Arts & crafts

French polisher

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

Annual Salary

£13,000 to £30,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

42 to 44 a week

You could work: freelance / self-employed; managing your own hours

Future employment

There will be 1% fewer French polisher jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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 may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work in a workshop or in a factory.

You can get into this job through:

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

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
For more information

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
For more information

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
For 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.

With experience, you could progress to supervisor or manager.

You could start your own business.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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