Sharpening and Honing: First, it’s important to understand the difference between sharpening and honing. Sharpening is a process in which the blade is ground down between stones or sandpaper to form a beveled cutting edge. Honing is straightening that cutting edge out by removing microscopic bits of steel with that honing steel that you've probably seen in knife sets. You can—and should—own a honing steel to use between annual visits to your local sharpener. (Wattenberg says you can avoid going to the sharpener for years if you invest in a diamond-coated sharpening steel—they’re surprisingly affordable.) And that electric knife sharpener you own? Toss it. “In all my years of sharpening, people tell me the machines end up in the closet,” says Nell.
The takeaway: Leave the sharpening to the experts. For maintenance, hone your blade every time you use it.