Hi again BFgeronimo,
You bring up an interesting subject, buying the best you can afford. First of all you have to determine”what is best” and after you do, you have to make a judgement call on whether the difference in “quality” is worth the difference in “price”. There are of expensive tools being produced that are truely works of art in their own right. While I could raise the money to purchase some of them I also realize that many of them will not perfom their intended task any better in a meaningful way as compared to most of their less expensive counterparts.
There will always be more exclusive, more accurate, shinier, items to be had for those willing to spend the money and unfortunately many woodworkers fall into the trap of assuming that more expensive tools will take their work to a higher level, which is seldom the case. I think the right idea is for you figure out what will give you the results you are after at the most reasonable price, and then if you want to spurge a little, for whatever reason, then have at it. Unfortunately, and all too often, beginning woodworkers are put off of the craft because of the belief that you have to spend a lot on tools to produce good work and that perception is often fostered by writers fawning over the higher end tools that are offered. Just remember that the wonderful work from the colonial period that we all admire so much was accomplished with tools that today we would consider as poor to adequate at best, and many better quality tools are available at low cost from your local flea markets, yard sales, estate sales, and used tool dealers. I could “afford” a $500 shooting plane, or I could do the work with a $50 plane and buy a whole pile of other fine tools to enjoy. That doesn’t mean I believe a person is foolish to buy that $500 plane, just that they made a different decision than I would have.
My message to the beginners, and to those on tight budgets, is that you can get good tools that will perform well at a relatively low cost now and splurge later if you want to. I have some “splurge” tools, most of which I bought secondhand, and my woodworking quality would not suffer if they were all gone tomorrow.