Honing my skills

Now that we finally have a few good kitchen knives in our collection, I really need to overcome my phobia of sharpening them. My first question is: Do I try to do it myself or bring them to a knife sharpener? The idea of carrying a bunch of knives down the street to the local butcher for knife sharpening day makes me a bit nervous, but I've also been scared to sharpen them at home. (Fear of cutting myself, fear of ruining my knives...)

My second question is: If I choose to do it myself, what type of sharpener should I use? A whetstone? A sharpening steel? A couple years ago I bought a cheap little handheld knife sharpener at the Broadway Panhandler, which I half-heartedly tried to use a couple times, but with no noticeable results.

Imagine my surprise the other day when I was flipping through the new issue of Cook's Illustrated, and saw the very same sharpener at the top of their equipment ratings chart! So I gave it another try, this time dragging the sharpener over the blade 20 times as directed, instead of the half dozen or so times that I had done it before. Now I've got a drawer full of extra sharp knives, and I've been slicing and dicing with ease ever since!

Recommended product of the day: the Accusharp Knife & Tool sharpener.