When it's time to apply a finish on an outdoor project like this, you have several options from which to choose. It all depends on what ends up underneath the finish.
OUTDOOR OIL. If I'd wanted to let the grain of the wood stand out as much as possible, I could have used an oil finish formulated for outdoor use, like DAFs Woodlife or General Finishes' Outdoor Oil. This is a good choice with a more expensive wood, like redwood. But you'll want to renew the finish every year by applying an additional coat of oil.
PAINT. Another option is to paint the bench with an alkyd primer and a couple coats of latex paint. This, of course, covers up all that beautiful wood grain, but paint will protect the wood better (and longer) than any other finishing option.
SEMI-TRANSPARENT STAIN. When it came right down to it, I couldn't bring myself to paint the garden seat But I was willing to sacrifice a little of the wood grain for more protection. So I used a semi-transparent stain, see photo.
BRUSHING TIP. You'll want to follow the instructions for the stain you pick out. But I found that when it came to staining the vertical sections like the legs, a dry foam brush was helpful for removing the excess so I didn't end up with any runs.
cut it to length to fit between the dadoes in the lower rails. (My stretcher ended up 44V2" long.) And like the supports, it's glued and screwed in place, see detail 'a' on previous page.
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