I have made a small jewelry box from steamed black walnut for my significant other. My original idea was to sand it down to 400 grit and finish with just oil (which I did, with two coats of IKEA "Skydd" mineral oil), but I liked the high gloss so much I decided to give a try to lacquer... and things went downhill from there.
The first thin coat of lacquer was absorved almost entirely by the end grain. Also, the lacquer was taking days get dry enough to touch (an alkyd resin-based lacquer premixed with naphtha as solvent, supposed to dry fully in 24 hours). At this point, I sort of panicked and applied 4 more generous coats using a brush in quick succession, barely waiting 48 hours between coats.
Now it's been a full week since the last coat was applied and the lacquer is still rubbery to touch, nowhere near hard enough for sanding. I only have a week or so left before the event the box was made for and given the progress so far, I doubt it will fully dry (but then it's my first time with lacquer, so I don't know).
Any ideas how can I save this project? I'm OK with removing the lacquer with paint thinner, but I'm not sure if that will damage the wood. Also, where did I go wrong with the finishing?