Right if you are making something new or restoring something old the most important thing is to get a good smooth finish to you’re wooded item. If you are using ruff woods then you start with a ruff sandpaper first then finish off with smooth sandpaper to get that smooth finish the smoother you get it the better will be the end results when varnishing.
Now for the varnishing before you start to varnish you item you must first get rid of the dust wood particles from you’re wooded item. Now the best way to do this is to use white spirits that you can get from your hardware shop or you can use Just water with a soft cotton cloth. But if using water only it might take some time till it dry's out when you have cleaned you’re item and got rid of all traces of wooden dust and particles now it is time for the varnishing.
Varnishing the first thing you need is a good quality brush don't go for the cheep brushes if you require
A good finish now there are all types of varnishes you can use from high gloss to matt finish or you can French polish it. Now I have got an EBook on my EBay on French polishing check it out but if you are just going to varnish it then get good quality varnish a top brand. Now you need a nice warm ventilated room to varnish your item not to cold as you will have to wait longer for the varnish to dry.
Applying the varnish now before applying the varnish you can stain you wooden item to what color you like from dark to light with staned varnishes or you can use water based stains if using water based stains you leave it to dry then go lightly over it with white spirits with a soft cotton cloth before applying your clear varnish. If you like you can just leave the wood as it is and just use clear varnish.
They say its all in the wrist the technique is to be slow and firm in long strokes from left to right till you have got a even finish to you’re item when you have applied the first coat let it dry out for 24 hours then when it is fully dry now it is time to sand your item again with very fine sandpaper. Don't press on to hard just go over the wood left to right about 3 times now you wipe your item down with white spirits or just water with a soft cotton cloth wait for it to dry about 10 or 15 minutes now you put your second coat of varnish on and do the same again wait 24 hours for it to dry. Now when it is dry you will see your item start to look like something I personally put 3 coats on to get that finish look and that’s how to get a good finish to your wooden item. I hope this is some help to all you lot into DIY and making wooden items check out some of My EBooks on the following subjects,
400 Woodwork Joints THE WOODWORKER SERIES
46 Ways to Modernize Your Kitchen
French Polishing and Enamelling
Mission Furniture How To Make It
Wood Block Printing
Wood Carving Design & Workmanship
Woodworking Tools 1600–1900