Condition on arrival: When taking the pieces out of the box, Sharon noticed that two edges on the engineered-wood bookcase had deep gouges (luckily, they were hidden upon assembly). And two shelves were mislabeled.
Construction notes: The shelves were numbered, and “thank goodness, they mostly corresponded with the instructions,” says Sharon. Because assembly required repeating the same tasks with identical pieces, it went off without a hitch. “I could have done it blindfolded, or at least while watching TV. But the finished bookshelf is heavy, so ask a friend to help you stand it up.”
The verdict: “Easier to put together than my outfit most mornings.”
Condition on arrival: Everything on this wood-veneer unit was well labeled. “There was no guessing what part was what,” says Sharon. “The drawings on the instructions were on the small side but clear.”
Construction notes: “So I was cruising along, thinking, Wow, I just may be the best furniture putter-together around, and then I realized the X-bracket didn’t line up! My bad―I didn’t read the directions carefully enough. Fortunately, I recruited help, in the form of editorial production director Jeff Nesmith, who just happened to be walking by. Lucky guy.”
The verdict: “At a price like this, the effort is well worth it.”
Condition on arrival: The MDF (with oak veneer) piece came with clearly marked and well-organized bags of hardware. However, a washer and a dowel were missing. The 18-page instruction booklet was a little daunting at first. “It looked like a dossier,” says Sharon.
Construction notes: “Figuring out what went where was a bit like solving the riddle of the Sphinx. At least the holes were reinforced with metal rivets, so once I got the hang of it, the screws went in easily. This was the sturdiest bookcase that I assembled.”
The verdict: “When I finally hit my stride, everything came together beautifully. The piece looks great.”
Condition on arrival: As you can guess from the picture, this imposing unit―about five feet wide and over six feet tall―came with multiple components: more than 30 panels of spruce and a huge bag of hardware. And the instructions had only diagrams.
Construction notes: Realizing that this 20-cubby bookshelf was more of a two-person job, Sharon wisely enlisted the help of home market editor Kelley Carter. It took some concentration, for sure, but the two of them soon got the hang of putting the piece together.
The verdict: “It was an involved process. But this massive bookshelf can hold the contents of an entire library.”