I'm not an expert, just a die-hard doit yerselfer, my last big project was to stain the interior pine wood trim on a large quantity of Pella windows and doors, and the oak casings and baseboards to match the pre-finished oak kitchen cabinets my wife had selected. some observations: (1) Minwax wood conditioner is well worth the trouble on soft woods like pine. Follow instructions on the can. (2) If color is important, lots of trial and error on scrap pieces of wood is in order. (3) You are not restricted to the premixed colors in the cans, you can blend cans of the same vendor for an infinity of colors. Just write down your blend so you can reproduce it when you run short. (4) Different woods will color different with the same stain, we ebded up sith a different concoction on the oak versus on the pine. (5) Others may disagree, but personally I liked the control that I achieved with the hand-rubbed style of polyurethane. It probably took more coats to achieve what you do with a brush, but the extra error control was worth it to me.