Do you want to know how to make a Cajon percussion instrument? The Cajon is originally from Central and South America, specifically Peru and Cuba. It's deep and sweet sound comes from a basic system of air compression and release. One of the sides of the box is made with a thinner layer of wood and a set of cords, and is the actual percussion patch, and the opposite side has a hole on it that will let the air flow out of the box. You can experiment with most of these features to get to a particular and personal sound.
To make a Cajon percussion instrument, you will need:
- Plywood (two different thicknesses are needed: 1/5" and 1/2")
- Screws (brass screws one-inch long and made for wood are recommended; flat heads are mandatory to avoid sharp pieces coming out from the patch)
- Glue (any brand will work, just keep in mind that you might need up to a quarter gallon)
- A guitar cord
- Tuning pins
- A circular saw
- A jigsaw
- A screwdriver
- A wood hammer
- Cut the following plywood parts, or get them cut at a hardware store: one 13 2/5" by 18 9/10" piece 1/5" thick, one 13 2/5" by 18 9/10" piece 1/2" thick, two 13 2/5" by 18" pieces 1/2" thick and two 13 2/5" by 13 2/5" pieces 1/2" thick.
- Build a wood frame to hold the snares, but only if you decide to include them. The frame must be 13 2/5" by 18 9/10" on the outside, as thick as you consider to hold the cords, and will be glued to the thinner patch.
- Place one of the half-inch-thick 13 2/5" by 13 2/5" plywood pieces on a work bench. That will be the base of your percussion instrument.
- Glue and screw both sides, the ones 13 2/5" by 18" on half-inch-thick plywood, to opposite sides of the base. It's important that they are perpendicular to the base. Use clamps to keep them straight while the glue dries. Place the other 13 2/5" by 13 2/5" half-inch-thick plywood piece on top, and glue and screw it to the side walls.
- Cut a circular hole in the 13 2/5" by 18 9/10" on half-inch-thick plywood, closer to the upper part in the axis of the back. This will be the air outlet on the back of your Cajon percussion instrument. The size of the hole will affect the instrument's sound directly, as it will determine a different air compression as it goes out. A suggested size for this percussion instrument is 4 3/4", but you can experiment with different sizes and positions.
- Glue the frame with the snares to the patch. Glue and screw the patch and frame system to the front of the Cajon drum. Tie a rope around the Cajon both horizontally and vertically, protecting the angles with pieces of cardboard.
- Let your Cajon percussion instrument rest for at least a week while the glue dries. Keep the ropes on to avoid deformations in the drying process.
- Expose the Cajon to smooth temperature changes to see how it behaves. If it bends, you'll have to disassemble it and replace the misbehaving parts. Sometimes plywood tends to bend, so keep an eye on it. Play and enjoy!
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