100% agree, Brian. I sanded the rout around the outside of this guitar, and ultimately only sanded the neck of the guitar after everything was done. I think I may have sanded a couple of other things on the guitar ahead of time and then had to correct them with scraper and file, anyway.
If there is any sanding beyond that, I lose control of the shape of things (and I don't want to do that). shape is more important than surface finish.
I like plane/spokeshave/drawknife/rasp (whatever is appropriate) for all of the rough shaping, then card scraper/files - just as you. I'd rather follow a coarse file with a finer file than go right to sandpaper - and if sanding is necessary for a look (then I'll sand only as a final step).
I suppose i did this on the fingerboard, too, which is compound radius. I planed it to shape, though, and then only 220 grit sandpaper to remove any facets.
It's clear that there is very little hand work on the manufactured guitars (of course), but their control of getting an even finish is really superb (i'm sure due to narrow responsibility for each person in a process and as warren describes, innovations that push work down to lower skill levels to safe cost).
Mine won't look the same. The proportion of some of the perfectly done (near automated) guitars isn't really that desirable in some cases (the hard edges on a telecaster with low radius, and the really fat neck profiles - one would think that the latter could be changed, but the former would require more complexity).
and the other trend, which has been in place for a while, really thick non-repairable finishes ("polyurethane", which is probably just acrylic, or "acrylic lacquer"). Thick squeaky feeling finishes.
(the guitar on the left is a mexican made telecaster - flawlessly executed except for a few minor things that would be acceptable on a new guitar - like sitaring due to a little tuning needed in the nut slots - but visually perfect. "cherrycaster" is made to a lower finish standard - except the frets and the nut, but the proportions are better and it's more comfortable to play)