With the bases assembled and the tops flattened (along with the edges tapered), it was time to head down the home stretch. Finishing has always been frustrating for me but I have realized it has been frustrating because I skip so many steps.
First step is to sand. I sanded the entire desk (both of them) using 80 grit, 120 grit, 180 grit and finally 220 grit.
I'm using my power sanders when I can (I have a 6" Festool and a smaller Festool which includes corner attachments). Once I'm no longer able to use the power tools, I move to hand sanders and then finally to blocks wrapped in sand paper or just folded sand paper.
I approach both sanding and finishing the desk in 2 stages. I first approach the underside of the desk with both sanding and finishing. Then I will approach the top side. While I do the underside, I also finish the drawer.
Before I apply any finish, I use a folded piece of 220 grit and ease all the edges. One of the most important tools while sanding, I've found, is my fingers. I use my fingers to feel every edge to make sure that everything is smooth and not sharp.
I use a wet rag and wipe down all the sanded surfaces and then sand again to remove the raised grain. I then follow it up with some tack cloth to get all the dust off the piece.
Next it's time to work on the finish. I will apply 2 coats of shellac and then some poly over that. On the base, I will apply 2 coats of poly and on the top of the desktop, I will apply a few extra coats to give it some durability. I am lightly sanding between coats with 320 or 400 grit sandpaper.