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Spar varnish will work as well. Like Wayne commented poly works just fine too. I put down about 2000 feet of hardwood in my home several years ago and made all of the thresholds from leftover flooring so that they would match. I bought the flooring as a prefinished product but put poly on all the thresholds and stair risers/treads. They still look as good today as they did when they were originally put down.

To answer your finishing questions you need to wait until the poly or spar urethane has cured. (See GaryK's post). Usually this is an overnight process but it is dependent upon the temperature in your shop. Once it is cured I generally sand with 600 grit to remove any dust nibs or brush strokes (if the finish is brushed on). If the sandpaper gums up or the finish is tacky wait until it is cured before sanding. Remove the dust and apply another coat. Subsequent coats will dry faster than the first coat. For high traffic areas I would apply 4 coats of poly.

You could use a wiping poly just as easily but since it is a thinned product you would necessarily have to add more coats to get the same build as a straight poly application.
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