Sounds good. And thanks again for sharing your knowledge.
One more thing. What I need to achieve is a smooth finish, not tacky, which leads to my question: Does oil+resin varnish make a tacky finish? I know a pure oil one makes a smooth one, but I wanted to try an oil+resin marine varnish. However, on a practice sword, if I choose the wrong finish and end up with a "sticky" surface, I'm done for and I can toss the piece and start all over, because it's going to kill the hands of a user.
When I made my sample practice board the thicker coats worked well but I was working on a flat surface and filled in the open grain in the cocbolo after 5 coats. I used 2 coats of aqua coat first. But, You are right - I neglected to think ahead when it came to doing the sides. The current cat is very smooth - Can I do a wipe on coat over what I have with out getting friction streaks?