Removing of stain from old Captain's & Mates chairs
I have a friend who has Captain's and Mates chairs which she needs to remove the stain so she can either restain with a new finish. Being captain and mate chairs the legs are fluted or grooved. Is their a tool that she can use to get in these small grooves or would it be better to use paint remover or some other chemical substance?
She can pick up a contour scraper set at a paint or woodworking store for around $20. It will come with a number of shapes and you can further file the blades to whatever shape is needed. I have a contour sanding set as well. Dental or artists sculpting tools can come in handy for intricate areas.
With good sharp tools you can sometimes scrape finishes off as fast or faster than with power tools or chemical strippers. The heat generated from either power tools or chemical strippers can melt and force residues into the grain. Some chemical strippers will discolor the wood. Some of the newer gel type strippers seem to be better and would be a good choice for this application if you want to go with chemicals. They are safer too (old type strippers can explode if the vapors hit a pilot light or something---they are heavier than air so will travel along the floor).
If you have a residue left behind? A trick taught me by an old-timer was to put a thin layer of shellac over the stripped surface and then strip it out with a liquid stripper. This will get a bit more of the residue out of the grain.
You will never get all the stain out of the wood. So, experiment with the new stain and consider using gel stains as you may find you have better control over the coloration. You should plan on the new finish being at least a bit darker than what you have now although your clear finish may have darkened too so you may not notice a big change.