I've been reviewing some threads on here and really like the input people have when it comes to helping beginners. Have mercy on me for posting seemingly identical questions to many before me. :)
I am basically a beginner cook at home. I have little, if any, skills when it comes to food preparation. The meals I create turn out well and are accepted by the picky family, so I might be on the right track at least. I have the same set of knives I got when I moved out and they have never been sharpened. It is a set from Zepter International and I only use the chef's knife(I think it is an 8"). I generally prepare onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, carrots, and squashes and okra in warmer months. Any meat I cut is boneless at this point. I had a price in range in mind initially, until I found this place doing some google searches. Now I realize I can start with one knife, and a few accessories.
KNIFE: A knife that pops up fairly often for someone trying to save some coin while simultaneously dipping into better knife territory is the Artifex 240mm gyuto. Some suggests the 210. I have no preference(yet) on either. However, I'm not in a cramped space and don't mind learning on a larger knife; especially if I may chose to go that route later once I have some basic skills.
SHARPENING: I enjoy doing things myself, so I see the benefit in sharpening. Would like to learn how to do this too since I'm not a fan of having to send out knives to have sharpened. Plus, I just think it's cool. :D Some have mentioned the bester 1200 and suehiro rika combo is a good entry level stone set. Again, I am ok with the price if that is a set I won't soon outgrow(relative to the individual I know). Fortunately, I have several knives I can practice on before I touch any new knife I get.
HONING: Not sure what will suit me here...I watched a youtube video of a fellow who seemed knowledgeable and he was stressing you should get a steel that compliments the hardness of the knife you use. Seemed reasonable, but again, not sure.
CUTTING BOARD: I'll definitely need a board as I'm using those plastic mat things now. I'm a huge DIYselfer so I'm always trying to find ways to save money. I have access to several types of wood that I could make a cutting board out of(read: free). Is it plausible/recommended to use a solid piece of board cut to the size I need? Or is it necessary to cut planks and glue together? If so, I'll probably forego that option. If not, I love teak and can probably score enough for a decent board. :)
I am pretty open to any recommendations but please be aware of my limited budget. The knife and stones are about the top of what I want to spend(they are actually on my Christmas list). I'd even be open to less expensive stones if there are better bangs for the buck out there compared to what I listed.
Thanks for any help!