Sounds like you're on the right track.

For now it's probably best to use a densitometer to test for zone VIII. For a condenser enlarger targeted for printing on grade 2, you'll want a zone VIII density of about 1.2 over base+fog. A little more if you are using a diffusion enlarger or a longer scale paper. A little less if you take the above suggestion and target your negatives for grade 3. And even then, once you set aside the testing and start taking pictures, you may decide that you generally want more or less contrast than you're getting, and you can adjust your development times accordingly.

If you want to experiment a bit, shoot your test rolls with a few shots at Zone VIII at the beginning to be sure you've got your Zone VIII test, then shoot the rest of the roll in sequence from zone 0 to zone X or more, and then you can read each frame with a densitometer and plot the characteristic curve for the film for each development time you try and see how development time changes contrast throughout the curve.