Was wanting to restore a vintage shifter cabinet
Paula: maybe this will help -- it's fun to do!
Chalk paint isn’t “restoration”.
Can you share a photo? That will help with ideas! :)
What other Hometalkers have done.
It depends on the condition and what you want to do. First, I would give it a good cleaning. Murphy's Oil Soap is a good choice. If the wood is in pretty good shape, you could rejuvenate the wood. If not, you may want to paint it.
If you wanting to restore it, be very careful with removal of hardware. If you can keep from removing that's even better. Hopefully, you can lightly sand or use fine steel wool to remove any residue or flaking finish. Make any needed repairs. Wipe down with denatured alcohol. Stain then seal.
In my experience, painting isn't an option for restoration unless it was originally painted. I have a piece that was passed down through many generations and had 8-10 coats of paint and the wood is mis-matched so restoration meant painting it.
Here are a few ideas https://www.pinterest.com/pin/562738915918142900/
Here is some helpful info on restoring old furniture https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Restore-Old-Cabinets/
It’s considered appropriate to not over-restore an antique.
I think of it as “growing old gracefully” a few “smile wrinkles” are beautiful.
Yes, Murphy’s Oil Soap.
In terms of cleaning, I’ve read refurbishers who use GoJo hand cleaner, and I will be trying it on a 1930’s very large radio cabinet that someone gutted long before I bought it.