In general I have had good results with:
- Oil-based stain -> oil-based polyurethane
- Oil-based stain -> shellac barrier -> polycrylic / water-based polyurethane
I want to keep the look and at least some of the scratch resistance polyurethane/polycrylic provide.
However, I have found that when I apply any poly to vertical surfaces or bottom faces, it drips or becomes uneven as it dries.
Now, I have a piece that I had to assemble before finishing. It has faces of every orientation that I need to finish. I'd also like to avoid a shellac coat because I have trouble working with shellac. This limits me to oil-based polyurethane. All of the polyurethanes I have take 6-8+ hours to dry, and at least a few hours to stop being affected by gravity.
I'd really like to finish this piece in less than 6 (top, bottom, left, right, front, back) separate 6-8 hour steps (do the top faces, wait for poly to dry before flipping piece and doing a side, and so on).
So I'm looking for either a finish with the same look and some of the protection as polyurethane (I only need mild scratch resistance) that sets very quickly or doesn't run at all, or some technique for applying polyurethane to faces of arbitrary orientation without it running / beading / flowing.
What kind of finish can I use over oil-based stain, or how can I continue to use polyurethane but apply it in one or two sittings instead of six?