A high-quality hole saw, with center drill removed, in a drill press would be my first choice, as well. Drill a staggered series of them in the material of choice to the desired depth, run masking tape over the cuts, and then resaw the board at that depth to release them. The masking tape keeps them from running off and hiding under the bench. Just be sure to clamp the board well, as it's going to want to spin.
Lesser-quality hole saws may not give you the clean edge you want. If all else fails, there are hole saws with carbide teeth, but they are quite expensive.