Small job = Sand well with gradually finer grits of sandpaper and give it a couple coats of amber shellac sanding lightly between coats...rub out with very fine steel wool and some lemon oil...rub dry with soft cloth.
Medium job = Get a bunch of cans of colored glop at the hardware store and start playing around with mixing different colors of stains to make one wood color look more similar to another.
The bottom line is this. Any finish is only as good as the prep work done. Sand, sand sand. Keep the tiny bits and brush hairs out of your finish (vac or tack). Use high quality materials and tools. Follow directions. In almost every case many light coats are better than few thick drippy coats.
Most important: Soft woods look like crap If they are stained bare. You really need to sand well and apply some sort of sealer or conditioner. Naturally finished wood never goes out of style.
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