Ever wonder what the true difference is between a knife sharpener and a honing steels? (Those are the long, metallic devices you see chefs on TV use with wreckless abandon!)
A honing steel doesn't remove any metal from your knives, but hones them by realigning the edge of the blade. It makes your knife more effective at cutting again. Good knives don't need to be sharpened very often - only once or twice a year - as opposed to honing. You should hone your knives every time you use them, and maybe even in between large chopping jobs.
So, quick summary: hone your knives every time you use them, sharpen them (or get them professionally sharpened) only about once or twice a year at the most. Good knives won't need to be sharpened any more often than that.