Honing is kind of like dusting the furniture while sharpening is more like reupholstering the furniture. Honing is purely a maintenance activity that should be regularly practiced to make sure the blade is clean and sharp as can be every time you use it. It’s easily done using a honing rod, a leather strop or a sharpening stone; as most stones have a side for sharpening and a side for honing. Honing is akin to trimming your hair to remove the split ends. It’s not a full on haircut. What it does is realign the tiny sharp protrusions along the edge of the blade that can be bent over with use, so that they stand more or less straight.
I would say they are worth the money. Go for it. I took a blunted Pampered Chef kitchen knife from completely dull to razor sharp in about an hour (of bumbling and repairing mistakes LOL) heavy grinding. If you have a severely damaged blade, grab one of those cheesey two sided stones from Harbor Freight to do your heavy grinding. From there these stones will work very well.
When you apply a sharp knife to the surface of a tomato, cucumber, carrot or other food item it should - if you are holding it firmly and applying minimal pressure - sink into the particular item without effort. As such all you really need to work on is your technique and making sure you keep your fingers out of the way. With a dull knife however things aren’t quite so simple. When you apply a dull blade to, say, a tomato it’s not going to slice into the skin. Instead the skin will be able to push back meaning you’ll need to apply ever more pressure to get the knife to penetrate. Increasing the pressure on the knife increases the likelihood of the knife slipping off the offending food item to one side or another. And if it slips to the side where your hand is attempting to hold the vegetable steady you could be in store for a very nasty cut. Because even a dull knife will cause injury if there’s enough force behind it.
Identify the bevel angle of the blade, better known as the "rough grind angle." Every knife is at a particular angle to suit all your needs and purposes. The majority of the pocket knives have a bevel edge is 25 to 30 degrees. Call the manufacturer of the knife if you are "weary" of this. Or go online and find a specific bevel angle chart. Nevertheless, when you find the bevel, you'll see the blade is honed into it for obvious purposes. How to sharpen a pocket knife begins with learning angles.
My first set of sharpening stones so I have nothing to compare them to. For $50, though, great price to get into the world of sharpening. Stones are great and easy to use. Was able to put hair shaving edges on knives. Took a couple of knives to feel comfortable and better with the process and how to sharpen, but the stones you get work great. Here's the secret though. Get the green leather stoping block as well. As great as the stone are, I have found that stroping the knife after the fact is what really brings out that razor edge. And after using the knife, stroping it again, will restore and keep it razor sharp. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am.