Linseed Oil / polyurethane & wax finish
My standard finish is boiled linseed oil mixed with just enough polyurethane to seal the wood so that it does not dry out as quickly as a straight oil finish. This mixture is heated in a double boiler, applied warm and allowed to sit for a while to increase penetration. Any excess finish is then wiped off and the piece is set aside to dry for 2-3 days. After drying the finish is lightly hand sanded and is polished to a satin sheen with Briwax, a beeswax based paste wax. The result is a finish that protects and enhances the beauty of the wood, is pleasing to the touch and is easily maintained with periodic waxing. I recommend this finish for most pieces including beds, chairs, bureaus and other case pieces.
Polyurethane/linseed oil/paint thinner finish
This finish is more durable than my standard finish and I recommend it for dining tables and other pieces that are subject to heavy use such as coffee tables. It is a mixture of polyurethane, boiled linseed oil and paint thinner. There is more polyurethane in it than my standard finish and several coats of this finish are applied. After the final coat dries, the finish is buffed to a satin sheen with 0000 steel wool. There is no need to wax this finish which is definitely an advantage on pieces that see heavy use.
The look and feel of these two finishes is virtually identical so a table can be finished with polyurethane/oil/thinner and the chairs can be finished with the oil/polyurethane & wax.
In general I do not recommend staining. It almost always less expensive to go with the wood you like rather than going with a less expensive wood and try to make it look like what you really wanted by staining it. Stain never looks as good as the real thing and the added labor of doing a stained finish almost always makes up for any cost savings on wood.
Occasional a customer will want to stain a piece to match existing pieces or to achieve a particular look that can't be obtained with a natural finish. In these cases we usually custom mix dyes to achieve the desired color. Dyed finishes need to be top coated with my polyurethane/linseed oil/thinner finish and can add considerably to the cost of a piece. An example of a dyed finish is my tractor seat stool in curly maple with amber finish shown to the left.