there are two basic types of wood conditioner, Mineral spirit types and water based types. If you use a water based conditioner it will raise the grain on most woods and a 0000 steel wool pass will take it off. I use a 25% shellac to 75% mineral spirits and let it dry for a day or two, sand it with 600 wet/dry and mineral spirits. wipe it down and let it dry, then apply the stain, wipe it on and rub it out right away if it is too opaque/ or thin it out with mineral spirits and adjust tints to reach desired tint/ darkness. Just remember you can always sand if out and start over. Experiment and have fun with it.
Nice photos, are you liking it as much as we are? nice job