Make sure you sand off all of the stain and any paint left on the piece. Wear a mask if you are sanding old paint and always wear your safety goggles. You will have a beautiful unstained piece of wood underneath.
I chose a Minwax stain in walnut. Following the grain of the wood, paint your stain on the section you are finishing. If you are doing a whole piece, work in sections (top, sides, face) and keep stain on for the same amount of time for each section. I was just doing the top so I put the stain on and left it for a few minutes.
Take a clean rag and just wipe it off. Just wipe. The longer you keep the stain on the more it penetrates. But DON'T let it dry. Wipe it off and you will have a beautiful stained piece of wood. Pat yourself on the back cuz stained wood is sooo pretty!
I forgot to take a picture but the wood on the right is a nice deep walnut brown. Now leave your piece for 24 hours. I know, if you are like me you want to be done now. But the wood needs to dry, or you are going to have water marks under your finish.
I will continue and show you the next step of how to finish your piece - easily on Monday.
Let me know if you have questions.