Part of the problem is that the order the layers go on in depends a lot on what kind of damage you're repairing and how you are repairing it. There is also some difference in the thought behind which will yield a stronger repair.
If you start with the smallest and work your way to the largest, the idea is that the patches will correspond with the existing laminate the best. The idea of starting with the largest and going to the smallest may have something to do with the fact that fiberglass has the greatest strength if the glass fibers run for a greater distance...and by putting the largest patch on first, when you sand or fair the repair, you'll still have the strength of the longest and largest patch, which might not be the case if you put the patches on smallest to largest, since you'd be sanding through the longest glass fibers.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.