Method 2: Send it out to a professional. This is a good option, provided you have a good knife sharpener living nearby, and are willing to pay to have the services performed. If you plan to sharpen your blades a dozen or so times a year, as I do, this can get quite expensive. All but the best professionals also use a grinding stone that, again, will take away much more material than is necessary from your blade, reducing its lifespan. Want to forge a stronger relationship with your blade? Then you'll want to...
Mine came plain white then started to darken after a few weeks. About 4 weeks in it settled to a more natural stone/slate grey. The leather has darkened a bit too and remains soft and comfortable. The leather remains easy to adjust and my selected sizings stays in place firmly. Overall It feels, looks and works great. The knot and darker stone/leather compliment each other well.
If in doubt or just learning, a safe bet is a set of quality synthetic stones. They’re the easiest to use, require the least maintenance and are the most forgiving. If you’re just starting out we highly recommend the Naniwa Sharpening Stones. They’re excellent quality, reliable, durable and no soaking time is required. For advanced users we recommend the Naniwa Pro sharpening stones or Kaiden Ceramics.
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.
As you probably have guessed, knives are easier to sharpen on longer stones. The width of the stone is less important than the length when sharpening knives. The longer stone allows for longer sharpening strokes and contributes to faster sharpening. The longer strokes mean fewer strokes across your stone, making it easier to maintain a consistent sharpening angle. As a rule of thumb, a small knife can easily be sharpened on a large stone, but a large knife cannot easily be sharpened on a small stone.
Selecting the right sharpening angle is the next step in sharpening. For more detailed instructions on selecting the right angle, try reading this article. Regardless of the method of sharpening, a appropriate angle should be selected. This angle doesn't need to be exact but following some general guidelines is a good idea. Most knife manufacturers recommend a roughly 20 degree angle. Depending on the use of your knife, you can move up or down from that angle. A fillet or slicing knife is never used on anything hard so an angle a few degrees less will produce a sharper edge. On the other hand, a survival knife with various uses can benefit from a more durable edge a few degrees larger.