Coffee table stripped and sanded - now what?

Hi guys,
I'm half way through my first refinishing job and need some advice. I have a nice oak coffee table that had some damage to the finish, so I stripped it off (just black grain filler and urethane I think) and have it all sanded down and is ready to stain. It looks like the grain filler is still intact so I don't think I need that -- I'm just looking to stain and urethane. A number questions I have:
Is there any further prep work I should do before staining? The last think I did was sand it down with 220C and is completely naked (except for the prior grain filler).
Second, what brands should I be looking for for stain? I heard somewhere that Minwax stuff is sort of general swill and there are better ones out there.
Third, how many coats of stain and should I be sanding in between coats?
Last, same questions for urethane - Brands? Number of coats? Sanding?
Oh, and one other thing - what's the deal with the all-in-one stain/urethane mixtures? Are they something to consider or a joke?
Thanks so much, Nate
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Visit www.refinishwizard.com and look around, might be something of interest there. If no ask.
On Wed, 9 Feb 2005 10:43:43 -0500, "Nate C."

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Thanks a lot. I'll check it out.
wrote:

have
it
intact
A
think
stain/urethane
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No more work needed.
Minwax works fine for me but lots of people hate it. Just use any oil based stain . And you only need one coat. Water based stains actually put the color down a little stronger but they raise the grain and that's a whole issue you don't want to deal with.
I have the most success with Polyurethane. Again I use Minwax high resin. I mix it 50/50 with mineral spirits and wipe it on. You won't see this on that can but it's fiune to do it this way and have zero drips. My technique is flood the surface well with a brush, then wipe it down with a lint free cloth. I prefer to let the cloth get fairly saturated. You want to leave a barely wet surface. Let dray at least 4 or up to 24 hours between coats. Sand very lightly with 400 after the second coat. Be real careful on the edges. wipe on one more coat.
Final step is to use good quality wax with 0000 steel wool. Put it on very thin in circular motion. Let dry well. Buff to a beautiflul finish.
Also, whatever you do, I'd test the entire process on one small section or similar wood first.
The combo tint and poly (ie Minwax Polyshades) is similar to a technique pros use with tinted film finishes. However, unless you are spraying, it is real hard to get a good, even finish this way. It can be done, I have done it but the success rate is much lower in my experience.
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Thanks for the advice. I'll probably get going with it this weekend.
Nate
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