Great write up Len and I enjoyed the heck out of it. I'm new here and have been just looking around to see what you guys are doing. I never knew a site like this was out there. This is just my second or third day and I feel like I'm home. This sticky puts everything into perspective at least it does for me.
My wife coined the word "touch" for the skill it takes to do this work correctly. The word correctly is very important in this case. We have all seen the hacks at work or see the work they have done or had to fix it. Yes they get paid to do that kind of work and give a rats about the quality they produce. The real body/paint guys do it for the pride they have inside at least in the custom world. Everything you talked about is touch. That's what it takes and the guy who stated that it isn't rocket science is correct. It isn't. Most rocket scientists can't do this work. They are calculator guys and really not hands on. I work in the field so have experienced it first hand.
When I first started doing body and paint I did it in my home garage. One of my fellow home owners was a Phd and a professor at a very large University you have all heard of. He would sit in front of his patio door and eat breakfast every morning and watch me work on cars. I worked night shift and would wake up early to make extra money doing body and paint work in my home shop. I had lived in my house for over two years and had never spoken too this guy. One Saturday morning while I was sanding away on a car in my own little world I see a pair of shoes standing beside of me. It's this guy that lives next door. I shut off the sander and look up at him, (I'm on the floor sanding a rocker) knowing he's here to complain about me making a lot of noise. He said I just stopped by to tell you something. Oh yea, what's that, (getting all defensive) I say. I just wanted to tell you I wish I could do something like you are doing with my hands. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, (I say to myself)? Why, what do you mean? I see all of the work that you can do with your hands and how beautiful everything turns out and I'm really at a lost as to how you do something like that. He goes on to tell me about all of the work he does at the University but he has never felt fulfilled in his field. He had never turned out anything tangible in his life. I really felt sorry for him. He was a calculator guy and when you use a calculator everyday all you have to show for it is numbers, (allot like the video games the kids and some adults play now) (you won the game but you really haven't done anything). I hope this makes sense to everyone.
So I guess I'm saying, don't discount the skill you have. You may not know you have a skill but if you love the work you are doing then you have it. And if you love it then you have the "touch".