I can't afford to get a new set and my compulsive Craig's List/Freecycle lurking has yet to turn up a free set, so I believe my best option is to try and clean my grandmother's. The problem is that they are, obviously, wood. I have cleaned tar covered walls with ammonia, but I believe this would damage wood. It has been suggested that I could refinish the table myself but time constraints plus my general inability to do such a thing make that my least favorite option.
What I really want to do is to try and clean it without stripping the finish if at all possible. So far my best idea has been to first use Murphy's wood soap and then lemon oil. The table and chairs are of a pale wood, fairly inexpensive and plain originally, at least 20 years old (so yeah, 20 years of heavy smoking residue).
Since you all are such a handy bunch and constantly amaze me with your clever ideas for salvaging items, perhaps you have some ideas/experience with this sort of thing?