My bench, although long, has only a small working area kept clear. Much of the rest of the bench has tools arranged (that's arranged, not heaped, piled or thrown) on it. This works for me since most of what I do is small scale so I don't need a large space and prefer to have the many tools I use close to hand for quick access.
Nevertheless, I occasionally work on a larger project that taxes that small work area. Mostly, the project will fit in the work area but the tools in use don't have a place to lie.
The bench has both a metal working vise and a traditional woodworker's vise for those very rare occasions when I work with the brown stuff. I also have a beefy bench hook that I made many years ago...
So, for bigger projects, I clamp the bench hook in the woodworking vise to form a sturdy cantilever mini shelf by my right hand, a perfect place to lay tools not in use at the moment.
The hook can also be used in that position with certain accessories that bolt to the T-nuts installed on its underside.
Or the accessory can be left in place and the hook simply flipped over and reclamped to provide an unobstructed shelf area.
Again, like my folding table...
Garaj Mahal accessory table
the hook table can't be left in place when the car is brought into the garage so it's guaranteed that it will be cleared and hung up at the end of every shop session.