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where's my table saw?
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Do not use a filler or a putty or Bondo. They do not have the flexibility to expand and shrink that you need here. Use a caulk instead. There are many colors available and you can reapply without tearing it all out. Exterior finishes like paint and varnish form a thin coating or film on the wood's surface. They shrink and crack with exposure so they don't last long and require almost yearly maintenance. Oil finishes seep into the wood and before like the wood itself, only a different color. They are much better at withstanding the elements. I prefer solid color stains like Woodscape from Sherman Williams and my entire house is sided with Rustic Cedar siding, so it needs to last a long time. About 5 years ago, maybe a little longer, SW changed from oil based to water based and I was disappointed, but in fact the water based is just as good.

I see that the boards are splined together, not actually tongue and groove. This is an easier method to do and makes for a flatter glue up. I would saw them apart at this point. Just sand with 60, then 100 and then stain. Caulk the seams and cracks and call it done.
 

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where's my table saw?
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31,729 Posts
If you use caulk wouldn't you see it? My wife likes the stained look but it didn't last long being out in the weather. Your saying wood oil would be better?
Caulk comes in many colors at Home Depot, I've used DAP brand for years.
The SW stain I recommended will last 5 to 10 years with outside all season exposure.
Oil stain will be limited in colors, at least as far as I know. I used Penofin Cedar on my deck 2 or 3 years ago and now it needs another power wash and stain:
 
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where's my table saw?
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31,729 Posts
There are some "cracks" and there are some "seams" where the boards were splined together.... as I see it.
The cracks are a natural phenomenon, just like the seams, which are man made and both are a result of the wood expanding.
Water must be kept out of the cracks, especially if in freezing conditions which will open them further.
It is a great looking gate! The cap strip on the top edge sets it off nicely and keeps the water out of the ends.
A Cathedral Arch which you don't often see on a gate.
There have been the following recommendations:
Do Nothing.
Sand it only.
Sand it, stain it and caulk the cracks and seams. (my advice)
Keep epoxy coating it until it will absorb no more.

There are so many opinions, it may be confusing to the OP.
To follow up on my advice, use Woodscapes, a water based solid color stain like I posted by Sherman Williams because any residual water in the cracks will work with the stain and dry out eventually, and not be captured under an oil film surface. Most caulks are water based these days, I use a DAP product just today in a great shade of dark brown.
They also list Transparent colors if you want the grain to show, but I have no first hand experience with those.
 
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