Just went to Lee Valley and picked up a book on finishing cause I have several projects on the go and need info..
Think I can recommend this book...
Understanding Wood Finishing Understanding Wood Finishing - Woodworking by Bob Flexner
It seems to answer a lot of the questions that come up here.
FYI it points out that many of the beloved finishes that get rhapsodies here are polymerized oils -- (plastics -- oh the horror of it all!) things like BLO and Polymerized Tung oil... Geez no better than wipe on poly -- <grin>
Think I'll finish my cherry table project in stain and wipe on poly. :-( Just kidding Tom -- recall the hit squad. (sheesh -- just a joke!) But what I did do was used Deft -- fruitwood colour -- which according to Flexner acts more like a die -- does not obscure the grain and can be topcoated by a finish more resistant to water and alcohol. This is used to bring the cherry to a more consistent colour instead of waiting and praying to the colour gods for a favourable transition. A rather neat trick... And it does seem to work as I did this on the lamps I made with no seeming ill effect, now I know _why_ it works.
Anyway -- I found it very useful particularly in the recommended finish charts (comparing finish characteristics) , notes on compatible stains and top coats, compatible dyes and top coats etc.
Other useful charts identify many common finishes as to their components. This is really useful when you wish to get good grain "pop out" but need to top coat to protect.
One of the problems he points out -- through comparison charts is that you can get good transparency through oil, or oil/varnish combinations, or you can get good protection -- but you can't get both without using conversion finishes (professional finishes) and losing repairability. In other words -- you can't win. Something I have long suspected.
...and well worth the $20 in CDN pesos. Save me money in wasted effort already, and in understanding why some of my WAG's worked. (And why some would not have if I had tried them and wasted the project...)
(Toller -- maybe a dye would have popped the curly cherry -- maybe not but worth a try...)
If you get it, hope it helps you as much as it helps me.
This blurb is from the Lee Valley site...
--------------------------------------------- Understanding Wood Finishing Understanding Wood Finishing - Woodworking by Bob Flexner
This is clearly the best-researched, most complete book on finishing that we have seen to date.
Flexner stresses understanding the chemistry and mechanics of finishing, developing in his readers not only a knowledge of what materials and techniques work for a given finishing problem, but why they work and how they work. He debunks myths, gives valuable tips, and presents numerous tabulations of problems with their solutions in a clear, usable format.
All readily available finishes are covered, from their history, composition and chemical behavior through application and repair techniques and relative merits, with advice on how to assess which is best for any situation.
Flexner's straightforward prose, well illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs and drawings, makes this book a complete education in finishing
-- Will R. Jewel Boxes and Wood Art http://woodwork.pmccl.com The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” George Bernard Shaw