Need suggestions for bench finish

I have an outside bench that needs refinishing. It is made from redwood 2x3s with 1x2 spacers between each 2x3 over brick pedsetals. Outer edges are covered with 1x5s to hide anchoring to the pedestals. I live in Southern California and the location gets a fair amount of sun but not a lot of rain. It is about 10 years old and had polyurethane varnish finish originally.
I used a chemical striper, scrapper and sandpaper to remove all the old finish on the parts I can reach. Sides of the 2x3s are only about an inch apart and I can't get at them to completely remove the old varish. There are a few rather minor blemishes in the wood and some nail holes where nails were center punched down. I would like to fill these with something that will look ok with the finish I use. I've seen some discussions about using varnish, stain and oils but don't know how practical oil is even though it seems like it would leave a nice finish. I don't much like the opaque stains I have seen. I think varish would last longer but is a lot of work to refinish and I would like to avoid going through this again.
My questions are: 1. Would tung oil or linseed oil be good to use for this outside application? Would it protect the redwood? How often would it need to be redone? Is there a better approach? 2. Should I use a sealer before applying oil (if that is what I end up using)? 3. Would oil (or whatever finish you think best) stay on the parts of the bench that does not have the old varnish completely removed? 3. Would a plastic wood or some other wood filler be ok to use to fill the nail holes? If so, should I use some stain on the filled holes before oiling so they would not be too obvious?
Thanks for your comments and suggestions.
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Yes. Penofin oil. I've used it on different woods and it is the only way to go outdoors, IMO. It has UV inhibitors and is easy to apply every couple of years.

No.
You may find a close matching filler, but stain is OK
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Seconded. Penofin is the only way to go.
Jim
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Jim Elbrecht wrote:

Nobody said it, so I will- does anybody ever actually sit on this bench? If so, whatever you put on needs to be non-marking in hot/damp weather. If some lady in a white dress sits down during a lawn party, and ends up with stripes, you will never hear the end of it.
Personally, I'd just clean it, and leave the wood naked. Redwood can sit at the gray stage for years before it starts failing to the point of being a hazard. That is why people starting using redwood for outside trim and decks in the first place, back when mere mortals could afford it.
-- aem sends...
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To all who answered my plea for help - Thanks very much! You all have had some great ideas and suggestions. I had never heard of Penofin before but it seems like maybe the way to go. There seem to be many different types of exterior Penofin products. My wife and I will go to a dealer to inspect and do some questioning. She is most concerned about the color and I don't know what a "transparent tint" is. Has anyone found one of the products better than the others?
As for the holes - they are about 1/8 inch to 3/16 in. diameter. They are the result of setting nails and are only about 1/8 deep to the nail. Other minor blemishes are not that deep and I might just ignore them.
I may have more questions after we look a round a little and I'll let you know what we end up doing and how it turns out.
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Albasani wrote:

Good? Not really. Satisfactory? Yes. Best is paint.

From what? Sun, slightly; rain, so-so.

Whenever the wood starts wetting out from rain.

No, absolutely not. Oil is meant to soak into the wood. Apply liberally, keep surface wet, wipe off excess after a half hour or so. Be sure to get off excess or you'll have a sticky mess. Repeat at least twice at a minimum of 24 hour intervals.

No, not if you wipe off as explained above. It would do no good even if it stayed.

Plastic wood isn't much good. Unless the holes are large your best bet would probably be hard, colored wax like the "putty sticks" sold for the purpose. Kid's crayons would work too but are too hard to rub in, need to be softened with heat first. They can be mixed to desired color by heating to liguid - careful, wax burns. Plain old putty (linseed oil + filler) isn't too bad either.
All work best on holes that are smallish in diameter and relatively deep...deep enough for a glob of whatever to have something to grab on to.

If using putty, mix into the putty.
--

dadiOH
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Linseed oil never fully dries, Tung oil and marine varnishes outside wont last. If its still grey and you want it cleaner for a clear finish Oxalic acid the main ingredient in most wood siding cleaners will help, so can bleach. If it was mine id consider an oil house stain, it wont peel you just recoat it when it wears away. I never used Penofin, remove the old varnish if its visable. There are clear oil house stains.
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On Mon, 22 Jun 2009 21:37:08 -0700, "Albasani"

Neither tung oil nor (boiled) linseed oil are good outdoor finishes. You can go with varnish, but get a marine varnish.

Follow the manufacturer's preparation carefully, very carefully.

Not well.

How big are these "nail holes?" I wouldn't bother with it.
Semi-transparent stain or paint will last the longest, but 10 years for polyurethane is not bad at all.
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Exterior oil house Cabots stains cure hard, but there is a time period.
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