Paint removal and sanding

I was hoping someone might be able to help me. I have an old solid oak tool box. It looks like it has been painted and has little dots of paint from through out the years, as it is a tool box as well it is extremely built up with dirt and inside and out. It also has a small crack in the top. I was thinking about using a paint remover to get the outside paint off and then sand the outside and inside to get the dirt off, I was going to use plastic wood to fill the crack and a couple other small holes as well. If anyone has any suggestions as to if this is a good idea or if there is a better process or some favourite products they use that would be great Thanks for the help. Mike
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Mike, Employ sanding as a last resort. Try Murphy's Oil Soap and a stiff nylon brush to remove most of the crud (if only that technique worked in this ng). As for removing the paint - a good quality stripper will do you. Try a google search in this group of "paint stripper," for years of discussion on the topic. I'm in agreement with Howard on using a filler to fix cracks. Don't do it. If the cracks aren't affecting the structural integrity, just leave 'em be. If they're not stable, a dutchman (dovetail key - looks like a bow-tie) should suffice, or if that's not your druthers, simply pare away any rough area, and splice in a somewhat matching patch.
Leave the nail/worm holes alone. It's not a new toolbox.
Post pictures when you're done. I dig old toolboxes.
O'Deen
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Have read strip, shellac & allow to dry the strip again and the shellac helps bits of paint buried in pores to lift out. Some suggest repeat if necessary.
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"Mike" wrote

There is no reason not to use paint remover. Just follow the instructions and play safe. I have always had the best results with the regular old stinky kind (methylene chloride based) but others may have different suggestions.
As for the dirt, I would try a light rubbing with steel wool. That should get the most of it yet leave any patina that may be there.
I would leave the crack. Just look at it and think to yourself that it gives the box character. Unless you were to fit a dutchman or other patch, trying to fill it would probably be problematic and detract from the look.
--
Cheers,
Howard
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