Clarify finishing red oak plywood

This is my first ww project ever. I'm building a builtin-desk with some prefinished honey oak base cabinets. So far I've done pretty well but the finishing part is confusing me to no end. I read John Paquay's "Finishing Oak And Other 'Open-Grained' Woods", Bob Flexner's book on "Understanding Wood Finishing" and many threads in this NG and they have helped me greatly. Now, I'm kind of overwhelmed. I've got two ideas so far:
Sand the ply with 220 grit. Apply Minwax Gel Stain with a slight honey tint. Sand with 400 grit? Apply Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Sand with 400 grit? Apply Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane
Second:
Sand with 220 grit and then 320 grit. Apply 50/50 mix of Sherwin-Williams Sher-Wood Natural Filler\Minwax Oil-based Wood Finish (per Mr. Paquay's instructions). Don't sand. Apply thinned coat of the topcoat as a sealer (not sure what type and how to thin it). Don't sand. Apply full strength topcoat (not sure what) Sand carefully with 320+ Repeat the full strength topcoats and 320+ sanding.
I do plan on testing these with scrap but some clarification would really help.
Thanks in advance.
Chris
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Plywood might be a bit funny about taking stain, I guess it's on account of the glue, I've had some pieces where the top ply was really soaked in it. This will really gum up the sandpaper. Wipe it with thinner good, but watch for seperations along the edges.
On account of the thinness of the plies and the glue, just one coat of stain may not be enough, it can soak clear through. Maybe wipe on lightly and repeatedly until a light coat stays on the surface five - ten minutes. Rub the stain repeatedly over the first hour, I get small drops resurfacing. Let dry at least 8 more hours, longer if your next sanding gets gummed up.
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I decided I would use Mr. Paquay's instructions.
I will do the Sher-wood method and mix it 50/50 with an oil based stain. Then I will use a Polyurethane (thinned on first application) and then full strength on the future applications.
Does this sound like a good combination?
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Well, Chris, if you're using pre-finished base cabinets, why are you finishing them at all? > Apply thinned coat of the topcoat as a sealer (not sure what type and

Poly is thinned with mineral spirits, shellac is thinned with alcohol. Tom
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Thanks for the info. The cabinets are prefinished but the countertop is not so I'm trying to match them as best as possible. I guess I'm looking for the most resiliant finish I can while still maintaining the grain.
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