Originally Posted by Roy Tucker
I use a sharpening steel on them just about every time I use them which helps keep the edge. I also get them sharpened about once every couple years and recondition the wood handles with some kind of oil (I forget what).
Mineral oil? Beeswax works as well. I use both on wood utensils and cutting boards.
I would also second WOY's comment on cast iron. They are great tools and can be used on the stove, in the oven, on the grill....... Plus they are pretty cheap. I have a cast iron combo cooker which I use to make bread, but can also use as a skillet and a sauce pan. A 10in or 12in cast iron skillet is as good of a roasting pan for chicken as I have yet to use. If you can find old cast iron pans by Griswold or Wagner, they are some of the best non-stick cookware around. The newer pre-seasoned Lodge pans are great for a lot of things, but aren't as non-stick as the older pans.
If there is one piece of advice I can give, it is to build these things up gradually. Sometimes you can find cookware sets for cheap, but most of the time you get some pans you just don't have a use for. Start with a good small set. I think Lynne Rossetto Kasper from the Splendid Table says to start with a stockpot, saute pan, and small sauce pan. I tend to agree with that, though I would add the 12in skillet in there as well.
One last thing, Restaurant supply stores are great places to find cheap, good cookware. It doesn't look pretty, but they work well.