Wood Stain

The use of different wood stains can really bring the appearance of your Cajon to life. Though I prefer to use a rag, it can be applied either using a brush or a rag. Click on the image to view different shades of wood stain.

Danish Oil

Danish oil is a nice alternative to wood stain, though you may not have the same amount of color choices. When I use Danish Oil, I will apply a coat using a rag, then let it dry for an hour or two before gently sanding over it with fine sandpaper and applying a second coat.


I’ve never personally used Shellac as a finish on a Cajon, but I have heard of many Cajon builders doing so. Click on the image to read some of the pros and cons of Shellac to determine if it’s the best option for your project!

Tung Oil

Tung Oil is a nice alternative to Danish oil and will soak into the grain of the wood more than Poly. With Tung Oil, it is recommended that you let it dry overnight before sanding down some and applying additional coats.


Polyurethane, or Poly for short, is a really nice option for wood finish. You have the option of clear satin, semi-gloss, or a high gloss finish. With poly, you will get a nice hard finish that will ensure the protection of the drum. But it is important to note that you should NOT apply it to the Tapa. Applying Polyurethane to the Tapa will harden the wood up and prevent it from getting the vibrations needed to create nice sounding bass tones.


Lacquer is very similar to Polyurethane in that it can provide a glossy, protective finish to the drum. Likewise, you should avoid applying this finish to the Tapa as well to allow your Cajon to sound it’s best.