Some of my brainstorms work out and some don't, and this one didn't. I decided to fasten the shelf pieces with the 1/8" joinery dowels from Lee Valley. I really like the way they look on boxes but here they look too much like I used nails and wood filler:
Oh well, they aren't very conspicuous and the chef is fine with them. If I did this again, I think I would use a larger pin in the center of each piece and make them more prominent, in part by not staining them so they would contrast with the stained oak. This could be done by trimming the pins after staining but before finishing, using a playing card with a hole drilled through it to protect the piece. The pin would be left very slightly proud, a look I like.
With this done, it was a simple matter of attaching the top and installing the casters. The casters have a friction ring, so they just slide into a 7/16" hole. You get what you pay for; they were expensive but worth it. Here is the finished project:
Many hand tool woodworkers believe it is about the journey, and it is, but often it's about the destination too. This table really enhanced our kitchen and the chef is very happy with it. Now that we have one, I don't know how we did without it.