Making a Box Drum - Part 1

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Step #1- Rip, Crosscut, Route, Glue, & Clamp!
If you know me personally you know that I love building cajóns. If you are unfamiliar with what a cajón is then definitely look it up! It is a percussion instrument that is basically a simple wooden box. In fact, some people simply call it a 'box drum". You can see others I have made in my previous blog post.

I have been crafting hand-made and custom cajóns on the side for a few years now but have never taken that any farther than my own friends and local word of mouth references. I'm toying with the idea of selling them online but for now I just enjoy making them and selling them locally.

Check out the Making a Cajon Part 1 video below!


I missed getting a picture of breaking down the 4x8 ft. sheet of 1/2" birch ply into 12" rips, but I start every cajon with one of these 8' long pieces

I missed getting a picture of breaking down the 4x8 ft. sheet of 1/2" birch ply into 12" rips, but I start every cajon with one of these 8' long pieces

A quick table saw rip just to make sure all the edges have a nice clean square edge

A quick table saw rip just to make sure all the edges have a nice clean square edge

When you have 12" wide and 8' long boards like these, a sliding miter saw (with a nicer blade) really does the trick!

When you have 12" wide and 8' long boards like these, a sliding miter saw (with a nicer blade) really does the trick!

I cross-cut this 8' section into two pieces 17 3/4" and two pieces a little under 12".

I cross-cut this 8' section into two pieces 17 3/4" and two pieces a little under 12".

Routing a "rabbit" into the tops & bottoms really helps when trying to glue it all up and it gives it more strength due to the extra gluing surfaces.

Routing a "rabbit" into the tops & bottoms really helps when trying to glue it all up and it gives it more strength due to the extra gluing surfaces.

This extra step really makes a difference.

This extra step really makes a difference.

Underside of the top/bottom piece with routed rabbit.

Underside of the top/bottom piece with routed rabbit.

Here is an example of how the joint fits together. This also helps everything remain square when I glue it up

Here is an example of how the joint fits together. This also helps everything remain square when I glue it up

I cut a piece of 1/4" birch ply to be the back of the cajon.

I cut a piece of 1/4" birch ply to be the back of the cajon.

Great news is that with just two 8ft sections I have enough to build 3 cajons. Now on to the glue up! (4" circle cut with a circle cutter bit)

Great news is that with just two 8ft sections I have enough to build 3 cajons. Now on to the glue up! (4" circle cut with a circle cutter bit)

I use 4 clamps and a few support pieces and then just start boxing these together

I use 4 clamps and a few support pieces and then just start boxing these together

Getting everything square is important! Depending on the ply, this can be easy or hard... but spend the time to get this right!

Getting everything square is important! Depending on the ply, this can be easy or hard... but spend the time to get this right!

I used my Grrripper to safely cut support pieces for the inside. I will only need 4

I used my Grrripper to safely cut support pieces for the inside. I will only need 4

I flush cut them all at the same length to fit inside the cajon

I flush cut them all at the same length to fit inside the cajon

A little glue on both sides and then fit into the vertex of the bottom and side pieces

A little glue on both sides and then fit into the vertex of the bottom and side pieces

Use clamps to get them good and snug!

Use clamps to get them good and snug!

Finally after everything is dry, I flip it over and use lots more clamps to glue and attach the back.

Finally after everything is dry, I flip it over and use lots more clamps to glue and attach the back.