How to Build a Bongo Cajon Drum

Updated April 17, 2017

The bongo cajon drum is a West African drum that slaves, displaced from their homeland, constructed using old boxes and crates. The bongo cajon drum is played by placing the drum between the player's legs. The player drums with his hands in different locations on the wood for different tones. If you want to construct a instrument to entertain your guests, family and friends, bongo cajon drums are simple to build.

Lay one 20-by-13-inch sheet of plywood on the ground. Place glue along the 20-inch side of another 20-by-13-inch sheet of plywood and press it against the 20-inch side of the plywood lying on the ground. Continue this method until you have formed a box. Use clamps to secure the wood in place while it dries. Let dry for 30 minutes.

Screw two 13-inch-long 2-by-4 planks onto the top and bottom of the box. These will act as support beams. They should be placed on the inside of the left and right sides of the box, flush with the top of the sides -- the back of the drum will have a hole in it, so decide which sides will be the front and back before attaching these supports.

Screw one of the 13-by-13-inch sheets of plywood onto one of the end openings of the box; this will be the bottom.

Draw a 6-inch-diameter circle on the back side of the box using a compass. The centre of the circle should be in the horizontal centre of the box, about 9 inches above the bottom. Drill guide holes around the perimeter of the circle. Saw out your circle.

Hammer four 1-inch nails inside the back of the box. The nails should be placed about 2 inches from the top near the sides of the box, with two nails on each side. Twist one end of each of the guitar strings tightly around a nail. Stretch the guitar strings across the box, and wind the other ends around the corresponding nails. Each nail will have two strings attached. This step is optional to produce a snare-drum effect.

Screw on the last 13-by-13-inch sheet of plywood onto the top of the box.


You can decorate the bongo cajon drum by sanding, staining or painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Clamp
  • Compass
  • Wood glue
  • Drill
  • 4 Guitar strings
  • Pencil
  • 2 13-by-13-inch sheets of plywood
  • 4 20-by-13-inch sheets of plywood
  • 4 13-inch-long 2-by-4 planks
  • 4 Nails
  • Saw
  • Screws
  • Tape measure
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About the Author

Artesia Peluso began her journalism career in 2006. She is the fashion editor at "PINK Magazine" and has also worked as the arts and entertainment assistant at "Creative Loafing," the associate editor at "Vita Underground" and at CNN as a Network Booking Associate. Peluso has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Ashford University.