I'm relatively new to woodworking. I just finished some desktops made from Eastern White Pine, and coated with 5-7 coats of post-catalyzed acrylic lacquer (Target Coatings EM-6000 + CL-1000) sprayed from a cheap HVLP sprayer. After a week of cure time I used a series of Mirka Abralon silicon carbide Sanding Pads (grits 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000) soaked in soapy water, 3-4 slow passes over the entire top. Then finished with Menzerna SF3500 using a foam finishing pad. The resultant finish has a very nice glossy shine, but it also looks very orange peel.
After seeing this on my first project, I thought that this just meant that I needed to be more aggressive with my initial sanding. So on my second desk I started with a 500 grit sanding pad before moving to the 1000, and I took a little more time than I did with the others. I was surprised to see that the second project looked as orangy, if not more so, than the first. Leaving me to wonder what's causing this and what step I'm missing in my finishing process.
I've never read of anyone needing to go rougher than 500 grit when rubbing out lacquer. What's the proper way to deal with this? Why (physically) does this happen? Do I just need to take a lot more time with the 500 grit? Too much water and/or soap?
My goal is to create a glasslike mirror gloss, like you see on a high-end car paint job or a guitar.