Ultimately, a perfect period finish comes down to a smooth, glassy look and even shading on all parts of the piece of furniture. Choices of materials and the technique you use are important as well. But the patience and skill to prep the surface, both initially and between coats, is worth learning. The enjoyment of a job well done is lasting.
Each kit has a parts layout sheet in the instructions, usually before the assembly instructions begin. It is placed in that location with good reason: so that you will check your parts before you begin your build.
How do you know what your stain color will wind up looking like? Well, it is best to test your stain by putting two coats on a test piece, right? A drawer bottom or interior panel from the kit makes a great test piece.