Mr. Malcolm, I wish I could see the difference in the new finish. I am sure it's first class. It's a lot of work and it takes a lot of time to finish a box like you do.I decided to make a wooden basket out of birdseye maple and mahogany for a Marine Captain.
I had a local engraver to do my engraving prior to assembling the pieces.
Finishing: I have made a little modification from my usual procedures. I applied ZAR semi-gloss mixed 50/50 with mineral finish to the inside prior to assembly. After assembly I sanded to 180 grit with a random orbital sander. I then applied 4 coats of my usual mixture of 1-part Zar oil-base semi-gloss polyurethane and 1-part mineral spirits. I do not sand between coats. I apply the finish with a blue paper shop towel cut into 1/4 sheet and folded into 1/4 give about a 2" by 2" piece. I wait 8 hours between coats.
After 4-coats I apply another coat with a 1" foam brush and put the poly mixture onto a 600 grit wet/dry sand paper on a sanding block or random orbital sander. I rub this in (3 or 4 strokes per piece of wood) then wipe it off with a sheet of the blue shop towel. After 8-hours I apply a coat of 1-part Zar oil-base semi-gloss poly, 1-part Zar oil-base gloss poly, and 2-part mineral spirits. I apply this the same way as before with the blue shop towel. With the gloss poly mixed in the shine is greater. After 8-hours. I applied a second coat of this mixture. Several people said the finish is the best they have seen in my projects. Guess I'll keep using this one.
Malcolm / Kentucky USA