I want to encourage you to try and sharpen. All you need is 1 combo
stone and that's it. If you start using it and like the results you
can build on that stone but it's not that hard and it beats sending
them out. It's fun and easy and takes minimal practice.
I recommend the Imanishi combo stone here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/imtwosi1kst.html
You can use this stone in place of a rod too. Just watch some of the
sharpening videos on my site and call me if you need some help and
I'll be happy to work with you over the phone.
If you plan on doing lots of touch ups a rod is convenient. I use a strop at home which is quick and easy as well but a quick splash on the fine side of the stone and you can strop right on it easily.