Stains lighten as they dry, so you often see instructions to apply a coat of finish to see the true color you will get at the end.
This isn’t necessary. You don’t have to let a stain dry and apply a coat or two of finish to see the color a stain will produce on the wood. There’s a much quicker method.
All you need to do is look at the color while the stain is still damp on the wood—that is, right after you have wiped off the excess. This is the color you will get, and it holds true for all types of stain. To be exact, however, you need to factor in the sheen of the finish you’re going to use. For example, satin will dull the brightness of the color a little.
But the color produced by the still-damp stain will be correct.