How does this guy do to get this kind of stain/finish. It is dark in some areas and light in others. This was a small chuck of the show table that I thought would be the most useful. Does anybody know how this is done for such a neat look? (not including the scratching :P)
First off you should recognise this as softwood and most softwoods have soft (and consequently absorbent) earlywood while the denser latewood is very much the opposite.
Due to these characteristic something like this can be done by two methods, staining or scorching. In both cases the earlywood goes dark while the latewood remains largely unchanged, at worst creating this sort of garish stripy effect where the grain flips or reverses.
I don't know if it's just the photo but the wood also looks quite yellow, which might be due to varnish, either a spar varnish which is more obviously yellow initially or a normal varnish that's been on for a while — all oil-based varnishes age and become more yellow over time. In addition the wood itself 'mellows' with exposure to light and becomes naturally more yellow.