The good news is that you don’t need a lot of shelf space to house a comprehensive collection of basic woodworking knowledge. Get started with Understanding Wood. In this comprehensive bible, professor Bruce Hoadley delves into the nature of wood and how its structure affects strength, workability, and other characteristics. He then shines a light on fundamentals like drying, machining, bending, joining, sanding, gluing, often accompanied by stunning macro photographs that zoom you in to the meat of the matter.
Workbenches have flat tops, though sometimes at the rear there is a cavity called a tool well that contains tools and components (and prevents them from falling off). One advantage of having the well set into the top of the bench is that, even with a variety of objects in the well, a large sheet of material can still be laid flat over the entire surface of the bench; the contents of the tool well offer no interference.
Of course, I, on the other hand, with my Ikea oak countertop, probable went overboard in the other direction. Since I needed to trim the countertop to width,I figured I'd take off a couple of 1/2" strips to use for edging the MDF. I clamped the countertop to my bench base, and used the long cutting guide. I'd asked around for advice on cutting this large a piece of oak, and was told to try a Freud Diablo 40-tooth blade in my circular saw. I found one at my local home center, at a reasonable price, and it worked very well.
1. Cabinet Making and Millwork by John L. Feirer. I read this book cover to cover when I first got into woodworking, and its still my number one reference book when researching a project or technique. I believe it was intended as a textbook for a high school shop class, so it's laid out in great 101 style. It includes descriptions of everything from how sandpaper is made to best practices for shop math, and provides details for both hand and power tools.
A better solution would have been to route a rabbet into the side, so that the added strip always had thickness. The way I did it means that the strip I glued in is very narrow, and hence very weak, at a certain point. In this case, that's not a problem, because it's going to be sitting under the countertop layer. I also noticed that because I had only clamped the strip down, and not into the edge, there was a noticeable glue gap where the strip butted up against the MDF. Again, in this application it isn't visible. But if I was doing something like this on the top of a table, I'd make sure to cut a clean rabbet, and to clamp both down and in.
The jaw for the front vise needed to be 10" long - to span the distance from the leg to the end of the top, 1-1/2" thick - to allow for benchdog holes to be drilled in it, and 5" tall. The end vise was mounted 3/4" lower than the front vise, and the screw and guide rods were thicker, so its jaws needed to be at least 6-1/2" tall. Again, they needed to be 1-1/2" thick to allow for benchdog holes, and 23" long to span the width of the bench.
 6. The Complete Book of Woodworking by Tom Carpenter. Another great reference book you'll come back to again and again. The latter half contains a bunch of projects you may or may not end up making (I bet you won't) but the details covered in the first half are as good as any overview-style book I've come across. When I want to make sure my process is up to snuff when I'm working on a ManMade post, this is the one I check first. 
If you decide upon construction lumber, you want kiln dry lumber. Green lumber will warp on you as it drys. Dig through the stacks and pick out the straightest, cleanest pieces. Generally, the boards that are sitting loose on the stack are those that other people left behind, as they sorted through looking for better. Be prepared to move them out of the way, and to dig down to the better stock. Be nice, though, and put everything back when you're done.
I thought my first wood working bench was great.A heavy c channel metal frame with a recycled maple floor top with a guick release 7 in vice on the side.It is about 40in by 54in and can hold a hemi no problem. I waxed the top till it was nice and resistant to whatever was dripped on it. Only problem is I was thinking like a gear head not a wood worked.Work piece would slide and no decent clamping on the sides. I figured if I wanted to get somewhat serious about this woodworking thing I needed a real bench not a table with a vice. I read the books and with so many choices I chose a Roubo split top from Benchcrafted it would let me use it for both power and hand tools. I just finished it a week ago and it is nice not to have to chase my work across the bench. I couldn’t find a clear answer for a top coat for the bench I chose to leave the soft maple nude. So I guess I have a bench tbat has a lack of modesty.
Grizzly is a company currently undergoing an upheaval. This brand was once known as a manufacturer of professional grade tools and equipment for woodworking products. Though, in recent years, that reputation has begun to slip a bit since being bought by the Chinese company SIEG. These days, whether the Grizzly product stands up to its previous standards of excellence often has more to do with what you are buying than the company itself.