Good water stones are the best way to keep your excellent knives sharp for the longest time, but only if you know how to actually use them. This guide gets into the nitty-gritty of the angles, strokes and science behind proper sharpening.
This advice on buying and maintaining water stones (a.k.a. wet stones or sharpening stones) and, more importantly, actually using them comes from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the food science geek who previously dropped science on baking wings with baking powder. It answers questions about soaking, angles, checking your "burr" and finishing the job the right way.
There are, to be sure, shops that sharpen knives and electric/automatic sharpeners just an Amazon order away. But using water stones has value beyond sharpness, Lopez-Alt writes:
Not only will it give you the best edge, it also removes the least amount of material. With a fine enough grit, your knife should be able to take hairs off your arm when you've finished. Additionally-and I'm not kidding about the importance of this one-the act of sharpening your knife will help you create a much stronger bond with your blade, and a knife that is treated respectfully will behave much better for its owner.
True enough. Hit the link for the write-up, and click through the slideshow for the details — the close-up photos make it worth the clicks.
Knife Skills: How to Sharpen a Knife [Serious Eats]