advice on old shellacked woodwork
Hi all: I've been hanging about the Kitchens forum as I worked on a kitchen remodel in my 1907 Baltimore row house. Now it's mostly done and I'm turning my attention to other issues, notably...woodwork.
Much of the original woodwork at my house is intact and unpainted, though some of it is quite beaten up. Previous owners (I've been here about a year and a half) apparently did some work on it, but it's not entirely clear to me what exactly they did. My son and I have been gradually tackling some of the shellacked stuff that had alligatored and we have more or less successfully rejuvenated several doors and door frames by using denatured alcohol to dissolve and reconstitute the alligatored shellac.
Question now is what to do about the staircase, which is a veritable patchwork of woodwork in various stages of restoration (not to mention species...some is oak, some pine). Many of the spindles have been nearly stripped of finish, apparently using alcohol on the shellac. They've left nearly bare areas, with dark rings of aged shellac in every bead and cove. The newel posts and rails however, seem to have undergone the same treatment as the doors I've done and seem fine.
I am really loathe (for budgetary reasons among others) to dismantle everything and send it out to be stripped. I am willing to live with some variablility and considerable imperfection in the finish, as I am of the philosophy that I live in an old house, not a museum. But I would like to try to even out what I've got a bit. Anyone got any suggestions?