Make sure the bench’s wood is clean and dry (if old bench, sand away paint).
Start by sanding with 220-grit sandpaper in the direction of the wood grain. Clean off all sanding dust with a damp cloth.
When the wood feels smooth, apply the oil-based pre-stain conditioner. Allow 5-15 minutes for the conditioner to penetrate, then wipe the surface with a lint-free rag.
Stir the stain really well (don’t shake the can). Pretest the color in a hidden spot (for instance, the rear of the bench).
If you are satisfied, apply the stain to the entire bench using the natural bristle brush, always going with the grain of the wood.
Wait 5-15 minutes for the stain to penetrate.
While wearing rubber gloves, use a lint-free rag to wipe in the direction of the wood grain, removing excess stain and blending the lighter/darker areas together. For a darker color, wait two hours and repeat the application process.
Allow stain to completely dry (four hours).
Apply a thin coat of polyurethane topcoat in the direction of the wood grain. Wait two hours to dry.
Sand lightly using 200-grit sandpaper. Wipe away dust. Repeat the topcoat process one to two more times for optimal protection.