Finishing a cherry table

Hello all,
I'm just about ready to start finishing a cherry table that I made and had a few questions. Sorry if they are pretty basic.
My setup is 1/2 of a two car garage, so with the coming cold months, I'm concerned about the quality of the finish if I try to do it in the garage. Do you have any suggestions on products to use inside the house that won't cause my house to blow up? I've read that shellac or laquer are are real danger in the basement with the hot water heater and furnace, so they are probably out. Would a water based stain be a better solution?
Thanks, Tom Wojeck
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Last winter, I used shellac in my garage, and had no trouble at all. I heated the garage with a portable propane heater just for my own comfort, not because the shellac needed it. Theoretically, the shellac takes longer to dry but I didn't notice. I'd go this route.
As for blowing yourself up, you are correct that both shellac and lacquer vapors are explosive. However, the risk is probably smaller than you think (at least with shellac). The concentration of vapor in the air needs to be between 3 and 19% by volume. If you have any kind of space at all, that would require A LOT of shellac. Having said that, since ethanol is heavier than air, it could be possible for a local concentration low to the ground (near your water heater pilot) to get high enough to go BOOM. Moderate circulation would pretty much eliminate that risk. In addition, it is only explosive above the flash point of 57 F, so if your basement is cool, your chances of lauching your house are further reduced.
Knowing all that, I still turned off my heater while I was finishing.
Check out http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~russ/MSDS/ethanol_denatured.htm for more info.
Kevin

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