Furniture restorers analyse materials and techniques in order to assess the state of an old piece of furniture and to identify and classify it according to art and cultural history. They use old or modern tools and techniques to restore the piece and give advice to customers as to the restoration, conservation and maintenance of such objects.
The duties of a furniture restorer include, but are not limited to:
- Working out the best way to conserve or restore a piece of furniture
- Advising customers on what work is needed and offering quotes
- Sourcing materials needed for a job
- Keeping photographic and written records
- Using techniques like woodturning, veneering and marquetry
- Mixing and applying colours and stains
- Gilding, polishing and upholstering items
- Keeping photographic and written records
The following job titles also refer to furniture restorer:
historic furniture restorer
craft furniture restorer
furniture restoration expert
antique furniture restorer
heritage furniture restorer
A high school diploma is generally the minimum required to work as a furniture restorer.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Furniture restorer is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Furniture restorer career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to furniture restorer.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of furniture restorer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of furniture restorer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of furniture restorer.
- Conservation techniques: The procedures, instruments, techniques, materials and chemicals used in conservation and archiving.
- Technical drawings: Drawing software and the various symbols, perspectives, units of measurement, notation systems, visual styles and page layouts used in technical drawings.
- Art history: The history of art and artists, the artistic trends throughout centuries and their contemporary evolutions.
- Types of wood: Types of wood, such as birch, pine, poplar, mahogany, maple and tulipwood.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of furniture restorer.
- Assess conservation needs: Assess and list the needs for conservation/restoration, in relation to current use and planned future use.
- Apply restoration techniques: Select and apply appropriate restoration techniques in order to achieve the required restoration goals. This encompasses preventive measures, remedial measures, restoration processes and management processes.
- Join wood elements: Bind wooden materials together using a variety of techniques and materials. Determine the optimal technique to join the elements, like stapling, nail, gluing or screwing. Determine the correct work order and make the joint.
- Do historical research: Use scientific methods to research history and culture.
- Evaluate restoration procedures: Evaluate the outcome of conservation and restoration procedures. Evaluate the degree of risk, success of treatment or activity and communicate the results.
- Provide conservation advice: Formulating guidelines for object care, preservation and maintenance, and providing professional advice on possible restoration work to be done.
- Create smooth wood surface: Shave, plane and sand wood manually or automatically to produce a smooth surface.
- Estimate restoration costs: Estimate the cost implications of restoring and replacing products or parts.
- Apply a protective layer: Apply a layer of protective solutions such as permethrine to protect the product from damage such as corrosion, fire or parasites, using a spray gun or paintbrush.
- Sand wood: Use sanding machines or hand tools to remove paint or other substances from the surface of the wood, or to smoothen and finish the wood.
- Document restoration: Record the type and state of the object to be restored as well as the restoration processes applied by means of pictures, drawings and written accounts.
- Create wood joints: Use the proper tools and processes to create the joints where multiple pieces of wood fit together.
- Select restoration activities: Determine restoration needs and requirements and plan the activities. Consider the desired results, the level of intervention required, evaluation of alternatives, constraints on actions, stakeholder demands, possible risks and future options.
- Operate wood sawing equipment: Operate various machinery and equipment to cut wood in different sizes and shapes.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of furniture restorer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Engraving technologies: The characteristics of various materials and methods used to engrave something on a surface.
- Furniture industry: Companies and activities involved in the design, manufacture, distribution and sale of functional and decorative objects of household equipment.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of furniture restorer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Engrave patterns: Engrave and print designs and patterns onto a variety of surfaces.
- Handle delivery of furniture goods: Handle the delivery and assemble the furniture and other goods, according to customer’s needs and preferences.
- Clean furniture: Remove dirt, marks and other unwanted material from furniture.
- Use authentic crafting techniques: Restore old objects by means of the tools and techniques that were originally used in their production process.
- Artificially age furniture: Use various techniques such as sanding, denting, painting and others to make new furniture look distressed and aged.
- Fix minor scratches: Fix minor dents and scratches on the surface with touch-up paint or scratch remover.
- Specialise in an area of history: Specialise in a specific field of history, do research on topics relevant to collections, determine which items should be retained or acquired, and how they should be preserved and displayed.
- Carve materials: Carve an object out of a material such as wood, or give a specific shape to a material by carving it.
- Paint decorative designs: Apply designs in paint, using paint sprayers, paintbrushes or spray cans.
- Contextualise artistic work: Identify influences and situate your work within a specific trend which may be of an artistic, aesthetic, or philosophical natures. Analyse the evolution of artistic trends, consult experts in the field, attend events, etc.
- Use environmental friendly materials: Work with ecofriendly materials such as water based finishing materials systems or formaldehyde free adhesives.
- Produce copies of valuable objects: Produce exact copies of valuable objects such as paintings and pieces of furniture mainly for commercial or exhibition purposes.
- Sell household goods: Sell household devices and goods such as microwaves, blenders and kitchen supplies in accordance to the client’s personal preferences and needs.
- Produce customised tools: Elaborate the technical drawings and build special tools needed for a particular purpose such as creating traditional tools for artisanal crafting or restoration purposes.
- Document museum collection: Registrars are concerned with documentation and record keeping of museum collections. Documentation includes information about an object’s condition, provenance, materials, and all of its movements within the museum or out on loan.
- Sell furniture: Sell pieces of furniture in accordance to the client’s personal preferences and needs.
- Repair furniture parts: Repair locks, pegs, braces, frames or other parts of furniture.
- Decorate furniture: Use techniques such as gilding, silver-plating, framing or engraving to add specific decorations in the material of the furniture.
- Prepare furniture for application of paint: Set up furniture for standard or custom paint job, protect any parts that should not be painted and prepare painting equipment.
ISCO group and title
7522 – Cabinet-makers and related workers
- Furniture restorer – ESCO
- Furniture restorer | Explore careers – National Careers Service
- Featured image: By Marek Slusarczyk, CC BY 3.0