Thanks Aaron. I probably wouldn't have designed the aquarium stand with all but joints,,, but when I asked my lady what she wanted her stand to look like,,, she pointed at our entertainment center towers and said,,, "I want it to match those." (right down to the aluminum inlay unfortunately) I built it with very "blocky" but joints everywhere to match the build design of pieces we purchased previously.
When I first started working with wood, I made a simple speaker stand out of Birch ply. Simple 4 sided box design,,, no biggie. I mitered the corners so that the veneer on the ply was the only thing that came together to make the 90 deg. corners. It came out "ok" but I was never happy with it at all.
I'm pretty sure anybody who paints the ceiling in a room that is dark 75% of the time with 7 coats to get it "just right" would not by happy with mitered ply corners.
(It's comforting to read about fellow "anal's".
My columns should be pretty simple, basically each column will be ~15" wide ~5" deep in 2 sections that are a couple of feet tall
As small as your pillar's wood sections are going to be, you could do the entire column out of solid stock (which I would do),,, or just do the front out of ply and make the sides with solid stock. If you profile the edge of of the solid stock side panels out to the front plane of the ply,,, you will be able to hide the edges of the ply and get the profile edge of your choice. This, however, would leave you with a slight seem on the front side of the column. If you do it this route, you need to ask yourself if you want the corner "seam" to be visible from the front or side of the column. The answer to that question will determine which side/s will be solid stock and which will be ply.
You could make a trim piece out of solid stock to make a "corner bead" and then use ply on the front and sides,,, but at a 5" depth that would be more work/time then just profiling one edge of a 1" x 5" piece of solid stock for the sides of the columns.
Here's a pic of what I mean by a corner bead. I ripped some maple down and profiled one edge to make my own maple corner bead,, but I would have made the entire front portion out of solid stock (as opposed to a trim piece) if the front of my columns were not open.
Good luck with our column build. I'm no expert, just a self taught dude,,, but if you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to share my experience. I have learned many ways how NOT to do stuff.