As I grew up, I had that auspice of "good potential"-- I was a freakin' brain, though I didn't really know it-- and I got stuffed with all sorts of knowledge. My direction was mostly getting into electronics, so my tools were smaller, but I learned my way around a whole lot of woodworking tools and small engine repair kind of stuff, but the biggest take-away was to not be afraid of anything mechanical, electrical, or the like.
I also took a lot of stuff apart when I was a kid. Most of it I was able to put back together.
Run forward to current times. I've talked about the whole art vs. craft thing before, and how I consider myself a craftsman instead of an artist. The tools are the avenue of creativity, whether it's a sliding compound miter saw or a high-def video camera-- they allow me to get from here to there. And when I run into something that I don't know how to do, it drives me a little crazy, so I try to take the opportunity to learn. If you remember while I was in the Gulag, getting the welder to fix the seat frame on the 'Sploder, that's a perfect example: I learned to weld by doing it.
There's a flipside as well. A tool is something that's supposed to help me get from here to there. Power tools are things of convenience, in that they make it easier and faster, and I'm all about the instant gratification. I could do the work on the porch without power tools, but it would take a whole lot more work, and I'd be pretty much insane-- or more insane than I am now.
Over the last several years, I've developed something of a collection. A lot have to do with working on the house: I have two table saws, three drill presses, something like 4 or 5 drills, a big sliding compound miter saw, a radial arm saw, a couple of routers, a router table, a circular saw, a worm-drive saw, a wood lathe, air compressor and air tools, 5 HP grinder, a smaller angle grinder, jigsaw, a couple of hammer drills (one "small", one "medium"), a massive right angle drill. Those all came about from working on the house itself.
Other stuff came from other projects, like the welder, a couple of dremel-type tools, roto-zip, a metal shear, and a bunch of others I can't think of offhand.
The mill (or combo mill) that I mentioned earlier is sort of the next step in my evolution of being able to make stuff. This particular little project needed some bits of machining on aluminum, and it became obvious that I just don't have the capability to machine with any kind of precision-- at least not any kind of metal. I've done wood and plastic, but just small pieces, and I do have plans for some clever devices in the future that need some precision machining-- a motion control adapter for the camera, and some fun animatronic stuff. Think moving, talking corpses.
Yah. I don't want a full machine shop really. It would be cool, but I don't do nearly enough to justify that much. But a mill would be wicked cool. It's more like I want to be able to do creature effects and robotics than anything.