Varnish

Hello,
I recently bought an old maplewood table. It's got heaps of potential, i just need to give it a brand new finish and i'm sure it's going to look great.
To do that, i'm going to need good advice on how to give the table a semi-glossy professional-looking finish.
I want to stain the table with a honey-yellow color that will bring out the grain of the wood. What should i look for in the "staining liquid"? there's so many options.....
Then, i'll need to pick a varnish. I know there oil-based, urethane, and other types of varnishes... what are advantages and problems for the most common type of varnishes? What would you recommend for a kitchen table?
What about stain+varnish combo liquids? Are these likely to give really crappy results?
Thanks fred.
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SNIP What would you recommend for a kitchen table?
Fred, For a kitchen table . . . FORGET VARNISH !! Even 6 coats of a 'hard' short-oil varnish won't stand up to the typical activity that goes on at a kitchen table. It may sound like 'heresy' on this forum, but for anything that requires a high degree of abrasion, or mechanical & chemical resistance, I recommend a Poly. Plus, my personal preference is for a Water-Based product. Easy clean-up and quick drying allow several coats in a single day.
A quick, easy, and viable schedule would be to use one of the Minwax Polyshades products as the first coat. It is a Stain/Poly combination. 'Honey Pine' or 'Classic Oak' might be the color YOU are looking for. While the instructions say to 'apply and let dry', you may want to apply, then wait a bit and wipe off - like a 'regular' stain. I do this with the darker, 'Bombay Mahogany' .
After this solvent-based coat dries, a gentle, through sanding with 220 paper prepares the surface for the application of the water-based 'top coats'. After sanding, wipe the dust off with a lintless solvent moistened cloth. When dry, do the same with a water-damp cloth. Apply as many coats of a clear, water-based poly as YOU like. Between coats, lightly 'scuff sand' with 320 paper, and go finer with each coat. After the last coat, apply a couple of coats of paste wax. Let each dry, then . . . BUFF WELL.
The wood 'cap' to my basement stairs was done this way . . . and still looks brand new. The Maple top on a storage cabinet/lamp & 'odd & end' holder on Joanne's side of our kitchen table was also done this way. Wipe with a damp cloth and it looks like I just finished it.
Yes, it's a bit of work {I believe in 6 coats, as a norm}and make 'test pieces' for color & effect. However, I think you'll be very happy with the results . . . and life in a 'working' kitchen.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop
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Ron,     Most of the products you speak of, including PolyShades, are varnishes. <G>
Barry
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