Quote Originally Posted by DannL View Post
Why is it important to think in terms of stops at the enlarger? How will that benefit me?

I guess I can't see the advantage to the test strip method that Kal has described (I'm feeling dense today). If I determined that a 36 second exposure is too weak, a 38 second exposure is too dark, and a 37.5 second exposure would be just right, how can I discern information this accurate using the method Kal has described? When dodging, burning, or creating straight prints, I find a second of exposure here, and a second of exposure there to be quite critical to the final print. In Kal's method for example, there would be 32 seconds of exposure time residing between the 32-second and 64-second exposures on the test strip.
The original purpose of this thread is to get the OP started with his printing. But going down the track he will eventually come to where you're at.
As others have said, the benefit of making test (strips) with log changes (2,4,8,16, ...) is so that there is equal difference in exposure between the tests. You work in the same way as with your camera.
So, for starters, making a test strip in full stop decrements is a start. Then when in the ballpark, i.e. somewhere at an exposure time or in between two of them, you can finetune in increasingly smaller decrements.
As someone notes, there are programmable exposure timers, with which you work with the concept of stops instead of seconds. These timers (R H Design and Darkroom Automation.) can be set down to 1/24 of a stop, which should befine-grained enough. (If you miss your half-second, you can always let your hand pass under the lens...)