This was my first project and I had SO MUCH FUN doing it! Can't wait to make nightstands to match. The only reason it took me so long and that I'm not sure of the final cost is because it took me a while to finish it due to work/life getting in the way. Plus we have no garage, basement or any indoor work space so were dependent on the weather to behave. I went back and forth to the store so many times for little incidentals I really couldn't tell you what the final cost was however, I can tell you that the wood came out to be about $50.
Staining: 1 coat of Minwax Provincial that I wiped off very soon after applying (about 5-10 min). I didn't wait for it to set in. Basically I started at the top and worked my way down...then began wiping off from the top. (applied stain with rags and wiped off with clean ones). I finished a week later with water-based polyurethane (2 VERY THIN coats, sanding in between). I didn't want any yellowing affect with the oil-based but you have to wait a few days to coat a water-based poly over an oil-based stain.