Here's a short review with some particular brands mentioned as "the best." FWIW.
I have a steel, can't remember what brand, maybe F-Dick, and two stones, as I'm a home sharpening person. Every cook needs a steel, at the very least.
In mentioning Spyderco, are you thinking about purchasing stones from them? You only have a couple knives so I'm not sure it if worth it to buy rather pricy stones that you may only use twice a year, over having your knives pro sharpened. A good steel is in order, though.
Maybe Chem will weigh in here, he's my go-to guy for this kind of advice and mostly likely can point you in the right direction beyond what I wrote.
Very kind of Bushwickgirl to give me such a good praise.
I agree with Bushwickgirl. If you only have two knives and like professionals knife sharpening, then you can rely on a honing steel. Alternatively, you can get your Spyderco system, which is good for light sharpening. If you are interested in a flatstone, then maybe you can start with an affortable 1000 grit stone.
At the end, I think it really depends how you envision your role. Another thing to consider is a fine ceramic rod. It does a little bit of honing and tiny bit of fine sharpening at the same time.
Fritz, what type of knives do you own? Is 'W' for wusthof?
IMO there are only a few especially good reasons why a home cook should bother with a ridged steel, ceramic honing rod, smooth steel, glass, whatever:
1- You put your (non-Japanese) knife through professional-style workouts - we're talking jobs so big and long that there is a noticeable dulling or rolling of the edge before the job is done. And you would then need something quick and portable to get a good working edge and get right back to work.
2- You don't have any effective way of doing your own sharpening at home. A steel would then be useful in between professional sharpenings (or to squeeze some extra time out of your never-sharpened knife before it's useless and you buy another one).
3- You do have an effective sharpening system at home but are hesitant/afraid to use it - 'my waterstone takes too long to soak,' 'my edgepro is allll the way down in the basement,' 'my Chefs Choice makes me feel bad about myself,' etc.
4 (maybe)- You use something like an old carbon Sabatier - a knife that takes a good edge but uses particularly soft steel, and so the edge rolls ALL the time. If this is you, keep in mind that any sharpening system will also straighten a rolled edge.
A steel offers you a no-setup option and portability. The one you still have is fine for that - probably. Check it out. Does it feel patchy and rough and worn irregularly? Does it have any chips or chunks out of it? If so, throw it out because it could cause more harm than good. But if it's smooth and symmetrical, keep using it. You might need a couple more strokes (like 2 or 3) to get an edge unrolled with a smooth(ish) steel than a grooved one.
If the spyderco interests you, I think you should go for it. You can even think of it as a ceramic honing rod, as it can do the same job for you... while making it easier to hold a correct angle. And offering you different grits, so you could actually sharpen a dull knife instead of just touching up an almost-sharp knife. And offering you a flat abrasive surface to make the whole process faster and more efficient.
thank you all.
My Wustof steel doesn't fell so bad at all, just looked smoothed. But I think you're all pretty much of the same idea. I'll stick with it as long as it isn't pitted.
I have 1000 stone that I've used a couple of times. I do OK with it for the in betweens, but I'll sharpen the 2 Wustof with a pro once a year.
I was only thinking of the Spyderco coz I though the steel was bad.