Equipment's changed since then. Japanese waterstones have pretty much made the old oilstones most of used to use redundant. They need some maintenance but they cut so much faster there aren't as many opportunities to make mistakes. In that way, they're more forgiving. There are other good methods, too. We'll get more specific about stones and methods once you've chosen a knife or two and established a budget for a sharpening kit.
Yes; a damp towel and/or frequent rinsing.
That's just long term storage. Don't worry about it.
You have to make one of three choices with carbon -- whether to force a patina, allow a patina, or keep the knife (sort of) polished. Not to worry. None of these choices are irrevocable. Personally, I keep my knives polished with frequent use of a Scotch Brite, and occasional but regular use of baking soda. These knives don't polish to "bright and shiny just like new," but to the dull gleam of well used tools.
There are a few types of forced patinas. A couple of them, e.g., mustard, are quite attractive.
Not a problem. Neither one of us can afford the best knife. Let's try for something that will give a quite a few years of satisfaction, though.
Hmm. I'm trying to push you away from European stainless -- especially the German shapes -- but it doesn't seem to be working. As this type of European knife goes, Sabatier Elephant is a decent deal, but you can buy a higher performing, Japanese manufactured, stainless knife like a MAC (from the Chef's series) or a Togaharu (from their bottom line series) for a similar price. This is especially true when it comes to edge holding.
If you can jump up to $150 or so for a 10" chef's knife the options open considerably.
Not to be disputatious and with all due respect to kokopuffs; based on my experience with French carbons -- both new and old -- as well as the experiences of many others whom I trust, I wouldn't shy away from currently manufactured French carbons based on putative "metallurgical" changes. That experience says modern Elephant ****Sabatiers, K-Sabatier and Mexeur et Cie can be made sharper than a Wusthoff Classic or any other stainless knife of its type. Moreover, those modern French carbons can hold a 15* edge angle without collapsing -- something very few other (if any) European or American mass produced kitchen knives can do (they're sharpened to 20* or greater) -- about as well as old and antique French carbons.
I sure wish Buzzard was still hanging around this forum. He's also something of a Sabatier maven and would tell you the same thing.
Good question. You take it to someone, anyone, who's a good sharpener. Sometimes that's a knife service. Sometimes it's a butcher. Sometimes it's a knife hobbyist (like me). Quite often it's a cabinet maker. You can expect to pay between $5 and $15, depending.
If you can't find anyone you trust, you can send it to Dave at "Japanese Knife Sharpening." He charges around $30.
If I were to do it, I'd expect it to take between thirty and forty minutes of hand work on my slow stones for a knife which needed a lot of grinding. Plus, I'd teach you to profile and sharpen at the same time. I wouldn't charge, but would expect lunch with beer. What are friends for?
Although I own and use French carbon knives, I strongly recommend better Japanese knives over any mass-produced European or American knife -- no matter how high up the ladder. Even the cheap Japanese knives use much better steel than their western counterparts. Consequently, they get very sharp a lot easier and maintain a high degree of sharpness a lot longer. Heck, even wheh they dull the Japanese knives act sharper (because they're much thinner near the edge). In addition, they're much ligher and handle better.
FWIW, I'm not advocating Shun or Global. If you're looking for highest performance in the $130 - $175 for a 10" chef's range, some of the best choices are: Masamoto VG (Masamoto quality, VG-10 steel, maybe a bit on the whippy side); Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff (AEB-L steel, sharpens very easily, great ergonomics); Hiromoto G3 (G3 steel, handle's a bit narrow -- but still comfortable for big hands); Togiharu G-1 (slightly less expensive clone of the Masamoto VG, POM handles instead of wood); and MAC Pro (The edge qualities of the blade steel are excellent, but maybe not quite as good as the others, however the blade is the stiffest, most robust, and European feeling, and it has a truly great handle).
Would I put my own knives in the same class as those good Japanese knives? Yes, pretty much so. It's true that my knives need a lot more steeling, sharpening, putting-away quickly and so on -- but I don't mind. My knives are light and agile compared to the German types -- but not as light and agile as better Japanese knives -- I've been using Sabs for a loooooooooooooong time, and they're pretty much invisible to me. But mostly it's the emotional affinity I have for "French" cooking; and my own personal history with Sabatiers.