Quite often when I cook with friends they ask how I keep my knives sharp and how they can do the same for theirs. First to clear up a common misconception – steels (the tool that looks like a round sword) do not sharpen your knife – they hone them (realign the microscopic metal “teeth” along the edge of the blade). If your knife is not sharp, using a steel will not sharpen it!
Most good kitchen supply stores offer sharpening services for a nominal fee. Depending on how much you use them, you should have your knives sharpened at least twice a year. Between sharpenings use a steel to keep the blade honed and in “sharp.” If you do this every time you cook, your knife will stay sharp until the next time you sharpen, or have it sharpened.
The majority of the editors in the EDF kitchen use Japanese knives, which we sharpen on a whetstone. But depending on the type of knife you use you may need a different type of stone. If you have never sharpened a knife on a stone before, I highly recommend checking with a local kitchen supply shop or cooking school to see if they offer knife-sharpening lessons. It takes a while to get the hang of sharpening on a stone and it’s helpful to get a little guidance.