the strings, i can't offer any real experience, but from what i read it sounds like your strings are too tight. My impression from Ocana was that you tension them just enough to make the snare sound but not enough to actual vibrate at a pitch. But i assume you've tried slacking them off some? If you loosen them and the pitch goes away but so does the snare sound, maybe investigate ways of getting the snare sound back without tightening the strings (e.g. Ocana's recommendation of using a piece of tape somewhere in the middle of the string to hold it against the tapa, or changing the way the string lies against the tapa, or using different gauges of strings, etc.) We'd appreciate a report-back on any progress. :-) -c
Tuesday, September 06 2011 10:41
Hey there its me again. The bongo cajon from speakers sounds ok I guess, I sort of like it and actually have a lot of fun with it. But now Ive made a big one. Well from my very short cajon building experience Id say that those strings on the cajon depicted here are just too short to produce some proper resonating sound. There seems to be nothing wrong with the placement. I put strings into mine in an opposite fashion, starting in the top corners, they end close to the centre of the bottom on a tunable thingie. They resonate very well but theres also traditional string sound, I mean guitar like. I dont know whether I should be happy or annoyed with it:D Any guess how to get rid of it? Thanks
Monday, September 05 2011 23:19
I was just thinking (not meaning to be rude),you could always use it as a handy little cupboard if you stuffed up the build.
Sunday, August 21 2011 00:30
my cajon sounds wickedsick! thanks so much for this website!~ keep hosting :) i didnn't do the door thing and haven't added a snare yet but it sounds just as good as a friends store bought one.
re: Strings go ......
Friday, August 19 2011 11:14
@Tim Hemmerich: see the article, page 7, "Snares": http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=6
Strings go ......
Friday, August 19 2011 09:10
Do the strings actually touch the tapa. firmly,loosely. If not how far from tapa.
Monday, August 08 2011 09:43
Yes, I think the speakers would work well. I have a couple myself that I'm planning to try this on... saves all the time of making the box. :-) Since speakers are generally designed to be rigid, air-tight, and to efficiently project whatever sound is happening inside them, I think they suit this application perfectly, assuming they are of appropriate size. Chipwood (I assume you mean the standard particle-wood-and-glue stuff, but this is true for any pseudo-wood stuff I would think) isn't always easy to work with (e.g. screws don't hold well), but there are probably ways around whatever limitations arise. The speaker boxes I have are large and probably of roughly equivalent volume to my cajon, but much skinnier; I don't think the sound of the cajon is much determined by the shape of the box, so I don't anticipate this being a problem, though it might be an issue for the tapa, which may not vibrate/flex in the same way, but we'll see. I might make one of them into a marimbula instead...
Monday, August 08 2011 06:53
hey there, I found these old speakers and thought of making small bongo cajones out of thier cases, but they are made of chipwood. do you think it is appropriate to use such material for building a cajon?
Thursday, July 14 2011 13:50
Hi Eli - glad you like the page. To answer your questions:
-About how much does this cost?
...hmmm, maybe around $30, if you build the one I've shown here? That's a very rough estimate. If you salvage a crate or some plywood from somewhere (or use a speaker cabinet from Goodwill, etc), make your own snares (though i don't recommend it, really), don't spend any money on finish or sandpaper, etc, then you could do it for almost nothing but the cost of screws and glue.
-Can I have two Tapa's one on the front for bass, one on the side for snares, which will be supported by frames much like the ones you use?
I think you should try it. The argument against it might be that the bass sound would suffer with less of a rigid enclosure backing it up, but it's worth a shot.
-Can I do this myself? I haven't really built like this before, (dont worry I'm an adult, as well as a general contractor, i do repairs on houses, with guidance).
Well, not knowing you personally, I can only say that generally it's one of the easiest instrument projects there are. Basically, build a box with a thin front and a hole in the back. I made the page to help people do it themselves. :-)
-how many days does this take?
I think two, minimum, since you have to wait for glue to dry a couple times. It took me maybe 4 to 6 hours each session, but i was moving slow and taking pictures and so forth.
I am so appreciative, interested, motivated, yet harshly inexperiencec
Wednesday, July 06 2011 20:29
Hi, I hope you can get back to me at you earliest convenience, I have a few questions and concerns.
First of before my questions and what not, this web page is particularly inspiring. I, though inexperienced, have ideas for different things I could do, which I will mention.
Here are my questions...
-About how much does this cost?
-Can I have two Tapa's one on the front for bass, one on the side for snares, which will be supported by frames much like the ones you use?
-Can I do this myself? I haven't really built like this before, (dont worry I'm an adult, as well as a general contractor, i do repairs on houses, with guidance).
-how many days does this take?
Thank you for taking the time to make this website :) God bless you, I love you song btw is it on Itunes?
Re: Love the stuff, snare
Sunday, May 15 2011 12:49
You said "because the end of the snare is not located at the top, would it not give off much... snareness" ... not sure what you mean... the assembly in general is at the top of the cajon, right? Maybe what you meant is that the contact the snare makes with the tapa is maybe too low? I'd agree: for my taste the contact point would be higher and more towards the corners a bit, but it takes some tweaking to get the placement right (it's also hard to tell from the picture, since we can't see how tall the cajon is.) If anything, I think it would give off too much snareness, since every hit (whether "snare" or "kick") is going to fire the snares when they are close to the center of the tapa.
Or maybe what you meant is that one end of the snare is not in contact with the tapa?
Most "real"-snare setups do that: one end is off the tapa and the snare is angled toward the tapa with a little tension to press the snares against the tapa. In other words, it doesn't sit, tensioned, on the tapa like a snare on a snare drum would. The angle that it hits the tapa at and the tension with which it is held both dramatically affect the sound of the snare (as would the length of the snares, i assume), which is why i would urge you to build in some kind of adjustability into the system until you have it perfected. As long as you have a hole in the cajon you can reach a hand in there and tweak.
Saturday, May 14 2011 19:16
wasn't my idea, found it on the internet :p i haven't fully built it yet but was wondering how effective a simple idea like that would work, is was wondering if because the end of the snare is not located at the top, would it not give off much... snareness? ;p
thank you for the reply, i am still contemplating what snare system to use, for i am not going to be tweaking it.
Re: Love the stuff, snare
Wednesday, May 11 2011 11:44
That looks good to me. Can I use that image on this site? The only reason I wouldn't do it that way is for adjustability... especially if you don't have a door in the cajon for more access. But if you like the sound it results in, then go for it. It's a simple and effective way of getting the snares in place (though i'd probably put them slightly more towards the corners to help with kick/snare separation). Do you think that your snares are long enough? They look like they might be on the short side and thus give kind of a short "bark" of a snare, but I don't have much experience yet tweaking with real snares.
Personally I tweak so much with the snare that the next system I make will probably have a couple movable blocks with wingnuts and bolts, etc, to allow easy but stable positioning. My current "snare on a length of stiff wire" is kind of silly, obviously, from a stability standpoint, but it does allow for infinite adjustment, which is nice.
Glad the site was useful. I'm hoping to update/overhaul it in the next couple months... stay tuned.
Love the stuff, snare
Wednesday, May 11 2011 01:37
This is all really helpful, like a lot!!!
anyway, i have not made my cajon yet but was wondering, since the main problem seems to be the snare, how affective is the idea bellow??
(if you can't see it it's just half of the snare on each side, fixed there by a simple corner block on the top)
Thank you all for all the really helpful stuff, seriously :p
Sunday, April 17 2011 20:46
P.S. I'm planning to upgrade this site in the next few months, and I hope to include a forum and email notification and so forth to make it easier for you to follow up on your questions. Thanks,
Sunday, April 17 2011 19:56
All - sorry, I can't send personal email replies. If you would like to ask a question or make a comment, feel free to do so and to check back here later. That way we can share the info with others. Feel free to contact me personally in appropriate cases.
@Christian - Thanks for asking, I should have made that clearer. Yes, the tapa screws into the frame, and the idea is that the tapa rests right against the frame. It's OK if it touches the edges of the sides of the box as well (everything flush), but the frame is there to be a surface against which the tapa attaches. I'm not sure how crucial this would be if you were using solid wood sides, but plywood isn't great at holding screws that go in through the edges (parallel to the lamination). I think that's the main reason for the frame in this case, but maybe they do it with solid-wood-sided cajons also, for some reason of bass resonance. As described in the article, the frame should be well glued to the sides, so that there is no air gap.
Sunday, April 17 2011 15:44
Great article!! My only question is does the wooden frame (where the string are) touch the tapa? In other words, do I put the frame in in full contact with the front side panel? Thanks in advance from PR!! Please answer to my e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org thank you
review of the cajon
Wednesday, April 06 2011 08:39
Your information is nicely laid out. One suggestion would be to use black text on white/light background. The white text was hard to read for me. Also, why the hinged door? All other cajones I've seen were glued on three sides. Send me a reply at the email below if you don't mind.
Wednesday, February 16 2011 08:06
halo,I like it(from indonesia)
Saturday, February 12 2011 15:28
@Bram Schreuders: see the first page of the site at http://caseyconnor.org/cajon
Look for the line that says "Here are the plans for the cajon depicted on this article, in various formats".
You will find all measurements in the plans.
Saturday, February 12 2011 08:09
hi, thanks for uploading this. i wanted to know what the exact hight wide and depth is of the box?
Friday, February 04 2011 06:00
thanks for your information i finished my school project.
best wishes for you
re: guitar strings
Saturday, January 01 2011 15:22
Guitar strings (or wires of some kind) are apparently the traditional method of obtaining the 'snare' sound. As far as i was able to determine, the only consequence was that it didn't sound as good :-). It may just be a matter of taste/tradition (perhaps in part because wires are easier to come by than snares, given the instrument's supposed humble origins). As described, i ended up with snare-drum snares, and all of the "modern" cajons that i've liked do the same. Maybe some day i'll play a fancy pro cajon with guitar strings and i'll finally get it, but for now i'm sticking with "real" snares.
Saturday, January 01 2011 05:12
i read through your section on snares but you never mention why you use guitar strings, is there a benefit/consequence to using guitar strings?
Tuesday, December 28 2010 21:15
Thanks Jim. Yeah, the door seal... I'm actually going to make another cajon or three (considering trying a small business with it). The door is something I like a lot in terms of a project cajon, but the seal and stiffness could be better. The clasps work well for what they are, but I think I'll scheme up something tighter for next time. Glad you figured out the orientation, though... i was scratching my head at your comment a bit at first. :-)
Tuesday, December 28 2010 13:14
Nevermind. I forgot that your hole is in the side. I looked and the picture, read the description, had the thought, finished the article, came back and looked at the picture again, and still got it wrong.
Tuesday, December 28 2010 13:09
Just a thought on sealing that back door better -
If you were to switch the locations of the eyes/hooks, then the hooks would be pulling the door closed, rather than pulling it to the side of the box.
It sounds like you are happy enough with what you have that there won't be a version 2, but that seemed a simple adjustment that I thought I would mention.
Now I need to go start cutting some wood... :)
Thursday, December 23 2010 09:07
@Job: as long as you're not effectively duplicating pages, I don't mind. This info is freely available on the internet already, i've just collected it / rephrased it (and taken lots of photos), so i don't claim ownership of much of it. As long as you're not making another version of the page (e.g. using copied images, lots of replicated paragraphs, etc.) Selective quotes, no problem. Thanks for asking, -c
Thursday, December 23 2010 08:22
Job van Dieten
Last question, is it ok if i publish my project and use qoutes from your project in my written piece?
Tuesday, October 19 2010 09:07
put a piece of 2 by 2 acrossed the inside frame(otherside of the tappa) nail the clipped drum snare to it so they fold up against the tappa
Sunday, October 17 2010 10:53
Please see page 7, "snares": http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=6
I don't think that the strings sound good, so I don't use them. Maybe in a cajon where the strings are longer, or maybe if you want a more traditional sound, they might be OK, I don't know. For me, the true snares (not strings) sound much better.
Re: the strings, Ocana says that it's a balance. They touch the tapa, there is no real space, and he even recommends trying a piece of tape in the center, if you're having trouble. But they shouldn't be too tight. You do not tighten them like guitar strings, as far as I know.
Sunday, October 17 2010 03:26
Sir good job, i just like to ask is there a space between the string the plywood? or the string should stick the the plywood? many thank in advance.
Thursday, September 16 2010 12:44
@Gabe - some people run the snares across the top, horizontally. This makes some sense to me, although I wonder if it would sacrifice the snare/bass separation a little bit (e.g. I strike my cajon in a center/top area for the bass sound... it's nice not to be triggering the snare all the time when doing that, so having the snares more in the corners helps.)
Some do run wires vertically: see this link: http://caseyconnor.org/cajonstuff/cajon-munster-english.doc
(that link is on Page 10 of this article, "Other Links": http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=9 ). Not my cup of tea, really, since it couples the bass/snare.
I don't know exactly what you mean by "placing it up vertically on the tapa". If it's still in the corners, I'd be happy, because I like to keep separate the snare and the bass sounds. If it's in the middle of the tapa, vertically, especially if you're talking about laying the entirety of the length of the snare against the tapa, then it will always be ringing, thus turning the cajon into a big, bassy, pseudo snare drum. I like the variety of sounds the cajon can make, so I put my clipped-off snares with their ends against the corners. Running wires along the face of the cajon may be the more traditional way to do it, and most "real" cajons I hear either have very short, barky snare sounds, and/or have wires that run the entire face of the cajon and always sound when you play the instrument, neither of which was my goal.
For lots of other snare images and ideas, see the "readers respond" page: http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=10
Re: solid wood for the other surfaces: sure, see for example http://tonecajon.com/?page=available
As long as it's strong and dense and won't split, I think anything is fair game, there.
Tuesday, September 14 2010 16:40
i'm sorry if i wasn't clear. What I ment to ask was instead of having the snare drum snare go across the corner, if i would still make the right sound by placing it up vertically on the tappa. Also, for the back, sides, top, and bottom, instead of using thick plywood, can I use a different type of wood like maple or mahogany?
Sunday, September 12 2010 14:23
@Gabe - hi - glad it was helpful. Not sure what your question means: if you want to use a snare drum snare, then yes, see page 7 regarding the snares: http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=6 ... it is the way I recommend (so far) of implementing the snare. If you mean that you want to use a wire from a snare drum snare as an individual string, then I could see that working, since the wire would be springier and possibly more responsive than a guitar string, but if you were doing that I'd suggest just using the snare instead (as described at the link). Clip off one end, and voila, a great snare sound.
Sunday, September 12 2010 12:54
thanks for the instructions!I've been looking around for how to make this for quite some time. However, for the strings for the snare, is it possible to just use snare drum wires?
Tuesday, September 07 2010 10:41
Thank you for all the info ad the pictures. I been looking around to see how a cajon is made and this page has helped me a lot. Great work.
Friday, September 03 2010 10:51
Re: wood, see page 3, called, cleverly, "Wood and Frame": http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=2 -- As far as species of wood are concerned, I doubt it makes much difference, since we're talking about laminate plywood here.
Re: Ocana, see the intro page, "Germán Ocaña".
Friday, September 03 2010 01:18
Job van Dieten
thank you for the advice. i have one more question. are there certain types of wood trhat are more preferable or better-sounding than others. And may i ask who/what Ocana is, i have to acredit this in my bibliography.
Wednesday, August 11 2010 17:25
> what is the thickness for the tapa? im trying to build this cajon drum but im having problems making the snare thing.
For the tapa, see page 3, called, cleverly, "wood and frame": http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=2
For the snares, see page 7, called, cleverly, "snares": http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=6
Wednesday, August 11 2010 17:13
what is the thickness for the tapa? im trying to build this cajon drum but im having problems making the snare thing.
Wednesday, July 28 2010 10:34
@Job - see http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=3 for info about the hole size issues. The size doesn't seem to matter so much, in my experience. The function of the hole is to "let the bass out", in a simple sense; the cajon "kick" sound is making a "thud" wavefront. Without the hole, the thud hangs out inside the box and doesn't come across as loudly. My personal conviction (as explained at that link) is that the hole isn't part of a "Helmholtz" model, where it "tunes" an air spring, so much as it just prevents the air pressure of the internal space from preventing the tapa from moving and allows the thud wavefront to escape. If the tapa vibrated like a traditional drum head membrane, then the hole might be relevant, as when playing a djembe you can insert or remove a fist in the hole to change the pitch of the drum.
Gluing/nailing: see http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=4 -- nailing or screwing into the edge of standard laminate plywood doesn't really work, so you basically need to glue. Ocana also recommends this for the sake of a good air seal via the glue. The exception, sometimes, is the tapa, which you screw into the frame (the frame is in turn glued to the inside of the plywood). Some people also glue the tapa, but i prefer to leave mine removable.
@Richard - Yeah, generally the back panel is the same as the sides, with 12mm or thicker plywood (glued all around). It's important that the cajon be sturdy/rigid. Regarding the snares, see http://caseyconnor.org/jl/cajon?start=6 ... I agree that the string-snares are not satisfying. There are a number of other ideas on that page, as well as links.
Glad the site is helpful,
glueing or nails?
Wednesday, July 28 2010 00:41
Job van Dieten
Is it better to glue or nail the cajon together? And why?
Making a cajon
Wednesday, July 28 2010 00:37
Job van Dieten
I am designing and creating a cajon for a school project neccesarry to finish the school and get my diploma. what is the relation between the size of the cajon and the hole? is the function of the hole to amplify the sound or to add an other sound function?
Still working on the snares
Thursday, July 15 2010 08:32
I built a Cajon 3 weeks ago, using plywood I had around. 12mm for sides, top and bottom, 3.6 mm for tapa and back panel, but the back panel was doubled up. really just a trial and will buy some better quality faced ply one day. I took some ideas from this site so thank you: I though I would respond with what I discovered.
My original design borrowed your first snare idea, but across one corner only thinking that I could have a 'slap + snare' corner plus a 'slap only' corner. The snares were not very successful: if given a lot of tension they produced a distracting sort of hum. Now I have them slack and with a few loose wires wrapped around which is OK played lightly but I am working on alternatives and will post here if I have a breakthrough.
I did find that there was a nasty resonance from the back panel even though it was well screwed on, and cured that by using frameseal (the stuff that goes around window frames) applied from the inside (with the Tapa removed). I also glued a chunk of MDF to the inside of the back panel to deaden it. The bass seemed more solid after that.
Just for fun, we put an ordinary cheap PC mic inside it and played it through a computer sound card: if you want to hear that, and see the cajon, go to youtube.com/expertanswers.
Even without a microphone I am amazed at the range of sounds and dynamics you can extract from what is just a box.
Wednesday, May 19 2010 19:56
Nate, i would like to use the same technique you used if you say that it is a better design. Let me know! Thanks
Port Hole / Helmholtz
Monday, May 17 2010 18:15
Thanks David - please do report back if you do this experiment. My impression is that the helmholtz model doesn't apply very well; i originally kept the hole cut-out from my cajon with the idea that i would incorporate it as a "slide" over the hole, allowing me to vary the effective hole size and thus the kick pitch. In practice, it made no difference in the pitch (like, at all). In other words, i'm not sure there is really any resonance or vibration happening with the tapa; it seems like it is more of a "thud" wavefront. Perhaps with tapas of other sorts this would be different. Perhaps a tube would have a more dramatic influence. I'm curious too, so i look forward to anything you come up with. Thanks!
Monday, May 17 2010 13:56
I was wondering if it wouldn't make more sense to do something with the hole similar to what someone would do when designing a speaker and tune the cajon with a port tube. This would make it more of a Helmholtz resonator. The air inside the port tube would resonate and provide a boost in low end frequency depending on the length and diameter of the port. For instance, if the interior volume of the cajon is roughly 1.9 cu. ft. then a 3" inside diameter port with a length of 8.5" would have a tuning frequency of 30 Hz. There would be a 12 decibel per octave roll off below that frequency. At those frequencies it would not matter where the port hole was located as the wavelengths are quite long at those frequencies. I do plan on building one to experiment with this summer. I will be sure to keep you informed of my progress.
Reply to Nate
Tuesday, April 20 2010 00:55
I would be interested in more exact instructions Nate
Monday, March 22 2010 16:02
Sorry, had an issue with the commenting system (fixed now). Here are two comments in response to "instead of using guitar stirngs or a snare":
I am thinking about building my own canjon and your experience will be very helpful I think! Can't you create a blog or something like that and share your experience? I'm sure there is many people that will appreciate!
Yeah same here!
Making a new cajon
Sunday, February 07 2010 11:14
I was recently introduced to this instrument by a friend from my church, I decided to build a cajon based on the dimensions and features from the one we have at church and from the information you have posted.
Like i said am not a pro or anything else but love the sound of this instrument.
The one i built is 18 inches tall by 12 inches wide. i did not install any type of resonating devices in it, just pure sound from what the tapa (face) would make.
I use it for the first time today at church, like i said am not a pro, but i got good results.
Thank you for all the vital information you have share with everybody else.
instead of using guitar strings or a snare
Thursday, January 28 2010 05:13
a different way of making your own cajon is too use small pieces of bamboo or just a bunch of wooden rods they should be a little more than a quarter of the length of your cajon and about the size of a instide of a bic pen(the part that hold the ink), basically you run them up and down which would be perpendicular from the bottom and top of your cajon. So you take your bamboo or wood sticks and line them up all nice on the inside of the front side, after you have them lined you want to glue them at the bottom of the sticks(the side closest to the ground)leave the top unglued so the bamboo has room to reverberate then you take a piece of wood that will connect to the front (basically this piece of wood is used to hold the bamboo in place it is placed parrallel to the floor a little less than half of the way up the bamboo sticks connect that piece to the frame you made that fits the front (where most directions tell you to connect the guitar strings). Another thing to keep in mind is that the front top of your cajon should have some play in it basically you should have screws that can adjust the front to get the snare sound. I WOULD HIGHLY RECOMMEND LOOKING?PLAYING A CAJON AT YOUR LOCAL MUSIC STORE (hopefully you are lucky enough to have a store that carries a cajon or two) Basically i built my first cajon following the instructions above plus a little extra except i used snare wires instead of guitar strings, then i had the pleasure of playing a cajon in dales drums and i examined the build of the ones there. Building my next cajon i had a much better design and got much better results. if you would like more exact instructions let me know i would be happy to help.