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Furniture Finisher Careers

What Does a Furniture Finisher Do

Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates. They often combine and incorporate different materials into wood.

Duties

Woodworkers typically do the following:

  • Understand detailed architectural drawings, schematics, shop drawings, and blueprints
  • Prepare and set up machines and tooling for woodwork manufacturing
  • Lift wood pieces onto machines, either by hand or with hoists
  • Operate woodworking machines, including saws and milling and sanding machines
  • Listen for unusual sounds or detect excessive vibration in machinery
  • Ensure that products meet industry standards and project specifications, making adjustments as necessary
  • Select and adjust the proper cutting, milling, boring, and sanding tools for completing a job
  • Use hand tools to trim pieces or assemble products

Despite the abundance of plastics, metals, and other materials, wood products continue to be an important part of our daily lives. Woodworkers make wood products from lumber and synthetic wood materials. Many of these products, including most furniture, kitchen cabinets, and musical instruments, are mass produced. Other products are custom made from architectural designs and drawings.

Although the term “woodworker” may evoke the image of a craftsman who uses hand tools to build ornate furniture, the modern woodworking trade is highly technical and relies on advanced equipment and highly skilled operators. Workers use automated machinery, such as computerized numerical control (CNC) machines, to do much of the work with great accuracy.

Even specialized artisans generally use CNC machines and a variety of power tools in their work. Much of the work is done in a high-production assembly line facility, but there is also some work that is customized and does not lend itself to being made on an assembly line.

Woodworkers set up, operate, and tend all types of woodworking machines, such as saws, milling machines, drill presses, lathes, shapers, routers, sanders, planers, and wood-fastening machines. Operators set up the equipment, cut and shape wooden parts, and verify dimensions, using a template, caliper, and rule. After the parts are machined, woodworkers add fasteners and adhesives and connect the parts to form an assembled unit. They also install hardware, such as pulls and drawer slides, and fit specialty products for glass, metal trims, electrical components, and stone. Finally, workers then sand, stain, and, if necessary, coat the wood product with a sealer or topcoats, such as a lacquer or varnish.

Many of these tasks are handled by different workers with specialized training.

The following are examples of types of woodworkers:

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters cut, shape, assemble, and make parts for wood products. They often design and create sets of cabinets that are customized for particular spaces. In some cases, their duties begin with designing a set of cabinets to specifications and end with installing the cabinets.

Furniture finishers shape, finish, and refinish damaged and worn furniture. They may work with antiques and must judge how to preserve and repair them. They also do the staining, sealing, and top coating at the end of the process of making wooden products.

Wood sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders specialize in operating specific pieces of woodworking machinery. They often operate CNC machines.

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing, operate woodworking machines, such as drill presses, lathes, routers, sanders, and planers.

How To Become a Furniture Finisher

A high school diploma is typically required to become a woodworker. Although some entry-level jobs can be learned in less than 1 year, becoming fully proficient generally takes at least 3 years of on-the-job training. The ability to use computer-controlled machinery is becoming increasingly important.

Education

Because of the growing sophistication of machinery, many employers are seeking applicants who have a high school diploma or the equivalent. People seeking woodworking jobs can enhance their employment prospects by completing high school and getting training in computer applications and math.

Some woodworkers obtain their skills by taking courses at technical schools or community colleges. Others attend universities that offer training in wood technology, furniture manufacturing, wood engineering, and production management. These programs prepare students for jobs in production, supervision, engineering, and management, and are becoming increasingly important as woodworking technology advances.

Training

Education is helpful, but woodworkers are trained primarily on the job, where they learn skills from experienced workers. Beginning workers are given basic tasks, such as placing a piece of wood through a machine and stacking the finished product at the end of the process.

As they gain experience, new woodworkers perform more complex tasks with less supervision. In about 1 year, they learn basic machine operations and job tasks. Becoming a skilled woodworker often takes 3 or more years. Skilled workers can read blueprints, set up machines, and plan work sequences.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, becoming certified can demonstrate competence and professionalism. It also may help a candidate advance in the profession. The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) publishes product standards for the industry, and offers training programs for mid-management positions. The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers a national certificate program, with five progressive credentials, which adds a level of credibility to the work of woodworkers.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Woodworkers must pay attention to details in order to meet specifications and to keep themselves safe.

Dexterity. Woodworkers must make precise cuts with a variety of hand tools and power tools, so they need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Math skills. Knowledge of basic math and computer skills are important, particularly for those who work in manufacturing, in which technology continues to advance. Woodworkers need to understand basic geometry to visualize how the wood pieces will fit together to fabricate a three-dimensional object, such as a cabinet or piece of furniture.

Mechanical skills. The use of hand tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches, is required to set up, adjust, and calibrate machines. Modern technology systems require woodworkers to be able to use computers and other programmable devices.

Physical stamina. The ability to endure long periods of standing and repetitious movements is crucial for woodworkers, who often stand all day performing many of the same functions.

Physical strength. Woodworkers must be strong enough to lift bulky and heavy pieces of wood.

Technical skills. Woodworkers must be able to understand and interpret design drawings and technical manuals for a range of products and machines.

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Average Salary
$33,033
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
-1%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
924
Job Openings

Average Salary for a Furniture Finisher

Furniture Finishers in America make an average salary of $33,033 per year or $16 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $94,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $11,000 per year.
Average Salary
$33,033
Find Your Salary Estimate
How much should you be earning as an Architect? Use Zippia's Salary Calculator to get an estimation of how much you should be earning.

Best Paying Cities

City
ascdesc
Average Salarydesc
Southampton, NY
Salary Range36k - 71k$51k$51,082
Islandia, NY
Salary Range36k - 70k$51k$50,617
Deer Park, NY
Salary Range36k - 70k$51k$50,515
Hewlett, NY
Salary Range35k - 70k$50k$50,221
New York, NY
Salary Range35k - 69k$50k$49,967
Oakville, CT
Salary Range35k - 67k$49k$48,764
$23k
$71k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Overnight Warehouse Furniture Repair/Finisher
Overnight Warehouse Furniture Repair/Finisher
Cardis Furniture & Mattresses
Cardis Furniture & Mattresses
05/23/2021
05/23/2021
$37,56605/23/2021
$37,566
Overnight Warehouse Furniture Repair/Finisher
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Cardis Furniture & Mattresses
Cardis Furniture & Mattresses
05/23/2021
05/23/2021
$37,56605/23/2021
$37,566
Furniture Finisher
Furniture Finisher
Randstad
Randstad
05/04/2020
05/04/2020
$27,13105/04/2020
$27,131
Experienced Furniture Finisher On The Southside
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Randstad
Randstad
03/26/2020
03/26/2020
$27,13103/26/2020
$27,131
Furniture Finisher
Furniture Finisher
Randstad
Randstad
02/18/2020
02/18/2020
$27,13102/18/2020
$27,131
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Furniture Finisher Demographics

Gender

male

70.2 %

female

22.3 %

unknown

7.4 %

Ethnicity

White

73.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

12.8 %

Black or African American

8.9 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0 %
See More Demographics

Furniture Finisher Education

Majors

Business
15.6 %

Degrees

Certificate

37.5 %

High School Diploma

26.6 %

Diploma

14.1 %
See More Education Info

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Top Skills For a Furniture Finisher

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 80.2% of furniture finishers listed hand tools on their resume, but soft skills such as detail oriented and math skills are important as well.

Best States For a Furniture Finisher

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a furniture finisher. The best states for people in this position are New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Furniture finishers make the most in New York with an average salary of $49,597. Whereas in Rhode Island and Connecticut, they would average $49,161 and $49,114, respectively. While furniture finishers would only make an average of $47,734 in Massachusetts, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Pennsylvania

Total Furniture Finisher Jobs:
37
Highest 10% Earn:
$86,000
Location Quotient:
1.03
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Maine

Total Furniture Finisher Jobs:
10
Highest 10% Earn:
$69,000
Location Quotient:
2.44
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Connecticut

Total Furniture Finisher Jobs:
7
Highest 10% Earn:
$90,000
Location Quotient:
0.68
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Furniture Finisher Employers

1. Golden Oldies Antiques
3.7
Avg. Salary: 
$39,612
Furniture Finishers Hired: 
2+
2. Cardi's Furniture
3.2
Avg. Salary: 
$30,273
Furniture Finishers Hired: 
2+
3. Century Furniture
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$36,526
Furniture Finishers Hired: 
1+
4. Sahara Net
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$31,224
Furniture Finishers Hired: 
1+
5. Bausman
3.1
Avg. Salary: 
$29,320
Furniture Finishers Hired: 
1+
6. Mayflower Retirement Community
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$29,693
Furniture Finishers Hired: 
1+
Updated October 2, 2020