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Steps 1-5 below may constitute a classical ground approach or system. Without getting into recipe details, It seems to me that this list is the proper sequence of finishing goals that makers ought to be aiming for: 1. CLEAN the wood chemically with a recipe that also seals 2. PROTECT the wood with a second, more durable sealer 3. FILLER 4. FIXATIVE 5. DECORATE the wood by using some combination of the above 4 water-based recipes, which are exceedingly thinned 6. (Your favorite varnish system) The above is based upon experimentation in fine finishing, but I am no maker, so all feedback is appreciated. Thank you, otter (edits added)