Mike is right, it's FAR worse. You really don't want to breathe it or even get it on your skin. As for applying them, poly is in some ways easier, it builds fast and after 3 coats you're done and can level and buff in a couple days. Nitro OTOH takes at least 3 days and 12 coats (spray 3-4 coats, level the next day, etc.) then wait 2-3 weeks to level and buff. Of course if you mess up the nitro just sand it back and re-spray, drop fill, etc. It burns in and all is well. Poly will leave witness lines and can be a PITA unless everything goes exactly right. My favorite guitar is finished in Tru-Oil. 2-3 gigs a weekend over the last 4 years and it's dinged and some what 'sunk' but feels and looks great.