In this case, I used a soft clean small towel to apply the stain. What I REALLY like to use is a stain mitten because it's easy to use and I can feel the grain of the wood in order to apply more or less pressure. If it is a wide grain then less stain and less pressure and adversely if the grain is tighter then more stain and more pressure is needed. The problem with the mitten is that they are expensive and on these types of jobs I just use throwaway stuff. Brushes, rollers, and even the pans are cheap and able to be tossed without any regret. Plus, I save on a lot of thinner. So far as the poly goes, I just use a 6" foam roller. A whole kit of 2 foam rollers, 2 terry cloth rollers, a handle and pan are only about 5 beans so .........toss it. 3 points if you can hit the can from 12 feet! Swoosh!