One of the things I got from Craig was an old pew. I wasn't going to take it, but Doorlink loved it. It came from an old Augustinian chapel in downtown DC, and it had been sitting on Craig's enclosed porch for about 20 years. When he got it (the chapel was being torn down), he just put it out there, so it likely hasn't been refinished for, I'm guessing, at least a century.
Luckily, the Augustinians aren't known from being especially rowdy monks, so it's in pretty good shape. There are a couple deep scratches in one place on the seat, but other than that, all is well.
I'm wondering how best to refinish it. I used some 320 grit sandpaper on parts of it, just to get the dirt off, but it's going to take a whole mess of sanding. The trouble with sanding: once you start, you have to keep going... and the oak is pretty old... for a moment, I got worried about reshaping some of the curves, even with 320 grit. Is there some wonder product I can brush on that'll take off the old finish? Not sure what the old finish is, maybe shellac or lacquer? What did they use for finish in c. 1880? I tried naptha, but that just loosened the dirt and dust, not the finish.
Assuming that goes well, any ideas for a modern finish? Doorlink wants it to find a home inside, so I don't need to worry about weathering. My first thought is to just use what I'm used to, which is 1/3 BLO, 1/3 poly, and 1/3 naptha. But I'm open to all suggestions...