Thanks for all the compliments on the bodywork. This was my first attempt at any real bodywork. I have tried (unsuccessfully) in the past to do bodywork on some other cars I have owned. That was when I did not know as much about bodywork as I do now. What I can tell you is that it is boring and tedious, but absolutely vital for a great finished project.
I have learned everything by doing. I read magazine articles, internet forums, and have watched my share of YouTube videos to get a basic grasp of the concepts involved. After that, I dove right in and tried it myself. It's not really all that hard - you just have to be patient. One thing that I'm not good at is fixing dents and working metal to just the right shape. I got everything as straight as I could with a hammer and dolly, but I know there are some gifted metal workers that can work dents to the point that practically no filler is required.
Even with new metal, some work is still required. Granted, my doors and quarter panels don't have anywhere near as much filler as the roof, hood, and trunk (the original metal still on the car). The time that you put into block sanding is what really makes the paint look good. I block sanded the entire car 4 times, and there are some spots that I probably sanded, filled, sanded, filled, resanded, refilled, etc. at least 8-10 times before they finally looked right. I would say that block sanding using guide coat and a long straight sanding board is the single biggest key to a straight body. I probably have $300-$400 invested in just block sanding boards and rubber blocks. I have a set of Durablocks that I used to some extent, but the majority of the work was done with long flexible sanding blocks that I got from Eastwood. They aren't cheap, but they get the job done quickly and correctly.
I have never worked in a body shop nor do I have friends who are body guys. I just picked it all up by not being afraid to do it myself. It's the same way I learned to do home improvement projects, plumbing & electrical work, engine building, welding, etc. You just have to be prepared to spend a lot of money on the right tools and also be prepared to pay a professional more than usual if they have to fix your mistakes. The tools I bought are easily paid for by not paying someone else to do the work - and I get to keep the tools!