I have been wanting to refinish my tiller handle on my Montgomery 17 since the previous owner didn't bother to varnish it for the past few years. It was a pretty simple project that didn't take to long or to much effort, it was definately worth the results!
I made a short video of it, feel free to check it out. Maybe this well help someone overcome a fear that varnishing it to much for them when it's pretty simple.
Yes, it is advised to sand with the grain, but it isn't mandatory. If that were the case then wouldn't a random orbital sander be an absolute no-no?
They say not to stir varnish because you may cause air bubbles. If you stir it slowly you will not cause any "froth" or air bubbles. It just makes me more comfortable when I stir things that may have been sitting a while.