I started trying to sharpen knives in earnest about 6 months ago. I used to use those $10 carbon steel sharpeners but I never touched any of my higher end blades w/it. I experimented w/a regular arkansas stone on cheap knives. I got a sharpmaker which works very well, but I wanted to develop enough skill to be able to use a stone freehand. It's also necessary to re-profile blades that have extensive damage. I just set up my sharpening gear on my ottoman, and I sit here and sharpen stuff while I watch tv at night. I'm finally at the point where I can get a blade to where it cuts paper better than the razor blades in my boxcutter (Lenox Gold razors). The blades I sharpen make hairs pop off my arm w/very little pressue. I use an old belt w/green strop compound to finish them off. My point in all of this is that as knife lovers, collectors, enthusiasts, we really should try to develop those skills before using something like Sharpmaker or Wicked Edge. Like almost anything, it's easy once you know what you're doing.