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I'm certainly no expert, but I do enjoy refinishing antiques and wood surfaces in my home.
For staining (non floor surfaces), I suggest DANISH OIL. It's very easy to work with. I've found that stains are often tricky to apply evenly on a deeply textured surface. Danish oil can be applied directly to a rag and rubbed over the area The beauty of the product is that, after applying, you can go over the surface, once again, with a clean rag to even up any darker areas, giving you beautiful and even results. If you want it darker, you simply apply more coats. It can be mixed to create more exciting colors. I recently refinished a cherry cabinet and used 1 coat dark walnut and 3 coats cherry danish oil. It came out beautifully! Not to mention, Danish oil gives the wood a rich deep look and highlights the grain beautifully. As for finishing, I think it depends on the look you want to achieve. I've always been partial to laquer or tung oil, but they can require multiple coats, using steel wool between, but are simply beautiful(For non-floor surfaces.) When applying tung oil you can apply with a rag, as well. Laquer is best applied by spraying. I aviod brushes completely.