The secret to getting good answers is to asking good questions. LumberJock OutPutter recently asked his fellow forum goers a great question about his next $500 shop upgrade by asking a well thought out question. Here’s what he asked:

I plan to make a major upgrade to my tool inventory and need some good advice on where to put my money. Most of the work I plan to do in the workshop will be construction of small hardwood boxes in the approximate dimensions of 10″ x 12″ x 3″. I will be using dovetail joinery for the sides and gluing up panels for the tops and bottoms. I will not be able to afford much more than $500 in tools, equipment, etc. so, I have to be careful.

My priorities are safety, durability of the boxes, impact on the cost of the boxes, impact on labor required for each box, and anything else I don’t know enough to think of.

I’m considering: a table saw, band saw, jointer, planer, sander, Grrippers, LittleRat, Dovetail Jig

Please tell me what you think I should do.

Here’s his current tool list that he wants to add to:
Compound Miter Saw
Circular Saw
Jig Saw
Router (Fixed)
Cordless Drill
Dove Tail Saw
Chisels (1/8 – 1”)
54” All in One Clamp
6 12” Irwin Clamp/Spreaders

And here’s what the LumberJocks suggested:

    bench top/contractor Table Saw 8
    band saw 3
    hand planes 2
    good table saw blade 1
    dovetail jig 1
    bigger clamps 1
    Incra Universal Precision Positioning Jig 1
    a thickness planer

I suggest you go read $500 Shop Upgrade !!! PLEASE HELP !!! Especially if you’re a newbie woodworker – I think it will give you insight into the various ways that more experienced woodworkers choose to solve the seemingly-simple problems of working with wood.