Aargh Polyurethane Which brand and type? Better options?

Please help,
I promised to make a table for my wife. All went well until I realized my partial gallon of High Gloss polyurethane by Deft had thickened (I assume repeated use allowed some ingredient to evaporate, guessing the metal lid is no longer properly sealed after repeated opening and pounding shut). Initially I thinned part of the can with paint thinner and this worked fine on another project (baseboard trim). On the large table surface however, I was able to see small hardened particles in the poly. Additionally the thickness made it difficult to work with and I made the mistake of allowing it to dry rather thick on one portion of the table. The result, wavy distortions of the woodgrain. So I sanded, intending to start over. When I arrived at the store, the clerk no longer sold the same product. They said I have my choice between Minwax brand CLEAR polyurethane or LACQUER or SHELLAC or VARNISH. They recommended Deft brand clear lacquer. Another store recommended CLEAR polyurethane by Minwax. I went back to the 1st store and bought clear lacquer (maybe a mistake?). After spot sanding, and applying LACQUER, the table top is again smooth. The wavy distortions are gone, but some areas of the table are shiny and some are dull. What are my options? When dry, what are the appearance and performance/endurance differneces between Lacquer, Shellac, Varnish and Polyurethane? Also what should I know about working with each? Will clear polyurethane, give me the shiny finish I wanted and previously got with the "High Gloss" polyurethane? Can I finish with Minwax clear poly, when I started with Deft High Gloss poly? If not can I buy Deft "High Gloss" poly through the internet?
Thanks in advance, Novice woodworker
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Did you try a google search for "Deft Polyurethane" ?? hint, hint.
A lot of folks here look down their nose at the Minwax products. Others like 'em. Both sides have some justice in their viewpoint.
Deft is definitely far superior to Minwax. And the prices reflect this. :)
Other 'higher end" polyurethane brands include (*not* a comprehensive list!): Benjamin Moore Zar Behren's (sp??) Waterlox
I only have experience with the 1st two. Personal bias is for an oil-based, _FLAT_ (not 'matte', but "flat") finish. Very few sources for that, anymore.
'Theory' says that one brand of poly over a different brand should not have problems. With a possible caveat about mixing water-based vs oil-based, w/o allowing full curing.
I prefer "not to take chances", and make sure to use the same brand for all layers. It's known as "outwitting Murphy's law" -- when you have the choice between doing something that "might" add to the complications and/or cause problems, and something that _definitely_ does not introduce any additional complication, the decision is *simple*; choose the _latter_.
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You've just experienced the difference between "curing" of the finish versus evaporation of the solvent.
If you have a decent tooth on your old finish, use gloss of your flavor to bring it back to the way you wanted it. Remember what you've learned about leveling - cutting back the wavy stuff - and consider thinning a bit. No harm as long as the solids haven't begun curing, and it'll lay down a bit flatter.
Brand names are like politics here, with the usual "bigger they are the more I hate 'em" viewpoint repeatedly expressed. Though there are undoubtedly differences in formulation, look to the amount of solids to determine how fast it builds.
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How about thinning and runing hte mixture through a coffe strainer to remove the bits of poly sand?
You shouldnt be putting your brush in the paint bucket anyway becaus you carry contaminants from your work surface back into the bucket for your next project.
Always pour what you need into another container.

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