So far I like oil based stains and wipe on poly best, but then I'm mostly working on picture frames these days. It is really about the surface preparation, once that's done right, and after applying a pre-stain to make the stain spread evenly, I apply an oil stain, let it sit, wipe the excess off. If I want a really dark surface I might apply stain again, wipe and let it dry overnight. Then apply the poly with a folded paper towel.
I just ordered some disposable brushes that I'm going to use instead of the towel, although the paper towel really does a great job. I will probably use the brushes more for stain than poly on most projects, but we'll see.
I went to a restaurant supply store and bought a hundred 2 oz plastic serving cups with lids. I pour the stain and poly (separately of course) in these cups rather than dip directly into the cans. The covers are nice for holding the leftovers for another coat. I have a short block of 2x4 drilled with a Forstner bit to hold the plastic cups with a gripping surface on the bottom of the block to keep it steady and avoid spills. I also use this to carefully apply glue when I want to limit squeeze out. I finish my frames before assembly because squeeze out on porous wood messes up the finish.
I also like painted surfaces. Oddly enough, I don't always like how wood grain looks when finished, particularly when there are cathedrals in the pattern. I tend to avoid wood with that kind of grain, and it is one thing I like about Baltic Birch ply which rarely has heavy grain. I have never finished a shop cabinet other than painting the knobs bright, Ferrari red. Maybe I should just paint the stands?
I'm really curious about others' preferences cause its time to branch out. What about tongue oil? When is it a good solution?
I have used boiled linseed oil in the past, rubbed to a beautiful sheen. And have a can of lacquer that I'm thinking might make a beautiful finish on a frame I'm making out of cherry. Have some leftover (warped) cherry I can experiment on. I'd forgotten I suggested this topic, but I find finishing to be a real challenge to understand. Excited to read others' input.
The more I do, the less I accomplish.
Last edited by DesertRatTom; 09-01-2016 at 10:40 AM.