Simple Snare Mechanism For Cajon

How To Build An Adjustable Snare Mechanism For A Cajon Drum

By: Mike Quain



In this guide, I will show you how to make your own adjustable snare for a homemade cajon.

There are a few tutorial videos floating around that show you how to build a homemade adjustable snare for your cajon, but I’m not happy with any of them. Plus, videos are hard to follow along with when you’re actually out building the thing! This guide is my own version of the mechanism and is easy to follow along with and requires no special tools. The sound is typical of a snare style cajon. You can hear the final result here: Live! Series Cajon.

You’ll need:

  • A finished cajon to install the snare in
  • One 3/4″ diameter dowel rod that spans the length of your cajon
  • Two threaded inserts
  • One brass washer
  • One threaded knob
  • One furniture screw
  • A drill with multiple bit sizes
  • Tape measure or ruler and pencil
  • Screwdriver

(I’ll find exact sizes and names really soon!)

Before we begin, here’s a picture of what you’re trying to build!



The metal wires on the snare brush up against the tapa (playing surface) and create a nice sizzle sound when the head is hit just right. Even though the snares are offset, the sound is even on both sides of the drum.

Step 1: Cut The Dowel Rod

Measure the inside width of your cajon, then subtract 1/2″ from that measurement. Cut the rod to this length.


Step 2: Drill Holes

Drill a hole in each end of the dowel rod wide enough for the screws, then drill two shallow holes just wide enough for the threaded inserts.



Now, hammer the inserts into place




This is what the dowel rod will look like with the hardware attached. The screw on the right will be adjustable to lock the snare in place. The knob on the left is used to adjust the position of the snare.

Step 3: Attach The Snare

First, you’ll need to cut your brand new snare in half. I used pliers on mine.

Cut The Snare




Next, attach one of the halves to the dowel rod. The snare will work best near one edge.


Step 4: Put It Together

Experiment with different positions and angles for your snares. I found that they sound best at a shallow angle in relation to the tapa. I also like mine positioned as close to the top as I can get them. Once you find a position for your dowel rod, drill the holes and attach the hardware.



Now, your snare is done. I didn’t want as much snare on mine as a 42-strand snare wire offered, so I put electrical tape over half on the wires. This mutes them and I get just the right amount of sizzle.



I hope this helps you out!