I finished the last bit of assembly today. I needed to attach the top plates for the raised panels. I used the drill bit from my Kreg pocket hole jig to drill a series of counterbored holes in the top plates.
After spreading a thin coat of glue to the top of the walls, I located the top plats and fastened them with pocket hole screws.
I planed down any high spots that would prevent the top from sitting flat, then drilled a series of mounting holes for the top, around the inside perimeter of the top plates.
With the top plates attached, I now have a convenient way to hold up my panels, allowing me to stain both sides at the same time. I decided not to push stain down into the carved patterns on the front panels. Hopefully this will give a subtle contrast to highlight the carvings.
The columns have a lot of tight corners, so I used a foam urethane brush to apply the stain in the tight places, then rubbed it out with a rag to spread the stain evenly.
I am not worrying about staining the bottoms of the bases, but I did flip over the two tops and apply a coat of stain. I gently brushed stain over the high spots on the fish trim, hoping to highlight those carvings as well. We will see how it looks when the Urethane goes on tomorrow.