On the Job
Furniture finishers sand, stain, and finish new or repaired furniture.
Did you know that mahogany's natural color can be salmon pink or even yellow? Only when it ages does it turn a deep red or brown-red. In fact, many pieces of mahogany furniture are stained to achieve that color. Over time, it will continue to get darker and redder.Furniture finishers work with both new and old furniture. When working with old furniture, they examine it to determine the amount of damage. Then they decide the best methods for repairing it. Finishers start by taking the furniture apart. They remove parts or mask areas that they want to protect.
Furniture finishers prepare surfaces for finish in a variety of ways. They smooth or shape surfaces using sandpaper, pumice stone, or chisels. They fill cracks with wood putty and repair broken parts using glue or nails. On older pieces, finishers may treat warped surfaces to restore their original shape. They may bleach surfaces to lighten them or wash off dust. They may remove old finish by scraping or using chemicals. They may fix damaged veneers or replace missing parts.
Once the surfaces are prepared, furniture finishers select the finishing products. They choose paints, stains, and lacquers to finish wood surfaces. Occasionally, finishers mix products to give customers the type of color or shine they desire. Then they brush, spray, or hand-rub a finish into the wood. Finishers may use graining ink to make metal pieces of furniture look like a wood finish.
Furniture finishers attend to details to ensure old parts match new parts or to create an old-fashioned look. For example, they polish or wax restored areas to match the surrounding finish. They may also replace or treat old upholstery or leather. In addition, they may add stencils or gold trim, and paint designs to reproduce the furniture's original appearance. To make new furniture look like antiques, finishers distress surfaces with abrasives before staining.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Examine furniture to find the amount of damage. Decide on the best way to repair or restore it.
- Take items apart and cover areas that will not be changed. Remove handles or other accessories.
- Smooth and shape surfaces with sandpaper, pumice stone, steel wool, or chisel.
- Wash or bleach surfaces to lighten them and prepare for new finish.
- Fill cracks and depressions. Repair broken parts.
- Select the best finishing ingredients, such as shellac or varnish for wood surfaces.
- Mix finish ingredients to get desired color.
- Brush, spray, or hand-rub finishing products onto and into grain of wood.
- Polish, spray, or wax finished pieces to match current finish.
- Replace or clean upholstery.
- Distress surfaces of new furniture with abrasives before staining to make them look antique.
- Stencil, gild, emboss, or paint designs or borders on restored pieces to make them look new.
- Apply graining ink over metal portions of furniture to make them look like wood.
- May follow blueprints to produce specific designs.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Handle and move objects.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Perform activities that use the whole body.
- Control machines and processes.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
- Estimate sizes, quantities, time, cost, or materials needed.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Repair and maintain electronic equipment.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a medium level of contact with others. When they talk to others, it's usually face-to-face.
- Sometimes work as part of a team.
- Are somewhat responsible for the health and safety of others.
- Are responsible for the work done by other finishers and assistants.
- Always work indoors.
- Are sometimes exposed to contaminants such as chemical strippers.
- Wear safety goggles, masks, gloves, or other specialized equipment on a daily basis.
- Are exposed to loud or distracting sounds and noise levels on a daily basis.
- Are regularly exposed to hazardous conditions and equipment.
- May be exposed to very hot or cold temperatures.
- Sometimes must get into awkward positions to reach cramped work places.
- Occasionally are exposed to hazardous situations that may cause cuts or minor burns.
- May work physically near other workers.
- Must be exact in their work and be sure all details are done. Errors could damage furniture and cause the company to lose money.
- Sometimes must match the pace of work with the speed of machinery.
- Set their daily tasks and goals with some input from clients and supervisors.
- Must meet strict daily deadlines.
- Work 35 to 40 hours per week. Those who are self-employed may work longer hours, once they have built a client list.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Stand for long periods of time.
- Repeat the same motions.
- Use hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Bend or twist their body.
- See details of objects whether they are nearby or far away.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Use hands or fingers to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
- Be physically active and use muscles for extended periods without getting tired.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- React quickly using hands, fingers, or feet.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Make fast, repeated movements of fingers, hands, and wrists.
- Adjust body movements or equipment controls to keep pace with speed changes of moving objects.
- Choose quickly and correctly among various movements when responding to different signals.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Coordinate movement of several parts of the body, such as arms and legs, while the body is moving.
- Move arms and legs quickly.
- See objects in very bright or glaring light.
- While looking forward, see objects or movements that are off to the side.
- Keep or regain the body's balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.