carcase construction with dowels

I'm assembling a moderately large counter/cabinet.
The front is oak veneered plywood.
The bottom is oak edged particle board.
The false top is particle board.
The real top is a manufactured laminate and particle board construction.
The front lies (stands, more accurately) between the bottom and false top (i.e., the front is flush with the outer edge of these two pieces with no rabbets).
There are also ends and interior bulkheads, but no back. (Of course if you prefer you can say there is a back but no front.)
I'm leaning toward using dowels to align the front (and ends) on the bottom and under the false top (along with glue in each case) because
- I don't need any resistance to tension since the front is under compression, but a little resistance to shear might be nice.
- I'm uneasy about biscuits expanding (usually one of their selling points) since the slot would be cut just about at the line between the edging and the particle board and would seem to want to pry the edging loose (the edging was attached with face frame biscuits.)
- When I was experimenting with other alternatives for applying the edging I found it much harder than I would have thought to machine a tongue and groove that would fit snugly without being too tight or too sloppy, so I'm not confident I could do a good job with a spline. Also a spline would (like biscuits) do some damage to the edging joint (although the spline wouldn't need to be very deep into the horizontal pieces).
If I do use dowels I'm thinking of using 3/8 dowels for the rather poor reason that my dowling jig centers 3/8 dowels in 3/4 plywood, placing smaller dowels closer to the outer edge.
Comments, please?
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