Ok, it looks like I'll stay away from shrinking right now.
Concerning DBM's points...when I get high spots I always look under the hood to see if there is something under there pushing it up, as was the case when I had it on my stand. I keep it on a large rolling table in the shop now so it sits on a flat surface. Under the worst high spot is the substructure. My inspection thus far hasn't been much more than lift the side of the hood up a few inches to peek under and see if there's any issues so I need to look more thoroughly.
Sometimes it's also difficult for me to tell if I'm actually feeling a high spot, or if it just feels like a high spot because I just rolled my hand through a low spot. The guide coat isn't revealing much....there's a spot where the primer keeps sanding off more and more, so it's got to be a high spot.
What it really comes down to at this point is with all the uneven filler, I can't tell what's truly what anymore; there's high and low spots that are due just to filler, and there are other spots that are probably due to metal.
I'm reaching the point now where I think it may be in my best interest to strip EVERYTHING back off the hood and start from square one where I can actually use all the advice given in this thread BEFORE I have the problem; that right there will eliminate half the problems I currently have. Take my file and identify all the flaws in the metal. Work them the best I can. Fill the low spots and cut before the filler sets up...I can spot fill really well so this is where I should use my strong points. As DBM pointed out, cutting before the filler sets up makes easier/better work of it, and since I've gone back to this way it's worked out real well for me. Then I reevaluate the condition of the hood. It may be that several coats and blocking with slick sand would have taken care of it. At the time I decided I should skim I didn't know/realize the slick sand was an option.
It's really ****ty that I have to essentially waste all that filler and time, but fortunately it's Platinum and not Rage, and costs about half as much as Rage.
I actually did this with both of my fenders. I spent an entire summer trying to get them perfect and was still never happy. I had them blocked in 2k and everything. I ended up stripping off all the filler, doing a million guide coats and using my bullseye pick of all things to bump out lots of little low spots here and there. In the end I used less filler the second time around and my application was better. I've since finished blocking the high build primer and they block completely off.
You guys have half a day to stop me because when I get home I'm on a mission