As an initial template, I have created an static HTML file and CSS stylesheet.
I looked at the styling applied through browser dev tools (FireBug and IE Developer Tools), and I can find nothing why this extra padding is occurring.
Are there other things I could do to determine my problem in viewing on IE-8?
One of the main scripting issues with tables is adding rows to the table itself, when you need to instead add rows to the tbody element of the table.
Other than that, take the resulting HTML code and perform a comparison without scripting being involved at all. That will tell you if CSS is the cause of the problem, which leads to all sorts of useful solutions.