They work! I tried both methods for the first time this weekend. I was scared to death to hammer that dowel through my cake, but just like indydebi said; it goes through the cake like butter! I couldn't believe it! I also used the Melvira method to smooth the buttercream- wow! That was totally awesome! I was so afaid the finish wouldn't be as smooth as I wanted, since my inspiration cake was covered in fondant, the birthday girl did not want fondant. It turned out great.
Thanks CCers for so many great tips!
welcome to the fan club!