Q.: Is it acceptable to work the column dowels down into the fresh concrete of a footing rather than place the concrete around supported dowels?

A.: The best advice we know on this subject comes from the CRSI Placing Reinforcing Bars, Fourth Edition (1981), pages 11-5 to 11-7: "Dowels must be placed accurately not only with respect to the location of the column bars above, but also vertically to assure that they project the specified distance above the footing....

"The best accepted practice is to use a template made of wooden boards with holes drilled in it; or with a tie or a single turn of spiral nailed to the guide boards....

"It is not considered good practice to drive or push dowels into position in [fresh] concrete. They are difficult to hold in proper alignment and corrections in dowel position after the concrete has set can be costly."