First, A Bit of Oil You start by wiping on a very light coat of boiled linseed oil. Apply just enough to darken the wood and then wipe off any excess. When applied sparingly, the linseed oil will simply cure under the following coats of shellac and varnish. I like the way it brings out a beautiful, warm color in most woods. The change is immediate and pretty dramatic.
DIY: How To Make Oilcloth (and a cover for your iPod!) Great tutorial that shows you how to turn any material into oil cloth. Cheap and easy! (All you need to do is soak your material in boiled Linseed Oil and let it dry.)