The oven cleaner method for stripping finish, I must say, worked pretty damn well - but not as well as I thought it would. I won't be using this method again, it's just too harsh on the wood for me.
The 50/50 spirits and poly, I have to say, looks and feels really, really good. Brought out the wood's character, it really livened up that SKS. Why is this not a good method specifically? Is there a scientific reason for not doing so? Or is it a historical value deal? Does it weaken the wood or something?
I'm sanding away now, haven't brought it down to bare wood yet, I'm being very gentle and careful (livin' and learnin'), especially around that Chinese character which I can't identify online anywhere. Taking pictures of the details has been difficult, I'll have to look into picture taking techniques to clarify the remaining numbers and characters.
The SKS boards and info sites are full of info, who would have thought? Sure there's digging to do, but honestly many of those people have identical issues and helpful posts have almost always been on the front page just waiting to be read. I highly recommend them.