Most of my posts to date have been of the hand tool variety. Which by all means is a critical aspect of working with wood. So let us plug in!!!
Pick a power tool, any power tool! What one tool can replace a shop full of stationary equipment?
Router Baby!! If you can't do it with a router, you can't do it, plain and simple. Don't give me that look! This is my one and only woodworking absolute and take from someone who has ten plus routers, and can always use another.
Still not convinced? "Well allow me to retort!" (I think Q. Terantino gets a quarter for that)
Mortises! You betcha
Dado's A go,
Sizing panels, Yes!, even sizing panels! I know very Billy Mays like, but let's call it like we see it, the router is the proverbial veg-o-matic of power tools.
Now, a plunge router is always a good starting point. Very versatile, but can be top heavy for certain tasks. I would suggest a fixed base/ plunge base combo kit so all of your "bases" are covered.
As brands go, I don't know what to tell you. I literally have one of every brand! But do check out Bosch, Milwaukee, older Porter Cable, and if you can stomach the price tag (worth twice the price!) get a Festool !
Now go forth and rout!...and don't look back. You won't be sorry!!!!