I've been making test strips as described as "the best" in most books, by exposing seperate strips of paper to the same part of the image for various times. When I first started, I simply used half an 8 x 10 sheet and uncovered more of the paper each exposure. I always had to use some guesswork to accomodate for numerous exposures etc., but it worked and was much faster than the individual method.
I guess my point is, agreeing with the folks who seem to be saying that everyone has their own methods as to what works, what gets the results, and what is fun. On this board we can simply expand our thinking by seeing what others do. Thanks all.