When it comes to the finishing, one should already know whether the piece is going to be painted or stained, or even both.
Old furniture that has unattractive markings, stains or repairs is most likely going to be painted. If your piece is in lovely condition, then staining would be a good choice.
If you are building a new piece of furniture, you will decide from the start as to what finish you will be using. No sense in buying beautiful wood just to cover it up with paint.
Now some pieces may be both stained and painted as in the case of dressers or table tops. The bottom may be painted and the top stained. You will prep and sand according to the application.
In summary, planning ahead and knowing the finish will save you time, money and hair pulling moments.
The following lesson will provide you with a number of tips to use when staining your furniture.
I use Minwax stains however, there are many other excellent stains available. It comes down to personal preference and availabilty.