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Working As a Wood Finisher

  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $40,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Wood 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.

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How To Become A Wood 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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Wood Finisher Typical Career Paths

Average Length of Employment
Furniture Finisher 5.1 years
Wood Finisher 4.0 years
Cabinet Finisher 2.8 years
Finisher 2.7 years
Top Careers Before Wood Finisher
Finisher 11.8%
Painter 11.0%
Cashier 7.1%
Cook 6.3%
Packer 3.9%
Server 3.1%
Manager 3.1%
Assistant 3.1%
Top Careers After Wood Finisher
Painter 8.4%
Finisher 8.4%
Assembler 7.4%
Cashier 6.3%
Driver 5.3%
Owner 4.2%
Welder 3.2%

Do you work as a Wood Finisher?

Average Yearly Salary
$40,000
Show Salaries
$10,000
Min 10%
$40,000
Median 50%
$40,000
Median 50%
$40,000
Median 50%
$40,000
Median 50%
$40,000
Median 50%
$40,000
Median 50%
$40,000
Median 50%
$163,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Highest Paying City
Arlington Heights, IL
Highest Paying State
New Jersey
Avg Experience Level
3.9 years
How much does a Wood Finisher make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Wood Finisher in the United States is $40,738 per year or $20 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $10,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $163,000.

Real Wood Finisher Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
High End Wood Finisher Harrison Custom Builders, Ltd. Cherry Hills Village, CO Dec 04, 2009 $60,523
Wood Finisher Creative Cabinetry, LLC. Fair Lawn, NJ Aug 22, 2008 $43,660
Wood Finisher Total Exteriors Inc. Arlington Heights, IL Jan 23, 2008 $34,498
Wood Finisher Andy's Flooring Arlington Heights, IL Apr 19, 2011 $30,846
Wood Finisher Chicagoland Remodeling, Inc. Elmwood Park, IL Apr 15, 2011 $30,846
Woodfinisher Superior Builders & Construction, Inc. Northbrook, IL Apr 15, 2011 $30,846
Wood Finisher Paint It The Truth Decorating, Inc. Glenview, IL May 04, 2011 $30,846
Wood Finisher Jack's Construction Bridgeview, IL Feb 25, 2008 $30,846
Wood Finisher 4 Season Carpentry Chicago, IL Mar 23, 2009 $30,846
Wood Finisher All Boro Rehab Corp. Inwood, NY May 28, 2008 $28,634
Woodfinisher Wm Carpentry Bridgeview, IL Jul 27, 2011 $25,733
Wood Finisher Wes Construction Bridgeview, IL Jun 30, 2011 $25,712
Wood Finisher Great Home Construction Inc. Park Ridge, IL Mar 10, 2011 $25,712
Wood Finisher Wes Construction Company Bridgeview, IL May 09, 2011 $25,712
Woodfinisher Wes Construction Company Bridgeview, IL Aug 26, 2011 $25,712

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Top Skills for A Wood Finisher

  1. Aircraft Furniture
  2. Kitchen Cabinets
  3. Customer Samples
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Perform complex high quality repairs and polishing to finished surfaces of aircraft furniture in the shop and on-board aircraft.
  • Assist in installing kitchen cabinets and furniture and restoring damaged cabinets and furniture.
  • Worked directly under the lead person, doing customer samples, getting it ready to mail and get job approval.
  • Disassembled items and prepared them for finishing using hand tools.
  • Perform final touch-ups with sandpaper and steel wool.

Rank:

Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Wood Finishers

  1. Connecticut
  2. New Hampshire
  3. New York
  4. Delaware
  5. Wisconsin
  6. New Jersey
  7. Iowa
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. Ohio
  10. Washington
  • (4 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)

Wood Finisher Demographics

Gender

Male

74.8%

Female

16.0%

Unknown

9.2%
Ethnicity

White

62.9%

Hispanic or Latino

20.4%

Black or African American

9.9%

Asian

4.0%

Unknown

2.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Wood Finisher Education

Schools

Dakota County Technical College

8.0%

Eastern Michigan University

8.0%

Palm Beach State College

8.0%

Anne Arundel Community College

8.0%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

8.0%

Miami Valley Career Technology Center

4.0%

Brown University

4.0%

University of Northern Iowa

4.0%

Columbus State Community College

4.0%

Everest Institute

4.0%

Baker University

4.0%

Rogue Community College

4.0%

Rockingham Community College

4.0%

University of the People

4.0%

Mount Wachusett Community College

4.0%

Hope College

4.0%

Donnelly College

4.0%

Front Range Community College

4.0%

Advanced Technology Institute

4.0%

Houston Community College

4.0%
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Majors

Business

17.5%

Fine Arts

7.9%

General Studies

7.9%

Marketing

6.3%

Heating And Air Conditioning

6.3%

Graphic Design

6.3%

Automotive Technology

6.3%

Forestry

4.8%

Computer Science

4.8%

Psychology

3.2%

Medical Technician

3.2%

Management

3.2%

Electrical And Power Transmission Installers

3.2%

Economics

3.2%

Nursing

3.2%

Criminal Justice

3.2%

Computer Programming

3.2%

Education

3.2%

Science, Technology, And Society

1.6%

Statistics

1.6%
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Degrees

Other

55.8%

Bachelors

15.4%

Associate

13.5%

Certificate

7.7%

Diploma

5.8%

Masters

1.9%
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