Best finish for maple desk

I made a desk from solid hard maple (no plywood). What finish is best for it? So far I only worked with oil stains and boiled linseed oil on white oak. I prefer not light finishes that would withstand abuse from my kids whom I built the desk for.
Another question. I am on NE. It is winter. Where can I apply the finish? I have a heated basement. Is it OK to apply finish in one sealed room in basement with open basement windows for ventilation?
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I have only had luck staining Maple using water based stain. To get protection from kids you will probably need to go with Poly or Varnish (some say it is the same thing). To make the grain look amazing on Maple you can apply 'natural' Danish Oil, I find it dries quicker than BLO then you can cover it with something more durable.
Don't bother trying to seal a room. Unless you have a negative pressure room the smell will permeate every corner of the house. Don't worry, it only lasts a few days after the final coat is applied. Opening a window does help somewhat but those with a sensitve nose will smell it throughout the house.
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On Tue, 11 Dec 2007 11:40:21 -0800, RayV wrote:

I've found tha I can just wipe on a light coat of Danish or Teak oil and almost immediately wipe it off. Seems to work just as well as flooding it and I don't have to wait nearly as long before applying the top coat.
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I wouldn't try to stain Maple, it is really hard to get a good result. Maybe a penetrating oil like tung or boiled linseed to yellow it up a bit, then yes as the other poster suggested a poly finish to make it tough. You can use a wipe on poly and it will have very low fumes but take several coats to build up a nice. Sand or steel wool between every few coats, or as the can suggests.

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My two cents...what you want is a good water-based poly...it's low- odor, fast-drying, clear, and tough
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