"I've never been a fan of water-based finishes, but a new wiping varnish from General Finishes has me excited to give them another try. Wood Turners Finish, available soon from Woodcraft and Rockler, combines the best of oil and water based finishes.
In order to create a finish that is compliant with VOC regulations, they've taken the same alkyd urethane varnish typically found in oil-based finishes and wrapped it in a water-based delivery system. The result is a finish with the warm tone and feel of an oil-based finish, but with the fast dry time of a water-based finish. It's fast dry time and it's ability to be rubbed out to a high gloss is the reason it's being marketed as a finish for turning, but there's no reason to think that it wouldn't be great for other furniture projects as well. A maple sample board rubbed to a satin sheen had a great, warm look that would compliment any project. The finish should be available within the next month and will retail for about $28/quart."