You are here:

Collectibles-General (Antiques)/Chifferobe with ball feet


Ball footed chifferobe
Ball footed chifferobe  

back of chifferobe
back of chifferobe  
Greetings,  I have my grandfather's chifferobe that has some parts where the finish is down to the raw wood, mainly on the top of the first two doors.    I would like to know what I can do to repair these parts.  I really would like to keep the original finish.  I have wiped it down with Mineral Oil to remove the dirt.
Also, I have searched extensively online for one like this that has the extra bottom drawer and the ball feet but have not had any luck.  If you could give me some background on this piece I would truly appreciate it.
Thank you for your time.

Margaret - The ball feet, called turnip feet, are an indication of the William and Mary style of England in the late 17th century. Here is a William and Mary armoire from the late 19th century with the turnip feet.

Your cabinet is from the early 20th century and could be English in origin. The three sections and long bottom drawer are more commonly found in English cabinets than American cabinets. Construction of the back panels also looks English. One clue is the interior. If the insides are made of striped mahogany with brass clothes rods it is almost certainly English.

I hope you didn't really wipe it down with mineral oil. Hopefully you used mineral spirits, not mineral oil. If you did instead use mineral oil please remove it as quickly as can using mineral spirits to wipe it down. Mineral oil is a dirt and dust magnetic. Mineral spirits, paint thinner, is a solvent that will remove the oil and dirt.

I suggest you do not do anything to the worn areas of the finish but leave that to a furniture touch up and restoration professional. Anything you are likely to do will only make it worse. You, or the the professional, first need to determine what the finish actually is, shellac, lacquer, varnish or something else. That will determine the next course of action.

Good luck and thanks for writing.

Fred Taylor

Collectibles-General (Antiques)

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Fred Taylor


I will attempt to answer questions about American antique furniture, including construction details, style, period, manufacturers, care, repair and storage. I do not have any background in appliances, musical instruments, sewing machines, trunks, lighting, clocks or children's and baby furniture and will not respond to questions about those items.


I ran an antique furniture restoration business for twenty years. I am a nationally syndicated columnist on the subject of antique furniture for such publications as Antique Week and New England Antiques Journal. I have produced one video on the subject of furniture identification and my book "HOW TO BE A FURNITURE DETECTIVE" is now available.I have also published articles in Antique Trader, Chicago Art Deco Society, Northeast Magazine, Victorian Decorating and Lifestyles, Professional Refinishing, Antiques and Art Around Florida and Antique Shoppe. You can visit my website at

BSBA Finance, University of Florida, MBA Finance, University of Florida

©2017 All rights reserved.