Project hunting is rewarding. Every time I find something good, the benefits begin to gather.
I stumbled onto the cajon goal when I was searching for a used (cheap) conga drum. I then wondered how difficult it would be to build my own.
That took me to YouTube.com. My suspicions were confirmed about turning a large cylinder and stretching an animal skin or sheet of vinyl over it. Time-consuming, tool-needing and expensive were the descriptions that came to mind.
Along the way, however, images, advertisements and video clips flashed before my eyes and teased about the simplicity of constructing a cajon drum—and at low cost as well.
I decide to give it a whirl.
The results in pictures are here. What undoubtedly was the most interesting part of the project was installing a wire mesh contraption that mimics a snare drum when the sound board surface is struck in just the right place.
That required a dowel crossing the drum’s width, extending through the walls and ending with handles, one for turning the rod, the other for tightening it in place. The motion positions the snare against the back of the sound board, allowing it to vibrate with the beat.
It may be unable to make the exquisite thumbing you might get from an expensive and high-grade wood setup (this is pine and birch ply), but the sound is quite awesome considering this drum’s affordability and portability. Real musicians take these things to the beach or camping to make pleasant noise with, and for, gathered friends.
The benefits for me: my kids helped me build it, allowing me extra time with them. It provided mid-level challenges. It only took a couple of weeks working around my full-time job. And I probably paid under $30.
I guess I should mention the main reason I made the thing. I am hoping to have it auctioned off through Wood Toys Rock with the proceeds going to a suitable charity. I’ve just got to find the right organization and event.
On top of all that, I got to test the drum and expose my offspring to audio art. They might describe it as random banging. But it was music because I said so.
I insisted it was a cultural experience, although I think the dogs who escaped to another room will be harder to convince.