I made a Cahone

Some here may remember that I do a bit of woodworking as one of my hobbies. A second hobby of mine is performing as a Musician. Well, I also have a very musically inclined 2 year old. She can “play” every instrument in our house (as in hold them correctly and keep something of a tempo). One of the instruments that the band has is a Cahone (A box drum that you sit on and strike the front face to keep a beat) that I made a few years ago. That one is 18 inches tall and 12 inches wide and is quite a bit too big for a little girl to comfortably play.

So I decided to make her a much smaller one that is more suited for her. I also decided that this cahone needed to have box joints instead of butt joints. Mainly because I plan on doing box joints quite a bit with the GF and I’ve actually never used that particular joint before.

So here is my journey and pitfalls to making that cahone:

I decided her drum was going to be 12 inches tall and 8 inches wide (and deep) in order to keep the proportions the same as the larger drum. I also decided that 1/2 inch plywood would be plenty strong enough for this application. Easy. Cut two pieces in 8x8 Inch Squares, and cut three pieces 8x12 inches.

Then the box joints…I wanted them to be .5x.5 wide and high. So I meticulously cut out a piece of scrap wood that was .5"x.5"x1" large. I had a sketch of what SHOULD work (it was about 95% accurate) and that came out to about 144 little boxes that had to match up close to perfectly. So I very carefully marked all the boxes to cut out on 8 of the 12 sides (the front needs to be attached differently). I put the dado stack in my SawStop and it wouldn’t turn on. Turns out, I need to have the proper dado stack cartridge to run it and I couldn’t even get far enough to bypass the safety feature. Well, the easy thing is now out. Next up, router table and 1/2" flush cut bit. In my case of over 50 different bits, which is the ONLY one missing? the 1/2" flush cut bit. I could use a smaller one, but I felt that I would not be able to get precise enough. SO, I decide to put the main table saw blade back in and I’m going to use the miter sled and I’ll do this the slow and steady way. So 1/8" by 1/8" I cut out ALL the box joints. Slow, but I’m mostly happy with the outcome.

Not all the joints were a perfect fit.

But the majority of the joints fit quite snug.

I stained the main box with a dark walnut stain, and Used Natural Danish oil on the front.

Baby Feet for some scale.

And here it is next to it’s larger brother.

Overall I’m very happy with how it turned out, and I can’t wait for her to abuse this thing and maybe have to replace the front someday (it’s only a 1/4" plywood square screwed to the front).

Someday I want to learn how to make a tongue drum, that looks fun to do.


Oh gosh, this is the coolest thing! When you get your laser, just imagine the possibilities for making the joints and for decorating the front. Can’t wait to see the musical instruments you will make.


I have a full sized one planned out that will be the same 18x12x12 of the larger one, but the front will be angled out 15 degrees. Unfortunately, that will take it out of the GF nominal cutting range, BUT if alignment is working well, I can start the cut, rotate the piece and finish the cut to get the whole side cut out correctly.

This is also the project that I’m looking to do an inlay of a compass rose on one side, and our Band logo on the other. We are a Celtic Pirate themed Folk Band, and I’ve been associated with various Compass Rose logos for quite some time (this is why I was so excited when @marmak3261 did his own Compass Rose inlay). I’m just waiting on my Forge at this time. I don’t think I’ll have it done before we perform at the Virginia Renaissance Festival in May, but I should have it and can make the Cahone before we go to perform at the MD Renaissance Festival starting the end of August.

I will certainly be sharing pictures of that project.

So if anyone wants to give a VERY DETAILED account of how to do inlay with the GF, I’m VERY interested in learning that.


I’d never heard of a cahone. I can just picture the two of you sittin’ and jammin’ on your drums…total cuteness!


Oh and we do. She has a blast just wailing on the drum face and making a huge racket with Daddy! Maybe I can convince my wife to take a quick video so I can show you guys.

(Tomorrow will be the first band practice that this has been completed for. Maybe she’ll decide to play with our actual percussionist/soprano and play along)


This is very cool! I have seen those drums but never knew the name. :relaxed:


SWEET!!! Absolutely beautiful!

1 Like

Nicely done. Thanks for the sawstop info too. Another cost to consider when looking at table saws.

1 Like

Each Cartridge is about $60. But in the grand scheme of things, for me the safety aspect of that $60 is well worth the cost.


As promised, here is a “tiny” video of my daughter playing with our band’s percussionist. She of course stopped playing shortly after the video started. (EDIT: Size is too big, not sure how to get it to show up here)

And here is a Photo of her just going to town on the little cahone


Squeeeeee! She’s such a cutie! :smiley:

(The video size thing I haven’t figured a way around…you could set it up on Youtube and just link it here.)


Nice! Looks great man!
Make sure to post a video, I’d love to hear that thing.

1 Like

hmmmm will this work?

It is an unlisted video…hopefully you can see the short clip!

@hansena, not sure if you’ll be able to hear the small cahone over the rest of us playing and singing, but you should be able to easily hear the big one!


yep, works perfectly. Thanks for sharing. I use Vimeo rather than Youtube, but either one works.

1 Like

Most excellent

1 Like

Love it! I love playing cahone, can’t wait to make my own. I can also say the Sawstop is well worth it, it’s saved some digits a couple times.

1 Like

They are surprisingly easy to make, and they sound great. Our band prefers the Cahone without the snare attached to the inside, so that makes it even easier to do.

If you want any assistance in drawing up plans to make one, let me know.

1 Like

+1 for the baby feet for scale


Awwwwww, sweet!

Well, the cajon I built from a Mienl kit just doesn’t seem so impressive now. lol Great job! Favorite song to play on it? Use Me by Bill Withers is still my favorite to play! :slight_smile: (If people are happen to be Googling plans it is spelled with a j… good ole Spanish word … you might get more results :wink: