Thanks for the compliment. I wasn't using the minwax poly/stain combination; just the stain. I was planning on finishing with spar varnish, which I thought would be appropriate for an exterior door. I've spent a lot of money on this door, to the point of having installed professionally (75 yo house, nothing's really quite square). I'm probably being a little too obsessive about this, but I don't want to lay a single brush stroke until I'm reasonably confident of the outcome. In answer to deecee's question, I do have a compressor, but not a spray gun. Unfortunately, I live in the upper midwest and would have to do any spray activities in my basement at this time of year. I would be somewhat concerned with the airborne vapors building up with my furnace running. I'm not really set up for a finishing shop at this scale, eg: ventialtion would be a problem. I'll give the wood conditioner a go. If anyone can think of anything else, I'd really appreciate it.