The last time I applied polyurethane, I chose a variety called "diamond something or other". It turned out that the diamond variety dries so quickly that if I apply a brush stroke one way and then simply move backwards along the same path, the first run would have already dried.
The net result was very disappointing. The surface (of wood shelves) came out very rough.
Because for this next project (a desk) the smoothness is of prime importance, I chose "hand-rub poly", after being told that it dries slowly.
The directions on the can say apply to cotton rag and then apply to wood. But the liquid is very thin, and very little makes it into the actual surface.
Is it safe to pour a few drops and then spread them with a cotton rag to leave the semblance of a coat? I'm working outside in the shade to minimize inhalation, and so the drying will be efficient from moving wind. What are your tricks to get a smooth surface from hand-rub poly?