I moved away from anything other than the micro mesh pads this time and it has worked much better, like you say I actually don't bother stopping between grades, but just run my fingers over them in between grades.What abrasives do you use? I don't use beyond 180g dry, from there on it's w&d. Fifteen grits, not much more than a wipe with each - by the time 12,000 is reached there isn't really that much to gain from buffing polishes. I use pads for all the fine ones (about £9 a set), and find that by the time I stop the lathe and look to see whether I could skip a grade it's quicker just to have done it, necessary or not. A recycled spray (kitchen cleaners etc.) full of water is useful.