Mine chipped on the base when I dropped it. After reading this, I took to the paint with a wire brush attached to a a Dremel. It now has a distressed look. I've coated it with linseed oil. I don't get the handle wet when I soak the brush. I'll add a few more coats of linseed oil, but I've found it works well on wood.
I wasn't' convinced the linseed oil would be enough, so I decided to sand it a bit more, add a stain and then about four coats of polyurethane. I'm very pleased with it. The dark stain hid the remains of the paint.