Now I haven't done any official research on this, but my guess is that most of the kitchen knives in America are not sharp. Are yours? Well, here's a test to find out. Take a piece of plain paper, hold it between your fingers like this and see if your knife will do this. If not, I invite you to attend knife sharpening 101. Now contrary to popular belief, this knife steel doesn't actually sharpen a knife, it straightens up a knife edge. Let me show you what I mean. Here's a piece of aluminum foil. Now you can imagine that this is a knife edge right here that's been used a fair amount. It's sort of bent over on the side because knife edges after all, are very sharp and very thin.
So what the steel does is it actually straightens this edge out, so that once again, it can cut, which is fine if the edge is sharp to start with. If it's not, the steel really won't do you much good. Well, this used to be the most common way of sharpening a knife with a whetstone. The problem is though, that it's very difficult to hold the knife at precisely the same angle with each pass, and you need to do that to get a really sharp edge. Today, there's a much better method.
Modern electric knife sharpeners like this one use diamond chips on a rotating disk or a vibrating pad to grind a very precise edge. And they help you hold the knife at just the right angle. Most of them have two or three sharpening stations starting with a coarse, going to a medium and then a fine. Here's how you use it. Don't use a lot of downward pressure. Just drop the knife in and let it rest up against the edge of the slot. That will give you the right angle and then just draw the knife through in long, smooth, even strokes, starting with the coarse slot and going to the finer one.
Well, now you're on the cutting edge of culinary carving science. To keep your knives working this well, tune them up by making a pass or two over the fine sharpening slot every couple of days.