My dad was a machinist and tool-and-die maker by trade, back in the day when everything was done by hand and computers were the stuff of science fiction. He sharpened his own drill bits and made his own special cutting tools.
Just before Thanksgiving rolled around every year, he'd take his sharpening skills into the kitchen to take care of the kitchen knives, because there's no way he'd carve the turkey with a knife that wasn't razor-sharp.
I can remember the soft skrishhh-skrishhh-skrishhh-skrishhh as he ran the knife over the sharpening stone, moving from the tip of the knife to the hilt until the the knife was deemed sharp enough. It seemed like it took hours. Maybe it did. It was hypnotic. And when he was done, every knife was as sharp as it could be.
I still have those sharpening stones, and I know how to sharpen knives the way he did. And I do it regularly ...
Aw, heck, no I don't. Although it's a pleasant task, I don't have time to sharpen knives like that. Maybe when I'm retired and then I give up cooking to subsist on canned beans and hot dogs, I'll have time to sharpen knives by hand. But at that point, my keepers probably won't allow me to have sharp objects.
When I saw a unique looking knife sharpener from Brod and Taylor at the Housewares Show in Chicago this past March, I got a short demo of it at the show, and I was pretty impressed with what I saw and what they said.
I've sharpened my most-used knives and it was so easy it's ridiculous. It took no time at all. It's nearly foolproof as long as you remember that most knives only need honing and polishing, and that the aggressive sharpening is only for knives that are seriously beat up.
Who's it for: People who want an easy way to sharpen knives
Pros: Easy to use. Works well.
Cons: It's a little spendy. There are less-expensive models from Brod and Taylor, but I haven't tested them.
Wishes: Little hieroglyphics that show knife sharpening positions etched into the sharpener would be handy. Edit: I've just been informed (ahem) that there are handy pictures on the bottom of the sharpener that show exactly this. On the bottom. Where they don't mar the clean esthetic of the sharpener itself. I love how they read my mind before I had the thought.
Source: I received this from the manufacturer for the purpose of a review.