Cabinet Grade Plywood Questions

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Forum topic by Bingo969 posted 12-20-2012 02:34 AM 1627 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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7 posts in 2392 days

12-20-2012 02:34 AM

Howdy. Once again I have to start my post by saying I love reading through here and the fact that so many people take time out to share things they’ve learned, problems they’ve solved and generally providing a LOT of free wisdom and help to myself and others. Thank you!!

I’ve posted before about a friend of mine and myself and our hobby of building a type of Latin box drum called a Cajon. We’ve built quite a few now and have really got it down pretty well. We’ve sold about a dozen now and even have a couple of stores who will start stocking them. It’s pretty exciting to see how much our build quality has progressed since we started this and how our love of woodworking now has the potential to be a paying hobby and possibly more.

That said, our basic design is solid enough now that we can turn those out quickly and very well. I’ve found a VERY good locally owned lumberyard that provides us with very high quality wood and I love these guys (Anderson Lumber in St. Pete Florida. If you’re around that part of the world, check them out!) Now I’m ready to really start experimenting with some different woods and techniques.

So here is my question. By design, the front of these drums is made using 1/8” plywood. It has to be that thickness due to the fact that it’s the playing surface. Currently, we use Birch plywood. I’d really like to try some other materials, especially Maple. Our current lumber provider can only get maple in a minimum of 3/4” which is far too thick to be usable for this.

Does anyone have any experience in getting other plywoods that thin? It has to be a tone wood such as Birch, Maple, Bubinga, Mahogany, Basswood etc.

If I can’t find it locally, has anyone tried purchasing it online?

Any other thoughts?

Thanks -


4 replies so far

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2596 days

#1 posted 12-20-2012 04:16 AM

We don’t typically use eighth inch in cabinet building too often, so I wouldn’t really be able to help you, and the people who probably can won’t really read this because of the cabinet grade plywood in the topic.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View OldLarry's profile


18 posts in 2405 days

#2 posted 12-20-2012 04:31 AM

Consider veneering the Baltic birch you are now buying. Use a hard setting glue & a vacuum bag. Lots of beautiful veneers are available on line. With a little practice you can also do some fancy face veneering. Then double the price!

-- Larry, Nebraska

View JoeinGa's profile


7740 posts in 2248 days

#3 posted 12-20-2012 05:05 AM

Hmmmmm, you build Cajons you say? Funny I should run across this post! A couple of months ago one of my co-workers asked if I had ever built a Cajon. “Cahones?” I asked, “What happened, you get yours shot off in the war or something?” :-)
“No joe, Cajon, NOT cahones! It’s a wooden drum of sorts.”
“Nope never heard of one, even though I played Sax in band for almost 10 years, I never heard of a Cajon. But I’ll look into it and get back to you.”

Well, after spending 2 or 3 hours Googling, I see it’s not all THAT complicated, so I think maybe I’ll give it a go.
I used a 1X12 poplar board for the top, bottom and and for the drum head. The sides are 1/2” sanded plywood. I also tried 2 or 3 different things for the head, but none of them sounded very good. I finally took a piece of that same Poplar and started running it thru my planer. Taking very tiny bites, I finally got it to just a shosh under 1/8” thick. I mounted the head with very small brass screws. It had a very muffeled sound till I added the air-hole on the side, Now the sound is much richer.

When I brought it in to work he started wailing on it and he LOVES it! He asked me “How much?” and I just said “Enjoy,,,, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of use out of it in your band”

All total I have probably 4 or 5 hours of labor in it. I used an ebony stain on the top and front (the drum head) to make the grain “pop” and then finished it all with 8 or 10 coats of Tung oil. For size perspective, the top is about 13” long and the bottom is 17” long. Here’s a few pic’s of my version of a Cajon

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View MatthewW's profile


23 posts in 2702 days

#4 posted 12-20-2012 07:37 AM

I’ve wondered why they don’t use solid wood tops since I saw the woodworking for mere mortals YouTube video. I know that guitars often have laminated or solid tops made from cedar or other tone woods. Is there just not enough strength for the cajons, or is there some other reason?

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