Amazing work the drawer and the piece below it look like they were meant to be matches up really well. Do you have any pictures of how you mounted the top? I thought you explained it but i don't remember seeing a picture.
yes, flexners book will be a great resource now and for years to come.
i keep it relatively simple. here are some basic tips:
1) no fininsh can hide poor prep work. ensure that you sand, scrape, plane until the piece is ready for finish.
2) if poosible, choose marerials that are the colour you desire. far better to clear coat walnut than to stain something else to try and get walnut
3) always make test boards - always.
for an actual finish, i have two "go to" finishes. i use minwax wipe on poly (i like it better than ARS), and i love to spray general finishes high performace poly.
if i need to add colour, i normally go with general finishes water based dye or water based dye stains. i much prefer dye over traditional wipe on stains. i find dye to provide more consistent results, and it can be easily combined with other dyes to get other colours.
I enjoy experimenting with different finishes. I use Arm R Seal, Shellac, solvent lacquer and water base all regularly (and probably in that order). personally I think shellac, when perfectly applied, is the most attractive of all finishes but it is not very forgiving.
If you just want one "go-to" finish then Arm R Seal is your friend. if you enjoy experimenting then I would suggest you buy a copy of Understanding Wood Finishes by Bob Flexner.