A bench is a conveniently elevated and (hopefully) flat clamping jig. Large and heavy is best if you do not require mobility. I prefer to have attached vises rather than stops and hooks.
You may find this tool chest a very practical design for your needs. I made my tool chest of solid mahogany. Its a great design to experiment with, you can purchase a couple of nice clear pine 1 x 12's and make a test version to suit your particular measurements before you commit to that curly maple or quilted cherry.