For tables and other high 'scuff' vulnerable items, most 'modern' varnishes are too soft
. "Modern" varnishes are typically spar
varnishes which are soft
and flexible, designed to adhere to 'bendy things' without cracking, etc.
If you really want varnish, Id suggest either an epoxy-varnish used principally for bar-tops / table tops; OR, old fashioned BAR-TOP (hard
For HARD (bar top) varnish you'll have to find an artisan (usually an octogenarian - or older) who will make up the hard
varnish for you. Some musical instrument craftsmen and museum grade restoration artisans still make up their own hard varnish. Just like epoxide coatings, hard varnish can be a long difficult process to apply and has a high learning curve: Many many coats, flat sanded in-between the coats, final coat is sprayed on ... then flat sanded (w/ 800 -->1500+ grit) then 'hand rubbed' with rotten stone (a talc), then power-buffed to a dazzling BRILLIANT gloss and flatness .... will look like plate glass when done correctly. The final 'hand rubbing' generates heat which develops the dazzling/glowing 'iridescence' of the surface wood cells.
A more modern alternative that can better withstand 'exterior' conditions would be a 2-part/2-part acrylic-urethane catalyzed coating such as Honey Teak™
(Signature Finish and Honey Teak Products - Home
) similar to the coatings applied to hand-built and hand-painted and 'hand rubbed', mega $$$$ concours quality automobiles, .... needs flat sanding, and hand polishing, etc., and with a quite high learning curve.
What Im inferring here is that to 'really look good' most all such finished coatings simply cannot be slopped on; they must be 'built-up', continually flat-sanded between coats to reduce/remove flaws, then POLISHED TO A HIGH LUSTER (by hand or 'machine'). Such is called FINISHING.