Our resident expert on this is Martha. She hollers from Westport, CT. Hopefully, she's still in the building. Hang out a few days and I'll see if I can get her to help you on this one.
In the meantime, if you feel you're spending too much time on this project, you ought to consider getting rid of it. (Or storing it away to give to your children as a family airloom. Just don't tell them the reason you're storing it away or giving it to them. It will be our little secret.) Now, if you had, say, a pine hall tree with brass hooks, it would take a LOT less work to polish. (Hence, you'd have just the hooks to polish.)
I wish I had good news, like there was some sort of sand-blaster you can use where you'd be done in 13.5 seconds, or something. Have fun with whatever you decide to do. Ooops, ah shoot! Martha just went into the ladies room. Martha! We NEEED you!!!