This was my first time building a piece of furniture on my own, so it was a lot of learning and trial and error on my part. The plans were fantastic for the most part (I thought the bench plans could have used a little more specification and couldn't seem to find a pocket hole version). We completed the project over the course of a couple months, simply because we revisited it when time allowed. It could easily be done in a much shorter period. One thing I will say is this -- add a step to the plans and utilize a planer and jointer on all of the boards. I had the table put together at one point and whew, I wasn't sure what I did wrong, and I went back and had followed all the steps. While this might sound obvious now, remember it was my first time doing something like this, so I followed each step to a T. I also used a belt sander on the table and bench tops to level things out even more, and went across the grain to make a smooth surface with an 80 grit belt, then hand sanded with a sanding block with 120, 220, and 320 grit. I also modified the bench plans to cut about 5 inches off so that they would fit under the table.
We used Minwax pre-stain conditioner, then one 10 minute application of Mixwax Honey stain, followed by Mixwax Satin Poly. It turned out great and we are already moving on to other projects!
Mixwax Honey (10 minutes then wipe off)
Mixway Satin Poly (3 coats, sand with 600 grit after coat 1, 800 grit after coat 2).