removing paint from antique hutch
I have just purchased an old handmade farmhouse-style hutch that has several layers of peeling paint. It seems as though the first layer may be a slate blue. I was told this piece is pre-Civil War era (square nails, pegs). I would like to strip it down to the blue and repair the blue if possible. There are a couple of layers of paint...the top is white enamel.
Should I use a heat gun or chemicals? Would they remove the blue too? Could the blue be milk paint? Can I restore it? It seems to be a different texture than any paint I've come across. The horizontal planes are bare wood. How can I treat/seal these?
Thanks for any help or resources you can point me toward. I have a quote to have it done professionally ($5,000)....not gonna happen when I have the patience to do it myself.