What if I do it wrong? What if I mess up my knife? How do I even know if I'm doing it right? Is it even worth it?
Turns out it is actually pretty hard to completely mess up a knife. That said, start with a cheaper one, or an older one, or one that isn't particularly special. Heck, take a tip from the people at Chef Steps and get some knives from a thrift store to practice on. You can make them nice and sharp - though they won't hold an edge for long.
And if you screw them up while you are figuring things out - meh. The best part - no matter how badly you mess things up - including breaking off a tip! - can be fixed as you learn technique.
I am, by no means, particularly qualified to give any advice on how to sharpen. But I can say, that after just a few tries, I started to get results.
|The "paper test"|
Try cutting a piece of paper with your knife
(Hold the knife up - and try to slice through the
paper starting at the edge you are holding.
The tomato test is good too.
However, it was getting darn dull. I figured, heck, it is already doing a terrible job. How much worse could it get?
It only got better.
Could it be sharper? YES! Do I need more work on my technique? YES!
But am I already better than before I started trying?
And is my very dull knife sharper?
Very Much Yes.
So - spend some money on some sharpening stones - and then just a little more on some crappy thrift store knives if you can't bear to start on your own. It will be worth the time.
Your knives will be safer, and you'll be a faster cook.