Sanding it down seemed like a lot of work, and a scraper usually achieves the same result only much quicker. I used a scraper (I call it a wallpaper scraper), in fact this one:
|Bare wood, before filling|
|Steel wool, about to rub down the filler and bare wood|
First coat goes on the bare wood. You have to do this inside in a non-dusty environment, unfortunately (it smells pretty strong). If not you'll have dust, insects, pollen etc. under your beautiful polish. After six hours, rub it lightly with some 300 emery (dry), put the second coat on, wait another six hours, rub lightly, third coat, leave for 24 hours, rub lightly (I used steel wool grade 0000) and use car or furniture wax to leave a deep gloss.
Here is how it ended up:
|Top of the lid is now as beautiful as the machine it contains|
I still have to do the rest of it, but that was probably the larger amount of work. The legs are only just holding the varnish, too, so it shouldn't take much to get them looking like new (albeit somewhat rustic) again. It will possibly have to wait until the end of term 2.
Most of the time went into waiting for the stuff to dry, so this was what I'd class as an easy job, or "low hanging fruit".
The lid's underside took a lot more work to remove the original stuff that the top (it wasn't as damaged). Also, be careful with your scraper: It's not that difficult to scrape the wood off if it's soft.