I just lost my CSS file in a weird file-upload-during-power-outage event. The site will return to normal.... soon.


Hello and welcome to outside the box drums. Here you will find everything you need to both build and buy cajons, also called box drums.

how this all started

I attended a Caedmon's Call concert and saw their amazing percussionist sitting on a box, and playing it. Some sounds were high and crisp, like a bongo. Some were chest-thumpingly deep, like a djembe. I was very intrigued. A few weeks later, at a very small concert featuring Ginny Owens, her drummer also had a box, and sat on it, and played it. Fortunately, I was able to approach the stage after they were done and asked if I could see how the box drum worked. I determined how it was constructed... but I wasn't entirely sure how it worked. So, being who I am, I did some research on how percussive and resonant sound is created. I built a handful of boxes (which I learned were called cajons) to see if there was some underlying mathematical formula that determined the sound characteristics. I found that the Helmholtz Resonator, while not exact, provided a very good start to creating custom/tuned cajons.

Back then, I didn't find many retailers of box cajons, but now there are many. This style of drum is becoming extremely popular, given the resurging popularity of acoustic music... and especially at churches. Unfortunately, most of the major manufacturers of box cajons use large assembly lines, systematically piecing together thin plywood with screws. If you've ever been into a Guitar Center and seen what they are passing off as box cajons... it's sad. Some folks even use snare wire behind the playing surface and give the drum an awful rattling sound, or loosen the playing surface corners completely destroying the resonant bass. I wouldn't stand for it, and certainly wouldn't pay for it.

I set out to create a good box cajon for myself. Nice, sturdy wood for the construction. Only glue, no fasteners like nails and screws that can rattle. Comfortable, rounded edges. And of course... rich, deep sound. I've made a few of these drums for myself, and for friends. People are always interested in "that box I'm playing", wanting to know where I got it and how it works. When I show them the secrets and tell them I made it, some have even asked how much I charge...