Owning a great knife is like owning a great car. The relationship that you have with the tool starts with the day you get it, but the memories are built on the time you spend using it and maintaining it.
Use Sharp Knives And Keep them Sharp A dull knife is more likely to slip rather than cut. Once the knife has slipped it is only a matter of luck and reflexes where the business end goes. A sharp knife requires much less pressure to cut into food. When combined with a reduced tendency to slip, this gives a chef greater control over their blade. Keep your knives sharp, practice safe cutting techniques, and your chances of injury in the kitchen will drop significantly.
Regular Honing I can't emphasize enough the importance of honing. With regular kitchen use the cutting edge will get slightly deformed. The edge of a blade is very thin. When it sees abuse, or just a lot of use, it's going to deform in some way or another.
Honing is the use of a steel to realign the apex of the blade edge as it has deformed from use.
To help visualise the deformation that is occuring, grab a piece of alluminium foil, hold it a little taut (not tight) at the edge, and press it down against something. Since aluminium is a very ductile material, it will tend to fold over on itself at the edge.
Using a kitchen steel or a strop is a great way of keeping the edge on your blade. The purpose and the effect, when it's done correctly, is that the deformed edge gets realigned back to its straight state. Steeling is the simplest and the quickest procedure that you can perform to maintain and extend the useful life of your edges, hence the knives themselves. It only takes a few passes and will greatly increase the time between sharpening.
The ideal sequence would be to steel your knives before and after every use. Yes, before and after, and yes, every use. All you need is two to three passes per side. It will take you less than a minute.
Don't allow your Knives to dull significantly Building off the previous point it is also important to maintain your knives with regular sharpening. If you sharpen regularly sharpening will actually be easier each time as you will remove less metal to get it back to the level you like.
When it comes to sharpening don't use the pull through sharpeners, for a bunch of reasons they are not very good. Instead invest your time in some whetstones. You can learn to use them very quickly and they are perfect at bringing back the edge on your blade. For most blades it will take about 2-5 minutes to put an edge back on a blade.
I can also recommend the Lansky System or the Edge Pro system.
Always Use a Cutting Board Do not cut anything on marble, steel table, glass, ceramics, etc! All those materials are far too hard for the delicate sharp edge a good kitchen knives have.
The best boards are End Grain. End Grain is when the individual boards of wood are arranged so that the grain of the wood (the growth rings) runs vertically (up and down). This puts one end of each board up so that the cutting surface is actually the end of many individual pieces of wood. With the grain aligned in this manner (up and down), when the knife strikes the surface during cutting, the grain of the wood actually separates and then closes when the knife is removed. This accounts for the self-healing aspect of the end-grain surface. The wood itself is not cut, but instead you are cutting between the fibers.
A good End Grain board will last the rest of your life if you take care of it. It will then last the rest of your kids life and then their kids life as well.
Don't use the blade edge to scrape ingredients I think this is the most common form of the knife abuse. If you want to gather ingredients or clear scraps from your board, flip the knife over and use the spine.
A knife is a knife, nothing else A knife is not a pry bar, not a screwdriver, not a shovel, or an axe. Never throw knives, unless specifically designed for that use. I don't make throwing knives.
This is rather from common sense category, but helps with maintenance.
Apply this same rule to knife use for various cutting tasks, that is - use the right knife for the cutting job. Don't use a chef knife to saw through bread.
Clean Your Knives Even if they are stainless steel, still, clean them as soon as you are done using them, or have time for it. Don't let the used, dirty knife sit in the sink, or on the table for hours or days.
Dry your knives after your have cleaned them. Don't put a knife on a magnetic board if it is still wet.
A Knife should NEVER go through a dishwasher.
Every so often, wood handles will benefit from a light coating of wax with some hand rubbing.
Love your knife and it will love you