French Polisher

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Manufacturing & Electronics

What you will do:

In this role you could:

  • decide on the type and colour of wood stain to use
  • mix and apply the stain
  • apply french polish and other finishes, like lacquer, paint, varnish, oil or wax
  • repair furniture

If you are self employed as a french polisher you may also need to:

  • market your business
  • deal with customers
  • order materials
  • do paperwork and manage your finances



You’ll need:

  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to work on your own
  • the ability to come up with new ways of doing things (creative skills)
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • concentration skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming a French polisher is a craft that involves the restoration and finishing of wooden furniture to a high standard. While there are no specific GCSE subjects required to become a French polisher, certain subjects can be beneficial for developing skills and knowledge that can be valuable in this profession. Here are some GCSE subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Design and Technology (Woodwork): This subject provides hands-on experience with woodworking tools and materials, which is directly relevant to French polishing. You’ll learn about woodworking techniques, finishes, and craftsmanship.
  2. Art: Art courses can help develop your artistic and creative skills, which are important in French polishing. Understanding color, texture, and design principles can be valuable when working on furniture finishes.
  3. Mathematics: While not directly related to French polishing, a solid foundation in mathematics can be useful for measuring, calculating proportions, and working with precision when dealing with furniture restoration and finishing.
  4. Science: A basic understanding of materials, including wood and various finishes, can be beneficial. Science subjects like chemistry can provide insight into the properties of various finishing materials and solvents.
  5. English: Good communication skills are important when working with clients and documenting your work. Clear written and verbal communication is essential.
  6. Business Studies: If you plan to run your own French polishing business, some knowledge of business and entrepreneurship can be beneficial for managing your clients and finances.

Post School

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.


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

In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Furniture Finishing Methods
  • Diploma in Furniture Restoration
  • Diploma in Furniture Design and Making


Apprenticeships that may give you some of the skills needed for this role include:

  • Furniture manufacturer
  • Wood product manufacturing operative
  • Bespoke furniture maker
  • Carpentry and Joinery

Other Routes
You could do a specialist training course in french polishing with a professional body.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 42-44 hours of work. You could be required to freelance/be self-employed and manage your own hours.

You could work in a workshop or in a factory. You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress to supervisor or manager.

You could start your own business.