Thanks Izerous.Great results the pictures don't suggest at all that it is an Ikea top. Did you use any wood conditioner before staining?
And I was looking at walnut planks and that was coming out to $20ish per board foot. To make a top the same size would be hours of work and more than a couple hundred in planks. So results that look as good and for that cost is something to be happy about.
Yeah I used the Minwax Pre-Stain Wood conditioner. I honestly use it before any staining, no matter if it's hardwood or softwood. I find I get better results going with a light to medium application, just enough to 'wet' the wood and then coming back in 5-10 to wipe it and generally the shop towel picks up no liquid.
Trying my second coat of poly with a foam roller and having thinned it with mineral spirits just a little. I'm hoping it works well, but I usually use natural brush or microfiber for polyurethane so I'm not sure how the foam will perform.