For a satin finish, apply gloss first
Satin or semigloss varnishes contain dulling agents that can cloud your finish after you make the necessary multiple applications.
When you want a satin finish, apply the same brand of gloss varnish for the undercoats. The gloss finish doesn't cloud up as much, and will reveal flaws better. And, you can easily tell which areas have received less sanding than others. Finally, add a satin top coat.
—Kenneth R. Thornley, West Hartford, Conn.