My attitude is not to get too attached to exact layouts. The web is fluid, and it's better to face that fact and adapt to it. If someone increases their font sizes, your pixel perfect layout will be blown apart anyway—and plenty of people have their system fonts set bigger than normal.
is there a way to establish absolute placing / spacing across all browsers? I don't seem to run into it unless I'm running a good amount of divs mixed with tables. If there's a 'proper' way to do this, I would like to know.