stain for bookcase

i just finished constructing a relatively simple (but nice) bookcase as a gift for a relative. nothing fancy, but birch ply with a solid, figured maple edge banding. anyway, i want to stain the whole unit somewhat dark, as he likes dark woods - i tried applying minwax "special walnut" stain to a test piece, and honestly it looks like crap. the ply and the edging take the stain very differently, and i don't like either of them.
what i am looking for is a relatively easy solution to apply a nice, easy-to-apply dark stain to this unit. it doesn't have to look perfect as this isn't an heirloom piece. i'm looking for a reasonable, but generally nice finish/process. i've considered:
* going for the stain and hoping that my thinned, wiped-on oil poly evens it out * skipping the stain and going with colored seal-a-cell wipe-on, then buffed and waxed * going with a colored oil, then waxing the whole unit
suggestions appreciated. the birch ply i picked up is from lowes, and it's crap, but i needed it on sunday. the maple banding is spectacular, highly figured - so they balance each other out.
thanks for any suggestions!
---- dz
reply to dave at zaret dot com
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poly isn't going to even anything out, David.
what EXACTLY do you mean by "looks like crap"? what grit was your final sanding? you might consider a seal coat to help even things out BEFORE staining, so that the different woods don't come out so different. maybe the birch ply is beyond redemption? provide a little more descriptive info for the Wreckers to help you better.
dave
David Zaret wrote:

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i sanded to 180. up to 150 by machine, then 180 by hand. it's well sanded, but not given a sheen.
i did more experimenting, and i ended up using a tinted danish oil, with a top coat of wiped-on, thinned poly. then steel wool, and wax. they look absolutely incredible, and the maple really pops.
i've never worked with shellac, but i think i'll try it for the baby changing table coming up next.
--- dz
Bay Area Dave wrote:

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