I've always built and used work benches made of SYP. As I have posted before, the first bench because I couldn't find the traditional, at the time, Beech lumber nor could I afford a commercial built Beech or Maple bench. The first bench worked so well, why mess with success, all the benches that followed have been made of construction grade SYP. I even went so far several years ago, when I re-established my shop in Tucson, to drive to Texas for enough SYP to build my current bench.
The current bench works well and there is not much that I will change on this next build except for the first time since the building of my very first bench I'm lusting after a pretty bench. I know it's dumb. I know after I build it I will drive myself crazy for the first few months trying to protect the top from spills, cuts, glue, and marks and then old habits will prevail and in a few months my pretty Beech top will be just as ugly as my SYP one.
I know all that but....I'm still going to do it.
What brought all this on was a couple of months ago a hunk of 8/4 Beech followed me home. this was the first Beech I had worked with. I made several planes from it and damn it was nice to work, pretty too. The seed was set. I started thinking about needing a second bench (almost as much as another hole in my head) and what changes I would make on the next bench build. Anyway, bottom line, the wood store didn't have enough Beech for the build so I kinda dodged that one except I asked them to find some 8/4 sized so there would not be too much waste.
I had Friday off with not much to do so I thought I would drop by the wood store to see if they had some Walnut for the girl child's hall table wedding present (she's been married three years going on four now, no one can ever accuse me of being fast). The Walnut sucked but just as I was about to leave one of the guys said my Beech was in. Well damn, that's good news, sorta of....load 'er up.
Even better the wood store was having a three day 25% off sale (I didn't know about, hadn't read my email) and because I bought over 100 BF they gave me another 5% off. One hundred and thirty BF of beautiful 8/4 Beech for just over $500 USD. As we were loading the shop man said "that's a lot of wood for $500"....I just smiled. It's better to be lucky than good.
BTW, I still haven't decided on the base, cheap out and make it out of Douglas Fir, or go whole hog and use Ash.