This is a guide on what your skills do and how to best use them.
The most important step of trying to high quality a craft is to have the proper cross class skills. Here is what I consider the bare minimum skills you need to make a certain tier of item. If you don’t have the cross class skill, I don’t think it is a good idea to attempt the craft
Normal Items with HQ Mats – CUL 37 (Steady Hand II), All Classes to 15
Normal Items with Normal Mats – CRP 50 (Byregot’s Blessing)
1* Recipes – WVR 50 (Careful Synthesis II)
2* Recipes – BSM 50 (Ingenuity II)
3* Recipes – ARM 50 (Piece by Piece)
How to Craft
This is a great guide that outlines how to craft an item http://www.reddit.com/r/ffxiv/comments/1mh6um/
But the most important part of crafting is knowing what you need to do to High Quality, and Complete a craft.
This can be as basic as "I need to hope that 7 Hasty Touches succeed, and then press Careful Synthesis twice". Too more complex like "I need to have a 10 Stack of Inner Quiet, use Great Strides, Innovation (If I have CP), Ingenuity II, and hope for a Good to use my Breygot's Blessing on. Then I will need to use 4 Careful Synthesis II, or if I only have 30 Durability left I need to use a Rapid Synthesis + 2 Careful Synthesis II, or have 2/3 rapid Synthesis work"
Don't worry, the complicated thing won't be until much later.
The General Skills
First thing you do in any craft (unless you have Comfort Zone).
Steady Hand II
Amazing skill. Allows you to get a 80% Chance on Hasty Touch and Rapid Synthesis, and a 100% Chance on Basic Synthesis.
Don't be afraid to 'waste' turns of Steady Hand II doing things that have a 100% chance of success. It is only 5 CP
Trick of the Trade
Gives you more CP! Most of the time you need much more CP than what is provided by your equipment, so that is where Trick of the Trade steps in.
Also known as "Square Enix hates me and never wishes that I HQ an Item"
Recipe level is incredibly important as it puts a penalty of progress and quality. If you are attempting recipes of a higher level than you are, ingenuity can more than double the progress you get from a single synthesis. In addition it will provide an appreciable bonus in quality.
Fourteen free CP the first time you press it, and fourteen more if you press it again. (Generally you don't want to press it a third time).
Note: To overlap comfort zones perfectly, use the second comfort zone when the first one has completely expired.
Provides up to 60 CP. A very useful skill at all stages of your crafting. Before you have Byregot's Blessing, you can use this to give yourself additional durability to worth with. I will go into alternative uses for Rumination later
The Synthesis Skills
The only thing you care about for synthesis is filling the progress bar. There is no difference between 200/199 of progress and 500/199 of progress. Both will complete the craft. Flawless Synthesis is completely useless.
Careful Synthesis II
Your bread and butter. Having CSII obsoletes Basic Synthesis and Careful Synthesis I. (Choosing which one you want to use before you hit lvl 50 weaver isn't that big of a deal.)
This provides slightly more progress than Careful Synthesis. This is useful in situations where just using Careful Synthesis will put you just slightly below completion. Swapping one or two CSIIs with Standard Synthesis can save you a few steps.
Piece by Piece
This is used in 3* Crafting and Furniture crafting. Keep in mind it is remaining progress, not total progress so you'll need much more than 3 Piece by Pieces to complete a craft.
These are used in Aspected recipes. Aspected recipes decrease the effectiveness of all Synthesis Skills (Piece by Piece is exempted) by 50%. So this is essentially a basic synthesis that costs CP. Aspected recipes are generally very rare.
Contrary to it's name and description, this is a Quality Increasing Skill. Due to how the Quality bar works, many times if you could get 'just one more hasty touch in' you can increase the likelyhood of a HQ item by a very large amount. This effect is especially pronounced when using Breygot's Blessing, where the difference between a single stack of inner quiet can be over 60% chance of HQ if you buff it enough.
Rapid Synthesis allows you to combine two CSIIs and save 10 durability off of your Synthesis rotation. It allows you to use one more touch action than normal, in return your probability of completing the recipe will no longer be 100%. You are increasing the probability of having a HQ result by paying the cost in making the probability of failing higher.
Show Spoiler Hide SpoilerHaving trouble understanding this?
Lets take the example of hand crafting Spicy Tomato Relish.
Spicy Tomato Relish takes 40 durability to synth (Ingenuity II + 4x Careful synthesis)
You are doing your thing and you find out at 50 durability that you only have 6 Inner Quiet Stacks.
If you do your normal thing and do a Great Strides -> Ingenuity II-> BB -> 4x Careful Synthesis, you will only get about an 20% HQ chance.
So an alternative is use hasty touch one more time to try to build another Inner Quiet Stack. This does mean the amount of space you have to complete your synthesis is only 30 durability after BB. So you will either need to use (to complete your synthesis)
Rapid Synthesis -> 2x Careful Synthesis (80% Chance of Success)
Failure -> Rapid Synthesis ->Rapid Synthesis (64% Chance of Success)
Which has a 80%+ 20%*64% = 92.8% Chance of successful synthesis. This is better than Reclaim!
So essentially you are trading a lower synthesis chance for a higher HQ chance because you are giving more durability to your quality building phase, and less to your synthesis phase.
Make sure you only do this while under Steady Hand II.
Quality Increasing Skills
Most efficient way of increasing quality. This will be your most pressed button in crafting.
Also known as "80% is a lie! Square Enix is a liar!"
With SHII, a 100% guaranteed way to increase inner quiet stacks. A great way to burn CP if you are at cap (you never want to be at max CP, you always want to have room for a trick of the trade).
Keep in mind, if you only need 8 inner quiet stacks to finish a recipe and you have the spare CP, it is a better idea to use Basic Touch instead of risky Hasty Touches.
Standard Touch / Advanced Touch are usually reserved for macros, or if you get an excellent and you want to finish your synthesis real fast.
Contrary to it's tooltip, this skill costs 56 CP. You always want to use Great Strides before Byregot's Blessing (unless the condition is excellent and you have enough IQ stacks)
This is your Crafting Limit break and it works very well with additional buffs like Ingenuity II and Innovation. Generally speaking, if you started with normal mats and your quality bar is half full, the Great Strides + Byregot's Blessing combo will finish the other half.
Byregot's Blessing is great, but if you got really unlucky with your Hasty Touches, you might need to turbo charge your Byregot's by having it hit on a Good or an Excellent in order to get a reasonable HQ chance.
Byregot's Fishing is using filler skills after you use Great Strides to look for a good or an excellent. Ingenuity II, Innovation are two great filler skills as they increase the quality your Byregot's Provides. You can even use Observe. Hey don't knock on Observe, it has saved me a few times.
But what if your fishing fails and you only get normal conditions? Then you have to make a choice. You can either try Byregot's, but you won't get 100% HQ (it may be far lower than that depending on how many Hasty Touches you missed).
Or you can use
This allows you to start over. Only a 10% fail rate! If your fishing was unsuccessful, no fear, there is a 90% chance that you can try the whole process again!
Sometimes it is better to reclaim early. If you know in order to have a decent chance at making an item HQ you need 9/11 hasty touches work and you fail three Hasty Touches, just Reclaim and save yourself some time.
But where do I get the CP? Well, remember Rumination? Even if you spend a boatload of CP fishing for a good, Rumination (and the 24 CP you saved for a BB) will provide you what you need to use reclaim
NOTE: Make sure you don't accidentally complete the craft.
I've ordered the Durability Skills by Efficiency, the top skill is the most efficient in terms of extra durability per CP. CP efficiency isn't the end of the world. If you have limited cross class options, CP efficiency is generally the last one you cross class
Waste Not II
Although the most efficient on paper, this skill does not allow you to use Tricks of the Trade. Pretty much almost any other skill is more efficient than this.
Theoretically it may be useful for some macro, but there is no endgame macro that uses Waste Not II.
Master Mend II
Easy to Use, great efficiency. Make sure you have 60 durability to spare. In 80 durability recipes you want to use this when you have 20 durability left (as this will give you space in case you receive an excellent result).
Somewhat efficient on paper, however this skill only allows you to use 1 Tricks of the Trade (25 durability left functions the same as 30 Durability left) typically you are better off using manipulation.
Don't be afraid to use this when you only have 10 durability left. And extra step is always welcome.
Pretty flexible skill. Just make sure when you are at 10 Durability you use something that doesn't consume the last durability (even if you have manipulation on, manipulation effects are added after the effect you use so you will break the synthesis). Make sure you don't get tempted and use a Tricks of the Trade when you have Manipulation active and max Durability.
Easy to use, doesn't require a cross class skill slot, and it only costs 4 more CP than Manipulation.
Tools of the Trade: A guide on how to craft
An overview of the crafting skills in FFXIV:ARR.