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French Polisher

The role

French polish is a wood finish that gives the surface of furniture and other wooden items a high gloss sheen and deep colour. A wooden surface is coated in many thin coats of shellac dissolved in methylated spirits to achieve this finish.

French Polishers use traditional skills to achieve this finish, working either on new furniture, to restore old furniture, or to work on larger fitted pieces such as a staircase or wall panels.

They will choose the shade of the wood stain, before mixing and applying it. On top of this, the polish will be applied in numerous coats until the required gloss is achieved.

French Polishers also work with different wood finishes, but the application techniques are usually simpler, and involve spraying.

They may work for a company in a factory or workshop, or they may be self-employed.

How to become a French Polisher

No qualifications are required. Some employers may require staff to have GCSEs, however.

It is possible to become a French Polisher through an apprenticeship scheme, learning the necessary skills on the job.

It’s also possible to learn polishing skills through furniture construction and restoration courses, such as City & Guilds Certificates in Furniture Production, or on a higher education course such as a foundation or full degree in furniture design. Grade requirements for these courses are dependent on the institution, and should be checked.

Skills and knowledge required

  • Patience, and the stamina to carry out manual work
  • Simple carpentry skills
  • Basic maths skills for costings and calculations
  • Organisation and the ability to
  • Good colour vision



Experienced French Polishers earn from £12,000 to £17,000 a year. Earnings for those who are self-employed can vary.

The hours

If employed by a company, a French Polisher will usually work full-time, between 37 and 40 hours a week. Those who are self-employed will organise their own working times.

Useful websites - Guild of Master Craftsmen - Apprenticeships

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