French Satin Wood Finish
One of the best wood finishes is a nice French Satin, achieved through diligence and elbow grease. What you do is start with clean, bare wood.
1. Apply a coat of boiled linseed oil, rubbing with the grain. Try to get nice even coverage.
2. Let the oil soak for 12-24 hours.
3. Rub the entire surface with 0000 steel wool.
4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 another 25-30 times.
The process will take about a month but when you're done you have a finish so rock hard and impervious to anything you'll hardly believe it.