The difficulty in sharpening the entry level MACs comes from a tendency to chatter on the stones, not because the blade alloy is difficult (it isn't). Once you understand the problem, you should get the hang of keeping the edge flat on the stone by the second knife at most.
Use a little extra, very consistent pressure, with both hands on the blade. Start slower than normal until you're satisfied the blade isn't chattering and you have the right angle; then speed up until you're sharpening almost as quickly as you can and still hold angle and pressure. Most people sharpen too slowly. You're rubbing a knife on a rock, not performing ocular surgery; and a good, quick rhythm will actually make your angles and pressures more consistent.
Unless its badly chipped, a MAC Original or Chef series knife shouldn't take longer than twenty minutes at most. If it does, there's a technical problem. Most likely you're trying to sharpen at too acute an angle; and/or you're "counting strokes" and using way too many (common); and/or you're using too many stones.
Everything else being equal, if you don't have to profile or repair, you should be able to create a wonderful, practical edge on two water stones. Of course, you're going to want to start a "new to you" used knife on a coarse stone; but unless the knife needs a lot of work to flatten the bevels, any given blade shouldn't take more than twenty minutes at most. Don't try putting much polish on them, entry-level MACs don't have the scratch hardness to hold it.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/24/11 at 8:57pm