It is best to put the stain and finish on as soon as possible after the 220 grit sanding is complete. The reason is that the oak barrels are open grain and they can swell with normal room humidity. We have made drums for individual players and because of this, we have used a large variety of stains. Most stains will darken if you put on additional coats, but some are specifically made to hold a particular shade. I like to use a staining pad, but sometimes a simple cut of old T-shirt or even a paper towel will be okay. Get the stain into the grain and wait usually about 5-10 minutes and then wipe it off. Don’t forget to stir!