When my kids were growing up, I often told them to work hard to do their very best and then be at peace with the result. Many of us struggle with that. I know I do, especially in something like woodworking where my skills are developing and my standards always increasing. If you are/were really good at your profession, you get accustomed to performing at a very high level and when you go into the shop it's clear you aren't there yet. You have to remind yourself that part of the fun of woodworking is that it's so challenging. There is a reason that woodworking apprenticeships lasted seven years.
There's a second step though. I've always liked the Japanese concept of kaizen, often called "continuous improvement" in large organizations here in the U.S.. It can be just another fad, another buzzword, or it can be a way of approaching excellence. You can be at peace with the results of your woodworking efforts and still look at them critically to see how you can do better next time. The idea is to make regular incremental improvements. That's kaizen. It helps me to take satisfaction from my work to think of any shortcomings as clues to how to improve. (It also helps to have a wife like mine who likes what I make and doesn't know/doesn't care about the flaws.)
My evaluation of the half-blind dovetailed drawers I've just finished making is an example. It's hard to judge your own work objectively, but I'd say they are very good, not excellent. It seems somewhat strange to me, but I think the main issue is marking out. I use a mechanical pencil with 5 mm. lead and saw/pare to the waste edge of the line, but it just seems to introduce a little bit of error. I just bought a better mechanical pencil designed for drafting to try, but I know many of the best woodworkers say that you just can't achieve a high level of accuracy with a pencil. I've tried various marking knives but my problem is that I just can't see the lines I make even though I have good vision. Marking out the pins from the tail board is a good example. You have to hold the tail board absolutely solid with one hand while marking the pins with a knife in the other hand. I never can see the result. I know Lee Valley says to mark out the line with a pencil as a second step but when I do that the knife line is obliterated, so it's no help. I need a way to make more distinct knife lines. Marking knives often have handles that don't facilitate bearing down and I think that's part of the problem.
Paul Sellers uses an inexpensive Stanley knife that looks almost like a pocket knife with a small blade similar to this. I've tried a small pocket knife and can produce a line I can see. The issue with both is the bevel on both sides of the blade, but I suppose you get used to it and can compensate. As I look at Paul using it, I think the big issue is the stout handle. You can really apply enough pressure to get a distinct line. After I finish my current project, I am going to try this to see if I can produce distinct lines I can see clearly. I have also thought of rehandling an Xacto knife.
As I expected, I also got a feel for what piston fit means in woodworking. I went a little overboard and while the drawers work smoothly, it took a lot of fussing. I notice that the best working drawer is the loosest one, so next time I am going to back off the fit a little. It's just a matter of getting a feel for how tight to make them.
Installing the drawer bottoms with slips turned out to be a very good idea. I can see why it was done traditionally in hand tool woodworking. I'll definitely be doing it in the future.