My husband did the build and I did the finishing. This would have been much easier with the correct tools such as clamps and squares but he got by. We did have a Kreg jig that made the assembly much easier. This took about 15-20 hours over the course of a week long spring break.
For the top:
Two generous coats of Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain in "Espresso 273" using a cloth to apply and then a clean cloth to wipe off the excess after allowing some time for the stain to soak in. Added two top coats of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane in "Clear Satin".
For the base:
Primed with Valspar spray paint in white. Then added two coats of Valspar spray paint in "Secluded Garden" Satin finish. Sanded the edges a bit and then went over it and quickly wiped off with the same stain as the top. This soaks into the exposed wood on the edges and leaves a bit of residue on top of the paint itself. Sealed over the top with a coat of clear satin top coat. Also used just the clear spray seal on all the exposed wood on the inside of the base.