I know there's a Sharpening topic to cover blade management, but it's old & looks like many people miss it due to its visually detached location. I'm looking to learn & have some questions. I have minimal experience in this area. I do know about honing versus sharpening. In fact, I've seen enough horror jobs resulting from misuse of "sharpening" products that has scared me off from doing anything other than gentle edge alignment using a quality gentle honing steel (I've verified minimal material removal by the wipe-downs afterward, showing hardly any residue). My knives cut better after applying the honing steel, so I'm doing something right. Magnification exam shows no damage, no irregularities. BUT... I want to achieve better blade performance by doing some non-aggressive sharpening. Although, I don't want to spend $60+ on a full set of stones, because my collection is really too small & my usage not demanding enough to warrant it. So a few questions: I know stropping is a must after using sharpening stones... but can stropping with a proper compound be more than sufficient to maintain a blade without using sharpening stones? Should I just get a good stropping leather & leave stones for later on when more aggressive knife duty demands it? I've seen over a dozen different grades of sharpening stones... It's daunting. There are kits available with many grades included, but they can get quite expensive. Maintaining a small knife collection, I'd like to keep it under $30 USD. Is there a good set out there for this purpose? Something like a set of 1000, 3000, 6000 grit? Also, what's a tried & true economical compound to use? There are so many videos on sharpening, it's daunting. Any recommendations on which ones to watch that are worthwhile? Thanks!