You could spend a lot of money on oil and pumice to get a hand-rubbed look on a varnish finish. But a brown paper bag will do a nice job as well.

Cut out a section of a paper bag and wad it up a few times to soften the surface. Then, fold it into a flat pad that fits your hand comfortably and rub your finish with it. The paper will knock down small dust nibs to create a matte finish.
—Alan Bakke, Forrest Lake, Minn.