JH, I have seen professionally done faux wood finishes done on metal doors that were impossible to tell from the real thing from a few feet away. Beautiful work. But I don't think the average DIYer can expect the same results the first time. If you do decide to try it, there are 3 rules to go by. Practice, practice and more practice. The specialty tools like combs and graining tools are available from specialty paint stores and some home centers. You want to be able to do perfect work on your practice piece before you start on the real thing.
I would not give up on stripping your current wood, at least without stripping some of it to see what is underneath. You might want to check out www.citristrip.com. There are many others doing just that. Honestly, I do most of the posting on it and I think you might find something worthwhile. No, I am not an employee of theirs or get anything from them and, yes, I recommend other products where it is warranted. Henry in MI