4 coats of poly-spray, sanded with 220 paper in between each coat. Final coat got a rubbing of newspaper (I didn’t have any brown paper bags) and it came out better than I expected.
I was going to do the same for the hinges that were attached to the back of the box, but even without mortising them in, the lid sat a little towards the front (maybe 1/16″) and it was enough that if I cut a mortise, the lid would be too far to the front. Looking at it from the front, no one but me would notice, but it would bug me.
Also, I noticed the lid cupped a bit during the staining and finishing process. I was very surprised to see just how much (maybe 1/16″). I realized then that I didn’t apply the last 2 coats of finish to the underside of the lid (or the last 2 coats of stain) because I was running low on both. Aha! Lesson learned. This box has been full of learning. I love it.
Yeah, gotta love the expedient screwdriver lid-prop.