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DIY Cajon: Build Your Own Musical Instrument DIY Cajon: Build Your Own Musical Instrument

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DIY Cajon: Build Your Own Musical Instrument

Written by: Harper Martinez

Reviewed by:

Kathryn Senior
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Reviewed by
Kathryn Senior

Senior Editor in Create & Decorate, Kathryn combines traditional craftsmanship with contemporary trends. Her background in textile design and commitment to sustainable crafts inspire both content and community.

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Discover how to create your own musical masterpiece with our DIY Cajon kit. Unleash your creativity and craft a unique instrument with our step-by-step guide. Perfect for DIY & Crafts enthusiasts!

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So, you've got a passion for music and a knack for DIY projects? Well, you're in for a treat! In this article, we're going to show you how to build your very own cajon, a versatile and popular percussion instrument. Whether you're a seasoned musician or just looking for a fun and rewarding project, making your own cajon can be a fulfilling endeavor. Not only will you save money by crafting it yourself, but you'll also have the satisfaction of creating something unique that you can play and showcase to your friends and family. Let's dive into the materials and steps you'll need to get started on this exciting DIY journey!


Materials Needed

To get started on your DIY cajon project, you'll need a few essential materials. Here's a list of what you'll require:

  • Plywood: Look for a sturdy and resonant plywood sheet, preferably around 3/8 inch thick. You'll need this for the main body of the cajon.
  • Wood Glue: A strong wood glue will be necessary for securely bonding the cajon's components together.
  • Snare Wires: These are crucial for producing the cajon's distinctive snare sound. You can find snare wires at your local music store or online.
  • Wood Screws: Opt for durable wood screws to ensure the stability and longevity of your cajon.
  • Rubber Feet: These will help protect the bottom of your cajon and provide traction when playing on various surfaces.
  • Front Plate: Choose a piece of thin, resonant wood for the front plate of your cajon. This will be the striking surface, so select a material that can produce a rich sound.
  • Drill and Drill Bits: You'll need these to create holes for the snare wires and for assembling the cajon.
  • Screwdriver: A screwdriver will be essential for securing the wood screws in place.
  • Sanding Block: This will come in handy for smoothing out any rough edges and achieving a professional finish.
  • Measuring Tape and Pencil: These basic tools will help you accurately mark and measure the wood for cutting and assembly.

Gather these materials, and you'll be well-equipped to embark on your cajon-building adventure!


Step 1: Cutting the Wood

The first step in crafting your DIY cajon is to cut the plywood to the appropriate dimensions. Start by measuring and marking the plywood according to the following specifications:

  • Main Body: Cut a piece of plywood to the desired dimensions for the main body of the cajon. A common size is around 18 inches by 12 inches, but you can adjust the dimensions based on your preference.

  • Back and Sides: From the remaining plywood, cut two pieces for the back and sides of the cajon. These pieces should be the same height as the main body but slightly wider to accommodate the depth of the cajon.

  • Top and Bottom: Cut two more pieces for the top and bottom of the cajon. These should match the dimensions of the main body.

Once you have marked the plywood, carefully use a saw to cut along the lines. Take your time to ensure precise cuts, as accuracy in this step will contribute to the overall quality and stability of your cajon. After cutting the wood, use a sanding block to smooth any rough edges and create a clean finish on all the pieces.

With the wood cut to size and smoothed out, you're ready to move on to the next step in assembling your DIY cajon.


Step 2: Assembling the Box

With the plywood pieces cut to the appropriate dimensions, it's time to start assembling the box of your cajon. Follow these steps to put together the main body of the instrument:

  1. Positioning the Pieces: Begin by laying the main body piece flat on the ground. Then, place the back, sides, top, and bottom pieces around it to form the shape of the cajon.

  2. Applying Wood Glue: Once the pieces are positioned correctly, apply a generous amount of wood glue along the edges where the pieces will be joined. This will ensure a strong and durable bond between the components.

  3. Securing with Wood Screws: After applying the wood glue, carefully position the pieces back together and use wood screws to secure them in place. Pre-drill guide holes to prevent the wood from splitting, and then drive the screws through the plywood to create a sturdy and reliable connection.

  4. Clamping the Box: To further reinforce the bond, use clamps to hold the pieces together while the wood glue dries. This will help maintain pressure on the joints, ensuring a tight and secure fit.

  5. Allowing for Drying Time: Once the box is assembled, allow sufficient time for the wood glue to dry completely. This typically takes a few hours, but it's essential to follow the specific drying time recommended by the wood glue manufacturer.

By following these steps, you'll successfully assemble the box of your cajon, bringing you one step closer to completing your DIY musical instrument.


Step 3: Adding the Snare Wires

Adding the snare wires is a crucial step in creating the distinctive sound of a cajon. Here's a detailed guide on how to incorporate the snare wires into your DIY cajon:

  1. Positioning the Snare Wires: Begin by determining the placement of the snare wires inside the cajon. Typically, the snare wires are attached to the backside of the front plate. Mark the areas where the snare wires will be positioned, ensuring that they are evenly spaced and parallel to each other.

  2. Drilling Holes: Use a drill with a bit that matches the diameter of the snare wire screws to create holes in the marked positions on the inside of the front plate. These holes will be used to secure the snare wires in place.

  3. Attaching the Snare Wires: Insert the screws provided with the snare wires through the holes from the inside of the front plate. Then, carefully attach the snare wires to the screws, ensuring that they are taut and evenly stretched across the surface. Once in position, tighten the screws to secure the snare wires firmly in place.

  4. Testing the Sound: With the snare wires attached, gently tap the front plate to test the sound. Adjust the tension of the snare wires as needed to achieve the desired snare effect. Experiment with different tensions to find the sound that best suits your musical preferences.

By following these steps, you'll successfully integrate the snare wires into your cajon, enhancing its sound and playability. This brings you one step closer to completing your DIY musical instrument.


Step 4: Attaching the Front Plate

Attaching the front plate is a crucial step in completing your DIY cajon. Follow these detailed steps to securely affix the front plate to the body of the instrument:

  1. Applying Wood Glue: Begin by applying a generous amount of wood glue along the edges of the cajon's body where the front plate will be attached. Ensure even coverage to promote a strong and lasting bond.

  2. Positioning the Front Plate: Carefully position the front plate onto the body of the cajon, aligning it with the edges. Apply gentle pressure to ensure that the front plate adheres firmly to the glued surface.

  3. Securing with Screws: Once the front plate is in position, use wood screws to secure it to the body of the cajon. Pre-drill guide holes to prevent the wood from splitting, then drive the screws through the front plate into the body of the cajon. This will create a secure and durable attachment.

  4. Adding Rubber Feet: To protect the bottom of your cajon and provide stability during play, attach rubber feet to the bottom corners of the instrument. This will also help prevent the cajon from slipping and sliding when in use.

  5. Allowing for Drying Time: After attaching the front plate and rubber feet, allow the wood glue to dry completely. This may take a few hours, so be patient and allow ample time for the glue to set.

By following these steps, you'll successfully attach the front plate to your cajon, completing the construction of your DIY musical instrument. This brings you one step closer to enjoying the unique sounds and rhythms produced by your handmade cajon.


Step 5: Finishing Touches

After completing the assembly of the cajon, it's time to add the finishing touches to enhance its appearance and playability. Here are the final steps to put the perfect finishing touches on your DIY cajon:

  1. Sanding and Smoothing: Use a sanding block to carefully sand the edges and surfaces of the cajon, ensuring a smooth and professional finish. Pay attention to any rough spots or uneven areas, and sand them down to create a polished look.

  2. Decorative Touches: If you desire, consider adding decorative elements to personalize your cajon. This could include painting or staining the wood, applying decals, or even incorporating unique designs to make your cajon stand out.

  3. Tuning the Sound: Experiment with the sound of your cajon by tapping and adjusting the tension of the snare wires. Fine-tune the snare effect to achieve the desired sound quality that complements your musical style.

  4. Applying a Protective Finish: To protect the wood and enhance its durability, consider applying a protective finish such as varnish or lacquer. This will not only safeguard the wood from wear and tear but also add a professional sheen to your cajon.

  5. Personalization: Consider adding a personal touch to your cajon by engraving your name, a meaningful quote, or a symbol onto the instrument. This will make your cajon truly unique and reflective of your creativity.

By completing these finishing touches, you'll not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your cajon but also ensure that it produces the best possible sound. With these final steps, your DIY cajon will be ready to be played and enjoyed for years to come.



Congratulations! You've successfully completed the journey of building your very own cajon. From gathering the essential materials to assembling the components and adding the finishing touches, you've dedicated time and effort to create a unique musical instrument that reflects your passion for music and craftsmanship. As you prepare to showcase your cajon and explore its versatile sounds, take pride in the fact that you've not only saved money by crafting it yourself but also gained the satisfaction of bringing a musical creation to life. Whether you're a seasoned musician or a DIY enthusiast, this project has allowed you to delve into the world of percussion instruments and experience the joy of making music with your own hands. Now, it's time to grab your drumsticks, tap into your creativity, and let the rhythmic beats of your DIY cajon resonate with the music in your soul.

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