Thank you Paul Sellers for stating an obvious but nearly lost truth. There are far too many needless and complicated gizmos, devices, and “new technologies” for a 2,500 year old task. Clever marketers have figured out that we can blame our laziness and impatience on our tools and not ourselves.
Maybe I am speaking out of turn as my tools are always for from perfect.
Catalogs are full of overpriced specialty devices designed to do the seemingly impossible; polish a sharp edge onto a piece of steel. I realize now that I was very fortunate. I learned to use a file and whetstone as a very young child. I even learned about setting saw teeth and how to use the hard straight razor stone. Before there were special stones to resurface a stone, we simpletons used a hard, sandy, and flat concrete surface before graduating on to sandpaper stuck to a sheet of glass.
Some of the best sharpeners I know still do virtually everything with Arkansas whetstones and some very-fine emery paper. One thing to remember though; you have to actually do it. If you don’t regularly keep things sharp, it only becomes more of a chore and takes more time. I think the old idea of spending a few minutes before you begin work of sharpening and stropping is a wise idea.
If you use tools, consider a real pair of Arkansas whetstones. Here’s a couple of sources to try: