So all my googlings just lead me to the Smooth tool, but it's not doing anything.
On the left is a vector I got off Google that I then loaded into Illustrator to "trace," which is what I did!
I made shapes, moved the anchors to like positions and dragged over a copy.
I then used the Curvature Tool to get those arches, and here is where things went wrong.
How do I fix it / what is the correct way to "trace" shapes that creates smooth lined objects?
I imagine if I were to use the Pathfinding tools to MinusBack for instance, that would create a perfectly smooth object, but it would be a real hassle to get those shapes perfectly lined up, and if you're off by just a bit, you're right back to adjusting the shape and getting those jagged lines? Help please!
Oh and to get the obvious ones out of the way, I do have Anti Aliaising on in the settings.
I've also seen the answer that it's just a display issues from the monitor, that if I gave this file to a pin manufacturer or printer, those stairsteps wouldn't show up in the final product?
I can't see why this shouldn't print well. Looks like clean artwork.
Can you select it and go into outline view and then take a screenshot?
You're seeing pixelation caused by your monitor. This is not a problem with Illustrator but a limitation of monitors (specifically low-resolution, low pixel density monitors).
I did spend a few hundred bucks on a gaming monitor, but it's more about refresh rate, response times and vsync stuff, only 1080p, but that probably does fall under low res and low pixel count for art files?
Yep, 1080 is going to give you this jaggy effect. If you want to get rid of this, get a 4K monitor.