As always, just my opinion follows. I will tag along with what has
been said as there has been useful advice dispensed.
But you have to know a couple of things about what you are talking
about. The difference between restoration and refinishing is as wide
as The Grand Canyon. At one time refinishing (not restoration) was
part of my business and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed restoration as
well, but most folks don't want to pay for it.
When refinishing, you take off the existing finish to the bare wood.
For effect, it is common to leave a bit of color behind if you can so
that the piece still looks period or authentic, but the piece is
completely (re)finished with a new coating to protect it. Hardware is
replaced or refinished, and modern repair methods are used to fix
broken parts and pieces. There may or may not be any effort made to
have the refinished piece look like the original. About ten years ago
I refinished "mahogany" doors, and when stripped, they were a curious
(but pretty) bronze/gold grained species that the country club owners
decided they like better than the wood stained to match the
traditional mahogany red folks crave. I shot several clear coats on
it, and the grain pop was incredible and the doors looked much more
modern and updated. New Baldwin hardware and I was done.
When restoring, one tries to keep the piece looking like it was after
a bit of wear. The original finish is left intact wherever possible,
and good restoration is more about cleaning and hidden repairs than
anything else. Old hardware is reused whenever possible, but if
replaced, the new hardware must match the original as closely as
possible, or if not, at least the time frame to which the piece was
made. Old marks and deep scratches are mitigated, but not removed.
My guideline was make a piece look like it did when it was still in
use. The old finishes used aren't a spot on the butt of today's
finishes, and most will dissolve with high VOC solvents, so it can be
easy to redistribute the old finishes on some pieces.
I have restored a few chairs and couple of keep sake items passed down
to great grandkids. I REALLY enjoyed that work as it was quite
relaxing and I could see the care and consideration put into the
pieces when they were built.
While this is no reflection on you CR, your instructor is an complete
idiot, not qualified to sweep floors. Restoration is a craft, learned
mostly by trial and error and a good restorer has several years of
trial and error behind them just to get exposed to finishing and
construction techniques, not to mention all the nuances presented by
working with different woods.
I have never heard or read or seen anyone that used stripper and a
wire brush on a restoration. The wire brush alone won't raise the
grain, but it will eat out the soft pulp between the grain to make it
appear that the grain was raised. No one uses wire brushes on
refinishes either unless it is metal doors, handrails, etc. It is
common to use a small brass bristled brush to clean out stubborn wood
details that have accumulated dirt and grime, but they are a last
resort. You never use and instrument to clean that is much, much
harder than the wet wood you are stripping as it is too easy to damage
the wood and you may not know when you do it as the wet gunk of
stripped finish will hide the scratches you leave while working.
My first advice would be to head to the library and go through their
books on restoring and refinishing of wood. It is absolutely
fascinating. I have spent untold hours reading about techniques, home
brew finishes, how to restore hardware, etc.
Second, if the chairs you are working on are not of any real value and
you are actually stripping for a refinish (as opposed to a
restoration), get a good stripper (BIX in the orange can is pretty
good) and a couple of stiff scrub brushes in different profiles.
Apply your stripper, wait until the finish bubbles, then brush off the
old finish. Do this twice, even if you don't think it needs to be
done twice. The second pass will remove the residue that you didn't
get the first time. Then rinse with lacquer thinner. Sand, rinse
with lacquer thinner again, then apply your finish as per