Making Cajon as an Alternative Instrument

Posted on 01-Dec-2014

By Corporal Brendan Eu Che-Jie of 12th Kuala Lumpur Company

October 23rd, 2014

Looking for a percussion instrument for your company’s praise and worship team? Can’t afford a drum set? Want to bring a drum set to your camp site but you are worried about how to transport it? No worries - you can build your own cajon for your company, right behind your house without blowing your budget! Follow these simple steps and you can create this simple and useful instrument. In the beginning of this year, one of the Members in my Worship Team decided to make a cajon so that we can use it along with guitar when we go for excursion and in case we need to have some singing sessions. Thanks to Lance Corporal Samuel Siew as he shares with me on how to make one. Here are the tips.

A Cajon is nominally a six sided, box-shaped percussion instrument originally from Peru, played by slapping the front or rear faces (generally thin plywood) with the hands, fingers, or sometimes various implements such as brushes, mallets, or sticks. Many variants on the basic design are in use, ranging from improvised to professionally manufactured instruments. It is not just an instrument, but it can be a stool, a table and a stand too!

In this article, I am going to show a step-by-step production of a DIY Cajon. You can follow my instructions and make one for yourself! Samuel took some time to plan out his project but according to him, the total construction time is just 2 days (provided that if you have the same skill level as an amateur craftsman, just like Samuel).

Anyway, the Internet can be your best friend to find the plan of the Cajon. It can be found on As for Samuel, he was fortunate enough to get assistance from an officer of 1st Sepang Company, Mr. Lee Mau Sheng, to get wood for this project. The boards are plywood and the frames are sawn wood. He sold the materials, already cut to the desired dimensions, for RM25 only. You can get the materials needed from a saw mill near your area.

Surface wood Frame Wood

As for hardware, just go to any friendly hardware store. He got his from a hardware store and cost him less than RM10.


Screws (about a hundred of
these, they come cheap in bulk)
    Hinge locks (24 of these)  

And the most important ingredient: a snare wire. You can get one of these in any major music store in the percussion section.

              Snare wire                   Tool A standard Bosch drill set

And that’s all you need to do this project!

So, here we begin the construction.

The construction

Step 1: Lay down all the materials and tools for construction

Step 2: Build the frame

Start by drilling holes to fit the screws. Measure the exact point where you supposed to drill by placing the hinge locks onto the wood, align it and mark the holes using a pen. Next, screw the hinge locks onto perpendicular frame woods. Usually people use wood glue to do this but because of unavailability I used a more conventional way to do it. Continue until you complete a frame of a cuboid.

(Sorry, there are no pictures available because of computer reformatting


Step 3: Installing the snare wire

The snare wire is supposed to be at the bottom of the front panel. Mark the holes using a pen and drill holes into the frame. Then, screw the snare wire on the frame. Note that my snare wire is bending upwards because of poor estimation, and now my snare wire is oversized and is forced to bend to fit into the frame.


Step 4: Installing the surface panels

Verify which panel goes where. After verifying, firmly place the plywood panels onto the frame and start drilling holes to fit in the screws. What I did was a little different. I used a Philips head drill bit to do counter-sinking.   I use this method for aesthetic purposes, so that the screw heads fit perfectly into the holes and does not protrude from the panel.

And after finishing the panel installation, the Cajon is finished and ready to be played!

So, I hope this article is helpful. For all those serving as musicians out there in the BB, do consider having a cajon in your instrument list.
Page Created: 1st December 2014
Last Updated: 1st December 2014