I'm new to homeownership, rented most our life. I'm replacing some trim and doors in a bedroom. I have solid oak doors, stained pecan oak along with some window trim. I wanted to protect them with poly, but so far am very unhappy with the finish. (I am working with test piece, did not want to fubar the doors and trim) The staining looks good, but when using poly the end results have not been satisfying. I got a good brush, not helping. After it dries, I see lots of bubbles and imperfections. It is also semi gloss, but dried it shines like a freaking coat of wax has been applied.

What would be a better way to protect it? Would clear coat be a better choice, or?

Thanks
John