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"For the first coat, I'd thin the poly with 20-50% thinner, again, odorless mineral spirits will work.  That lets the first coat sink into the wood, and you can apply it with a lint free towel.  (Like an clean old sock that has a hole in it.)  For the second coat, I'd go with 0-20% thinner, continuing the same mix for a third or further coat if you think it might need it.  Thinning by 50% breaks the rule I started with; that will cause the finish to dry *in* the wood, which is a neat trick for poly finishes.  

Thinned polyurethane is often referred to as a "wiping varnish"; you can wipe it on with a towel, then wipe off the excess, and let it dry.  If you wipe off the excess on each coat, it may take 3 or more coats... but it's also very, very easy to get it right.  (Wait a day or two between coats; it needs to be dry before a coat goes on top with poly finishes.)"

Source: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/files/exact-width-dado-jig.pdf

Matthew Simmons,
Jan 22, 2014, 2:51 PM