I just came upon your post today and I am sure you have completed this project by now, however, I thought I would throw in my 2 cents nonetheless.

In order to proceed properly with a job like this you would need to know what finish is on the wood. First, clean the wood to remove built up oils, grease and dirt. Next you would want to determine what finish is on the wood. If it is shellac, the finish will begin to disolve when rubbed lightly with denatured alcohol. If it is lacquer or varnish, it will begin to disolve when rubbed with the appropriate solvent. Once you determine what you are dealing with you can plan an appropriate fix.

Don't be afraid of some of these traditional finishes. I love working with shellac and find it to be very forgiving.

Would love to see/hear how this turned out for you.