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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Furniture Finishers and Refinishers(9534)

Furniture finishers finish new wood or metal furniture to specified colour and finish. They are employed in furniture manufacturing plants, retail furniture stores or refinishing and repair shops. Furniture refinishers refinish repaired, used or old furniture. They are employed in furniture refinishing shops or they may be self-employed.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read labels on paints and stains to find out how they will work on metal and particular types and colours of wood. (1)
  • Read pamphlets to brush up on the correct way to mix solvents used, such as wood bleach, used to strip old finish from wood surfaces. (2)
  • Read manufacturers' information sheets to learn about various finishes, such as how temperature affects a specific brand of lacquer. (2)
  • May read books to scan for specific information, such as the characteristics of a type of wood, to learn technical skills, such as stripping and special finishing techniques, or to research period furniture styles. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read product labels such as instructions on stains bottles. (1)
  • May use colour charts to select the colours which match the original finish of furniture items. (2)
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHIMIS) labels to follow the instructions for use. (2)
  • Read work orders, prepared by themselves and others. These contain the details of work requirements, such as descriptions of the work to be done, sketches and diagrams with measurements, colour specifications and deadlines. (3)
  • May read assembly drawings to determine whether a piece of furniture should be finished before being assembled. (3)
  • Read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to learn about a new product's characteristics and safe handling specifications, such as ventilation requirements and reactions with other agents. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Label furniture parts using Roman numerals and numbers, such as II of 7, to facilitate reassembly. (1)
  • Make lists of supplies needed to place orders. (1)
  • Complete forms, such as time cards and invoices. (1)
  • Complete work orders using words and phrases at the outset of a job, adding more detailed information as the work progresses. Work orders record such information as the customer's name and phone number, special instructions and the specific stain colour applied. (1)
  • May prepare a written description of a piece of furniture, detailing such information as the type of wood and identifying marks, to assist clients in obtaining insurance protection. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Receive payments from clients and make change. (1)
  • Total bills, including calculation of labour charges at an hourly rate and taxes. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Time the placement of orders for parts to ensure that the parts are on hand when they are required. (1)
  • Budget their time and sequence tasks to maximize efficiency and ensure jobs are completed on time. They may work on several jobs concurrently. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Take measurements, such as lengths of wood needed to fabricate a missing piece. (1)
  • Take the readings from pressure gauges on equipment, such as air compressors used with spray guns and vacuum pumps used for pressing veneer, to ensure that the equipment is functioning normally. (1)
  • Measure and mix various volumes of lacquer and thinner according to ratios or label instructions. They adjust the viscosity formula according to the particular spray gun they are using and the style of spraying. (2)
  • May measure the dimensions of curved or irregular pieces when repairing furniture. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the amount of liquid that will be required to cover a piece or the drying times of stains. (1)
  • Estimate the amount of time required for disassembling, repairing and refinishing a piece of furniture to prepare a price quotation for a customer. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Talk with co-workers to exchange information about a customer's requirements and to co-ordinate work. (1)
  • May speak with suppliers to place orders and to seek product information. (1)
  • Speak with helpers to provide instructions and supervise them. (2)
  • Interact with their supervisor to receive work assignments, discuss production problems and clarify procedures. (2)
  • May interact with customers to clarify expectations, to explain the scope of work, to assist them in selecting the colour and lustre of the finish and to provide ongoing maintenance instructions for the customer's furniture. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May discover that the paint in an air gun changed hue after the pistol was left soaking overnight in water rather than in solvent. They dilute the remaining paint to recreate the colour that was used the day before. (1)
  • May work with a piece of furniture that doesn't strip easily. They experiment by using different products and techniques to strip the item without damaging it, and if unsuccessful, contact suppliers to find a suitable stripping product. (2)
  • May be asked to restore an antique piece of furniture to its original state even though the owner is unable to provide any information about the piece's history. They do a visual inspection, looking for features such as wooden nails, and refer to books to date the antique, identify its style and find other period information needed to authentically restore the piece. (2)
Decision Making
  • Decide whether pieces are best finished or refinished while they are completely assembled or partially assembled. (1)
  • May decide what colour of stain best matches that of the original piece. (1)
  • May decide whether the preparatory work done at earlier stages of production, such as sanding and glueing, is of sufficiently high quality for finishing, rejecting pieces that are substandard. (2)
  • May decide what techniques to use to create antique effects on new wood. (2)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Many of the tasks performed by furniture finishers and refinishers are repetitive; however, some variety may be introduced by the different types of furniture pieces and the nature of the work to be done. The work priorities of furniture finishers and refinishers are established by the deadlines associated with work orders or by production schedules. Within this context, some furniture finishers and refinishers have wide scope to sequence their job tasks for efficiency, planning their work in response to the volume of customer orders and dealing with disruptions, such as customers dropping by the shop. Others, such as those working in furniture manufacturing plants, have comparatively less scope to sequence their job tasks, receiving directions from their supervisors. Ensuring that materials are on hand when needed and taking into account timing considerations, such as drying times for glues and finishes, are important aspects of their job task planning and organizing. They may work with partners, co-ordinating schedules as needed. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the sequence in which they are working on several items concurrently and at which stage in the process they are with each item.
  • Remember how to modify various finishing and refinishing techniques when working with different types of wood.
  • May remember the names and faces of customers and the nature of work completed for them in the past.
Finding Information
  • Clarify the specifications for a particular job by asking their supervisor. (1)
  • Refer to catalogues and speak with suppliers to find information about new products or products which may be suitable for a particular job. (2)
  • May seek information from more experienced refinishers. Such sources can be difficult to locate as competitors may be unwilling to share information. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology

This occupation does not use computers.

Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Furniture finishers and refinishers mainly work independently. They work jointly with a partner or helper to perform certain tasks, such as handling large or heavy pieces.

Continuous Learning

Furniture finishers and refinishers have a need for ongoing learning to stay abreast of new finishing and refinishing techniques and new products. They also have a need for continuous learning to acquire and maintain safety skills and knowledge. New learning is mostly acquired through informal means such as on-the-job training, peer mentoring and independent reading. Some furniture finishers and refinishers may participate in formal training activities, such as seminars sponsored by suppliers.

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