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I need to strip my kitchen table, can someone recommend a brand?

I bought a kitchen table off ebay and want to refinish it. The label on the chairs says pine so I assume the table is as well. The previous owner had some rambunctious kids, and there is a gouge and a couple scrapes in the table top. She decided to "refinish" it, but she did a horrible job. All she did was put a coat of something over the damage, she didn't attempt to repair it by sanding or anything. Actually, she should have started the whole project by washing the table! The detail around the sides of the table top had dirt and grime in them when she sealed it (poly or varnish or something) so it's trapped under there for eternity. Also, the top is a more yellow color than the legs and chairs. I'm thinking she used poly on it. There is also a couple small spots where the sealer bubbled up and has started to chip off. There is a yellow tint to the clear coat when it comes off.

So, here's my plan of attack, I'd love it if someone could tell me if this is right! I was going to put a stripper on it, and scrape off the gunk, after that part of the job is done, I was thinking I'd very lightly sand it by hand, and then put some sort of coating on the top. I believe the top of the table is a veneer, so I don't think I should try any power tools on this, is that right? My next question is what brand of stripper is recommended? I only need to refinish the top of the table, the legs are in perfect shape. Then when that's done, what should I use as the final coat on top? This is a kitchen table, so it gets use and heat from dishes. Is there some coat that will level out the wood at all? It's a soft wood so there are pen grooves, etc in it.

So, any help/hints/recommendations would be greatly appreciated! I'd post a pic but my camera is still packed from a trip.

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