Re: Finish stripping!? its hell...
Palm sanders can be useful for flat areas, but personally I wouldn't use it anywhere you feel you may accidentally change the original shape.
I'd say persist with the heat gun but my advice is to heat it up a lot more than you think you need to. Really hold then gun on there for a while and be patient doing small areas at a time. The paint will eventually come off with hardly any scraping and you'll avoid a lot of those gouges.
Are you eventually shooting a solid colour or a trans/stain? If solid you can probably cover a lot of those small scratches with a decent primer.