French polisher

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French polishers use traditional skills to treat wood and restore furniture and items like staircases, doors and musical instruments.

Salary range: £13,000 to £30,000

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How to become a french polisher

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • training with a professional body
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University

Doing a higher national diploma or degree in furniture design, decorative arts or furniture restoration can be useful if you want to start your own business.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • between 1 and 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma or degree

More information

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College

You can learn polishing and finishing skills on some furniture making and restoration courses like:

  • Level 2 Furniture Finishing Methods
  • Level 3 Diploma in Furniture Restoration

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More information

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Apprenticeship

You can get into this job through an intermediate apprenticeship as a furniture restorer.

This will usually take 2 years to complete. You’ll do on-the-job training and spend time with a college or training provider.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

More information

Other routes

You could do a specialist training course in french polishing with a professional body like the The British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You could join The Guild of Master Craftsmen for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a french polisher from The Guild of Master Craftsmen.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to work on your own
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • concentration skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • deciding on the type and colour of wood stain to use
  • mixing and applying the stain
  • applying french polish and other finishes, like lacquer, paint, varnish, oil or wax
  • repairing furniture

Working environment

You could work in a workshop or in a factory.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to supervisor or manager.

You could start your own business.