An easier way to test for sharpness is to cut a tomato. Tomatoes skins are really tough and will separate knives that need work from the knives that pass the test.
The Test: Rest the edge of the blade closest to your knuckles on a tomato and slowly draw the knife away from the tomato. A knife with a descent cutting edge will cut through the skin without additional downward pressure. A dull knife will leave a small indention in the tomato skin. A very sharp knife will cut quickly through the skin. Test all your kitchen knives to get a feel for what needs sharpening. For lightweight knives, apply a little pressure to compensate for their lack of heft.
If your knives need to be sharpened, mail-in knife sharpening services are available. A better option is to ask around; most cities have local people who will sharpen the knives of restaurant cooks and hunters for about $4-8 dollars per knife. Having a knife sharpened is something that can be done as little as once every couple years. A tri-stone (pictured below on the right)is used by many professional kitchens to sharpen a dull knife and can cost between $100-300.
Between sharpening, the knife edge can be maintained very easily. A softer cutting board will make the knife edge last longer. Wood is the softest, but cannot be sanitized in the dishwasher. Plastic is a great alternative as it can be put in the dishwasher. Marble, glass, and ceramic are hard on a knife edge are not recommended.
Most importantly, use a steel (pictured above on the left) to maintain a sharp knife. If you want your knife edge to last any amount of time.Using a knife once, will change the microscopic edge from being a V shape to a C shape. C shapes don't cut well. Running the knife two or three time on each knife edge is all that is needed. Doing this will change the C edge back to a V edge. Use a knife steel as often as you think about it. If you don't use it often, the C shape will turn into a O shape. Once you get an O shape, a knife steel wont help you.