What does a French polisher do?
French polishers use traditional hand skills to prepare and treat wood in order to give it a smooth finish and enhance its appearance.
They work on new furniture, restore old pieces or work on fitted items such as staircases, panels and doors, deciding on the type and colour of any stain to be used. This is mixed and applied before finishing with the French polish (shellac dissolved in methylated spirits). Several coats of French polish are applied until the desired finish is achieved.
French polishers sometimes apply other finishes such as lacquer, paint, varnish, oil and wax. These finishes can be applied more quickly, usually by spraying.
In restoration work, repairs may be required. French polishers might carry out any simple repairs themselves, but more complex ones are dealt with by a cabinet maker or restorer.
Mass produced furniture is not normally French polished, although French polishers may work in factories advising on how to achieve surface finishes using automated processes.
What's the working environment like for a French polisher?
The hours of work depend on the workplace. Factory work is usually 39 hours a week, and may include overtime and shift work. Self-employed French polishers determine their own hours and sometimes work long hours and weekends to meet deadlines.
French polishers work in factories or workshops in teams or alone. They wear overalls, masks and gloves when necessary to protect from fumes and dust. There can be lifting of heavy furniture and materials.
Occasional travel may be necessary to collect and/or deliver furniture or to carry out work on site.
What does it take to become a French polisher?
To be a French polisher you should:
be methodical and have patience for carrying out slow, repetitive processes
have simple carpentry and other practical skills
have normal colour vision and a good eye for colour
be generally fit and healthy
be able to deal with customers and paperwork, especially if self-employed
have numeracy skills for calculating quantities and estimating costs.
French polisher career opportunities
French polishers are often self-employed or work for, or in association with, furniture restorers or antique dealers. Large furniture manufacturers may employ French polishers, where progression to supervisory and management posts is possible. Some move into teaching and training.
If you would like to know anything about French Polisher that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
The Furniture, Furnishings and Interiors National Training Organisation (FFINTO)
67 Wollaton Road
Tel: 0115 922 1200
The Guild of Master Craftsmen (GMC)
166 High Street
Tel: 01273 478449
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Tel: 0870 417 8777