One of the more complex aspects of this project was the stepped panels. The step in the top and bottom rails actually occurs at two different locations. Rather then try to mill out a stepped tenon on the panels I cut them oversize initially, ripped them in three portions, then used my new dado stack to mill out all the tenons.
At this point I did a few dry assemblies and started thinking about my clamping and glue up strategy. I decided trying to glue up entire sides at once was a recipe for disaster. To simplify things I did a few sub-assemblies by glueing up the lower rails and maple splines.
I glued the three portions back together to produce a stepped panel. It would be impossible to get clamps in there to pull these three together when doing the final glue up. By gluing them up ahead of time the final glue up would be considerably easier. On most of these the glue line is almost impossible to make to make out. If I were to do it again I would consider using a thin kerf saw blade or better yet consider making the rips on the band saw. That would result in less material loss and thus better grain matching in the final product.
At this point I did a crude dry assembly, just making sure each tenon fit. Where necessary I went back and cleaned up the shoulders of a tenon when it wouldn’t slide into place easily.
With all the tenons made and the panels glued back it up it was time for a lot of sanding.