I've been asked this question many times and to be honest there is more to it than just buying a device which has a 'V' shape which you pull your knife through and then you have a sharp knife. Even the thought of doing that gives me chills. I dont use those things!!
Lets break it down further. Firstly, a sharp knife is one that does what you intend it to do. Which is obviously to cut, slice or chop. But also to do it well repeatedly. The angle at which the knife is sharpened is crucial to get the best performance out of your knife. For eg. having a very keen 11° The edge of the knife WILL lose its sharpness. This is usually due to one main reason. the edge has rolled over. This means the "sharp" bit is not meeting at a true point anymore. It might still cut, but it just doesnt have that smooth feel like a hot knife through butter.
In this case what is required is to realign the edge. NOT sharpen! and this is the difference. There is still a good edge on the blade, it just needs a little TLC. Remember, honing also removes steel little by little and each time the edge angle become more obtuse. After continued honing, it wont result in bringing that performance back. This is when we resharpen and produce a new edge.
Many knife sets come with a honing steel. these are quite rough and can be extremely aggressive on the blade. you need to use these with as light a touch as possible. instead we recommend our ceramic honing rod.
We have added the 12" Ceramic Honing Steels to our product range. Check them out!