Although I have no legitimate crafting or woodworking experience, I have put many a store bought shelf or piece of furniture together with little effort, as most of the directions are easy. I purchased a really nice looking desk from Home Depot for about $400, hoping to have a desk made with real wood and not particle board or the like. I was surprised when the very heavy desk assembly required cams toward the end of putting it together (to secure the heaviest pieces.)

As I was afraid of, some of the cams tightened with no real effort but most will not tighten fully. I DID follow the instructions and screwed the pins in to the shoulder and tried to readjust them to make the perfect fit to no avail. After spending literally 8 hours completely putting this desk together (no electric drill for me) I was exasperated and exhausted and left it together as is although it may literally fall apart if I ever tried to move it. I do not want to lose the time and effort I already spent on it and I rather like the design and quality of the wood. Is there a way I can replace the cams with other hardware? Is there a way I can just use nails to further secure the desk or screws? Any advice would be helpful. Thank you

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. A picture or two of the problematic joints would help us better help you. Mar 8, 2016 at 12:17
  • I don't see a way to share a photo. Then again, I'm on a mobile phone.
    – Stephanie
    Mar 8, 2016 at 15:12

3 Answers 3


Check the "Cam Connectors" (that's what the stores call them). They can rip or split & not provide a solid connection. If there are gaps & the panels aren't sucking together tightly, then you'll need to back out your screws/pins.

The screws/pins do hold everything together yes. But, the other thing they do is splay-out the screw receiver in the drilled hole to firmly anchor the screw/pin. If screwing isn't getting them flat, then you can hammer the balls at the bottom with the head end of a nail or a nail-set or a bolt or rod.

This will let your screw/pin sit at the right height & everything will snug-up beautifully. I wouldn't install through-screws unless they aren't visible. One final suggestion is to take it all or mostly apart & apply wood glue to all seaming panels. This will stiffen the entire piece incredibly, but you won't be able to take it apart in the future.


Using screws or nails in place of the cams could result in damage or a lack of rigid connections. If possible, remove one of the cams and go to a hardware provider. There is a very good chance that a replacement can be found and will most likely be of superior quality.

If a replacement can't be found adding brackets would be a suitable replacement as long as wood framing screws or shorter deck screws are used. When it comes to small applications using wood wider threading is usually best. At least half an inch of penetration is recommended for applications suspending less than fifty pounds. If the weight exceeds fifty pounds an inch of penetration is recommended. Remember that the weight is supported not only by the screws but the wood as well.


I would leave the cam locks in place and add some small brackets on the underside. corner bracket not very expensive and if put out of sight it may give the stability you want.

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