This assumes total novice to woodworking and standard bugetary
Here's my order of operations with an explaination:
1. Preliminary tool assumptions: Hammer, hand screwdrivers, pliers,
tape measure. Basically, the tools that come in the "Christmas Gift
Tool Packs". Wait for after father's day for the best deals.
2. A couple of 4" C-Clamps, Cheap paper dust mask, foam earplugs,
safety glasses - As Jeff Foxworthy said, "Safety first, pumpkin.
Safety first". Use them.
3. Cheap Circular saw with a good blade (I'm talking $50 B&D from the
BORG here, nothing special) - Its amazing how much you can do with
with butt joints and finishing nails. Later on down the road (Maybe a
year, maybe a decade) you will shout profanities from your shop, throw
up your arms, and get a good one. Or, by then you might have a $2000
table saw and won't care about your crappy circular saw.
4. Buy Cheap plywood and studs. Have fun slapping crap together. Make
a pair of sawhorses or a folding "workbench" - You'll find it a luxury
after having to clamp your sheet goods to a picnic table.
6. Handsaw(s) of your liking - So you can stop your cut with the
circular saw and then square off the cut.
7. Cheap corded drill. It's not just for screwing anymore :)
8. Better blade for the circular saw. After using the included steel
crap, you get a better understanding of why some say "Buy quality"
9. Some good layout tools. Start thinking about precision, but don't
necessarily practice it :) Learn to use a starightedge guide for your
circular saw on sheet goods, you'll be amazed at how much easier
straight things fit together.
10. Random orbit sander (ROS) and/or planes and scrapers. Start into
the "finishing thing". Every now and then, work above 60 grit.
11. Buy better plywood and good pine (or even poplar!)
12. Jig saw - Start making some curves. You'll probably use the thing
for more than you expect.
13. Chisels - DAGS "Scary Sharp". Don't go overboard, but don't buy
the cheapest at the store either. A cheap chisel that is sharp is
better than an expensive one that is dull. Believe it or not, at this
point you could be making dovetails!
14. Decent router (PC, dewalt, etc). Buy a good router book. Unleash
the power! Don't buy a bit set. Start with a few quality straight bits
and a roundover, ogee or other bearing-guided profile bit. Now you can
(More easily) make rabbets, dadoes and other fun joinery. Buy bits as
you need them. After using it for a while, you will probably get the
true thirst for power tools.
15. Clamp, clamps, and more clamps. Did I mention clamps? Buy some
glue so you can use the clamps. Who said clamps?
16. Table Saw. Used, new, whatever. Buy the best you can or have inner
piece about spending money you will throw away. My suggestion: (ATTN:
FLAME MAGNET HERE!!!) Don't put too much stock in the "Buy it once"
philosophy. I alway thought it was a funny argument when you factor in
the net present value of the thousands of board feet of wood that will
go through any table saw (Except the crappy benchtops, of course).
After using your first table saw for a while you will invariably want
to try out other models or upgrade.
17. Buy quality hardwood and practice precision.
18. Upgrade the tools you have or continue the slippery slope from
here. At this point, you should start getting a feel for what you need
instead of having other dictate it. Buy what you need if you need it.
At this point your grandchildren's inheritance will soon be squandered
and you wife will refer to herself as "the woodworking widow".