I used to buy a commercial product for furniture cleaning. It was just "Cleaner and De-Waxer"
It is pretty much the same grease and wax remover that is used in the auto painting industry and works fine on wood. It is used to clean a surface after blasting/sanding etc.
These products will not add a finish, fill a scratch or anything like that. It just cleans and de-waxes a surface and leaves it clean for re-coating. Cleaning is the first major step to restoring other than stripping.
As for water cleaning with soap, etc., I personally would not do that.
There also exists a product, I think it is called Furniture Restorer. DO NOT BUY !. Not even going to go into details.
OK, back to your project...............the existing finish is all but gone.
In the 3rd photo down, there is a light colored 'patch' showing through the black. This tells me that the original finish had a black toner added to it. That part of the finish is gone and shows that a stain was not used. The alligatoring on the 4th and 5th photo also indicates that that part of the finish is gone. The second photo also inducates that no stain was used, otherwise, the grain lines would not be white.
All in all, to do this project what I consider 'right' would require stripping, staining and some toner in the finish.
Not being there in person, I cant tell what the original finish is. One way to find out is to use any kind of alcohol whether methyl, denatured or rubbing alcohol on the surface. If the old finish comes off with alcohol, then it was shellac. If not, the odds are that it is lacquer.
Sorry about no encouragement here but I think stripping is the only way to go. That way, you are starting with a clean slate.
Tony B Retired woodworker, among other things.
"Strive for excellence and settle for completion" Tony B
Last edited by Tony B; 05-28-2020 at 10:46 PM.