Woodwork refinishing

I have a home that is about 90 years old and all the Walnut trim in my house is original, yet needs some TLC in order to bring it back to its original luster.
I have never undertaken anything like this, and would like to know if there are any good resources on the internet that you all can recommend? I need advice along the lines of stripping vs. cleaning, and sanding vs. chemical cleaners. Also, i am really fuzzy on whether or not I would need to re-stain the wood after I either sand it or strip it. Like I said, I am a rookie.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

It would help a lot if you post a link to a photo of the woodwork. What you do re: clean or refinish depends on condition of the finish, your taste, and the amount of work you wish to do. I would never sand old wood unless you want it to look new or it is full of scars, as sanding removes patina. If it is merely dirty, you can clean it with cool or tepid water and a mild detergent. I use Dawn on wood occasionally, but that is not recommended - just use care to wring out cloth very well and dry quickly. Water usually won't harm a wood finish unless it is shellac or is allowed to soak. Mineral spirits with a soft cloth or very fine steel wool is good for old wax and/or greasy dirt. Any attempt should be tested on an out of the way spot before proceeding.
Whatever you do, don't try to stain without removing the old finish. Strippers - methylene something - are very potent, require cleanup with mineral spirits, but do a good job. I don't care for water bassed strippers at all, and have refinished lots of wood. It is very messy, a good deal of time and expense, and the chemicals are tough - you need very good ventillation. Stripper will remove old varnish quickly, along with some old stain but not all of it - the longer it soaks, the more it draws out. If there are coats of paint, you multiply the applications and time needed. If practical, one might take down the woodwork to be stripped and take it outdoors or to garage. If you strip it in place, you need to keep the room unoccupied and put down lots of protection to keep spills from whatever flooring you have.
Walnut can finish, without stain, from a medium to a very dark brown; it varies.
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Just to add to your confusion, it would be pretty rare to find walnut woodwork in a house. Are you confusing dark stain with type of wood?
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On Sat, 16 Feb 2008 06:36:15 -0800 (PST),

This would be similar to refinishing a piece of furniture--lots of books available on this topic at your local library. But it would be more difficult because of the bodily positions required to do the work. Find out what finish is on your trim. If the trim is inside a closet or behind a door, you can do some testing there. You will also need a lot of patience.
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On Sat, 16 Feb 2008 06:36:15 -0800 (PST),

"Welcome to Dave and Colleen's space on the web. This site documents the restoration we have undertaken on our 1896 Victorian house."
http://www.oceanmanorhouse.com/index.html
-- Oren
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