So to start a very long story--
I found this table top Labor Day weekend at a yard sale in a nearby town.
The look that I finally got it down to was never meant to be the top surface of the table. It was a mix of woods, what we are guessing was some oak, some hickory and some maple. The strips around the edges were even all different widths! But I was loving the uniqueness of the look, especially with the deep knots and the wormholes. I was even kind of liking the look of the few little gouges that I had put in it with my putty knife (OOPS!). The pic above is after we had it all sanded down. We have now realized that we probably should have sanded the wide edge pieces a bit better as I think there was still some glue left on them.
Part of the reason that DH and I fell in love with this piece was because it had the hardware to open out to over 100 in. We had been looking for a table that would start small, but be able to grow with our family as we add spouses and eventually grandchildren. But, of course, no leaves came with the table top, so DH agreed to take on the task of making leaves. It is already unique enough that they wouldn't have to match exactly. The one problem was the edging pieces- we couldn't find any that matched anywhere we looked. So we ended up picking new edge pieces. It changes the look just a bit, but I'm ok with that.
So all of this wood got 3 coats of Minwax Special Walnut stain. I thought about using the Dark Walnut, but was actually worried about it going too dark. And then I finished with Wipe-on Poly in a satin finish. 6 coats! Hope that's enough to protect it. I don't mind a few more nicks adding to the character, but would rather avoid water rings.
And if you have read all the way to here, I'm sure you have finished your coffee by now! ;)