As is often said, there is nothing in the kitchen more dangerous than a dull knife. And, as I've said before, I'm a knife freak, and I love them sharp enough to shave with. Although this is often referred to as "scary sharp", it's really about safety.
There are a few different kinds of "sharpening". First, you need a nice solid edge. You get this by creating a new edge about every six months or so, with normal household use. For this you can send them out to a professional, or you can tackle the job at home with something like the Warthog Sharpener.
Once you have a nice edge, you keep it sharp with regular honing with a steel. I try to be religious about using one before and after each serious use of my knives.
In between major sharpenings there will be times when your edge needs a tune-up that's too much for a steel, and too little for a major sharpening. This is where the Smith's 2-Step Sharpener really shines.
This little gem is worth many times its weight in gold. I never cease to be amazed at how such a small tool can do such wonders on a blade with just a few strokes.
As you can see by its name (and in the pictures above), this sharpener has two sides, or "steps". One is a set of carbide blades that set (or reset) the edge, and the other is a set of ceramic rods that sharpen the edge.
To use it, you simply start with a swipe or two through the carbide end as I've shown in the first picture. Then you simply flip it over and run the blade through the ceramic end a few times. That's it!
I cannot recommend this little tool highly enough. I get mine at Lowe's at less than $4. Get several and put them wherever you regularly use knives. If you are a competitive barbecue cook like me, keep one in your road kit at all times.
Thanks to my occasionally odd but always lovely eldest daughter, Hailey, for her photographic assistance. Nobody can push a button like an eldest daughter.