FYI, on the stain application:
Sorry I've forgotten the official name for this kind of brush, but I think its called a Blanchard brush. This works great for controlled application of stain. My introduction to the Blanchard brush was through photography and its use in brush coating photographic emulsions onto paper. But it works great here too.
The brush is made with a thin strip of wood inside the folds or you can make it without the strip. The key is using cotton flannel material and several folds. I usually make it without the wood and just rely of the folds and my fingers to keep the edges neat.
To fold one, start with a square of material, say 4" to 6" on a side. Fold in half. Now fold in quarters such that the sides get folded to the center, then it folds in half. Furthermore, these quartering folds are at a right angle to the first fold. When you are done folding you will have a somewhat narrow strip of fabric, thick and without any fuzzy edge along the long sides. Now fold in half one more time along its length so that you have a round bulge at one end and the two loose ends as your handle. You can make the last fold around a narrow strip of wood or just hold it in your hand. Rubber band is optional for holding it together.
If your folds are reasonably crisp, the bulged end will have pretty decent corners and now works very well for controlling the application of stain, varnish, etc. And the multiple layers of flanel/cotton can take quite a charge of fluid so you can sweep a nice long line.
A variation on this is to put a bit of paste wax in the center and then fold around it. Then as you squeeze down on the "brush" the wax comes out and you can buff it into the work.