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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
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.

Yep. It has been sanded, caulked, and stained. Will post pics when it's completely finished.
 

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Beware of caulks and sealants because they are high volume and become effective wedges when they are between 2 pieces of wood that try to swell. Sort of like closing the seat belt buckle in the car door: Something’s gotta give, and the results are not pretty. There are other good reasons to not use sealants in this application, but that will take a pretty technical discussion to explain, but suffice it to say that misapplication is too common and leads to failure and worse problems.

The copper cap is the traditional solution and is by far the best approach…for the top. The penetrating epoxy is almost as good, but is quite easy to do and ideal for the cut-out and the cracks and grooves, although it ain’t cheap, but neither is a new gate. The good thing is that the epoxy doesn’t need to be applied to the face material, but just the end grain and the cracks and joints. The epoxy came out of the boating and architectural restoration industries.
 
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