Build-it-yourself furniture has come a long way through the years. Once thought to be "cheap" furniture, a few manufacturers nowadays make quality, long lasting furniture that you must assemble yourself.
Thirty years ago, assembling a desk or hutch was a real challenge. The instructions were difficult to read (some desk models would print an exploded view picture of the desk and expect you to build it from that!), holes weren't drilled, or were drilled in the wrong places, and many pieces simply didn't fit together as intended.
Sometimes everything fit together great, but the manufacturer forgot to include the hardware!
Technological advances in the past twenty years have improved things greatly. Seldom are pieces or hardware missing from the boxes. Holes are drilled where they should be. And most importantly, the quality of the wood has improved dramatically.
Most of the credit for the improvement goes to three manufactures: Sauder, Bush, and O'Sullivan. These companies have set the bar when it comes to furniture quality and are responsible for such innovations as the cam lock system - cam bolts and locks are connected with a quarter twist of a screwdriver. There is no worry that you will "strip out" a cam fastener.
Sturdiness plays an important part in good furniture. Next time you're out shopping at a big box or office store, try to find a box that contains a desk made by Sauder. The first thing you'll notice? That box is HEAVY!
And if by chance, as you are assembling your furniture, you notice a piece is damaged or there is hardware missing (this is rare - usually you are given more hardware than you need in case you drop and lose a bolt or screw, etc.), you can call the manufacturer's Customer Service line and order the part you need and it will be shipped to your home within a few days.
Even though Sauder, Bush, and O'Sullivan make quality, ready-to-build furniture, be aware that there are several other brands that are sold by big box retailers, usually at a less expensive price, that can still be labeled as being cheaply made.
In these boxes you'll find incorrect instructions, parts that aren't drilled correctly, and defective hardware. But if you stick to furniture manufactured by the Big Three - Sauder, Bush, and O'Sullivan, you'll be sure to get quality, long lasting furniture that's easy to put together.