Personal opinion would be to go down the router road. However:
Why not consider wireless?
It's relatively cheap these days.
2 wireless pci adapters will allow you to connect both machines for file sharing and pc1 can be used as PC 2's web access. You can buy 2 wireless adapters (802.11b) from ebuyer for £40 delivered and no doubt cheaper from the local PC shop. The only downside to this method is pc1 has to be switched on if PC requires web access.
If you go to the blueyonder networking section click here they'll quite happily supply you with netgear products to the tune of £111 for a router, wireless pcmcia card for laptop and usb wireless adapter for PC (802.11b).
Definitely consider wireless, especially with the summer coming up and that nice Chardonnay you been saving can be sipped whilst you while away endless hours surfing on the lounger in the garden.