Originally Posted by teamfast
The lee valley benches are nice but a workbench shouldn't be so nice that you wouldn't want to slap a greasy alternator up on it for disassembly. The basic build concept is the same for all of those who have posted. Build it how you need it. Use straight dimensional lumber and consider a sealant if your going to have greasy projects.
I have a 3/4" mdf insert in my work bench that i slapped some water based sealer on. If the top gets really damaged it pops out without having to unscrew anything and a new piece will go right in.
If your spending more than $70 your getting into luxury mode...
Well, not really - a bench is a tool. I could also say that spending more than X amount on a torque wrench is luxury mode too - when a $20 model from Harbor Freight
will work pretty much as well.
Mechanics usually work on metal tables in shops because they are constantly spilling oil on things - wood won't last. Plus they can weld on it. If you're doing car work totally, put a sheet of plate steel down on top of your bench, or use a solid steel bench/table with a vice. Done.
Lots of the benches here are called "woodworking" benches, which is true, but they're actually different forms of planing benches - benches used for planing boards. Planing benches didn't use to have vises on them at all. Cabinet making benches were combination planing and dovetail/assembly benches, and had one or two vises on them, but they were still really long (7' - 9') for planing rough boards right off the lumber stack. Ripping and cross cutting lumber was done on short saw horses. It's astonishingly efficient to work this way once you have your shop and your tools dialed in, but it's a TOTALLY different way of working from the modern. Totally.
Modern shops are usually like Norm Abram's, and not Roy Underhill's - all power tools (table saw, planer, router table) where to take the wood TO the tool, and not the tool TO the wood (think about it) so the bench is getting smaller and smaller, and becoming less necessary, unless you want to do traditional work in a traditional way. Planing rough sawn boards on a bench less than 7' long and about 300 pounds would be exhausting after a while. The more massive and longer the bench, the more effortless you can plane.
Or just run it through a thickness planer and be done. I've done both, a lot, and there's no wrong answer. The older I get, the more I just want to see the work done, and the less I care about sentiment and nostalgia. For a lot of people it's the reverse path.