Three rounds of stripping and scraping using an environmentally benign gel, and several hours of sanding over the course of a few days and the handrails from our stairs are finally denuded of what seemed like about 10 coats of paint. Whew!
Was pleased at the decent quality of the wood underneath all those layers. Will likely go with a mild stain/varnish and sealer.
It was a lot work, but I hate wasting good wood, and had some time on my hands. . .
UPDATE (June 28): The boss chose Varathane in Golden Oak. Looking good! I’ll do another coat later today, let them sit overnight, and install tomorrow.