Restoring drop-leaf table

I've got a solid wood drop-leaf table which has been shamefully mistreated for the last 20 years. It's mostly a dark brown colour, but in heavily used areas the colouration has been stripped away.
Any suggestions on how to make it look nice again? I'm not particularly fond of the dark colour, so I don't mind ending up with a different coloured table.
Finally, any ideas when and where this table would have come from? I'm guessing 1950s, but I really have no clue.
http://i40.tinypic.com/11b7ng0.jpg
http://i41.tinypic.com/2sadqf9.jpg
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On Sun, 17 Nov 2013 13:22:49 +0000, LumpHammer

I have been meaning to make the same post! Mind if I tag along for the ride?
Here's my table.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/g3zvt/10904811124/lightbox/
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Graham.

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On 17/11/13 14:18, Graham. wrote:

dont sand and try the following trick.
Pour some alcohol - surgical or methylated onto a rag and wipe the table over with it., The more alcohol the better.,
If that restores it, its French polish and you can rejuvenate either with straight alcohol, French polish or alcohol and beeswax.
If not its strip and revarnish time...
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Ineptocracy

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On 17/11/13 13:22, LumpHammer wrote:

sand and French polish.
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On 17/11/2013 15:17, The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Not before you've done the test to see whether the finish is alcohol based! Sanding is a last resort and will almost certainly ruin what looks like a very nice table
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On 17/11/13 18:08, stuart noble wrote:

I don't think there is enough left there..better to go down to fresh wood and start again IMHO.
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stuart noble wrote:

Am I the only one who doesn't find dropleaf tables attractive or terribly useful? I'd send it off to the nearest auction.
Tim
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On 18/11/2013 08:16, Tim+ wrote:

They're certainly useful when you only need a full table now and then. Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, but I like this particular one because the dark colour is obviously contained in the varnish, what's left of which looks like it would be easy to remove. So many of these tables were stained so that stripping will not get you back to the original wood.
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On Sun, 17 Nov 2013 13:22:49 +0000, LumpHammer wrote:

Bit hard to tell from basicaly just the top. Need to see more of the legs, to me it doesn't look right for the 50's, too dark and heavy. Turned legs too fancy for the war years and just after, so that sort of pushes it pre-war. 1930's?
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On 17/11/2013 13:22, LumpHammer wrote:

That looks like a damned fine table to me, probably Victorian, and maybe mahogany if you're lucky. It has a completely different look to the typical 1930s oak versions with the barley twist legs. My hunch is that it was originally finished with some kind of spirit varnish which, luckily for you, is infinitely soluble in meths. Do as TNP suggests and let us know the result. You are one lucky so and so IMHO :-)
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On Sun, 17 Nov 2013 18:01:55 +0000, stuart noble wrote:

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On Sun, 17 Nov 2013 18:01:55 +0000, stuart noble wrote:

Would the blue dye be an issue with ordinary over the counter meths?
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On 17/11/13 19:32, Dave Liquorice wrote:

purple. Its aniline IIRC.
Of it bothers you. use vodka :-)
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On 17/11/2013 13:22, LumpHammer wrote:

I have one in a similar state, sat awaiting some TLC.
Once its got to the state of the one shown, it seems to me that "touching up" the French polish (if that is what it is) is not going to be easy without first stripping what is there. Once its got all loose and flakey a cabinet scraper will take off the rest quite cleanly.
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On 18/11/2013 13:05, John Rumm wrote:

Yes, the more you can remove with a sharp edge, the better. Anything that makes the finish soluble will inevitably drive some of the colour into the grain. At this point I normally flood the surface with meths so that at least the colour is uniform
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