That is a queston with about 6000 answers.
The idea of sharpening a knife is to bevel the cutting side down to a fine edge. The angle of the bevel will be different for different uses. Chopping and heavy duty work requires a larger angle (~28-32 degrees) than shaving and fine work edges (~17-21 degrees.) The edge needs to be smoothed for fine work but left a little rough for coarse work.
When sharpening an inexpensive hunting knife for field dressing large game, I will often use a file and set an angle of about 25-30 degrees. With a high quality, expensive knife I will use a quality stone or diamond sharpener and set the edge to about 25 deg. using only a coarse stone. For fine work with a razor, scalpel or X-acto blade, I will use the finest stone, set the edge to about 17 deg and dress the edge with a halogen light bulb or treated leather strop.
The Lansky and Smith blade clamp and stone setup is ideal for a beginner. You will also want a diamond stone or rod for finishing. There are a number of good sites which will teach you the basics of sharpening. One which I like is <http://www.ameritech.net/users/knive...tch1977Feb.htm
There is a lot more, but that will get you started.